Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Broken Cog

Batch Higgins Theta sat in his task booth, slotting datacards into the correct servertowers at the appropriate moments. He had been grown specifically for this function, along with twenty other clones of the Higgins Batch. They all sat in identical task booths near his, performing similar functions for the vast infomedia conglomerate that had grown them.

Most mundane tasks had long since been automated, but some jobs still required a living human to perform efficiently. Datacard slotting was one of them. The datacards had to be slotted according to customer requests in a unique combination every day, and no machine so far had been able to handle the process. Despite its many advances, modern science was still no closer to cracking the enigma of AI, so a living brain was needed for the job. Unfortunately, there were few humans willing to perform such tedious work these days, given the abundance of more exciting employment available throughout the recently colonized solar system.

And so, the clone workers were created. Datacard slotting, mass consumption food preparation and climate repair monitoring, among others, were all jobs best suited to human clones grown to precise specifications. The process usually took a couple of weeks, and each Batch of clones were given certain enhancements to make them extremely proficient at their assigned tasks, while also indoctrinating them to like the task they'd been grown for. They were usually grown from the DNA of a regular human with a predilection for similar tasks, and altered as needed from there. Batch Higgins had been grown from the DNA of one Archibald Higgins, a data entry clerk that had lived over 100 years prior.

The clones, though living, sentient beings, were considered the property of the companies that grew them, and as such had very few rights. They would work at their task booths for 12 hours, sleep 10 hours in their domicile berths, take two hours for nourishment and basic exercise, then return to their task booths for another 12 hour shift. It was a very dull life, but the clones didn't mind. They were conditioned not to.

Of course, there were those who had a problem with this. A group of bored middle class college undergraduates calling themselves Pollux Liberatio took it upon themselves to end what they called, "the unacceptable enslavement of a helpless segment of human society". That the clones were all perfectly happy with their lives was irrelevant to them, as was the fact that most clones died very quickly outside the routines of their jobs, given that they did not posses many skills beyond those needed to perform their functions. Pollux Liberatio's methods generally involved abducting clones from their domicile berths and releasing them onto the streets of the city without much concern for what happened next.

All that changed with Batch Higgins Theta.

He was abducted from his domicile berth as the others had been, but instead of abandoning him, Pollux Liberatio took him home. They attempted to teach him new things, but his specialized brain could not accept the new information. He also kept trying to return to his domicile berth to begin his sleep cycle, becoming highly agitated when they prevented him from doing so.

And that's when one of the students got the idea of giving him drugs. They fed him hashish to calm him down, then LSD to "open his mind". They hoped the drugs would rewire his brain to a state more receptive to learning and independent thought, thinking this "treatment" could become a model for future clone liberations.

When the police arrived days later, after the students' classmates reported them missing, they found Batch Higgins Theta in one of the closets. The corpses of Pollux Liberatio were propped against the wall, and he was repeatedly slotting knives in and out of the multiple stab wounds in their torsos.

6 comments:

Kat said...

Wow, I didn't even see that one coming! Good twist.

purplesimon said...

What a corker. Loved the finale.

purplesimon out...

Sar said...

Freaky! Better to leave the mindless efforts of mundane and monontonous drivvel that is corporate life to the nonhumans and the free thinking to the humans. If only.

Unnamed Source said...

Awesome.

Chris said...

Heh. Thanks guys. And welcome, Unnamed Source. What a cool name. :)

Rae Ann said...

LOL, that was great! I love your sudden twists.