On the afternoon of my graduation, everything was blowing in the wind, everything, even the stupid little beanies that we had to wear on our heads, even the lab-coats of our surrogates, the tablecloths, and of course the president’s mouth blowing at the lectern.
The sun had followed its never-ending Zenith across the sky and bathed everything in sticky sweat in spite of it being the middle of January. I’ll never understand why people always insist on having those kinds of ceremonies out of doors. Everyone would’ve been more comfortable inside. I know I would’ve been, but it wasn’t just the heat that was making me uncomfortable. It was also the fact that I, Noah Ball, was valedictorian of that miserable little ceremony.
Normally I didn’t feel nervous behind a lectern, but the day of my graduation was different. Normally I just didn’t care – I didn’t care if they heard me – I didn’t care what they thought of me – I didn’t care if my lecture was good or not.
And why should I’ve cared – the other andrones blamed me for the loss of Shay. But my graduation ceremony had affected me. For some reason I worried.
It felt like my blood-sugar was low – it felt like the kind of nervous energy I got whenever I needed something to eat. For the first time, in all my years at the academy, I felt pressured. And what aggravated me the most was that I couldn’t figure out why I was so nauseated.
At the time, I was too young to realize that my being cut loose from the only parent I had ever known – the academy, caused my apprehension.
Now the apprehension, excitement, and newness are gone. Three years in this crystal palace and I’ve lost my enthusiasm – as I sit here in a black leather chair in an office surrounded by windows filled with trees and a distant view of Seattle.
I thought about Shay. I regretted what had happened to him, even though it wasn’t my fault. I regretted having to wear this plastic octopus helmet wrapped around my head, but I so enjoyed the information and control that it gave me. I can’t imagine life without it.
I was absentmindedly going over the latest lab results when Justin burst through the door – almost every single tooth exposed in some gleeful discovery as he stood there rocking back and forth, wringing his hands, waiting for me to acknowledge him.
“Yes, Justin, what is it?” I said thru clenched teeth.
“The results are in for the neuronal response testing procedures,” Justin said, as he continued rocking on the heels of his neon cowboy boots like an exited child.
I looked up only to notice that the curls in his hair were thicker than normal – it must’ve been the humidity – I released the tension in my jaw as it was starting to hurt. I was already aware that the cilia wrapped neurons responded well to the sonar pulses just as Ouroboro had said they would.
When I had talked to him, on our androne only network, he had already told me what would happen – when he had requested the project in the first place, but I played along with the moronic child scientist in front of me and said, “Yes Justin?”
“98% of all the neurons responded to the sonar pulses,” Justin said.
I continued reading the lab results that already displayed that very same information on the screen right in front of my virtual eyes. Justin’s triumphant smile was replaced by a look of indecision – a child suddenly worried that he’d done something wrong.
“Thank you, Justin, please shut the door behind you.”
“Your welcome,” Justin cracked an uncertain smile, spun on a heel, and hurried off to his workstation.
And then I thought to myself, “It’s too bad that the outlawing of guns didn’t imprison enough of these rednecks and now that some of them had died off, there should be enough room in the prison camps to fit more of them in it.”
I hated having to deal with these stupid people especially now that some of them were getting jobs in The crystal palace. As deputy general manager of the bioengineering research department I was beginning to resent having to deal with them on a daily basis.
Their manners were so unsophisticated. They revealed too much about their personal lives, not to mention that unbearable accent – they smiled excessively, and were so completely ignorant about things of culture.
For example; at the Christmas party, Justin ‘Buba’ Smith wanted the bartender to pour some 2018 Monte Krista Bordeaux into his orange juice – of all things!
If only there’d been a way of inflicting some sort of a cultural awareness test on all the new hires, the rural applicants could’ve been weeded out and the quality of life in this crystal palace would’ve been greatly improved. It wouldn’t hurt the gene pool either.
I was tempted to give Justin responsibilities that were beyond his abilities – just to watch him fall, but a subconscious detractor reminded me of how Shay treated me at the academy. It was like something was telling me that this type of behavior was what I despised most of all.
I knew that it would contradict my values more than the effort was worth. And I didn’t need to make any enemies here, because I felt alone enough as it was.
I had wished that I’d kept up with more of my classmates from the academy, but they had pissed me off so much with their silly obsession over Shay. I never understood why they admired the juvenile prankster.
None of them knew what it was like to have him for a mentor and have to rely on such an imbecile for guidance on a daily basis. I could never count on him for anything except to screw things up. None of them could ever understand me except for Gail, my biological mother. She seemed to understand the pressure of being the best.
Sometimes I wonder if she is the voice that I occasionally hear when I’m connected. Is she that subtle nudging that I feel whenever I’m looking for my next move?