March of the Oppressors | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Science Fiction Bookmark and Share

March of the Oppressors

MARCH OF THE OPPRESSORS By: Dallas G. Releford “You’re fired,” the man on the other side of the desk said. “I have no other alternative but to let you go, Tom ----- you know, word from the personnel office. I understand that you have been with us for many years now and it falls on me, unfortunately, to have to tell you this. You have missed two days this month and you have been late several times. We cannot and will not tolerate that kind of attendance record from any of our employees. Not only that, but you have been slow in your performance lately. We are giving you six weeks severance pay and some unemployment if you agree to exit promptly and quietly.” “But Mr. Barkley,” the other poor creature with the name of Tom began, “how will I feed my family. Would it matter if I were younger? After all, you seem to get rid of all us old folks ---- we can’t work sixteen hours a day, seven days a week ----“ The other man, being the hawk beaked, cold-hearted beast that he was, did not give poor Tom time to finish before he efficiently cut him off. “Now Tom, you know that is not true. We take pride in having over twenty employees that have been in our employ more than twenty years each.” “Of course, Mr. Barkley, you keep some of the top people, managers and others that have been in your debt, here so that you can say that. You only keep a few people so that you can make such claims. But, the terrible truth is that you are just like the other corporations. You turn your older employees out into the cold to fend for themselves, once they reach a certain age. The streets are filled with homeless workers from the big corporations. These people have no way to support themselves so they have to beg for a living. I decided long ago that I would not end up like that. But you have seen to it that I did not make enough money to save anything. It took every penny that I could earn to feed and clothe my family and you people know that. You just don’t care.” “Now Mr. Bagby,” the voice on the other side of the desk said, “just be careful what you say, we are doing you more than a favor ---- we could just terminate your employment and you wouldn’t get anything. Is that what you want, Mr. Bagby?” The voice sounded like it came from some mechanical monstrosity from some freak sideshow. Bagby, for all of his years had never really hated another human being more than he hated the mechanical beast that the corporation used to expedite the unwilling aged employees departure. He was a monster that was both cool and cold. When you were called to his office, there was little doubt in your mind that you would not be working there much longer. Barkley was like the grim reaper, he was the last person you generally saw on your way out the back door. Employees in the company had many names for him, none of the names had ever fitted very well into Bagbys’ vocabulary. Bagby took a good look at the person or thing, in front of him. He wanted to get one good last look at the beast that had changed his entire life with just a few words, a cruel wave of his grimy little hand and a few strokes of the pen. The figure on the other side of the desk was an aging person himself, perhaps ninety-eight years old and just sitting here looking at him, you would never know it. His balding head matched his round, clean-shaven face that set on top of the fat little body. He was the general stereotype of an elderly Caucasian male. His ancient black-rimmed glasses did nothing for his satanic personality much less provide him with visual assistance. Tom knew that he had auxiliary eye implants, just about everybody these days did. The little cameras were less than the size of a pea. The fact that they were connected directly to his computer chip brain probably didn’t improve his ability to recognize hard work and honesty when he saw them. Within the last few years, medical science had made amazing progressions in the area of longevity; people lived much longer and it was claimed that in a few years, you could live forever if you wanted to do so. Bagby wondered why anyone would want a person like Barkley to live at all, much less forever. He could picture himself jumping upon the desktop, putting both of his hands around his fat little neck and squeezing away. Maybe it might be easier to cram his head in a Solar Powered furnace and turn the switch on. He caught himself thinking this way and could hardly believe that he was having such thoughts. He remembered his wife telling him once that, two wrongs do not make a right. Maybe not, but it surely would make him feel better, at least for a few minutes. What was the other thing that his wife used to like to say about the deeds that employers did to their employees? Maybe it was, I don’t forget the good things that people do for me and I never forget the bad things that they do against me. Someday he would ask her to explain that to him. “Mr. Bagby ---- eh, Tom,” the other voice shouted. Tom looked up at the thing behind the voice. His mind had almost shut down with the shock of the previous events. He almost did not hear the voice from across the great aluminum colored desk. “Oh, sorry,” Tom said. “I was just thinking about all of the years that I have put in here, the long days, the hard and lonely nights of operating the refurbishing tubes. It has been a long life with very little time with my wife and family. All of my life I have given to your corporation ---- now you let me down. What have you given me?” Tom was on the verge of losing his temper and shouting back at the beast that confronted him. He decided that with the two of them shouting at each other that nothing