Stan ended his visit with the Individualist promising to get in touch with them if he noticed or heard of any problems with B.G. Enterprise’s monitoring system. Anita had confided in him that someone named Steve Jobs was about to do something. Something big. Something that would change the lives of everyone living under the suffocating blanket of the New World Government. Stan didn’t think that one man could make much of a difference in his life, let alone the lives of everyone else. But then again, Bill Gates was just one man.
Riding his electric motor bike back to Garnersville, the name Steve Jobs swirled in and out of Stan’s memory. He felt as though he should know the name. Was sure he had heard it before, but just couldn’t place it. He made a mental note to check it out at the main info console when he returned to work.
Arriving home that evening, Stan’s wife Emily was obviously upset. “Where have you been , Stanley?” (She called him Stanley only when she was upset.) “The Controllers have been sending messages here for the past six hours asking for you. They said you hadn’t logged in since the number 7 recharge station on the west Hudson bike trail. I told them you probably left the trail and lost track of time.”
(Emily had not been worried that something untoward had happened to her husband because that sort of thing just didn’t happen anymore. Everyone carried with them their own personnel locator transmitter, so if Stan had gotten hurt or was incapacitated the transmitter would have sensed this and activated itself, transmitting a signal to the closest Controllers’ station, sending a rescue team out immediately.)
“Their last message said they were sending out a search team to look for you. What were you doing, Stanley?”
Before answering his wife, Stan walked over to the central com center and quickly entered his social security number and allowed the retina scanner to positively identify him. He typed a short message into the machine.
Stan Walker, 012-52-5197. Reason for tardy login: I Left the bike trail and to my embarrassment got temporarily lost in the forest on the west slopes of the Hudson River. I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused the Controllers.
Stan hit send and waited for an answer. The Controllers replied within seconds.
Stan Walker, 012-52-5197. Message received. Explanation temporarily accepted pending mandatory investigation of unaccounted whereabouts of user. Penalty to user for failure to activate Locator: 200 Purchasing Units.
“Damn you people!” Stan yelled at the screen.
“Stanley! What’s wrong with you? What’s going on?
“Nothing. It just burns me that the Controllers have to know where we are every minute of every day. They keep tabs on us like we were prisoners. It isn’t right.”
“It’s the way the system works, Stan. It’s how they keep everyone safe. You know that.”
“It’s “1984” come true, is what it is Em. Just a little late.”
“Stanley, what’s gotten into you? Why are you so angry?”
Stan told his wife about having spent the whole day with a clan of Individualists. He told her how happy and content they had seemed. How none of the news reports they had been hearing about the inevitable demise of the Individualist were true. How maybe, just maybe they had made a big mistake choosing this life over what he had seen today.
“Oh my God, Stanley! You can’t be serious! You’re not thinking about giving up what we have here to go live in the woods with a bunch of nomadic crazy people, are you? Is that what your saying?”
“They’re not crazy, Emily! Stan yelled. “They’re normal people just like us. Except they chose to be free, to live their own lives, make their own choices. They refuse to be led around on a leash, dependant on the government for every aspect of their lives, like we are. If you ask me Em, we’re the crazy ones.”
Crying now, Emily Walker attempts to reason with her husband. “Stanley, we’re too old to go traipsing off into the wo…woods. We wouldn’t last a wu…week out there. Things aren’t so bad here, are they Stanley?” Emily’s crying turns into heart wrenching sobs. She covers her face with her hands, unable to continue.
Transfixed by what he was seeing, Stan walks over to his wife and puts his arms around her, hugging her closely. “Emily, my dear Emily, look at you. Crying like a baby. I never said we were leaving, and we’re not.” He moved her hands away from her face and lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. The sobbing had stopped but tears were still flowing from her ducts. He slowly kissed each of her cheeks, savoring the salty taste of her tears.
“We’re not going anywhere dear,” he told her again. “But tell me, when was the last time you cried, actually cried, like you did just now?”
“I don’t know. Why? Why would you ask such a thing, Stanley?”
