By Yu Jialu (20J05)
In the year 2525, when the human race was indubitably benefitting from a monopolist that had absolute control over all things technological, the world government fell into a totalitarian state.
Capital punishment became very common. However, it was solitary confinement that all people feared. Fortunately and unfortunately, that is reserved just for treason.
Everybody knew somebody, or knew somebody who knew somebody who had died a tortuous death for transgressing against the Capitol.
I work as one of the top bioengineers to design the system of SoCon and let me tell you the sweet process of how it operates.
The confinement cells are molded to fit the prisoners exactly, from the tip of their fingers to the curve of their eyelids. The cells are a perfectly bespoke human shaped coffin. How delightfully designed isn’t it? Arms 45° from the body and legs 30° apart. I couldn’t think of anything finer.
The condemned are tranquilized before they are fitted into the cell and sealed permanently shut. A breathing tube is inserted into their throat for exhalation and inhalation and 4 thin intravenous tubes are inserted through their nostrils into their stomachs for the intake of nutrients. Oh and we used 4 tubes instead of 1 incase of mechanical failure. The health of our inmates are of utmost importance. Lastly, a catheter is inserted into their lower body to remove excretory waste. Cleanliness of importance too.
The condemned are sealed and their cells stacked both vertically and horizontally to form an interconnected system. You should see how magnificent the sight is, the view of the condemned fitted perfectly into transparent confinement cells. With enough autonomous supplies to last a hundred years, they are to be considered dead from that day.
“Doctor, inmate 2525 is here.” a monotonous voice called to me.
“Thank you Siri, bring in the subject.” I smooth out my impeccable white coat and turn around.
A levi-chair hovered into the laboratory. A young woman in her twenties was strapped to its seat adoring a straitjacket. She had a head full of silky red hair, skin as fair and smooth as velvet and piercing green eyes that starred menacingly back at me.
“Oh, goodness! What kind of treason could you have commited?” I gasped at her youthful face.
It was such a refreshing sight to see.
“Levying rebellion against the state, pledging allegiance to a secret party and offering aid to the Organics.” the toneless voice reported.
“Ah, a rebellion? How romantic.” I widened my eyes and clasped my hands in interest.
The lamb was awfully silent and scowled at me with anger written all over her face.
“Leave it to me Siri, I can take care of the rest.” I chirped and waved my hand in a gesture.
Instantaneously, two robotic arms descended from the ceiling and began working on her body. First peeling off her clothes and then cleansing her body with a chemical wash. She screamed in protest and poured profanities out at me, tearing her nails into the machine limbs but to no avail.
“Oh no darling, don’t damage your fingers, it’ll be such a hassle to disinfect.” I shook my head disapprovingly and frowned.
“Sedate her Buric!” I waved my hands decisively.
Her cries gradually died down and the room became quiet.
I sighed to myself, back to my own company again.
“A rebellion...helping the Organics huh?” I propped my chin on my hand as I tapped my fingers thoughtfully on the table top.
“Well, it's a cruel world out here.” I murmured.
In a society driven by eugenics, genetic profiling has no doubt become a necessity. We have come to perceive that every part of the human body is inherently limiting. From our emotions that deemed us irrational creatures to our every beat of our heart that rendered us vulnerable. We wanted to replace every part of our body with something bigger, better and more efficient than ourselves.
“Oh well.” I sighed.
I stepped on my hovercraft and leaned to the right. It levitated into the air and I was immediately brought towards one of the cells. I admired the smooth curves of the human coffin, this one in particular had an even larger curve at its front.
I paused to look at the information tablet, checking her vital signs.
“Blood pressure is slightly high,” I muttered to myself as I adjusted her nutrient intake to reduce the salt content. Some minor signs are still left undetected by the machine and takes manual work to maintain the system.
A silver metallic tag shined in the corner of my eye. I reached over to flip the commercial badge.
VITALIFE: A World Class Surrogacy Agency.
Analysis of traditional in vitro fertilisation
“I mean I do see it’s merits, but it's much too inefficient,” I thought to myself. It is perceived that babies born out of pregnancy and surrogacy are considered happier and healthier since they’ve had an intimate connection with the mother.
However, the bourgeoisie is much too overworked to worry about such frivolities. They simply send us a sample of their gametes for fertilisation and we’ll take care of the foetus’ development. Best still, we fulfill their orders by carefully designing each baby to match their desires.
Other than preventing the early onset of diseases, we also have an extensive embryo menu of desirable features. Intelligence or athleticism, dark eyes or light eyes we’ve got it all. The department of Human Genetic Engineering takes care of that.
I looked over to the neighbouring glass building, where a few doctors worked alongside machines in managing the rows of microscopes, test-tubes and incubators.
“Two birds with one stone huh?” I recalled one of my conversations with a doctor there.
“We can make as many as we like with the greatest ease. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself. Yes, at Society itself. Uniformity is key in our social fabric of society” the hunched old man smiled weirdly to himself and rubbed his hands in glee.
I stared at him in disgust. He looked like he hadn't taken a shower in ages.
I moved swiftly to another cell, peering at its metal tag again. This time it read:
NEURALINK: Frontier of Artificial Intelligence
Analysis of brain implant interface.
“Fascinating.” I eyed the subject closely.