would be said and he would be here all day. All he wanted to do was get as far away from this creature as he could. He wanted to take all of the pleasant memories that he could, if that was at all possible. “I symphonize with you Tom,” the thing said, “but ---- but, you are one-hundred and eighty years old, Tom. We just do not have any use for anyone like you at this time. The refurbishing tubes are an important part of our operation and we cannot allow any mistakes. Every other job that you could do is taken or being done by our Cyborgs and robots. The age isn’t the only thing here, Tom. You just can’t do the job any more and that is what we are talking about. If you were thirty and the situation was the same, technically, I would have to reach the same conclusion. Here are the papers that need to be signed. If you will please read and sign them then I’ll have my secretary enter the information into the computer and we can depart. You’ll be happier and I’m sure that I’ll be happier with it that way. You will have the money into your account and you can use your transfer account card to make any purchases that you want.” Poor Tom knew when he had reached the end of the line. He sullenly took the rough paper forms from the desk and signed them. Normally, the information would have been entered into the TeleCom book. Strange, he thought, that Barkley was probably one of the few people in the world that still used paper. Mr. Barkley was very old fashioned and did not like new technology. That was part of his personality. He still shunned away from computers and let his secretary do most of that work because she had a better voice and could talk to the things without any problem. Barkley seemed to have trouble making them understand him. When he had finished with the forms, he handed them back to Barkley. The person on the other side of the desk arose and extended his hand. Tom dispensed with the formality, gave Barkley the worst look that he could, turned and walked out of the building. He passed through the sliding doors from the office, past the secretary at the front desk and entered the locker rooms at the end of the hall. Old Jed Stanley, the janitor for the building entered the room at the same time that Tom did. Old Jed was the information center of the company, knowing just about everything that was going on. He knew who was coming, who was going and who was going to be going. Whatever Old Jed told was generally accepted as being true. “Well Tom, I heard that you are out,” he said, “is that true?” “Looks that way, Jed,” Tom answered, “I just can’t believe it ---- all those years of operating the tubes and I thought that they could never find anyone else to do that miserable job.” “They can always find somebody,” he replied, “or, at least it sure looks like it. They hired some young kid to do your job and started him after you left. He is working second shift tonight. You are going to be missed Tom.” There were tears in his eyes and he looked away from Jed to keep him from seeing his emotional side. He glanced at the digital clock on the wall and tried to concentrate on getting his things from the locker hoping that his trembling voice would not give him away. “ “So, what are you going to do now Tom,” Jed asked, “maybe spend some time with the family or maybe you will get reprocessed.” “I’ll have to most certainly think about it, Jed.” Tom hadn’t thought much about the processing center that Jed had brought up. It was not something that you thought about if you wanted to keep your sanity. “Getting reprocessed isn’t that bad Tom,” Jed assured him, “why just last week I took Old Man Taylor up to the center for processing and he is just like new now. You only think about the prospect and that is what is so terrifying. I mean, what are the other options that us old folks have Tom? Live on the streets like so many folks do, starving from day to day and wondering what we are going to eat next. No Sir Tom, I think that processing is the best thing.” Old Jed was trying to comfort his friend of many years but he was terrified at the thought of getting old and being kicked out of the company. He was getting close to that age himself and he sure was not looking forward to that day. Another five years or so and he would have to make the same decision. No Sir, that was not a likable prospect. “I really don’t know Jed,” he answered, “I have heard a lot of bad things about processing ---- most of them not so good.” Tom was trying to hurry because they only gave you just a few minutes to get out of the building. He really did not want the robots to escort him to the door and down the steps. “Why, what have you heard about the processing center Tom?” Tom was nervous enough and did not want to spend a lot of time dwelling on what was going to happen to him but he figured he might as well make idle chit-chat while he was packing his things. “For one, I heard that the new model synthetic body, I think it is called the S series or something like that, does not work right. Someone told me that about one of every forty transformations don’t make it.” “Sure, Tom,” Jed answered, “that’s the chances you take. Look at it this way Tom, that old body of yours is about worn out, just like mine. You go to the center and they give you a brand new synthetic body ---- just like the one you got and you can’t tell the difference because it is genetically grown. Why, you will even look a hundred years younger and they transfer all of your memory into a computer chip. You don’t have to worry about brain problems because the chip is your brain. Imagine that Tom, you will be yourself and you will be young and handsome again.” As convincing as the idea seemed, Tom wondered why so many people fought the idea up to the last moment. “What