Did you guys all have a good Thanksgiving?
Mine was excellent.
But now that I have had my fun, I thought I would bring you something…
A world where intelligence is the only thing that is valued.
A flash fiction called:
“Blue, red, green, brown, blue, blue, blue, red, green, yellow, teal, blue, blue, red, green, brown, yellow, orange, red, red, red, blue,” the tablet just kept squawking new colors, and the fingers complied. Sixteen children all nestled in their desks, staring with concentration that makes veins pop. Hands like lightning hitting the button as soon as it commands. Points taken off for ever second you pause. There is no time to think about it, muscles and memory are all they have. One is having a panic attack in the corner. He keeps glancing up above his head at the hologram floating there, freaking out as his number turns red; one hand is still going at it, while the other swats. It, of course, passes right through, only temporarily making the hologram fizzle. Then it reforms, still displaying his worth, and his fate:
Name: Benjamin Nosh
Current Test Score: -112
The tablet does not care, and neither does the teacher, she actually seems to be enjoying it, her cupped hand over a smile. It’s just hilarious. He still thinks he has a future.
She reaches up above her head mimicking his actions. A single finger plugs away at her golden numbers. Watching one hundred and forty-three fizzle and sparkle. She pulls her hand away and lets any onlookers see her grin. They’re too busy of course, still trying to become something with those numbers.
Her head tilts down at the desk to see the room’s progress. Pathetic, mostly, but the kid right in the front has some promise. He’s not even looking at the screen anymore; he has already learned the pattern, his fingers flying, and his eyes wandering.
She watches him for a moment, their eyes meeting several times. He knows, but does not care. She gives a little personal smile to him, a nod of acknowledgment, then taps on his account, the desk scanning her fingerprint and sending along the change.
The pattern switches suddenly, and the tablet squawks at him for a wrong answer. He shoots up in his seat, and adjusts his headphones. Concentration fills his eyes and he moves fast, ungodly fast, catching up to the gap of information, his score only dipping once. She tries it a second time, but it is clear at this point that he has mastered the game, and his score jumps higher and higher into the positive brackets.
There really is no point doing the test anymore, and she ends the program. Electric shocks hit everyone at once, and the students all slump forward, a force field preventing their precious little heads from impacting with the expensive desks. They will wake up in exactly five minutes, giving her just enough time to gather up the tablets and place them into the shoot, a robotic arm grabbing each one and sending them back to the storage room.
Just as she makes it back to her desk, the students begin to stir, taking off their helmets and placing them inside their desks. They all seemed a bit unsteady, but it was not the first time they had been shocked like that, and it certainly would not be the last. Once everything was in order, she called for their attention. The heads all snapped up, eyes focused on her. She tapped her nails on the desk for a moment, then spoke.
“Excellent job, children. You can’t imagine how much data we got from that. You are all great members of this society. I hope you understand that.”
Nervous smiles formed in front of her, but most of the students were simply watching their numbers. Some with eagerness, and some with fear. The speech was simply a formality, they all knew what came next.
“As we speak, your scores are being processed, and your status reevaluated. It will only take a second, so would you all please lean back,” she said, the clicks of her fingers becoming faster.
The instillation of discipline was the only thing that made them comply, but it was certainly strong enough. The low numbers didn’t have the confidence to defy her, and the high ones had no reason to be afraid. So lean back they did, only squirming a bit as the seat folded around their heads, and the electrodes pressed themselves against their skin. There was a shiver here and there, certainly, but no attempts to escape.
Her voice sounded muffled inside the helmets, but was still audible. The children were left looking at an internal screen, watching as the test scores came up.
“The scores are in children, and shockingly Mr. Kalvin here has scored the most,” she said, looking at the front student again. The students all give out a groan of annoyance. “Now, now children. If you worked on the memory exercises as hard as Kalvin, you could have good scores too. Just remember that.”
She walked forward through a sea of half-heard complaints and swears, towards the back of the classroom until she made it to the final seat, standing over a student that was very nearly sweating bullets.
“A lesson that should have been learned by Ben here. He scored the worst in the class.” She patted the helmet he wore, the harsh ding covering up the screaming coming from inside. The desperate screaming. She jerks her hand back as Ben tries to hold on to something.
“But children in this class, all serve each other, and Ben’s failure just means you all will get to succeed more in our lifetimes. You should all thank Ben,” she said taking out her portable tablet and selecting him on the screen, her fingers hovering over a picture of an outline of a skull with its contents missing.
“Thank you, Benjamin,” chorused the children, and they all started up a slow clap.
“Yes, thank you Benjamin,” the teacher said and hit the button. The scream intensified as a blue aura glowed from within the helmet. His arms rose up into the air and gave spasms, every vein and nerve in his body lighting up like he was in an X-ray. The sign above his head twisted and changed, glowing blue like his skin, then red like his vision, then white like his mind, before it finally clicked back into existence, displaying his new stats:
Name: Benjamin Nosh
Status: Labor Worker
The seat returned to normal, and then dropped off into the floor, pulling Ben down with it like a black maw swallowing him whole.
“Now children, for doing so well on the test, I am going to give you all a reward. A single point boost for everyone!” she said, hitting a series of buttons on her tablet. The electrodes jumped forward, delivering mild shocks at the bases of their necks. They all jerked upwards for a second, then sat at rest.
“And Kalvin, for scoring best in class, I am going to give you an entire five point bonus,” she said, committing him to a slightly more violent shock. The helmets all retracted at once, and the students rubbed at their eyes as pupils shrunk back to a normal size.
“That’s all children, I hope you enjoy the rest of your week, and remember to train your memory. I expect great things from every one of you. The government was kind enough to give each of you points at birth, I expect you to use them to their full potential,” she said.
The children just gave a slight nod, or a quiet acknowledgment. They had all heard that speech before. They were bored with it. It never deviated, always the same thing at the end of the test.
The same words every year, repeated ‘til they graduated.
If they graduated.
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