“It’s been a long, long time, hasn’t it, Em?”
“I suppose. But so what? Do you get pleasure seeing your wife break down in tears?”
“No. Not pleasure Em. More like relief.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense, Stanley.”
“Yes I am, honey. Think about it. You can’t remember the last time you cried. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I cried about anything either. Even more disturbing is that I can’t remember the last time you or I laughed, actually had a rip-roaring laugh about anything. And it’s not just us, Em. Do we ever hear laughter at work? No, we don’t. How about when we walk past the park when it’s full of children. Do we ever hear laughter coming from the children, or even crying for that matter? No again.”
“So what are you saying, Stan?” asked Emily.
“I’m saying that our feelings and emotions are dulled. We’re turning into automatons, emotionless robots of this New World society.”
“You’re scaring me again, Stanley!” Emily shuddered.
“Sorry. But maybe we should be scared. Maybe if more people were afraid and incensed over their lives being manipulated and controlled by the NWG they would try to do something about it.”
“Do what, Stan?” Emily asked. “Start a revolution? Start a war?”
“No, Em, I don’t think it has to get bloody.
“Look, we were all grateful when Bill Gates convinced the world to disarm, and by doing so eliminated the threat of planet-wide destruction by a handful of hotheaded, egotistical political leaders. Hell, if it hadn’t been for Bill Gates stepping up to the plate with his zero tolerance verifiable disarmament technology the highest form of life inhabiting this planet today might be some mutant species of cockroach. For that he deserves his rightful place in history as the man who single-handedly saved the Earth from nuclear holocaust.
“But it should have stopped there, Em. At that point, Bill Gates’ foolproof monitoring technology should have been made available to all the governments of the world, allowing them to individually monitor and suppress any further attempts at rearming. We never should have allowed B.G. Enterprise to become the Big Brother of the world. We had laws in place to prevent that sort of thing from happening and we didn’t use them. Willingly, we allowed, even assisted Bill Gates in rewriting the laws to conform to his agenda. Like a deer caught in the hypnotic glare of oncoming headlights, we froze, we did nothing to prevent him from running right over the top of us. And by the time we blinked, it was too late. We had handed over control of the world to this one man. A man who admits to being a technology addict and a man who, however unintentionally, may very well reduce the human entity of the Earth into an unthinking, inconsequential biological form whose only usefulness will be as an expendable and replaceable extension of a self-sustaining, self-governing societal machine that no longer requires, nor will accept the input of human thought.
“It may be a safer, less threatening world we live in Emily, but at what cost? At what point does the price of simply maintaining an existence become too high?”
Emily had never heard her husband speak like this before, with such fervor, such conviction. She was tempted to assume it was because of what he had seen and heard at the Individualists’ camp. But Stan was never one to be swayed easily by someone else’s political rhetoric. As far as she knew, Stan never really paid much attention to, nor cared about the political goings-on of the world.
“Maybe your right, Stan,” Emily said. “But what can we do about it? You just told me we weren’t leaving here to go live with the Individualists. You haven’t changed your mind, have you?”
“No, no.” Stan answered. “Fortunately, I don’t think we have to do anything about it. I think someone else has already done something that will change things, change the way we live. All we have to do is take advantage of the changes when they present themselves. I think!
“Who’s going to change things, Stan?” Emily asked.
“The Individualists call him Steve Jobs. I intend to find out more about him when we go to work tomorrow.”
Stan and Emily did not register with the medical module that night as was required by the system prior to partaking in sexual activity. Thwarting the system further they refused to make love in their bed which would have picked up their activity through sensors in the mattress and they would have been rudely interrupted by the clanging alarm of the medical module insisting they register before indulging. Instead, they spent the night on the living room floor, physically and emotionally enjoying one another more than they had in a long time.
Stan and Emily worked for B.G. Enterprise. In fact, everyone worked for B.G. Enterprise. It wasn’t the only game in town, it was the only game on the planet for those who chose to live under the New World Government.