happens if all of my memory don’t get transferred and I can’t even remember my wife, Jed?” “That hardly ever happens ---- Tom,” Jed assured him again, “why that technology is almost a hundred years old now. They have performed miracles with that memory transfer procedure. You remember everything that you have ever done and everything that has ever happened to you. They say that the new body will last over five-hundred years and when that one becomes old or damaged, you just get another one. “I always wondered what they do with the old bodies Jed?” Tom had heard many stories about this. Some people claimed that they sold the bodies to a corporation that recycled the chemicals for use in manufacturing and for other purposes. He shuddered at the prospect of his body being slowing dissolved and processed. Worse yet, he could imagine the chemicals being used to process food or something that you used in your body. Jed began nervously sweeping the floor with the sweeper. It was silent, having been charged with the energy from the sun for several hours. Just about everything was powered by the light from the sun these days, except for the power used in most homes and other buildings. These were powered by what they called free energy. Free energy was produced from a cold fusion process that occurred when a fuel burned at a very high temperature just like the sun. It could burn almost forever and the technology was slowly replacing solar energy. “Well Tom ---- I really shouldn’t tell you this ---- not too many people know about it.” “About what, Jed?” Tom was getting more anxious by the moment. His curiosity was now primed to the limit. Not only was he nervous about getting out of the building with all of his bones intact but he was still in shock about everything that had happened to him today. “The ---- the refurbishing machine.” “What about the refurbishing machine?” Tom asked while taking the last few items from the locker. He paused for a moment to listen more intently to Jed and as he did so, he rested his right foot upon the bench. “The refurbishing machine that you operated all these years Tom ---- why Tom, that is where they process the bodies of the people that have had the transformation. I also heard that they take people from the streets, old homeless people Tom. The bodies are cut up into little pieces and when you get them, they are stored in the biologically grown containers. You didn’t know what you were processing because they never told you.” “So that’s why they told me never to handle the containers. I just thought they were some kind of animal materials that they were processing for food. Why the lousy bastards!” Today was a day of emotions for Tom and he wondered how many more he could stand. He didn’t know if he was angry, confused or just downright furious. He thought that he may have all of these emotions but regardless, it was a bad way to treat someone. “That’s right Tom,” Jed answered, “and not only that Tom ---- they have been taking people by force from the streets as I said. Haven’t you ever wondered what happens to the homeless people? You never see them have any funerals or anything like that. They have to do something with them, there are literally thousands of them and they never seem to die. They just disappear.” “Well Jed, it does seem odd that you hardly see the same person twice. I have known whole families to disappear and I always thought that they just moved on somewhere else.” “Could be, Tom,” Jed said turning the sweeper off. “But I betcha’ that they moved somewhere else alright, somewhere in the refurbishing machine.” “But why don’t these people just get reconditioned ---- I mean, transfer their minds into the new body?” “They’s just like you, Tom, they’s afraid.” The old black man sadly rubbed the stubble of beard on his chin. “They is afraid, just like you Tom. That is why they don’t do the transformation, they are afraid of the process. It’s something new to them and they don’t trust the big corporations.” Tom walked down the street with the sounds of the city ringing in his ears and his mind dwelled on all of the things that old Jed had told him. It was a strange world and it was getting stranger every day. Things had definitely changed in the last hundred years. With the combination of Computer Science, Engineering Science and Medical Science, the world had become an unwelcome place. Some had declared that the mating of Computer Science and Medical Science was the greatest event in human history. They made this declaration because such advancements had allowed the creation of biological computer systems. This advancement allowed the growth of complete human bodies to put a biological brain in and the creation of Nanomen, which were biological creatures, which could work at molecular levels. When the complete elimination of disease by means of a matter dissolution machine that could take matter apart, completely map the location of each individual atom and then put the whole thing back together again was created, the human race was further astounded. The only difference was that the diseased parts were no longer there. He had always marveled at these wonderful discoveries but there had been so many that it had become something routine and you just got used to something new being created every day. Without any real interest in technology, the common person just let things happen and the government slowly became one large body controlled by the still more powerful World Bank. With very few small companies anymore, just three large corporations owned and ran all of the business interests in the world. Of course, the World Bank and the military worked hand in hand to control everything. The slogan of the “common-man”, was often, One government, One business and