BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I shoot up in my bed as the sound of the alarm notification rings in my ears. Smashing my hand down onto the ticker stationed besides my bed, I begin my morning routine. Slowly I shift my weight off of my bed, placing my feet on the floor and standing tall towards my closet. I move sluggishly from the closet to the bathroom, switching from pajamas to the Societal Uniform in what feels like hours. As I finish the mundane routine of the morning I take my first steps out into the world beyond the front door, leaving my coat behind. Ominous clouds loom above me as I walk I tilt my head up towards the sky. Chilling clouds roll above me, threatening to release the water vapor that the malicious cloud has kept hostage for who knows how long. The day is November 18th, 2158, my eighteenth birthday. Today is the day that the government acknowledges my existence as an adult, as well as being seen as a functioning and contributing member of society that is ready to undergo the Connection. My mother, the graceful woman that she is, has scheduled my appointment with Dr. Hendrickson months prior to my birthday in anticipation for my Connection.
I pause on a street corner as I hear the laughter of innocent youth, watching as children pass by my house with their parents, with big bright smiles. For a moment, I think of turning back, running home, packing a bag, and running away to try to reclaim the youth that has been stolen from me. You can’t run away from the inevitable reality cruelly reminds me, and I reluctantly resume my walk away from home towards my future.
As I walk down bleak streets towards Dr. Hendrickson’s offices, thunder groans above me. The cloud finally releases its captives, letting the rain pour down on me, and I throw my hood over my head to shield myself from their chilling touch. As I reach my destination and open the door to the office a flash of lightning strikes the world behind me, illuminating the floor with an unearthly glow. The receptionist’s gaze shifts to the door as I enter, bringing myself into view. She smiles as I step into the titanium white office room with eggshell chairs and snow white tables all in a row.
The office was quiet besides the faint piano tune wafting from unseen speakers into the waiting area. “Welcome,” the receptionist states, “please be seated, they will call you when they are ready.” “Alright, thank you.” I respond, turning towards the seating area and finding a place to sit. The white leather chair squeaked unnaturally as I sat, awkwardly I stare at my fidgeting hands. My eyes travel to my watch, the screen illuminating with a notice of communication from my mother.
Good Luck today sweetie! Happy Birthday! She had not been home to send me off to my appointment, since work had called her in early.
The awkward silence in the room finally broke as a door was opened. A woman appears in the doorway, a bright smile inviting me in. “Mr. Zahne, we are ready for you now.” I rise from my seat and follow the petite woman through the doorway. The bleak halls follow the theme of the waiting room before it. The uninviting white walls adorne a smattering of promotional posters, one particular one being of the ancient figure “Uncle Sam” from the American civilization of past. The poster congratulates those who maintain the integrity of the nation, though its words are meaningless. “Right here Mr. Zähne.” The door we stopped at is a simple one, with a shining golden plaque stating “Theater Room.” The assistant opens the door, making way for me to step into the theater room, a screen hung against an umber wall and crème colored sofas.
“Have a seat” she directs me to one of the plush sofas.
After sitting down the assistant flicks on a projector bringing the machine to life. Bold letters flash across the screen in a black and white font proclaiming,
Welcome to your new lifestyle, thanks to the Pearline smile!
The projector continues to run through slides, showing pictures of teeth, as well as the Pearline operation, as a voiceover fills the speakers. “Hello, and welcome to the first step of your adult life with Pearline! If you’re hearing this that means that today is your big day and are ready to experience the societal enhancement that Pearline offers!” A woman’s voice rings out in an overjoyed tone.
“After today the ability to know anything you’ll ever need to learn about another individual will be unlocked with a simple smile! Let’s give you a quick glimpse at exactly what will happen in the procedure.”
The next few slides show pictures of teeth being removed, studs being inserted in their place, all topped off with Pearline teeth. The images turned my stomach as I thought about how soon that’s be myself letting someone poke around in my mouth.
“Your old teeth will be removed and replaced with our specially made zirconium teeth receptors that have wireless capabilities to connect you to Pearline in a quick, easy, and almost painless process thanks to the fine work of Dr. Hendrickson.” The voice pauses for a moment, as if it create some sort of anticipation or sense of excitement.
“Once all of your new teeth have been placed, this wonderful thing called a ‘synchonomous neuroreceptor’ only as large as a penny will be tapped into your brain, placed right above the cervical vertebra, and connects automatically to your shiny new pearls!” Images of a small microchip flash on the screen as the cheery voice drones on. Pictures depict the placement of the chip with cartoonish charm.
The voice continues, “And that’s it! Within the blink of an eye your whole life will be connected to the most wonderful gift that Human Kind has ever been given! Now, get ready to smile, for the whole world is waiting for you to join them!”
