WRITTEN BY CARLA DIVRY
The screen turned black and the surging energy of the Trans started to leave my body. My stomping heart-rate decreased as the thick gel substance that encased my body sank into the floor, leaving me feeling empty and cold. Reluctantly, I removed the connection cord from the port behind my left ear, the silky metallic glasses from my eyes and the syringes on my wrists. Opening the glass panel, I stepped out of the Trans after 788 oans, four full days. Another new record. I wondered what I had been doing in the Trans for so long, but I’d know soon enough after my Trans records had been processed.
Few minutes had passed and I already felt the pull of gravity making my limbs feel heavy, the lacking clarity of my brain and the flat and dull surroundings of my Hub. The strength, sharpness and intensity of the Trans gone.
The Trans implant screen on my arm lit up, indicating my restoration time. Thirty one hours. Anxiety filled my chest. I know my body will shake and long for the buzz of the Trans. That was the consequences of staying in the Trans for too long. The increasing desire to return and the struggle of living without it.
With hours to kill before being able to return to the Trans, I decided to look for something to eat, drink and someone to talk to. Regaining my balance and ignoring the wobble from my ungiving legs, I exited my Trans room and walked down the short confining corridor to the kitchen.
To my dismay the kitchen was completely empty, with no food or a soul in sight. The room was dark, musty and unforgiving. Specks of light snuck through the now decaying drapes highlighting the thick layer of dust growing on the table top. I hated the Hub for that; ever since the legal limit for the Trans had increased to 1200 oans, I rarely got to see Dad or Alken. My interaction with them plummeted from a conversation a week to a word or two a month. The only thing not covered in filth was the Suffuse. It was undusted, which meant either my brother or my dad was out of the Trans recently and had readied a meal.
I glided through the corridors passing rows after rows of rugged metal panels - my body finally adapting to the pull of gravity- until I came to a stop, flanked between two identical rooms. In the centre of each room was the familiar simplistic glass tube that held the technology of the Trans. The Trans glowed compared to the worn and rusting panels along the walls. In one room Alken was running furiously, ducking invisble obstacles, moving them with his mind and shouting soundless commands. He was probably in one of the game realms the Trans offered after working a long shift.
Surrounding him, the Trans radiated light in faint colours of purple, green, yellow and blue in a display as impressive as the flower gardens of the greenair bubbles. The strong aura of the Trans was calling me towards it, demanding me to return. I can’t, I told myself, I would not. I looked into the other room. Unlike my brother, my father was still in the lab. I could tell by the way his lips were moving deliberately in the gel, explaining to his co-workers about the unknown objects in his hands.
They are both here! Selfish and addicted, I thought. One of them took the last sustenance packets and didn't bother to get any more. Not that I blamed them, leaving the Hub was something everyone liked to avoid.
I went to the living room and got ready to leave. The whispering wind flowed from under the door, insisting that I should leave security of the Hub, calling me to go outside for the first time in over a year. Uneasy excitement coursed through my veins. With my compression sack over my shoulder and my Trans implant indicating that I had sufficient funds, I unbolted the doors and exited the Hub.
I welcomed the waves of heat that flowed from the ground. The smell of burnt wood and dirt filled the air hinted with the underlying scent of something sour, stinging and strong. The effects of the genobioshpere spray that was emitted to the surface of the earth 50 years ago had left a mark that had yet to fade. The result of the spray was even more disastrous than doing nothing. Dark orange brown and black powder surrounded the intricate cracks lining the ground. A vast majority of plants, bacteria and protists were eliminated, no longer able to survive on the surface. The Trans was invented in order to make sure this did not happen again. All the experiments now took place in the Trans Realms, so that another mistake this bad would never happen again.
I was admiring the thousands of greenair bubbles scattered around in the distance, protecting anything from small plants to trees and forests, when I saw them. A group of people were approaching my way, their faces scrunched in disgust when they saw the Trans implants on my arm and the port behind my ear. Labourer, they had to be. They did the rigorous and taxing work of implementing the successful experiments in the Trans realms to Earth. They made what had been proven in the Trans a reality. Their skin was dark and dry from working long hours under the blazing sun, yet they walked with strides so powerful and graceful in their lean bodies. I envied them, the Trans left me feeling incomplete and unsatisfied with my body. I saw the world through a blurry lens; my brain is fogged, tired, vulnerable and my body heavy and stiff.
The brown powder path in front of me had changed a lot since the last time I was here. The once wide street filled with vibrant stores, loud shoppers and children’s streaks of delight, was deserted. Quickly I entered the market, collected and paid for enough sustenance packets to last a few months and carefully placed them in my compression sack. I felt uneasy after my encounter with the Labourers and the emptiness of the street.
The Trans implant on my arms turned green, the port behind my ear buzzed with energy, indicating that my Trans record had finished processing. That was very fast for 788 oans of data, too fast. Something was wrong. Something urgent that needed to be said. I didn’t care where I was, that I was outside of the Hub, that the Labourers were around, that the streets were uncharacteristically deserted, I pressed play. The port behind my ear buzzed to life and images began to form before my eyes. The quality was bad, the memories were partial and fragmented.
“Did you have to exterminate B-247?” asked Nolan, my coworker.
“Yes, it needed too much water.”
“If it's not water, it’s temperature, mineral nutrient or respiration; when are we ever going to get this right.”
“We should have gotten Elden to get it checked out, he never would have missed that,” I asked. “Why isn’t he here yet, his restoration time can’t have taken this long right?”
“Have you still not guessed what happened to Elden?”
“What do you mean?”
“He was offline for more than 5000 oans, Amira, He’s gone!”
A face flashed, Elden. He’s dead, along with many others.