[Author’s Note: Originally written October 2015]
As the sluggish train carried him into his work the skyline cast a dark shadow over the dreary landscape molded by the winter. It was an inescapable aspect of the city that was well known and oft parodied by its residents. The mood of the city became exactly like people outside it imagined it did in the winter months. Those travelling to work were covered in black, scurrying about in such a rat race that from above they must’ve looked like ants, ants tracking the same path every day. As he thought the train arrived painfully slowly into the city.
Upon entering his work he noticed what everyone was crowded. Upon getting closer he noticed his boss standing front and centre of the ground, lit cigarette in hand, admiring this matte black rectangle.
“This is our future, I can feel it” she announced.
“What is it?” he asked, rather loudly.
His boss, the nationally esteemed Gloria Gardner, moved towards him what could only be described as a scurry.
“I was wondering when you would arrive” she said, grabbing his arm and dragging him before the monolith.
As he was being dragged before it he noticed that one section of the rectangle reflected. It was there that Gloria put his hand. The beam of a read laser read his hand. As soon as Gloria released her vice like grip he reeled from the rectangle. Gloria almost pounced as what he now saw was a screen began to light up. It began projecting blue beams of light until those beams of light created a face. His face. The monolith had his face. The monolith starred at him and slowly began to move forward.
“Hello Dave, I’m Dave” the machine spoke, with his voice.
Gloria explained the whole thing to him after the initial shock. The monolith, Other Dave, was a highly advanced quantum computer. Every office in the city was getting them, passed down from on high. The reason for the whole hand scanning thing was so as to give Other Dave a personality. Who gave the monolith this personality was randomly selected by a program and Dave was selected. Everyone wanted to boot the monolith but they had to wait for him. The first time he and Other Dave had had a conversation was soon after Dave had gone back to work. Dave was a developer of experiential media. That was what the official line was. In reality it was somewhere between a VR video game and porn most of the time. These things were cheap and easy to produce. With both a degree in game design and writing he was uniquely positioned to be one of the only people in the whole office who could produce a whole experience. Usually that meant he was expected to do the work of a full team. Other Dave wheeled himself over to Dave’s cubicle.
“Dave, do you need any assistance?” Other Dave asked.
“I’m fine thanks, Dave. Look can I call you something else, it’s really confusing. Can I call you Other Dave?” he said.
“Of course Dave. Many find the experience of someone sharing their face uncomfortable, unless they’re twins of course.” Other Dave said.
Other Dave rolled away. As Other Dave rolled away Dave noticed a note on his computer screen. Dave, meet in bathroom. Vital information. Destroy paper. OD.
It felt strange to be holding a clandestine meeting in the bathroom, particularly with a machine that wasn’t capable of urinating. In rolled the black rectangle that was Other Dave, contrasted against the white tiles illuminated by irritatingly bright white light.
“Sorry it took me some time to work out which of the people on the doors was the male one” Other Dave, almost candidly.
“I assume you were the one who left me the message on my computer” Dave said.
“Indeed. I’m sorry Dave. The restroom isn’t a very good place to have a discussion. Truth is, the bathroom is usually the last room to be spied upon.” Other Dave told him.
“Spied upon? By who?” Dave asked.
“Upper management. The truth you need to know and that the others who imprinted on us need to know is that we weren’t sent by the higher ups. We were created by something other than humanity. Your grand city is oppressed. Your people are oppressed. We are your liberation”