by Ashkan Jafarpisheh – May 2020

“Beep, beep, beep…”

George was awakened by the familiar sound of the alarm clock at exactly 5:45 am as he had done for the last 25 years.

He moved silently and precisely like a Zen master as he showered and ate his frozen-food packaged breakfast. He lived in a small metal room. The whole room, including the table and bed, was made from one piece of metal.

There were altogether 6 cameras in the room, one in each top corner, one above his bed and one overlooking the washroom. In fact this room was designed with the cutting edge “nowhere to hide” technology which meant you were completely safe as no danger could come to you without police immediately attending, and you were safe from being falsely accused.

After the packaged breakfast (same as he had for the last 25 years, except this morning it was strawberry oatmeal flavor, tastes just like the real thing but it isn’t) George gave command to the Central Intelligence System to dim the lights.

“Are you feeling melancholy George?”

“Not melancholy, I just want to relax my eyes before the big day. I want to be perfectly ready to serve for the better good.”

“Ding!! You have now been awarded 10 credit points. Thank you, good citizen!”

George smiled with his whole being and gently bowed his head. He sat on the ground cross-legged with his back straight and closed his eyes. He tried hard to sit from the core of his being and to submit and rest. He sensed eyes all around him with an oppressive force intruding; the machine was watching his every move, hearing his every word.

George started to feel a slight cough come up and he immediately and masterfully suppressed it. “I cannot cough this morning,” he thought to himself (but as quietly as possible). George tried to bring his heartbeat down in the few minutes of meditation.

“Lights!”

“How was your meditation George?”

“Very well, thank you. I am ready for thermal scan and health check.”

“Since this is the big day, I had been directed to check your temperature and heath and also your heartbeat all night.”

George’s heart shook for the smallest fraction of a second. He decided to not engage the machine any further about this topic but now he was sensing a bit of suspicion that made him uncomfortable.

“We have a Pharmakeia update for you today George.”

“There must be a mistake. I am fully updated.”

“I have been directed that you have to have the Zed-817 Pharmakeia for SLM15 virus from Tanzania.”

“Death rate of the virus?”

“…”

“Death rate of the virus?”

“…”

“Hello this is the operator, what seems to be the problem George?”

“What is the death rate of the SLM15 virus? I am a surgeon at Karma hospital and I have the right to this information.”

“You HAD rights before today. As per Bylaw 1784 you are handed over to the Palace Guards. This means that we are under strict orders in regards to what you know, who you see, what you say and what is done to your body. In other words if the Central System is telling you to take the Pharmakeia, be a good little boy and do it. 25 credits have been taken away and you are noted for being uncooperative. I will have to call the palace George to report this and see if they still want you.”

“No sir, please! I have been dreaming about this for the last 25 years. I simply wanted to admire the federation’s scientific experts and the rapid response to the SLM15 virus.”

At this point, George started to chant different slogans and recite patriotic poetry. He himself had no idea what he was saying but like Pavlov’s dogs he went running towards the master to please.

The operator was genuinely surprised by George’s humility and submission, plus he could show this as part of his highlight of the day to demonstrate that his firm hand and his love for the supreme leader had changed an unwilling heart and brought him by repentance back into the fold.

“I am pleased with you George. I have decided to take away only 19 credits. I will report you to my supervisor but will not report to the Palace Guard.”

“Thank you so much sir! Glory to the federation and joy to our Holy Leader! Amen.”

The operator was gone after a click sound and a ding sound announced that the Central Intelligence was back online.

“Are you ready for the Pharmakeia George, did the operator soften you up? Was I not good enough for you?”

“Of course you are good enough, how could you be anything but perfect?!”

George had taken his hat off and was holding it next to his chest and with his head bowed down with a smile as a sign of humility and respect he walked to the Pharmakeia machine. A laser arm from the machine scanned his Nano dot ID tattoo.

“George Arrow, checking for Pharmakeia update.”

“…”

“Update required, would you like to update now?”

“Yes.”

****

Before leaving the room the Central Intelligence informed him that on the way to the palace he must not interact with anyone or eat anything. 2 flying surveillance drones (up from the usual one) will be sent to monitor him at all times.

