Like usual, Adrian woke up with a sick nausea that sat in his stomach like a stone. It didn’t help things that he had wasted an entire day yesterday, the guilt of that ate at him too. He ran through his morning routine of getting ready, then successfully tuned out most of the words from the morning address again. He was looking forward to hanging out with Icar today, surely it would make for a better morning than yesterday was.
The pair met as usual, grabbed their food, then sat together. Icar seemed to be in a strangely good mood this morning. More than likely he had eaten like a king the evening before at the Temple. Adrian didn’t ask verbally, but caught eyes with his friend. The coy smile that Icar returned back verified the theory.
Nothing interesting happened at breakfast, they simply ate in silence as they normally did. It was a boring meal and they both wished to be done with it. Hurriedly they cleaned their trays and dispensed of them in their proper place.
They reveled in the euphoria their D.O.S.E., which took it’s usual minute for each of them to process. Once acclimated to the natural drugs,the pair nodded at each other then simultaneously threw open the doors leading to the outside world.
Adrian flowed with the throng of people exiting the cafeteria. The blissful bubbles of euphoric disregard worked their magical spell on him as he sauntered along with the mob. Everyone had the same stupid smile that rested beneath hollow and unfocused eyes. Nobody talked during this time- everyone was too damn stoned.
The group of people did as they were all programmed to do, keep their heads down and immerse themselves in whatever they wanted to during the rest of the morning. It was supposed freedom, with no cares or worries for those that did not want them. For the people that wanted to succeed and were stuck at the bottom as a Bronze with virtually no escape, this was by far the best point of the day. The first influx of synthetic happiness always seemed to hit harder than the rest did.
Adrian aimlessly walked around with Icar, looking at the clouds and feeling the sun on his face. They discussed going to one of the parks, but it was always crowded. The alcoholics loved it out there, swilling their pint of whiskey or gin a day. It was terrible stuff- the government provided swill burned your nose hairs before even taking a sip. Still, many would lounge in the grass and nurse their drink until the lunch address, drunkenly awaiting the gracious benefit of a nice D.O.S.E. after clearing their tray.
Adrian couldn’t blame them. He had thought about doing the same thing to himself on several occasions- accelerate the already constant gnawing at his gut by slowly poisoning himself and gaining the benefit of dulling his senses. The words of Seba flashed through his mind.
Adrian was an obnoxious and sloppy drunk however, and fear of losing control was the biggest determining factor in avoiding the bottle. Adrian was perfectly fine trading his liquor credits away.
Slowly he trodded along, gazing at the intricate patterns winding along the stone sidewalk he was walking on. The work of the Earth Thrower’s was truly mesmerizing, every square inch of stone was covered in some design that could keep your eyes busy for hours. Adrian slowed for a second as he glanced at the building he was standing next to. The interlaced grooves and protrusions twisting about themselves for a split second looked like they were alive and moving in a snake like pattern. The fluted carvings were crawling around on the column,converging into strange shapes that continuously shifted in appearance. Adrian blinked deliberately. Everything was still and back to normal when he opened his eyes again.
It was instances like this that had Adrian almost positive he had a tinge of insanity to him. It always drove him to the point of madness if he focused on the wrong things. He clung to the addage: “A crazy person would not know he is crazy.”
Some humans naturally were able to connect with their inner consciousness and harness their elemental powers. Adrian wondered if he himself could still be a Thrower, but he barely even recognized the vibrations in his skull anymore, let alone being completely “in tune” with himself. “They” said that was how it worked.
Adrian tried to calm his mind and focus on the positives of the Interface while he walked along in the morning sun. Vibrations and frequencies transmitted from the Interface enabled evolution at a rapid pace- the interfaced became able to access more of their unused brain power. Increased brain efficiency led to stronger and also physically superior humans. Productivity on a worldwide scale instantly increased, and the Interfaced became robotically efficient with machinery.
The way it worked now, “updates” allowed the Interfaced to enhance certain attributes about themselves. Humans were instantly able to access nearly double a regular human’s brain capacity, but you could buy your way to as much brainpower as you were physically capable.(Even though it was technically illegal to purchase upgrade modifications)
One could buy strength upgrades to receive the strength of 10 men. Glasses were no longer needed, the Interface could zoom on anything in your field of vision for you. Everything you watched and saw was recorded and uploaded to the cloud, to be used as data for any issues that may arise in the future.
He tried to keep the positives moving in his mind, it helped to keep his high going, but then the reality of things always would come sliding back in. For all the progress the Interface allowed, the power to destroy had outweighed the temptation to be productive. Almost all of the amazing infrastructures built before the Great Interface had now collapsed or been ruined. Everyone had agreed to be barricaded in their continents, for fear of another nation gathering itself and breaking the balance of peace. It made tyranny all too easy for the Men at the Table, who quickly decreed this was the best way to maintain order. Separate the cultures, allow them to think they are thriving, but keep them contained and suppressed. Only the most important Silver Members would traverse continents now, and even then they were only able to fly with express permission of the Grand Chancellor. This privilege was never granted to Bronze members.
Now, by the glory and benefit of the Men at the Table, every Bronze received the same small rations per week, unless of course you had connections. Adrian’s cynical inner voice shouted at him in the background “Long live the Men at the Table” before snickering and crawling back into the hole it had come. Adrian ignored it and kept thinking. A person could not work their way up in this society, the only way advance was to possess an elemental throwing skill, become a Judicator or Mimir, or be born into SilverCitizenship.
