You Are Loved.

Early attempt at some more classic sci-fi, circa 2005. I was reading a lot of Philip K. Dick at the time. 

The sun rose on another miserable, rainy day inside Deek’s apartment. The Weather-generators, set to Dramatic Downpour, sent sheet after sheet of torrential waves tearing across his bedroom. Deek lay silently, placidly accepting the lashes of water like a much-deserved flagellation. The drainage pumps thwacked and grinded into action, setting up a harmony of dissonance to the dull, omnipresent roar of the rain. Deek cried silently, his tears lost in the downpour, only adding ever so slightly to the rising water level in the room. Eventually, after hours of weak sobbing amidst the relentless storm, sensors determined the water level to be too high and the Suicide Alarm chimed sadly from the Monitor across the room.

“Sorry big guy,” the speaker intoned, in a carefully crafted simulacrum of sympathy “the water level’s just too high. Anything over an inch and it becomes theoretically possible to drown yourself. I have to shut off the water and drain the room now. Remember… you are loved!”

The static scream of the rain stopped abruptly, leaving only the gentle smack and groan of the pumps – now kicking into overdrive. The waters swirled around the overflow grate, and soon disappeared entirely. The Weather-generators began emanating a slight fog, the smell of a snow yet to come dwelled almost imperceptibly behind it.

Deek sighed heavily, and then again. After an hour of heavy sighs interspersed with an occasional soft moan, he raised himself wearily from the bed and soddenly trudged into the kitchen.

“Wine please. Red. A Cabernet would be good I guess,” he told the refrigerator.

“Aw, come on, pal,” the refrigerator drawled “you know I can’t dispense alcohol in the morning, even on the best of days. Remember, though…you are loved!”

Deek sat down on the floor and placed his head in his hands. He considered crying, briefly, but decided his pain was ultimately futile against such an uncaring, apathetic world.

“Coffee then,” Deek said, “black like my heart.”

“Aw, buck up soldier…” the refrigerator replied, but obligingly stirred into motion.

He took his coffee from the shelf and, slumping back to the floor, sipped at it half-heartedly.

“Sorry sport,” the Monitor interrupted “you’re scheduled for work duty in thirty minutes.”

Deek choked back a yell, looked desperately around him for something to smash and, finding nothing, hurled his coffee cup at the low slung metal box that housed the Monitor’s speakers.

“Come on, buckaroo” the Monitor crooned.

“I’m not going.”

“Aw, buddy…”

“You can’t make me! I’m going to die today! I’m going to die!” Deek collapsed in a heap at the base of the Monitor’s shelf.

“You know the drill, chief…” a dull pulse sounded in the ceiling as a myriad of speakers and vid-screens lowered into the room.

“Pally, you know I have to initiate Ejection Protocols at twenty minutes,” a tension-loaded silence pervaded, the smell of snow somehow amplified by the hush.

“Please…” Deek implored, his eyes ran frantically about the room, seeking anything to implore to, “please!”

The speakers popped once, stuttered, and began:

“LET THE SUNSHINE IN AND CHASE AWAY YOUR BLUES…” the volume carried in the largest of Deek’s bones as he leapt to his feet and charged for the wardrobe.

“CAUSE FROWNERS NEVER WIN… ”

He hastily ripped his work uniform from its hanger and, running-hopping- falling as he dressed, made his desperate, stumbling way toward the door.

“…AND SMILERS NEVER LOSE SO LET THE SUNSHINE…”

The vid-screens set into motion brightly colored animations – chipmunks jumping rope with blue-jays, a smiling sun dancing, kittens fighting – while the lights steadily grew in luminosity until they peaked just shy of the purest, whitest sunshine. Deek yelped and, covering his eyes with one upraised arm, crawled pitifully through the living room. Perfumed shots of air (candy corn and daisies mostly,) began pelting him from the tiny aerosol vents that littered the house. He rallied his strength and, hunching into the smallest protective ball he could manage, vaulted through the doorway just as the padded robotic arms lowered from the ceiling, readying their Projectile Hugs.

“You are loved!” The Monitor yelled its refrain through the closing doors, only half-heard through the blaring horns and peppy strumming.

Deek barked hoarsely, his breath coming in hyperventilating gasps. Eventually, he began to assemble himself. He smoothed his uniform, brushed the remaining water from his brow, and did his best to rub the perfumes from his skin. He set his jaw resolutely, and after only twenty minutes of muttering reassurances to himself, headed off towards Sector Septa and work duty.

Bryan greeted him with mild apprehension; a lowering of the eyes and a timid shuffle of the shoulders told Deek they were in the same boat.

“How’re you feeling?” Bryan asked, skulking over to greet him.

“Got driven out today,” Deek spat, switching the status from Rest to Work on his uniform.

“Yeah?” Bryan seemed to cheer a bit at the news, “me too! What was it? Whistle While You Work? That’s what got me.”

“No,” Deek shuddered, “Let the Sunshine In…”

“Oh good God,” Bryan muttered, as they both contemplated the horror, “You need to be careful then; Binny is manic today. He practically fucking skipped onto duty. Aw, son of a…”

Binny saw them and screamed a friendly greeting from the third level. He leapt spritely from the balcony, sliced through the air, and curled into a ball – trusting the Monitor to catch him. He let out a happy sigh as the nets shot out and set him lightly at their feet.

“How are you guys?!” He ensnared them both with a massive hug, then stepped back to appraise their expressions, “Oh no! You’re both depressive today!”

Deek and Bryan nodded solemnly – Deek visibly restraining the urge to take a swing at him.

“Well don’t worry guys! Tomorrow’s another day, right?” He laughed and tumbled away from them – literally cart-wheeling and somersaulting – into the waiting elevator.

“I swear to fucking Christ this is the day. I’m really going to do it. I am. I will die this day,” Deek whispered.

“I’m with you, man,” Bryan said “let’s do it now before-“

“Work Duty has begun fellas,” The Monitor speakers beneath their feet sounded, “All suicide locks are on; all levels with external balconies are now off limits to depressives.”

Bryan’s knees went out at the announcement. He slipped to the floor and laid still, his eyes unfocused and distant.

Deek fought back a wave of consuming hatred; he steadied his hands and took several deep breaths. “Bryan was right,” he muttered, “tomorrow is another day.” And he swore and undying oath that it was a day he would not see.

“All workers: Your attention please for a special announcement,” the Monitor called to attention “you are all loved!”

2 thoughts on “You Are Loved.

  1. Steveysteve

    The best short stories, I think, are the ones that hint at a much larger story. They always stay with you a lot longer, mulling over your own conclusions. I like that.

    Reply

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