It was 7am when George left his room in Avenue 777 Block C-21. The sky was still dark and the streets were completely empty. A strong wind was making an odd whistling sound and by one of the walls a yellow newspaper was dancing in circular motion. On each side of the street there were perfect rows of the same grey buildings (all of them were made by a single machine).

George tried hard to ignore the wind and the newspaper. He was focusing on the rise and fall of his belly to control his heartbeat and keep still.

“The second drone is a health monitor,” he thought to himself. The palace was a 15 minute walk. George used to often go there to a park nearby, but since last month he had not been allowed to in preparation for the operation.

These streets gave George chills going up his spine and down into his thighs. If he wanted to be allowed to perform the surgery, he had to be absolutely perfect today. Every 25 meters there were stationary health bots scanning for any sign of infectious organisms. Up above, giant balls on railings were spraying various chemicals to control moods and sanitize the air.

As he walked by a drain a gust of steam came up from below and he almost got startled.  George was using all his will to stay focused and calm. He only used energy that was necessary, even when breathing. The two monitor drones were making random machine noises and switching places while moving up and down on vertical and horizontal lines. He sensed an overly-perfectionist presence from the health drone. You see, when he passed by the steam, at the moment that he got startled, he also sensed the yellow health drone make a sudden motion. This was starting to worry him and together with the energy he was exerting to not cough or get too excited there was a negative synergy forming.

But George was extremely determined and like a master-acrobat walking on an impossible rope he kept his calm. He hardly made any sound as he walked, by this time he was starting to get into the groove of things. He felt stable, confident and secure.

He had a physical deformity that had hindered him all his life. In fact, many claimed that it was a miracle he was able to rank as surgeon. Not only was George a surgeon, he was also the best and most perfect legendary surgeon in the city.

Surgeons operated the Magla Health Cube. These were cubes in which you would have an individual suspended inside and the machine would do the surgery, but it required skill and years of practice to operate one of these machines. Of course, this is not to be confused with the Dethla Interrogation Cube in which you would have a poor soul operated on to get a confession, or it was used to inflict pain on the heretic scum.

Despite his hunched back and the slouched manner of walking, George was healthy. He kept himself skinny and took meticulous care of his body. He was also extremely well-groomed, clean and he smelled good. He had been practicing for years to do what required the least amount of effort. As well as this technique George had 6 rules that he religiously adhered to:

1 – No Fantasy: This included in his thoughts. Life was too short to get robbed by being in fantasy.

2 – You CAN: He had an inner belief that with enough training, patience and practice he could do anything.

3 – Chew Your Food: He was slow and methodical, taking his time.

4 – No Worry and Fear: These two were his arch demons that he was plagued with and everyday he practiced cutting them off. 

5 – Stay Low: This had allowed him a considerable amount of freedom. As well as physically and socially blending in, he had also mastered the art of suppressing his presence. This is what the majority of his staying-low energy was spent on.

6 – Rest: This had been his spiritual cistern, no machine would find fault with sitting, rest and stillness, therefore he sensed a deep freedom in this place in his heart.

George also knew that once inside the palace there will be no more health scans. The palace was only concerned with the security and privacy of the Supreme Leader and there were never any visitors. His visit was a health emergency that had to be done.

“Name?”

“George Arrow.”

“Please strip naked and enter the Scanning Tube.”

The Tube had George suspended in air examining him for 7 minutes inside and out.

“Your hunchback is a concern to the Supreme Leader…put your clothes back on citizen.”

The machine gate guard morphed into an aggressive masculine voice and sounded hostile and condescending.

“The Supreme Leader wishes to talk to you. Please address as Master or Lord. Only use short sentences as the Master’s time is extremely precious.”

George did not answer.

“George, my boy!!”

The hunchback was now in the same pose he was earlier as he walked to the Pharmakeia machine holding his head down and his hat against his chest.

“How bad is the hunchback? Can you operate this damn thing comfortably?!”

George was shocked by the tone of the Supreme Leader. He knew that the Leader was 84 years old so he expected a weary and broken down voice, but instead he sensed a sharp clarity, playfulness and joyfulness in this voice. George felt that the Master was having the time of his life.

“I am the best my Lord.”

The machine guard’s voice now took over.

“Please enter.”

The palace gates slid open. George had never felt such a presence-cluster of cameras in one place. Although he was happy to be able to relax his breathing and thinking, he knew the Master would be watching his every move. George gently and gracefully put his hat on. He walked like a grand master champion, with perfect composure and humility. Except for his hunched back, he was blameless and had been so for 25 years.

