Some future. First, they warned us that we were running out of jobs, because labor was too expensive and machines always did it better. Then, the government stepped in and mandated universal job-having. Everyone has a job. Everyone must have a job.
So how did the corporations respond to this? Poorly. What could they do? Innovate. So they innovated something called the labor clamp. A little device that they slap on the cerebellum of any non-smarts worker to essentially turn them into a robot during the nine to five. Or if you’re like me, the midnight to eight. ‘Reduced liability, which saves us money,’ or some shit like that.
That’s enough griping for today, time to buckle down and clamp on. Good night and good luck, I’ve heard them say. Dream pleasant thoughts and hope you have all of your fingers in the morning.
The clamp goes on and I get to work.
Sometimes, if I had a really rough day, I pony up the extra ten bucks it costs to tailor your labor dreams. Your body does not like to move around too much when it is asleep so it puts you in lockdown. The clamp gets around that, and the body hates this. While the clamp makes your limbs spin about, flipping burgers, or frying fries; there are a lot of signals going straight to the mind that it cannot make sense of. If you have the money, you can boot up a simulation where your deluded dreams of working a spatula turn into the swing of a tennis racket or, as I am fond of, the swish of a blade. Sometimes, you get lucky and have an aftershock of the paid-per-dream and experience it the next night, free of charge.
Tonight is one of those nights.
I’m on the high seas swashbuckling with some furious pirate, then I’m fight some star lord with laser swords. The quality in this aftershock is shit, but it beats flipping a billion psychedelic chicken patties.
Each dream flashes by like slides of an ancient projector. Scenic views of luxurious places I only get to touch once before being whisked off to some other faraway land.
The dreams slow, there’s a knife in my hand, and I’m holding it in someone’s gut. Their shocked face mirrored mine. You sometimes get a bad dream every now and again, but it only lasts a few seconds, or if you’re unlucky and the clamp’s workplace stress reduction algorithm doesn’t kick in, the duration of your shift. A few seconds later, I feel a sizzle on my neck and I’m sent off on to another adventure.
I feel like a pirate tv signal, what with this constant flipping through different channels, it is exhausting but so rewarding when you catch a glimpse of one of those ‘premium’ shows that you normally have to pay $9.99 to watch.
Until it stops, and you wake up. Your shift is over, and you should be back in the break room, ready to go home. Except, shift’s over, but I don’t know where I am. I don’t need to leave the restaurant to do my job, but yet, here I am in an ally with the morning sun hot in the sky.
I’ve always heard rumors about clamps going haywire. So while I’m glad this blood coating my arms and chest is not my own, I’m a little scared about what I may have done.
So I run. I take off the clamp and toss it in the trash, and I don’t. Stop. Running.
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