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“Please turn on your monitors and type your names.”
The unnerving gasp of life echoed around the room. Colours glowed with vibrant relish as the heartbeat of the hard drives trudged on tenaciously, indefatigable. Screens filled with sustenance. Lights dimmed. Keyboards tensed. The stage was set: the exam was about to begin.
You sit, expression empty, limbs void and loosely connected. You wear a finger mark resistant uniform that is repeated in every direction throughout the room, right down to the obligatory crease on the shoulder, where the label had been.
Ties drawn like cabled snares, calculating the breathing. Not too much or you'll freeze, not too little or you'll shut down.
“Sneeze,” said the monitor.
Of course, the preliminaries had to be taken care of. Hands search for a handkerchief, but this is not required, for white already blocks your vision.
You eject, hearing a united exhalation. Contained. Regulated. Minimalised. Good.
You lift your eyes, browsing, scanning the area. Dangerous. Trojan. Insecure. BRB
The blue leather chairs that had humans backed up were lively, coordinated into precise prisons of two metres. Secure. Regulated. Accessible. Good.
You scan the virtuous, vivacious, and some might say, timid monitor in front of you. You increase the zoom, all you see is pixels; so close, yet never united. Devoid, absent, a mere reflection...
Now you look, eyes turned dry in a silent plea. Almost.
“I forgot my name...”
You stare, eyes almost anxious. You try the mouth, it doesn't open. You do not require that. You try the neck, no give - it's surplus. Voice? Maybe later. Oxygen? Only after the five second buffer, you didn't want to freeze, after all.
The lights flicker slightly, as if reluctant to die. The voice calls again, urging everyone that five minutes have passed. You stay rooted, stoic and encrypted as water is brought to your lips, the bringer of life... the prolonger of agony.
It is dark now, keyboards rattle away diligently. All that is left is the monitor, all encompassing. Domineering. Bright. Victorious.
Wires spiral and contort from behind, but you aren't supposed to inspect that, only the monitor. They were all connected, the chairs with men in them. Logged on, fully charged, together, on the same wave length. Close, but not too close. Their optimum.
The spotless surfaces twinkled slightly, faultless, perfect, an absence. You weren't allowed to touch it.
You stare at the screen, helpless. You don't have to wait long. Cordial as always, the monitor glows. Customer satisfaction is key.
“You do not require the use of that any more. You have acquired me.”
Content, you try the monitor. Your name does not appear.
The monitor is exasperated, but like any good parent, it encourages rather than condemns. Strict but fair.
“You do not require that any more.”
You almost nod; relief almost shows up on your face as the chair reclines. Thank God.
The monitors murmur, as if lamenting over the children. As if. They did not lament. Did not regret. Did not live. They did not need it. God? They did not require it any more.