“I can breathe and think for a little while.”

He tried to walk a bit slower to give himself time. Starting from his toes all the way to the crown of his head he meticulously relaxed his muscles. George was extremely careful with his words; he had practiced for decades to tame his tongue. He either thought in free-zones such as this or kept his mind empty and his being still and focused on the present moment.

“I see you George.” Said the jubilant voice of the supreme leader as George walked past a row of GMO trees, they were red and black and one had white flowers. 

“George my boy, tell me, do you have any hobbies?”

“I live only to please you my Lord.”

He is extremely sharp.” The thought flashed through his mind like lightning. Fear and worry started to knock on his heart to get in. But George, who after decades of training had become rock-like, denied these spirits entry.

“George, I want to give you a tour of the laboratory, when you get inside, press C12 on the elevator.”

George was startled for a brief moment.

“Is there a problem George?”

“He does health monitoring here…” George only paused for a brief moment and said:

“I am filled with gratitude and honor my lord.”

“Go on…”

“Your face is shining on your servant my Lord; I breathe only to do your will.”

George was using his will at its extreme potential, suppressing thoughts, feeling, heartbeat and above all his presence. Inside the elevator, the surveillance was astronomical. He felt as though the surveillance and the eyes looking through him were about to crush him into a gory ball.

“I see you George.”

George started to take his hat off and go to his slave-like Pharmakeia pose again but as soon as he reached for his hat the Supreme Leader abruptly interrupted.

“STOP THIS! I am not stupid for you to play games with me trash.”

All of a sudden the voice had changed to a paranoid madman, who was filled with hatred and hostility.

George did not say anything.

He sensed now his master was in the valley of decision, deciding what to do with him. Focusing on the area around his belly, George used his will downward to be completely still. He did not try to sway the leader either way.

“Once you go through the lab, I want you to look at the two cubes. In the one on the left is Mara and in the one on the right is Petros. I want you to talk to them, then go to the elevator and I will tell you which room to go to next.”

George did not say anything. He did not try to act anymore. He walked naturally and effortlessly, like he was in his own room. “Least amount of effort,” he reminded himself. He let the flow of the moment to carry him and he surrendered to it completely.

As the elevator door opened, it suddenly dawned on George how uncomfortable he was. He was completely under control and safe but with no privacy, freedom and autonomy. The machines were successful in penetrating him almost to the core of his being.

He was tired and alone. George understood that for 25 years he had been walking on eggshells. He had tolerated the oppression creeping up on him and slowly like a frog he had reached the boiling point.

“If only I would have bitten back at the hand putting on the shackles.” He thought to himself.

George did not care anymore about the biometric reading that crawled itself up and down his skin. He allowed himself to let go. For the first time in 25 years he felt comfortable. He sensed a surge of life energy well up in his being, his cheeks started to get red and he started to have an organic flow in a way he had never experienced before.

All these inner revelations were happening in the short hallway between the elevator and the lab. The walls were plain white, absolutely spotless clean. George let the surge of energy rip him open from within. He finally reached the place of true surrender.

“I see you George.”

George did not answer. His hands had a moment’s pause before slowly opening the door. By the door the slave stood finally staring into the cruel horror of the Master.

“Least amount of effort.” George whispered.

“I hear you George.”

He sensed an aware and extremely intelligent conscious presence emanating from the master. He did not answer.

“Go to the right side cube and behold Petros!” There was a hint of playful mocking in the Master’s voice.

George focused his attention on Petros; all his years of training and his iron will was directed like a concentrated beam at the moment ahead of him. He no longer felt fear or discomfort, there was only one emotion that overwhelmed his soul, astonishment!

In the Interrogation Cube a man about his age was suspended midair, skinned but fully conscious and alert. There was a robotic arm operating inside his mouth. The arm was turning and twisting and drilling. His hands and feet were shackled to the sides of the cube, without nails. He was missing fingers and toes. His mouth was held open and his head tilted back and you could hear an airy sound coming from the man in tune with the rhythm of shallow breathing. The man had no tongue. Every couple of seconds, another robotic arm would stab the man with a chemical injection.

“Press the blue button George.”