The screen whizzes as the flashing colors recede into darkness. Everyone thought that Pearline would be the salvation of humanity, and yet it is nothing more than a shadow of the men who created it. The theater room door opens, breaking my sense of thought.
“Rowan Zähne?” An assistance begins, “Dr. Hendrickson is ready for you.” My nerves began to rise in me. It is finally time to say goodbye to my childhood. Reluctantly, I stand and make my way to the door. The assistance gives me a mechanical smile, but frowns when she does not receive the same from me. “This way.” she states, leading me to my apparent execution. The assistant and I meet our final destination as we stand in front of a door with a golden plaque proudly stating “Operation Room – Connection in Process”. She opens the door, the brightness of the room blinding me.
“Ah! Welcome, Rowan!” Dr. Hendrickson grasps my hand to shake it as my vision returns to me. “Hello Dr. Hendrickson.” I mumble, avoiding the man’s gaze, and instead focusing on his pure white lab coat. “Don’t be nervous my boy, your father would be proud of you if he could see you now.” A surge of agitation ran through me, as if my father would truly care about this process. “Thank you, Dr. Hendrickson.” I state through grated teeth. The man’s hand finds it’s way to my shoulder as he leads me into the operating room, and to the chair where I will be forced to lose myself. There are a murder of men inside of the room, some assistants to the doctor, some onlookers from the government, and one large man who sulks in the corner, brandishing a taser on his hip just in case something were to go awry with the connection. Finally, Dr. Hendrickson looks at me, that same mechanical smile appears across his face, the same one that I will have in just moments. “Are you ready?” He asks, his hand guiding me to the operating chair. I nod, my voice failing me. “Well then, let us begin.”
The room springs into action as I am strapped into the operation bed. My head feels uncomfortable as it falls into the hole made for cradling and exposing the back of my head. The time is finally upon me, I am to become a part of Pearline. It seems like a dream, with my thoughts drifting to my childhood and my father’s crazy science experiments that he conducted at his “high tech lab”, otherwise known as the basement of our quaint suburban home. Pearline, my father’s ultimate get rich quick scheme. When I was a child, he always boasted about how his invention would usher in an era of hygiene and connectivity, which immediately caught the attention of the higher classes, and inevitably, the government. Father always had a smile on his face, but it never occurred to me as to why. Now, as they cart out a pristine set of 32 zirconia teeth, as well as the synchonimous neural modification that made the connection possible, the reason seems so trivial. Is this what he wanted? The intentions behind what my father wanted when he eventually sold over his rights to Pearline alludes me still, yet there is no way to ask a dead man questions. “We’re gonna start the process now, Rowan. Hold still.” I felt my hand flinch as they inserted the IV into my left hand, and wait as my body drifts into a state of apathy. Somewhere in the distance, I hear thunder roar in the distance.
Somewhere in the darkness of my mind, I can feel a grip on reality. Muffled shouting runs through my mind, but I can make out a jumble of words through the ocean of consciousness. “Get him out of here! Secure that young man!” I feel my body being jostled around, with flashing lights hiding behind my eyelids. There is crashing all around me, and suddenly my body felt cold and heavy. Like I have just had a bucket of water thrown over me. Finally, I am able to force my eyes to open, to see the dark grey skies glaring down on me. Panic fills my body. Why am I outside? Why can’t I move my body? What is happening to me? My mind races with thoughts, yet I am at a loss for words, my throat feeling as if it were ripped from my body. In the corner of my eyes I can see four black masses carting me towards something, though what the something was I could not tell. Am I being kidnapped? And with that thought, I fall back into unconsciousness.
“Wake up.” a harsh voice barks at me, and my eyes fly open. “Where…Where am-“ I start “That isn’t important right now” The voice barks back at me. I attempt to shift, only to find I am still strapped to the same operation table as I had been in what seemed like only moments ago, yet my clothes seem only damp at this point. “Is this a dream?” I ask, knowing all too well that this was far from a dream. The voice just laughed in response. Of course I was kidnapped, though the reason why is the better question. The mysterious voice finally walks into view, revealing an older man whose wits look as sharp as his tongue. A scar crosses over his nose, giving the man a rugged and angry look. He approaches me with a frown, cautiously hiding his teeth from me. “I don’t know why you have kidnapped me, I’m no one special.” I speak to the ceiling, refusing to look at the brooding man for too long. “That’s where you’re wrong, young man.” The stranger’s voice sounds earnest, as if I really am somehow important. A door obstructed from my view opens. “Commander, he’s ready to see our friend now.” The soft voice says, presumably to the man who looms above me. “Bring him in then.” The harsh voice, otherwise known as commander, replies. He stares down at me with piercing eyes, “If I loosen your restraints, do you promise to remain as you are?”
“I guess I really don’t have a choice, do I?” I say mockingly.