One Master. Some realized all to late that it meant, OH, OH, OH. “You’re fired,” the voice had said. It still said that in his mind. If he had a new body made and his memories transferred to his new brain, would he still remember those two words that had changed his entire life? After all, we all were just nothing but memories. It was the memories that kept you going, kept your life interesting and made you what you were. What would he tell his wife? Could he possibly tell her the truth, or something else? Hadn’t she suffered enough from waiting day after day while he had to work? He had hoped that this day would be one that was more pleasant but it had turned out otherwise. He just wanted to destroy all those people that had caused him such harm but he knew deep down that they were too big. Such thoughts had never entered his mind in the past but now it was busy making up for it. The city glistened around him. People were rushing all around but at most times he hardly even noticed them nor did he hear them. They were like ants at his feet or stars in the faraway sky. At the moment, they were something that did not concern him. They no longer mattered. What did matter was that he did not have any way to make a living anymore, his wife would be worried to death and their whole life would change forever. When he caught the Air-bus at the stop by the Air Car Center, he took his usual seat in the rear for the long ride to his home outside the city and tried to gather his wits. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. He had taken this same Airbus home for the last hundred years. It seemed like this would be the last time and there was some degree of sadness in this realization. As the craft rose above the city, he settled back in the seat to reflect on what he would say to his wife and what he would do to make her happy. Would she submit to a transformation? Worse yet, would they both make it through the process? These questions were still strongly seated in his mind when he left the bus and began walking toward the place he called home. “So you think Bagby will be a problem?” The director had walked down the hall to the personnel office. The personnel director had called him on the TeleViewer and informed him that he had just released the employee and he had been threatening and might even become disruptive. Barkley did not look forward to looking at the director on the TeleView screen but it was a necessity. After all, if he didn’t tell him this and Bagby killed someone then his rear would really be in hot water, if not worse. “Yes Sir!” “Well, let’s keep an eye on him,” the director meant every word. He was too busy to be bothered by some aging employee that did not like the way he did things. He was useless now and should be disposed of but he would give him a chance to take care of things himself. “Sure, we always keep an eye on them, Sir.” “Oh honey, you’re home ---- what’s the matter, are you sick?” His wife Elizabeth was the most precious possession that he could lay claim to. They had been best friends for a long time before they had finally tied the knot. How many times had he caressed her soft, silky brown hair and kissed her full lips while holding her as tightly as he possibly could without hurting her. They were completely loyal to each other. They never failed to be supportive when necessary. She did not want to be without him and he did not want to be without her. He missed the pitter-patter of little feet in the house since all of the kids had grown up and left. “Not sick,” he said, “I just don’t have a job anymore.” Elizabeth was candidly surprised but not overly excited about the situation. She knew this day was coming and had attempted to prepare herself for it as well as she could. “Well, sweetheart, don’t worry about it, we’ll make it some way. We have a little money saved up and I’ll get a job or something to help out.” “I’m not worried ---- at least I think I’m more angry than anything.” “Of course you are,” Elizabeth tried to comfort him, “that is only natural.” “How are you, babe?” He asked her using her favorite word. She loved to be called, babe because that was what he had called her when they were kids. “Just fine,” she answered, “do you want something to eat or drink?” “Not at the moment,” he said, “let me rest for a little. I have a lot of thinking to do.” “Well, don’t think to much,” she suggested, “we have a meeting over at the Baker house. Some of our friends are getting together, mostly women. We are establishing a club to take care of some problems. We have been talking about it for years but decided to finally do something about it.” “Do something about what?” Tom asked. Sometimes his wife didn’t make any sense. She seemed to leave out some of the facts. She did this when she knew it would nag his curiosity the most. “Wait and you will see,” she teased, “now get cleaned up and put on your best clothes. There are some important women coming and I want you to make a good impression on them.” “Okay, but we need to talk about this later.” “Sure we will talk about it later,” she assured him and kissed him gently on the forehead. The meeting looked more like a garden party. It resembled a meeting of the minds more than anything. Most of the people who came were female. But after all, she had said it was a meeting of women and Tom should have expected that to be quite true. Tom recognized some of them as wives of his fellow workers at the corporation. He knew that he was the only male when the door was locked from the inside as the last person, Mrs. Johnson, arrived. Most of the husbands worked at the Phoenix Corporation, which was one of three major corporations in the country. The majority of the wives and other females worked for another division of the