In a not so distant future, dreaming has been eradicated by Humans. It is believed that dreaming caused distractions in our conscious moments, because we pursue those “pipe-dreams” instead of focusing on the tangible and present work; that instead of increasing our productivity in every sphere and industry, we use that energy to try to make an alternate and supposedly imaginary reality real. So after much negotiation between leaders of the world, scientists, the military, entrepreneurs and industrialists, the Human Race is able to harness the technology and chemical compositions to simply make us stop dreaming: to provide for us eight uninterrupted hours of sleep, thereby fueling ourselves for the following day of work. We are made into fully efficient, hard-working, mono-tone beings with no aspirations for the future or recollection of the past, and very little emotion left. We are calculating and cold. Our interactions deteriorate to basic babbling about the present; about the work that was done in the morning and the work that will be done the next day; about an insipid life that is lived daily, but with no past or no future; about the very things that are happening today, at this moment, and nothing more. With absolutely no notion of the past or the present, and with a blank memory every night, our daily lives become a dull existence, where everyone is just an image and a co-worker. With no memory of anything that comes before the day’s beginning, we are unable to form relationships, amicable or romantic. In the not so distant future, we are turned into Vessels of Production and Rational Calculating Thought, and there exists no space for passion whatsoever.
At first only humans were the subjects. It was noticed that while working, a grand majority of people were not working at full capacity. They were talking with each other about their children, their memories, their plans for the future, their worries, their aspirations, their losses and their gains – and all this caused them to be distracted from their work. Of course, every single day, it seemed as if it were these daily interactions that filled the earth and the oceans with color; as if it were their stories that gave life to the trees and plants; as if it were their words that resonated in the singing of the birds and the fluttering of butterflies’ wings. It seemed that life outside of the factory walls and the corporate skyscrapers was constantly being created and churned by their interactions. Even inside the factory walls and concrete buildings, compartmentalized into cubicles and different departments for different issues, the music that emanated from the speakers and the sun-light that peered through the windows and the open shades all seemed to be the offspring of constant interaction among us. But none of this mattered to the High – the Owners and the Bosses. They only saw huge monetary losses in every minute and every second that work was not being done; in every millisecond that we spent talking rather than building those pallets, or shipping those boxes, or selling those stocks, or pushing those papers around. To the Highs, all that mattered was that we spend our time working, selling, calling. Their world was detached from ours, and though it was enveloped in gray, the Highs spent all their energy – spiritual, moral, physical, financial – smearing it with artificial colors and mountains and birds and trees. And this had gone on for so long, that they had lost the ability to distinguish between the real and the artificial. (MAYBE THIS IS WHY THEY CONSUMED MORE AND WANTED MORE, BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO REALIZE THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE REAL – THE ATTAINABLE – AND THE UNREAL – THE UNNATAINABLE)
So at first the Highs tried to ban talking at the workplace. They implemented all sorts of rules and regulations and penalties for those who were found to be violators of said rules and regulations. At the beginning there were daily infractions, because despite the tough fines and penalties, people still found the need to talk to each other. They always found ways to get around the regulations and, later, to get around the cameras that gawked at everything from the corners in the ceiling and from the regulators who, like robots, marched up and down every hall with the sole purpose of zeroing in on whoever was having any sort of conversation or interaction. Yes, despite their obsessive need to control this, every worker was able to find a way around it, and the rules seemed to be nothing but rubbish to us all. But the Highs grew impatient and enraged – many of them developed ulcers and other intestinal problems caused by their anger. They looked for many different ways to stop our stubborn need to interact, but nothing worked – not even the violence that they began to perpetrate on the violators of their rules. In fact, once they started using violence, we gained confidence in our tenacity and began to be even more boisterous in our conversations and more blatant about them. If someone was discovered by the regulators, the only thing to do was to put up a savage fight and draw as much blood from as many of them as possible before you were subdued by the rest of them clubbing you to the floor. This was simply accepted, because we would simply not stop talking. For a while, there was an open war between the Regulators (who worked for the Highs) and us, the Lows. Productivity, of course, in almost every sphere plummeted, and that is when the Highs apparently decided to pull back from their Violent Operations and just let us be. We thought we had won…
A few months later an announcement was made over every speaker in every factory and corporate building; in every sector and department of any and all private and public offices. A pre-recorded announcement in a sensual female voice dictated:
“All Comrades, please be advised that a New Program of Efficiency is being implemented. Starting in Alphabetical Order, all Comrades will be called to the Human Resources Department and will be administered take-home equipment and given instructions on how to use it. Smile, Comrades, the Future is here, and we have found the technology to improve all of our Efficiency with no Violence.”