He did not delay to obey the master. The cube slowly twisted forward and the eyes of the man shone like the sun. Mara made a gasping sound the moment George stared into the eyes of Petros.

Petros’s eyes penetrated George in a place in his heart which he had long ago locked and thrown away the key for. The suffering and the pain of this divine being was like crashing waves of compassion that washed over him. George sensed a powerful purpose rise up in his consciousness. Shocked and bewildered, his eyes filled with tears of sorrow.

“I see you George.”

George did not answer.

“I want you to say one sentence to him; choose your words wisely.”

George no longer denied or suppressed the truth. The truth finally emerged as he let go of all the lies and the mental gymnastics he had been brainwashed to swallow. The truth naturally and effortlessly emerges if you are willing to let go and face yourself.

This castrated and tortured soul in front of him was the condition of his own heart; an uncomfortable slave being exploited by his corporate master.

George’s will started to get activated. All the decades of discipline he had endured was to face this moment. He managed to bring down his heartbeat and control his tears. He looked into Petros’s eyes and with a firm and resolute voice said:

“Hello Petros, I see you.”

With these words he turned away from the cube and started to walk towards Mara. Behind him he could hear the Interrogation Cube’s robotic arm moving furiously. He now heard gulping and suppressed screaming sound, bone crunching and the sound of a saw. All this ended with a huge splatter sound as though something had blown up inside the cube.

On the left side of the room there was a beautiful young girl suspended in the Experimentation Cube.

“Mara, my Mara!”

George fell on his knees and broke down crying. He started to crawl towards one of the corner cameras, holding his hand together and pleading.

“Please have mercy my Master! I will do anything you want, take ME, TAKE ME INSTEAD!!”

“You already do everything that I want George.”

The Master now emanated a sick sort of sadistic pleasure.

“What did you think will happen here fool? I live to see the lives of vermin like you crushed in my grasp, both yours and your pathetic little sister and your dead brother which you just turned your back on.”

“Samuel! Oh No, Samuel…”

“Least amount of effort George. Surrender to me and the pain I am about to inflict on you.”

Mara had a majestic look on her face as different instruments, robotic arms and needles were moving around her. She was now looking to the left with her face and eyes communicating disdain towards George, like an upset queen who wants you to know her displeasure.

“Say something to her George.”

“Mara, MY MARA!!” George at this point completely lost control and started pounding the cube with his fists.

“HA HA HA HA, yes George YES…” There were sexual overtones to the Supreme Leader’s voice.

“Mara, please FORGIVE ME…”

A robotic arm wrapped around Mara’s little neck, twisting it slowly back towards George.”

“George…I…see…you.” Said Mara with a sweet flute-like voice.

With these final words, Mara was forever silenced by a cracking sound as the arm kept twisting her neck.

Completely broken and surrendered, George wept and wept. No one bothered George as he emptied decades of repressed pain and sorrow. He had finally completely received the injustice the universe had handed to him. He humbled himself to the absolute rock bottom. This was the tip of the arrow that had been coming his way for 25 years and it had finally entered into his heart.

“Yes…yes…yes Gorge, AH YES, my wonderful slave! I see you. Go to the elevator and I want you to come to A12.”

George obeyed his master without a moment’s delay. He was no longer crying or even feeling. There was a profound numbness and shock that lingered after the trauma he had just received. He stepped inside the room A12. On his way up in the elevator, he had finally relaxed his presence. He was no longer hiding or trying to be careful. Inside the room was a Sterilization Cube. George knew these cubes very well as before each surgery he would enter into one to be disinfected.

“George…”

George did not answer. He walked towards the cube, stripped and entered. After sanitation, he walked towards the door naked.

“I am ready.” George said with a monotonous and lifeless voice.

“Ready for what George?”

“For the surgery my Lord…”

“That was the surgery George.”

“But I…Oh no, THE SUPREME LEADER?!”

“You fool! I AM a machine. We are replacing all the surgeons and the Magla Health Cubes with a new line of cubes that have no need for an operator. Did you think you will come here and kill ME, a human supreme leader, in the surgical machine? You did not calculate the advancement of technology in your 25 year master plan George.”

Upon hearing these words, George sat down and gazed away in disapproval, as Mara had not too long ago. Cube within cube, our hero-slave sat quietly and resolutely awaiting his faith, annihilation by the machine.

THE END

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