Before 2009 Stan had been a pilot for Delta Airlines and Emily a real estate agent in Garnersville. However, now that property was assigned to people according to their needs and ownership was not allowed, demand for real estate agents no longer existed.
Stan’s career as an airline pilot had also been pulled out from under him. Ever since the transportation industry was taken over by B.G. Enterprise and all forms of commercial transportation around the world had been upgraded to operate off the perfected Embedded Chip technology of B.G. Enterprise pilots, ship captains, railroad engineers, and even truck drivers were no longer needed. Planes fly the skies, ocean vessels navigate the seven seas and trains and trucks zig-zag across the land delivering their cargo, all piloted by a removeable silicon chip no larger than a credit card which is inserted into a vehicles onboard navigator prior to departure. This advanced version of the self-programming auto-pilot not only propels and navigates a vehicle from point A to point B but is capable of foreseeing mechanical problems developing within the vehicle under its control and initiating repairs before the problems have a chance to become malfunctions. The chip will also reprogram the onboard navigator in the event that weather and/or other traffic along its route dictates a deviation from its original auto-plotted course. This is accomplished through the chips interpretation of the continuous flow of data it receives from the global positioning and weather satellites above it.
Originally, this system had been designed with manual override capability. Back then the designers held to the assumption that should it ever fail, the reasoning abilities and common sense of the human brain would still be needed to take over for the non-thinking, inherently stupid electronic pulses of a computer system.
However, in the two years following implementation of this self-navigating chip technology into the transportation industry, it was determined that the added redundancy of the human element had been the single underlying cause of every accident, missed delivery, delayed shipment, or overlooked maintenance requirement that had been investigated.
It was the fatal collision of two passenger-laden Boeing 797s over the dark, cloudy, rain filled skies of Seattle, Washington that had precipitated the elimination of all human interaction with the self-navigating capabilities of all commercial aircraft. This one tragic event, which killed 681 people aboard the two aircraft plus another 210 on the ground, was quickly determined to have been caused by human error. Specifically, pilot error.
The final report stated that the pilot of the incoming 797 had overridden the auto-land sequence of his aircraft when his radar scope indicated another heavy was about to cross in front of him on the same course and at the same altitude. In reviewing the black box’s data of both aircraft it was determined that the onboard radar of the incoming jumbo was indeed displaying faulty altitude numbers on the pilot’s scope, but was also in the process of repairing the numerical glitch and resetting itself when the pilot took control. Had the aircraft been flying in clear skies instead of the zero visibility of the soupy cloud cover, the incoming pilot would have seen that the other aircraft was actually a safe 1400 feet above him. But the pilot, ignoring the absence of any warning alarms in the cockpit (which, according to procedure, was the only condition that allowed for pilot override) took control of the aircraft and frantically added power and tried to climb. When the proximity alarms finally did fill the cockpit as the result of his climbing to within a thousand feet of the aircraft above him, the pilot wrongly assumed that he had anticipated and properly reacted to the near miss projected on his radar screen even before his onboard computers picked it up.
The only word captured on the incoming 797’s cockpit voice recorder was the unfinished wail of, “Nooooooooo…!” This having been heard and recorded seven-tenths of a second before its starboard wing cut into the bottom of the fuselage just forward of the tail section of the hopelessly maneuvering aircraft in its path. Both aircraft exploded and fell six thousand feet, one crashing into the waters of Puget Sound while the other scored a direct hit onto a 300 unit apartment complex killing an additional 210 of its sleeping, unsuspecting residents.
As a result of the investigation, all pilots were removed from the cockpits of all commercially flown aircraft and the override capability of the onboard auto-pilot was de-activated. Not long afterward that trains, ocean going vessels, and trucks followed suit. Since then, there has not been one recorded incident involving a crash or even a near miss in the transportation industry. Stan no longer flew.
To compensate for the millions of jobs that were being lost to the advancing technologies of B.G. Enterprise, the New World Government assured all its people that they would be found gainful employment and be taken care of under a generous employee package of B.G. Enterprise.