A few seconds after the announcement, the speakers began calling people down in segments. First the As to the Js; then Ks to Ss; and finally Ts to Zs. At first we were all skeptical and everyone murmured with curiosity and with a certain degree of fear and uncertainty. But there was only one way to find out what was going to happen after all, so people began going up. If another war was to start, someone would have to make the first move, and if it was the Highs that did so, we were all ready to retaliate with full force, damn be the killed from their side and blessed the ones from ours. But after the first group returned, everyone was momentarily put at ease. They carried a device with them that looked like an MP3 player or some kind of music device, a thin booklet with instructions on what to do, and two pills, one red and one white. They told us that they had been told that all we had to do was take one tablet on the following Monday then simply turn the device on and play the tracks while we slept; we would listen to the tracks daily, in our sleep, through the earphones, and on Friday we would swallow the White Pill. By the next week, we were told, we would be able to see a sure spike in our productivity, and feel no other unwanted side-effects. However no one trusted any of what they told us, and after everyone had received their take-home package, everyone was dubious about the entire process, especially the pills. When the Highs were made aware of this a couple of weeks later by the Regulators who patrolled every hall of every work-space, they decided to prove to us that everything was harmless. On a Monday, as everyone dragged themselves to work, marching in a dull, rhythmic fashion, the P.A. system came on once again with the Sexy Voice announcing yet another reassuring message:
“Attention all Comrades, we’ve realized that given our passed problems, many of you are skeptical of our new Efficiency Program. This is understandable. We don’t want to repeat the same unpleasantness that occurred last March. That is why we want to put you at ease and show you that we are on the same side. We are asking you to report yourselves to the Cafeterias to watch the testing of our products in person and live. We’ll be running workshops all week, so please report at your convenience and soon we will all be on the path to Productivity, Efficiency and Happiness.”
The P.A. announcement ended there with a high pitch feedback wail and soon the murmuring resumed. Voices all over began talking excitedly about these supposed workshops. Rumors ran rampant, and at one point the idea that the workshops were really mind-altering camps where they would extract a piece of our brain to make us more obedient was propagated around, but believed by few. Eventually we all agreed to go in a huge group, in case that some macabre plan was in store for us. But when we got there nothing happened. Instead, a huge stage was set up in one end of the room, and the halls, normally filled with squared desks side by side, like in a classroom, was now filled with rows of metal, and grey chairs extending from one end of the room to the other. We all took a seat, and soon thereafter some guys in white coats came out from behind the curtains.
“Hello Comrades,” they started. “This will not take very long…we just want to put you at ease about our new approach to productivity, and to do this we simply want to show you two things.”
They unveiled two glass crates that were standing on two different stances side by side. On the left one, there were three mice running around the cage, running on their little wheel, and collecting hey on a corner; on the right one there were three mice traveling up and down on a system of tubes with twigs in their mouths and buildings forts at every entrance to the tubes. Then one of the men in the white coats stepped forward, near the edge of the stage, and addressed us all.
“Comrades, what you are seeing here is the Future! This is the proof that science can indeed harness the secret of productivity! The mice on the right have taken the pills and have been exposed to the music that we have provided for you. Now we will show you that the pills are safe.”
They took two of the mice from the left crate and gave each a Red Pill. Of course he knew that this would not be enough to convince any of us, so he took one too.
“In exactly a week,” he started “I will take the White Pill, and two days after, on the following Monday, we will all meet back here so that you can both see me and our lucky mice. Nothing will have changed except for the fact that we will be working 200% more efficiently.” He had a huge but clearly forced smile, and his eyes seemed to pop out of their sockets with a kind of desperate excitement. “You will see, my friends,” he exclaimed to end the presentation, “THE FUTURE IS OURS!”
We all left the room looking at each other and murmuring again excitedly. “What do you think will happen?” everyone kept asking. “I don’t know,” I replied drily to a stocky man who asked me the same question. “But whatever it is, it can’t be good if it’s coming from the Highs….I don’t have a good feeling about this….”