Entangled Servitude

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** QUANTUM SHORTS 2019/2020: SHORTLISTED

 

I’ve met all my deadlines. But that doesn’t mean anything anymore. Management just raise the bar. No congratulations. No celebratory drinks. Just a hastily re-written contract with higher KPI’s.

Things used to be so simple. Eat a box of Adderall and code until the cows come home. Then take some Valium and rest up with the cows.

Neural tracking of toxicity levels and zero tolerance changed that.

I don’t know why they care. I mean, sure it’s a federal crime to dose up but it gets the job done. They expect the same results without the boost juice. They’re dreaming.

But there’s an app for everything. CALMER is a company that provides entanglement with people from across the globe. Sensation sharing is an untraceable craze. At least for now.

If I want to relax my mind, I can tap my Zen app and share the oneness of the universe with Rama, my meditator. He’s happy. I’m happy. The company is happy. And they are none the wiser.

You have a visitor’

I tap my temple.                                                     

Detective Cain, Bayside police.’

A detective? This is not going to look good. Plus it’ll eat into my break time. I can’t pretend I’m not here. Reception bots don’t cover for people.

‘Send him in, I guess.’

Looking around the room, there are monitors hanging everywhere, amidst several keyboard stations. Discarded cans of energy drink are scattered across the floor. I don’t know what this detective wants but I also know that first impressions last.

A well-dressed guy in his forties enters the room, ducking past some monitors. He has to remove his sunglasses as it’s hard enough to see anything in this room from the blue light of screens alone.

‘When was the last time you saw the light of day, kid?’       

Kid? I’m nineteen. That’s near retirement in the coding world.

‘It’s been a while,’ I reply. The company is rolling out new software this Spring, and we are all encouraged to give a hundred and twenty percent.

I feel a light buzz in my temple. Detective Cain has just sent me an encrypted message in my NeoTor browser. Impressive.

I think it’s time you knocked off work. You look like you could use a break.

Okay.

He gives me the address of a shifty diner across town. An Asian fusion joint. When I sit down with him he pushes a catalogue across the table to me. There’s an advertisement for Calmer Karma apps.

 ‘Do you recognise it?’ Asks Cain.     

‘I know what Calmer is. I’ve never seen a hard copy ad for it.’

‘Some people prefer no digital records.’ I take a sip of beer and pick up the catalogue. Detective Cain continues, ‘others use NeoTor browsers and crypto currency. Turn to page four.’

I flip through the catalogue and see a picture of an Asian person meditating cross-legged on a cliff edge. He looks like he is experiencing pure bliss.  

‘Recognise him?’

‘Should I?’

‘He’s the reason you feel… calm.’

I looked at the picture again. ‘That’s Rama?’

‘It’s a Rama.’

I’m confused. I’d been using the Zen app for months now. I was under the impression that Rama and I had an entangled bond.

‘You ever seen a Karma Farm kid?’

‘They’re not real, are they?’      

‘As real as the sweatshops that make your shoes.’

‘But these guys are happy to meditate.’

‘And cows are happy to be milked.’

‘They are, aren’t they?’ I’d never been to a farm, never mind a Karma Farm.  

‘Things that sound too good to be true, tend to be.’

Detective Cain lights a cigarette. Still allowed in this part of town.

‘What do you think happens to these guys if they refuse to work?’

I hadn’t thought of that. ‘But they’re monks.’

‘What if they don’t feel like meditating, and you tap your temple?’

‘I didn’t think there was anything bad going on.’

‘Why do you purchase it on the dark web?’

‘I figured it was a crypto thing. Avoid taxes. Not torturing monks.’

Detective Cain places some pictures in front of me. Real pictures, taken with film. They depict people meditating at gun point and living in atrocious conditions.

‘But why? How hard could it be to set them up with some nice quarters, lentils and rice?’

‘Maximise profit, minimise cost.’ He stubs his cigarette out, ‘hundreds of thousands of people use this app. You think there were hundreds of thousands of monks just waiting to be entangled to California coders?’

I don’t think about anything but work. I think about coding and blockchains. I don’t think about where the threads in my carpet come from, or the sugar in my coffee. I sure as hell didn’t think the source for my contact with divine source was doing it against their will. 

‘These guys run an elusive outfit. No one knows exactly where they are based. You know your way around encryption, right?’

‘Sure,’ I reply, ‘better than most. But quantum encryption can get pretty heavy.’

‘You garner any information about the source of your Zen, let me know.’

He passes me a business card. This one had a QR code on it.

‘Look at that at the right angle and you’ll find how to contact me.’

CALMER was definitely a secretive organisation with heavy digital security, but I can break most barriers. I could find them. If what Cain says is true, can I keep using the app? It helps me at work. It keeps up my livelihood.

A tough decision I don’t feel qualified to make.

A light breeze blows through the bar turning the page of the catalogue. There’s an advertisement staring up at me.

NEED TO PONDER DEEPLY BUT DON”T HAVE THE TIME? TRY RUMINATION WITH RAMA – BROUGHT TO YOU BY CALMER’

Apparently this Rama will listen to my concerns and meditate on them. A conclusion will be provided within eight hours.    

I tap my temple and transfer some crypto to CALMER.

 

About the Author: 
I'm a high school Science and Maths teacher with a passion for science fiction. Douglas Adams, Iain M Banks and Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror) are my biggest inspirations. I love exploring the infinite possibilities of parallel universes.
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