corporation that handled the financial information that the company generated. Many of the men worked in the manufacturing and production division that made everything from transportation vehicles to household goods. The long, hard, seemingly endless days drove more of the women who did manage to get a position there, away to other activities. They generally divided their time up, working some hours at the offices and the rest of the time at home. Without their dedication and hardships, most of the families would not have survived. Needless to say, the corporations did not consider that a problem of theirs. This was the general scenario in those days; the men worked the hard industrial jobs and the women slaved away in front of the computers. The computers communicated mostly by voice and the women adapted very well to communicating with them. Sometimes they were required to use other input devices but the computers were very good at verbal communications so the drudgery of entering information was done by voice and scanning. The newer biological computers were almost human in nature and many had taken on human attributes. They knew their operators and worked with little supervision. The operator told them what to do and they did it without question. Elizabeth had worked in the Biological Information Processing Center for several years before moving into the Financial Transaction and Processing Center where the work was easier but the pay was less. She had commented on several occasions about how she felt sorry for a particular person only to divulge later that the person was a computer. “Tom, I want you to meet Mrs. Johnson,” Elizabeth said, pulling him over toward the door as Mrs. Johnson retrieved a drink from the waiter and hastened toward them. “Hello Elizabeth, how are you doing today?” Mrs. Johnson was somewhat on the heavy side but not what was considered overweight. She had an outward personality that seemed to jump out and grab at you. Her brown dress and matching hat stole most of the show but the gray eyes and small lips gave her a distinctive look that was impressive. Tom had met her once before at one of the workers meetings last year and knew her husband Charlie. “Oh, pretty well Sarah,” Elizabeth replied. “Mrs. Johnson, I’d like you to meet my husband, Tom.” “Hi Tom, I believe that I had the pleasure last year?” “Yes, most certainly,” Tom answered, “how is Charlie doing these days.” “Since the transformation you mean?” “Why yes,” Tom said, “as you may know I’m in that situation now and that is one of the things I was considering, if I can convince Elizabeth to take the step with me.” “Oh, he’s doing fine,” Mrs. Johnson said, “he went through the transformation fine and he looks like a twenty year old. I have to go and get the treatment in a few weeks. I’m sort of looking forward to it. Imagine Charlie and me young again and having a new life all over again.” Tom could detect a certain doubt in her voice as she spoke about it. He supposed she was worried that she would not be able to make the transition and Charlie would be alone. “Well I think that is great,” Elizabeth interjected, “wouldn’t it be nice if the four of us could get the transformation and take a long vacation somewhere?” “Surely,” Mrs. Johnson admitted, “are you now unemployed Tom?” “As of today,” he said. “They cut me loose today and said that was it. I am not too happy about it but I have to figure something out and just go on, I guess” “Yes that is about all you can do,” Mrs. Johnson agreed. Elizabeth stood motionless for a few moments then decided to get the show going. “Well, everyone, shall we begin with what we came here to do?” Tom had not noticed the room that he had entered. There were plenty of people standing around sipping drinks, smiling and talking. He noticed that the dark oak paneling was unusual for these days and it must have set the owners back quite a bit. The adjoining room was apparently the library and a big one it was at that. There were a few books on large shelves, that he could see from the front room. Books these days were mostly supposed to invoke memories of better days as almost everything was read from either the computer or the hand held electronic books. There just weren’t too many real books around anymore and Tom missed holding and smelling them. It was a sad state of affairs, he thought. He supposed the other two doors that he could see led to the kitchen and the sleeping quarters. Most houses had a food preparation area that joined the living room. He also supposed that they were in the living room considering the furnishings. “Okay everyone let’s all go to the library and start the meeting,” Mrs. Johnson spoke in a commanding but subtle voice. In the center of the Library Tom was surprised at the size of the huge Oak table. The straight back chairs that surrounded the table were also made of the same Oak and Tom was astounded at the cost of all of the Oak in the home. He did not realize that Charlie had those kinds of resources. Mrs. Johnson took a seat at the head of the table with Elizabeth and Tom on the left side of her. Tom imagined that she was some kind of officer of the club or whatever it was that the women had put together. “Okay everyone,” Mrs. Johnson began, “this is our fifteenth meeting and we are very happy to announce that we have our first male member. I want you to meet Tom Bagby who is the husband of Elizabeth. Please join me in welcoming Tom.” Everyone stood up and applauded Tom. Tom was very embarrassed. He was the shy type but managed to stand up and thank everyone for their approval. “Do you mind if I ask just what I am being inducted into,” Tom asked. “Well, we thought that you had discussed this with your wife,” Mrs. Johnson said somewhat surprised. “Well, not