His skin on his head was completely transparent, like that of glass. A small device was implanted behind his ear and micro-wires extended up towards his brain. Like a fountain. I pinched my fingers and enlarged the holographic screen in front of me, squinting my eyes closely.
Minuscule, flexible electrode threads 1000 times thinner than hair were implanted into his brain, presumably by a neurological robot with laser accuracy.
A further zoom showcased the neurons in the brain shining in luminescent blue as the electrodes intersected their interconnected web like a needle in hay.
Optogenetics had mastered use of light-sensitive proteins to manipulate neuron electrical activity. These proteins are embedded into the membranes of neurons and exposed to certain wavelengths of light, they silence or stimulate the cells.
The electrodes which are connected to the neural implant then create interfaces between neural systems and computer systems. The subject is thus able to manipulate computer systems and even moving cyborgs. NEURALINK has created this technology in appeal to populism, boasting of achieving symbiosis with artificial intelligence.
“If we can't beat them, we join them!” Their familiar slogan rang through my ears. I shuddered.
In a flashback, I thought about the eerie scene as I walked along the corridors of an asylum with a psychologist by my side, the clicking of her heels resonating in the building. I peered into the rooms as we passed by.
The Organics were completely suspended in the air, floating freely like an object in space. Their eyes were closed and their minds fully immersed. The implant beneath their skin shone with a blue hue, its blinking seemingly the only sign of activity.
“What are they so immersed in, Doctor?” I asked genuinely.
“Virtual reality combat stimulation. They are piloting a test for immersive training. If successful it can be implemented for soldiers in the military to improve their combat skills and reduce chances of death.” she answered.
“Oh, sounds impressive!”
“Yes it is, the Organics demonstrate great ability to eliminate targets. Even better than soldiers on the battlefield themselves.” she added.
I nodded, feeling intrigued.
However it was the evening paper that had completely changed my mind and sent shivers down my spine that left me sleepless for days.
ALGOVIA BORDERS SEIZED BY MILITARY WITH CYBORG ASSISTANCE
COMMERCIAL FLIGHT TO MARS LAUNCHED
ORGANICS ESCAPE ASYLUM IN HYSTERIA: “MURDER MURDER!”
I shook my head vigorously to erase the shocking memory, almost losing my balance on the hovercraft.
“Back to work,” I mumbled as I descended.
Remembering that it was lunch break, I grabbed my lunchbox sent by Siri along with a new food product to be tested.
I hovered near 2525’s cell to check how she was doing.
“Oh, Angeline. Would you like a bite of this apple?” I held the apple cube on a silver prong hopefully.
“It’s oxytocin infused!” I waved it gently in the air and smiled.
“We designed it for the overworked bourgeois. Commercialisation will begin in a month. I foresee that it’s going to be a big success,” I thought out loud.
Despite removing the breathing tube and uncovering the cell partially to expose her mouth, she refused to open up.
Meanwhile I propped my chin on my hand, taking my time to admire her beauty. Her lips were tulip pink and her eyes gently closed like a flower bud. Her long lashes rested delicately on her face like small flower petals. I was entranced.
I inched closer to her. Her complexion was almost flawless, characterised by smooth fair skin. Nonetheless, her sunken face gave away the intense discomfort of having rubber tubes intrude her system.
“Such a pity,” I whispered under my breath as I stretched my hand out towards her.
My heart was pounding in my chest. The transparent cell gave way like a liquid membrane to my touch, opening up to reveal her smooth skin. I stroked her cheeks softly. Her warmth radiated and thawed my cold fingertips.
Her breathing increased ever so slightly. I was cautious to wave my hands at Buric and obtained a syringe of powerful injectable sedatives which I held readily in the other hand.
I moved my hands down to her slender arms, continuing to stroke her velvety smooth skin as I gazed up at her mane of red hair.
She opened her eyes, awakening from her deep slumber.
Her hazel eyes shone with a million hues like sunlight on polished stone and hid a wealth of justified mistrust. Our connection was barely a fraction of a second but in that brief snapshot of time a truth had been told.
She pulled me in towards her with surprising strength.
This time her warm breath stroked my cheeks. I stared at her hazel eyes - I could almost spot gold flecks in them.
A sharp pain shot up on my arm.
The corners of her mouth curled into a smile as she pulled me in completely.
Red flashed across my eyes like the shape of a passing predator. My vision slowly faded into darkness and my body overcomed by a tightness.
I lost consciousness.
CLANG CLANG CLANG
After what seemed like an eternity, a series of clamorous metallic bangs jolted me violently awake.
My head throbbed intensely from sedation. My mouth was sealed shut. Adrenaline pumped through my veins and saturated my blood. It was Fight or Flight and I had to choose between zero options.
My eyes orbited so wildly that they might’ve just fallen out of my skull, my terror at an all time high.
An unsettling sight greeted me.
Numerous dark figures crawled out of their cells, descending from the top and scrabbling down through the interconnected system. Their growls reverberated through the air with a deathly intensity as they doused themselves with the new air of freedom. Solidarity and unity guided their movements.
These hybrids will not spare the system.
We will not be exonerated for we are guilty, guilty, guilty.
I can't move my fingers, it was perfectly molded in place.
I lay in my new skin.