He and Icar made their way down the stone streets that the Earth throwers were in charge of maintaining. It was quite a thing to watch them change the brick patterns with waves of their hands as they walked down the street. Pairs of two would walk side by side facing down as they pulled each hand up and down in a yo-yo-ing motion,materializing beautiful patterns seemingly out of nothing in the Earth. Each week, the Earth Temple had a new design emblazoned on the streets. This week it was a heart with the words “The Men at the Table love you all” in the middle.
Ugh. It was disgusting to Adrian, being starved on one hand then constantly told you are loved on the other. Yes, he had free food. It tasted terrible though, that much was certain. Mostly he felt weak. He imagined that his diet was terribly off balance, but Bronze Citizens are not allowed access to their nutritional values of their food.It’s not like any discussion of food was allowed online. One complaint about something “gifted” by the “gracious”Men at the Table, and you’d recieve a visit; simple as that.
Adrian found it difficult to distinguish most of his fellow bronze citizens from the zombies he had seen in the old movies. For all he knew, they had been drained. That is to say, sometimes, when a person gets too outspoken, they are sent to be drained. Terrible rumors spread around the process, and no one knew for sure what took place. They usually came back, but they were always just a fragment of themselves. At minimum they always seemed dumber than when they went in.
Adrian watched as some people down the street had their arms punching in the air, twisting their heads and ducking around as they they played their Augmented Reality game. Most likely they were attacking some strange monster bent on world domination. Most just played for fun,but a select few bronze members of society had it better than others.The most entertaining would get many followers wanting to watch their video game exploits and hang out with them as they went about their day as a mini-celebrity. If they could gain enough followers and build a big enough audience, they could be promoted to silver citizen too. (This program was implemented 2 years ago and there have been at least 5 successful bronze humans promoted thus far from the program.)
It all really disgusted Adrian. There wasn’t much point to any of it, other than to keep humans feeding their “habit data” to the Interface.
Other citizens were busy walking around, every one completely absorbed in whatever livestream or movie they were watching. Some were slackjawed, staring off into the distance at the colors that were maybe there, or even possibly colors that the HUD was telling them their brain was seeing.
It wasn’t long before the monotonous walking made his mind wander again. The drugs took a hold of his thoughts, and an inner monologue of questioning arose-
“Is color a real thing? Most people agree on the color yellow when they are asked to pick it out of a swathe of colors, and also will come to a consensus and agree separately that yellow, is indeed yellow… but I wonder if yellow would look the same through someone else’s vision? After all, color is just light, refracting through the eyes to create a picture in your head.”
That led him to another thought. Since he was Interfaced… was anything he saw truly real anymore? Were the electrical signals always skewing his perception, even if on the slightest molecular level? If so, was his sight truly his? He had control over what his HUD displayed, but did he?
Adrian looked over at Icar, who was also lost in thought as they walked.
“What yellow does Icar see, I wonder?”
The crowd they had been walking with had slowly dissipated and it was now just Icar and himself left. The buzz was still good for another twenty minutes, at least, and the duo silently agreed to keep walking to enjoy the bubbles of bliss.
They went along together, not really sure where they were headed but wandering just the same. The sky was a nice clear blue, with the sun shining and a slight breeze to keep the heat away. The weather really was perfect for the park, it would be wonderful to see trees and lay in the grass today. Seeing vegetation might actually be worth the faint odor of liquor emanating from the drunks as they sweated out the booze. Maybe he would ask Icar if he wanted to go.
Almost as if on cue, Icar stopped and turned to Adrian. He had a mischeivious look on his face, and obviously had plans of his own. He checked his excitement and asked in a curious way: “Do you have any plans today?”
Of course Adrian really didn’t have any plans. There was nothing to do but study, and no one made him do anything. “Nah, what’s up?”said Adrian, intensely curious as to what Icar was up to, but not wanting to give anything away.
Icar’s smirk broke into a smile, and he looked off into the distance. It was obvious he was scrolling through his HUD. After a minute of searching, he finally found what he was looking for and looked back at Adrian. “You have to use it now though.”
Icar blinked and instantly Adrian got a pop-up notification on his own HUD.
+1 SEROTONIN MOD
Adrian’s eyebrows rose up in surprise. “I thought you were going to trade those.”
Icar smiled and bobbed his head and shoulders in a joking manner. “Let’s go cupcake, queue it up, we’ll go on 3.”
Adrian hesitated for a moment. He didn’t usually do “drugs.” It always seemed best to maintain a sober mind, and the Interface already messed with his head quite a bit. But then the words of Sully, one of the funny old drunks at the park kicked in. “Urp…It’s whatever, kid. Our mind and emotions are manipulated every day anyways. Why not willfully manipulate it yourself?” Sully had passed away sometime this past year. He had finally gotten a hold of a big enough cache of liquor to drink himself to death.
“What’s it gonna be?” Icar raised his eyebrows and gave a cheeky smirk to Adrian.
Adrian sighed. This wasn’t REALLY a drug. This was just a natural chemical being enhanced for a few hours, by the natural computer chip in his brain. It was much different than a foreign substance being introduced into his bloodstream. It would probably even be kind of fun… right?
Adrian finally decided it was better than sitting in his room listening to another lecture.
“Ok fine…. ready when you are.”
Icar smiled back at Adrian.
“Alright. 3…. 2 …. 1 ….”
Green text flashed across the HUD.
THANK YOU ADRIAN
YOUR SEROTONIN MOD IS NOW ACTIVATED
Next Chapter: https://throwersbook.com/chapter-6-rough-draft/