quite,” Tom admitted, “I thought that we were coming to a party.” Everyone laughed and Elizabeth patted Tom on the shoulder hoping to console him in an apologetic way. “Why honey, I guess that I just didn’t have the time to do all of that explaining. I thought that we could fill you in when we got to the meeting.” “Don’t worry your pretty face about that,” Mrs. Johnson said, “we will take care of that. We need to refresh our notes anyway. Stacy, honey, will you take the notes? Would you also please be sure to add this explanation to our records? There have been some changes since we first started the club and as I am sure most of you realize, there are about to be some more changes.” “Thank you all very much,” Elizabeth said, relieved, “that will save me a lot of explaining.” “Well for the benefit of everyone ---- and especially, Tom,” Mrs. Johnson began taking a sip from her water glass. “Tom, some of us women started getting together a few years ago, you know, just to have a few cookies and tea ---- just like in the old days. Then we all got to discussions about work and our jobs. That’s something that we women take very seriously and we were concerned with working conditions. Gradually we began working on issues related to our rights and were able to influence working conditions in the offices where we work. Since this seemed to work, we formed a club and as you can see our numbers have grown from three to over a hundred. We also have other clubs in other areas of the city and we are growing every day. So far, the corporations don’t know that we exist. We are always careful to protest in some arcane way so that they do not know we are an organized group. If they knew that we were organized then we all would probably be killed. So, it is very important that we keep our activities secret ---- very secret, if you get what I mean.” “I can see what you mean,” Tom assured her, “and you can count on me to keep quiet.” “Good, Tom,” Mrs. Johnson took another sip of water and continued. “We started out as a support group for helping dislocated workers both male and female and that is still our main activity. We help older workers find employment and as you also know, that is almost impossible to do these days. We have over seven million dislocated workers in the streets living off garbage and begging for food and clothes. Their shelter from the elements is just where ever they can park their carcasses for the night. Why you can hardly walk for them and the situation is only getting more deplorable. Not many people are taking advantage of the new technology of having your memories processed and transferred into synthetic bodies. The reason for this is that the corporations only train the workers to do one single, specific job. They do this for their entire lives and as a result, they do not trust the corporations. They do not volunteer to go through the process and I cannot blame them. It has been estimated that only five of ten dislocated workers actually go through the process. Now, we have some further disturbing news to tell you. It has been rumored that the government and the corporations have been implanting a computer chip in the hips or buttocks of all the bodies that are genetically engineered. This chip is connected into the base of the spine and eventually connects to another chip in the brain. As you know, the brain in the genetically grown body is replaced with biological computer chips. Now, to make matters worse, these rumors have indicated that the government and the corporations are planning to install another biological computer chip that will allow them to not only track us, but give them information on everything that we have ever done and everything that we will ever do. In other words, folks, we are going to become controlled creatures. In time, we will be at the mercy of these beasts.” She paused for the information to take effect and took another sip, nervously eyeing each and every one of the members who were busy scribbling notes or just otherwise trying to look occupied. They did not know how to respond to such information, even though most of them had heard some of the very same rumors before. “There’s something else,” Tom said, unsure if he should reveal what he knew. “You have the floor Tom,” Mrs. Johnson offered. Tom hoped that the information that he was about to offer was already known or at least, they were aware of it. But as it turned out, they were not. “I was told that the corporations have been recycling the human bodies that the memories have been transferred from and using the chemicals in their products. I don’t know all about the process but I have pretty reliable information that the refurbishing machine that my department has been using is part of the process. I was also told that the corporations have been supplied live bodies from the thousands of street people. The police, military and other official organizations are obviously involved in this. I think many of these bodies come from the hospitals and other health care organizations such as nursing homes, who can’t fund all of the people that they are responsible for. This is a cheap way of getting rid of the old people. Most of the members, who were still under shock from the previous news just seemed to be overwhelmed by this information. “How do we know this is true, Tom,” Mrs. Johnson asked, “is this information that we should be able to confirm ---- not that I doubt your word but ---- well, just how reliable is your source Tom?” Mrs. Johnson was attempting to find out just how this would effect the group and if the information could be relied on or not. “But, I thought when the memories were transferred that the bodies were cremated,” Stacy Laker asked. “That isn’t really true,” Tom replied, “I have heard that assumption also but apparently they are not cremated, they are sent to the processing plant where I work all packed up in some kind of biologically engineered skin. Apparently, they cut the body up like sausage. You could not recognize it if you knew who the body belonged to. The final product that is brought in for processing is just a square package that we feed into the refurbishing machine. The refurbishing machine converts meat and other genetic wastes into chemicals, which are used in other products. So, it is unfortunate, but we probably eat some our own friends chemicals.” “That is quite extraordinary,” Mrs. Johnson stated. “Okay folks, this issue is now up for discussion. