Chapter One – The Invitation

We were so happy then. Picture taken at Elite City Firm.

You are Chris a 31-year-old retired accountant who drinks too much coffee. It is the year 2027 and while the human race still struggles to launch their first successful manned-mission to Mars, they have contained by some miraculous fortune, the adverse effects of climate change.

As you lie alone in your king-sized bed shaking off the last vestiges of sleep, your thoughts linger on where you were two years ago, before you retired.

You had a suburban house then, complete with a mortgage and a pet goldfish for company. You worked long hours, rarely had time for leisure and changed jobs every two years, chasing advancement and seniority.

The last job you held was as a senior tax auditor for an elite inner-city firm. That was where you witnessed the end of capitalism and where you fancied… Oh, what was the name?

eyesJan. Ah, she had such mesmerising eyes.

‘Did you see those boxes they delivered to IT this morning?’ said Jan. She held a polystyrene cup in her right hand. Steam rose up through the small vent in the dark lid.

You looked up from a thick wad of papers, eyebrows raised, one hand poised over the keyboard. The other rested with your index finger pointing at a suspicious looking number.

You liked Jan. She always stopped at your desk to say ‘hello’ to you on her breaks.

Perhaps one day, you thought, I’ll find the words to ask her out. You were a stickler for rules and inter-office dating was against the company’s policies.

‘Well, apparently they’re Workforce Millenniums. I’m supposed to train one of them at reception this afternoon.’ Jan officially retired less than a half-hour after the training began. She was 22 years old.

As you watched her walk out with tears glistening on her cheeks, you wished had been a rule breaker.

A few hours later, a robot similar to the one sitting at reception who now answered to Jan’s name, arrived at your desk. It introduced itself as Chris and by the end of the day you had officially retired.

The beginning of luxury communism

The government oversaw the implementation of the robot workforce, assigning one robot to every employee made redundant.

robot_workforce.jpg
A government funded initiative.

Since then, you have received your robot’s monthly pay packet, less maintenance, upgrade fees and a 42% government tax. It just covers your expenses, so you spend most of your days surfing the VR webs. Virtual reality technology used to cost a fortune, but now the government almost gives it away.

moon-footprint-nasa

One foot follows the other onto the floor as you rise out of bed.

‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,’ you whisper, mimicking Neil Armstrong’s words.

Sleep still haunts you as you struggle with the zip on your designer-label VR overalls.

Your housekeeper, a Mark 1,000 domestic robot fusses about and helps you dress. Mark came with the techno pad, a fully wired suburban villa leased to you as part of a new government housing initiative for retirees.

‘Your coffee Chris’. Mark hands you a hot, double strength latte.

The fresh aroma of roasted coffee beans brightens your day.

What do you say to Mark:

Nothing, Mark’s a robot.

‘You did a great job with the coffee, Mark. Thanks.’