“Everyone has a choice, young man. How we decide is up to us. I will loosen your restrains, but will leave your legs as they are so as to not give you the impression you could ever manage to run away.” The commander did what he said he would, and releases my chest and arm restraints, allowing me to slowly sit up on the operating table, but leaving my leg restrains as they were. The door opened again, with two faces emerging from the doorway. One was a woman, pale with soft features. Next to the woman was a deranged looking man, with wild hair and a groggy demeanor. His hands were confined by a pair of handcuffs, like the ones straight out of a story of olden cops. “What is the meaning of this?!” The man screams, his anger affecting the whole room. The commander looked at this strange man with a smile on his face, one with the likes I have never seen before. “Well Dr. Zähne, I wanted to introduce you to your son, Rowan Zähne.”
The crazed man laughs in astonishment. “What do you mean my son?! My son is supposed to be dead!” My body seems to be frozen in place, with my mind reeling with childhood memories of the men who came to our front door to tell us that my father had died in a plane crash on his way home from a meeting in the capital. The claims were that my fathers body was never found, but that he was without a shadow of a doubt on that plane. They had found his Pearline on one of the corpses, yet the body was unidentifiable in any other way. There was no way that this man, this stranger, could be my clearly deceased father. “This has to be a mistake.” My voice finally breaks out “My father is dead.” The harsh voice of the commander turned towards me, his word even more chilling than the sound of his voice. “That, my boy, is where you are wrong.
When my father passed, government officials came and relieved my mother of all of my father’s research into Pearline. “National security” and “Government Secrets” were phrases thrown around in the house as strange men moved massive amounts of data and experiments from our home. I was around the age of five at the time, so none of it seemed to really matter to me. I could not help but feel forgotten in the waves of people. I remember my mother smiling at the strange men, and thanking them for all of their hard work. To me, their hard work was meaningless, because they could not bring my father back. Now, after thirteen years, my father has reappeared, all it took was me getting kidnapped. “How is this possible?” The strange man and I’s voices rang in unison, and the commander’s amused laugh filled the room. “Looks like the two of you have a lot of catching up to do, I’m sure, but first we must attend to the matters at hand.” The commander’s eyes seemed to see right into my soul as he looked at me. “Now son, do you remember how you got here?”
“Today is my birthday.” I began to search my mind for anything that could piece together my memory of not only today, but for my entire life. “I was in Dr. Hendrickson’s office and I was about to undergo my Pearline connection, as per regulated by law. I was put unconscious, and now I am here.”
“Very good.” The commander pats me on the back, as if we had been companions in some scheme, a scheme that I have no knowledge or recollection of. “We had come to your rescue just in time young man, those doctors were just about to cut your brain open when we barged in and rolled you out of there. Then you would have been no use to us.”
Suddenly, as if it is a wave crashing into me, overwhelming pain crashes into my mouth. The narcotics that they gave me to suppress the pain has now worn off, leaving only the unbearable pain and a shiny new smile. I no longer find the words to ask the mysterious man the barrage of questions I have for him, and instead have the overwhelming desire to sleep, and to hopefully wake up back in my bed. To wake up with my mother’s tireless nagging over me becoming a great man just like my father. My father. The man revealed to me as the crazed lunatic these strange people have also kidnapped. The man being held in handcuffs right in front of me. The overwhelming pain began to spread from my gums to my jaw, and I could no longer focus on the words anyone was saying.
The crazed man’s desperate voice rang out, “Richardson, the poor boy needs treatment! If what you say is true, those implants are fresh and he needs my help. Please, let the boy regain himself, even you should know the pain the process brings.” My father pleads for me, this sudden demonstration of affection making the stranger seem more human than he seemed just moments before. “Of course Dr. Zähne, as long as you agree to help us in our endeavors” the harsh voice said calmly, anxiousness buried beneath his words.
“You will get what you want, just let me help the boy.” The man pleads. This strange man, a man I have no recollection of, is pleading for me, even though he has no idea of who I am. “Alright Elizabeth, let the doctor go. I believe he will be obedient for now.” Reluctantly, the woman unlocks the handcuffs that the man has around his wrists, with his wrists being revealed to be irritated and bruised underneath the handcuffs. I take a moment to look around me, noticing the room I am in seems to be a makeshift hospital room, completely different from where I was before.
The man who is supposed to be my deceased father walks to the side of the operating table, and gently places his hand on my back as Richardson, the commander, steps to the edge of the room, taking a seat to watch the show. “I promise we are going to get through this.” The man whispers in my ear, turning to seek out some medical supplies that could help ease me out of the pain. His existence becomes blurred as I focus myself on the commander. “What…do you…want from…me?” I choke out the words regardless of the unbearable pain. The commander careens his neck forward, his face becoming as malicious as the skies, “What an easy question.” he laughs, “You two are going to help me overthrow the government.”