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we might be able to handle this situation?” Linda Morrison was sitting across the table from Tom and had been seriously listening to what he had been saying. She was a petite, blue-eyed blonde haired person with attributes that had attracted Toms’ attention from the beginning. “I think I might have a resolution,” she said, “it may seem ridiculous at first but I hope that you will listen to what I have to say.” “Sure, go ahead, Linda --- we’ll listen to you. Please don’t feel that we won’t take every suggestion into consideration,” Mrs. Johnson assured her. “Well, I’ve always felt that we weren’t doing as much as we could to help dislocated workers and other elderly people. Since the Internet Wars back in the 2200’s, the government and all of its’ partners in crime have had complete control over everything. There are two elements in our time, the first one is made up of the government, military, world bank and the big corporations. They use and control the second element. The second element is us. We are the workers and helpless poor people who can’t otherwise help or defend ourselves. We can’t fight the established rulers and oppressors. I have a plan to change all of that.” Everyone was attentive to her suggestion but Tom was thinking back over the centuries and all of the wonderful things that had happened. He remembered his grandfather telling him about the Internet Wars of the second century after the millennium. It was a terrible time that the human race faced in those days. A large asteroid had nearly destroyed the human population in 2105. Then disease ran rampant with every type of bacteria seemingly finding a way around every cure, genetic engineering had conquered some of the human body’s misgivings by being able to replace almost every part and then finally, they were able to grow entire bodies. Eventually, scientists had been able to create biological computers and it was thought that things might improve, that disease would be eliminated altogether but things only got worse as the bigger corporations took over smaller companies. Soon, there were only a few large corporations controlled by the government and other interests. There were only two types of people; the extremely rich and the extremely poor. The rich lived in houses made of an aluminum and diamond alloy. These structures were practically indestructible. The poor lived in shacks or in the streets. The Internet Wars referred to a time when the larger companies swallowed up the smaller ones on the Internet. By then, the Internet consisted of twenty huge space stations that circled the Earth in deep space and allowed communications not only on the earth, but to distant planets and other space stations in deep space. For that reason, it was now called the Uni-Net. This meant universal network and it was truly that because it controlled practically everything. All of the operating systems of every Robot in existence were linked to the Net. Practically everything was part of the net too including all of the furnishings in the home such as the toaster, radio, tele-viewer, refrigerator and even the home security system was part of the net. When you left for work each morning your air-vehicle was controlled from the net and you had to file a flight plan with the system or you would be fined. It wasn’t long until they were implanting microchips in the buttocks and palms of the workers so they could collect information and track the persons under their control. Tom remembered reading old accounts of how the Internet had been divided up so that only certain organizations had access to it and could use it. You had to have a license from the government just to retrieve information from it. It really did not matter because most of the poor people did not have computers in their home anyway. The communications center was one thing that the organization, as the government, industrial, financial complex came to be called, did require in the home. They even went to the extent of giving them to those that could not afford them. It merely consisted of a camera array and a Tele-viewer with which the organization could communicate and keep track of the workers. Tom shuddered at the prospect of living in those times. In his time, they had finally been able to genetically engineer living human bodies. The brain was removed and replaced with a biological computer chip. As people grew old, their memories were transferred to the chip in the new body. This process had eliminated most diseases but most folks did not take this opportunity because they figured it would give the organization even more control over them. In his time, revolution was talked about more and more in these days, but how to go about it was another matter. How could anyone think about destroying the organization, even if they could, without destroying themselves. After all, they depended on the organization for their livelihood. “Okay, Linda,” Mrs. Johnson said, “we’re listening.” “Well, it would seem that since we have been helping other workers