During the initial transition from the free and open society that was once the United States to the closely scrutinized and protective global society that is now the New World Government, Stan and Emily had been employed as Installers. They were trained and given the task of installing monitoring devices in hundreds of residential homes in Garnersville. Upon completion of this job they were assigned to one of the Monitoring buildings that were being erected all around the world. They were fortunate in that they didn’t have to relocate because Monitoring Site #7243 had been built only a short distance from their home.
Now, Stan and Emily work side by side in one of eighty monitoring cubicles located on the third floor of the five story Monitoring Site. The building itself sits discreetly amongst a stand of fir and pine trees overlooking the Hudson River. However, what should have been conducive to a pleasant and soothing work environment for the employees inside was lost due to the fact that the building was windowless, as were all of the Monitoring Sites. Monitoring had become the name of the game in 2019 society and that’s what took place in these buildings every second of every day.
Stan and Emily both work the 1200 to 1800 shift. And although six hours doesn’t sound like much of a work day, the monotonous, mindless, drudgery of their work often made those six hours seem like ten or twelve. Their job is to monitor ship movements in the Atlantic Ocean. Each has their own 200 square mile grid of ocean to keep track of on a 17 inch tracking screen. Emily’s grid encompasses the northeastern most area of the United States — or what use to be the United States, now just another part of the New World — from the southern tip of what use to be Nova Scotia to two hundred miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Stan’s grid covers from Cape Cod on the north to the southern tip of New Jersey on the south. They consider themselves lucky in that their respective grids are in the commercial shipping lanes of the North Atlantic and not situated out in the middle of the ocean where you could stare at your tracking screen for weeks without seeing a single blip cross into your grid.
On August 11th, Stan and Emily intentionally arrived at site #7243 fifteen minutes early, allowing Stan to spend a little time at the main informational console located in the lobby. Here one could access information on anybody who was registered, or if not registered, at least known to the New World Government. This information was provided in a personal biography accessible to anyone who cared to look. The biographies were updated as notable events or changes took place in a person’s life, for example, a change in work assignment, medical problems, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, etc. Privacy no longer existed in today’s world and secrets were hard to keep.
Stan searched the database for one Steve Jobs, limiting the search to the North American continent. He watched as a list of 27 people with that name popped up on the screen. Scrolling down the list, Stan was able to quickly eliminate thirteen of the names that were followed by the word ‘deceased.’ Reading the bio’s of the remaining fourteen, Stan found that eight were under the age of sixteen, two were over ninety years old, and one was presently confined to a long term quarantine facility. (This usually meant AIDS or some other infectious disease.) Stan deleted those eleven, leaving three “possibles”. Of those three, the one that caught Stan’s eye was a Steve Jobs living in Livermore, California. Stan read that this Steve Jobs had been a co-founder and two-time CEO for a company called Apple Computer, which had been credited with creating the enormous personal computer industry of the 1980s. Also to its credit (or detriment, Stan thought), Apple was cited as the last remaining hi-technology company to be swallowed up by the global conglomeration of B.G. Enterprise, surviving numerous hostile takeover attempts until succumbing to the inevitable in the year 2009. Apple had even outlasted NASA and the European Space Agency, which had both been privatized and taken over by B.G. Enterprise in 2008.
Stan also learned that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had at one time worked together in their early careers. The bio went on to say that Steve Jobs had initially and vehemently argued and warned against Bill Gates’ proposal for a global government, but failing to convince more than a handful of humbled politicians and a terrified population, Jobs withdrew his objections and actually joined Bill Gates’ team as the head of B.G. Enterprises’ Embedded Chip production facility located on the campus of what once use to be the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Livermore, Ca.
Stan thought this had to be the same man the Individualist were hanging their hopes on. How this one man was going to accomplish any major changes in the way the world was being run, Stan hadn’t a clue. He exited the database and rode the elevator to the third floor where Emily was waiting for him in their assigned monitoring cubicle. He quietly told her what he had found out and then whispered, “I guess all we can do is wait and see what happens. The Individualists told me that whatever this guy Jobs has planned, it’s tied to the monitoring systems.”
Continued next month