up to now that we could do even more by starting our own company, hiring dislocated workers and using the profits to somehow fight the system. There a few people around who have been hacking the UniNet since day one when it was first installed and I’m sure that they will help us to use the net to secretly withdraw funds from certain corporations to help our cause.” “That really sounds like a plan that I like,” Elizabeth said, “and you are right, I know a few people who are doing just those kinds of things and I know they will help us.” “That’s great,” Linda remarked all excited, “see, we are getting somewhere already.” “I think we can pull it off,” Mrs. Johnson said, “but we’ll have to move slow and very carefully. I think the best thing to do is to do all of it in secret. Maybe we can use the hackers to set up some kind of computer center to rob the rich for the benefit of the poor.” “I once heard of an ancient man who did that,” Tom replied, being the knowledgeable reader that he was, “I think his name was Robin Hood or something like that.” “Hmm ---- rob from the rich and give to the poor, mainly, US,” Elizabeth muttered under her breath, not particularly caring if anyone else heard her or not, “I like that, maybe we can call our company the ROBIN HOOD FOUNDATION?” “That’s great,” Mrs. Johnson said, “let’s do that. Next, we need to contact our friends and see if we can get some cash flow going. We will need some other means of getting funds also so any suggestions in that direction will be helpful.” “I think I have some ideas also,” Tom replied. “I know a lot of displaced workers that will gladly join our organization. We can go ahead and get the organization to give all of us the transformation and then we’ll set up a group to modify the chips so the organization cannot use them to control us. There must be some older doctors or others that have worked on these things that would cooperate with us. Then, we can rob some of their data banks and get information that we can convert into cash. Since there isn’t any paper money these days, we can’t just rob a bank, but we can steal the databases and transfer the funds to a dummy account. Once we have it under our control then we can distribute the funds to where we can use it. Maybe you already realize this, but there has not been any crimes in our society for a couple of hundred years. But, now all of that is going to change. Once we plant the seed and show others how it is done --- well, maybe we can tumble the establishment and start a new system. A new system that treats human beings like humans instead of the way we are treated today.” Elizabeth cupped her hands together in front of her face and shrieked, “Oh, I love it. It will work, I know that it will. We have thousands of people to work with and they all have a common reason to make it work. Let’s do it.” “There is further bad news that we have to consider,” Mrs. Johnson remarked, “I was saving this for last but I guess this is as good a time as any.” “What do you mean,” Sally Goode asked. “Well, it seems that the organization is placing a price on all of the old folks, mostly the street people, the homeless. This means that for every person turned in, they pay a price. This is leading to bounty hunters, who are taking the people in for the money. We have to move fast to get the conversion process instigated and the chip modified.” “That’s terrible,” Tom remarked. “Is THIS confirmed information.” “Yes, we have it directly from a memo on the Net that someone intercepted.” “Well, let’s get down to work, we have a lot of planning to do if we are going to survive,” Tom suggested. “Yes, let’s,” Everyone agreed. Six-months later. Tom and Elizabeth went through the transformation successfully and lived in their little home with little attention from the organization. The Robin Hood Foundation was founded and flourished by channeling small amounts of value tips into their own accounts. Most of the members followed Tom and Elizabeth in the transformation process. The street people continued to attend the meetings and thus were informed and conformed to the new ways. They acquired the assistance of many scientists and engineers’ as well as financial backing from some of the very bankers that the organization thought that they had under their wing. Their greatest procurement came in the form of BorOnWed which meant born on Wednesday. BorOnWed was a genetically engineered robot who had knowledge far beyond any of them and not only that but he was an expert at hacking the UniNet. He was able to reengineer the chips so that the organization received nothing but false information. Over a period of time, they would be able to completely destroy the organizations’ own system and replace it with their own. The UniNet was so complex that they did not have enough people to monitor everything that went on and the RHF as it was getting to be called, was able to open up new channels so that they could communicate, unnoticed. And so it was, that the aged people, who were the poor people, finally had a chance to make a life for themselves in a world created by science for the rich and powerful. The aged gained a new body, a new life and renewed their effort to destroy the very misguided social structure that had created them. These people could do something that nobody before them had ever done, they could live almost forever if they so desired. In March, 2576, miracles were finally happening. Science that was once the master would now be the slave. The same biological creatures that had been created on the earth millions of years ago gladly shared their world with the creatures that they had created, as it should be. Eventually, all creatures would be the same.
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