It is tough for me to explain what life is like today compared to what you are used to. The history databooks say that people living in the early 21st century were just beginning to fully understand what technology is truly capable of. Electric cars were only just becoming popular – back when cars were still a necessity, that is. People would have to use screens to watch transmitted data, and everything was so two dimensional. Some would say that you were savages, but I won’t go that far.
Cellular phones had become incredibly popular as well. Old, pixelated images from the data archives show pictures of shuffling masses of people, their heads down at the small devices in their hands. These, like most of civilization, were rather primitive. They could send electronic messages, could make calls, and could access the Internet, the predecessor to Mindlink. What is most astounding about these phones were the prices. Analytics shows that having a phone of bearable quality would cost a sizeable sum. Did you not realize that these pieces of technology, items that let you access near-unlimited resources and communicative abilities (for the time), should have been considered basic human rights?
Luckily the Single State Solution, what rose from the ashes of the United Nations, deemed it so in 2030. It was part of an initiative to eliminate issues that plagued the world: poverty, illiteracy, education. It took a few decades, but the planet has finally entered an era of unimaginable prosperity. With more than 95% average literacy rates, advances in technology moved forward at an unprecedented rate. The power of the human mind was finally being wholly devoted to the benefit of the species. The most important step forward, so far, has been the creation of iLive.
Every child around the world, at birth, is given a Personal Computing Device. This is the modern day version of your cellular phone. It contains everything about the newborn: identification, medical information, bank accounts and access, even a Neural Linking Bridge that allows the user to send what you would understand as text messages and phone calls, but with their mind. A transmission chip is implanted in the child immediately after birth, forever linking it to the person.
One of the key features of the PCD and iLive is what can only be explained to you as the battery. Databooks also show that humans from your time have to recharge their cellular devices almost daily. Not only did the collective impact put a major strain on the energy sector, but it was simply impractical. The PCD uses a combination of photoreceptors and biochemical inputs to match the “battery” life of your device to your exact lifespan. Its predictive abilities are accurate 99.9% of the time.
It may be hard for you to comprehend something so impactful as a piece of technology keeping track of how much of your life you have left. It equates to the gauge dropping by about 1% every year or two. Nothing motivates a person quite like seeing how finite their remaining time on earth is. It is a slow decline, but it is a sombre reminder of how mortal we still are.
So you must understand my panic when my PCD read a 75% charge this morning when I woke up, but now reads 16%. The auto-stabilizing holoscreen is living up to its name as it trembles in my hand. I think back at what had transpired today. If I act quickly, I can figure out what happened, diagnose it, and hopefully rectify the situation.
Then, before my eyes, the charge drops to 15%.
I immediately send a neural message to the support line, demanding a diagnosis of my PCD. Something must be malfunctioning with it. All I had done was sit at my desk and gone through the same routine as every day. My lunch tablets were from the same batch as the last month, so it cannot be them. A message notification appears on my PCD. I stab it with a shaking finger.
System functioning properly. Thank you for your inquiry.
The words don’t register with me. I send out a reply asking them to check one more time. I flinch as a magtrain soars overhead, carrying home the commuters to whatever town or city they lived in, those that cannot afford telepads at home. I can’t help but watch as it rockets towards the horizon, slowly becoming a smaller and smaller dot. Then, snapping me out of my trance, another message. I tap the holoscreen so forcefully that I hit the machine itself, and the PCD almost falls out of my hand.
Second test returned. System functioning properly. Have a good day.
I want to scream at the screen and throw it across the plaza. Have a nice day? Do they not see that my charge has dropped to…
I start walking as quickly as I can while sending off a neural link – a phone call – to my partner. The link fails, giving me a return message of busy. Instead of leaving a thought, I sever the connection and send out a message instead.
PCD acting strange. Don’t know what is going on. I’m scared.
I send it off and then pause, stopping amidst a moving horde of people who just finished work. I send another message.
I love you.
Suddenly my charge starts dropping rapidly.
I look around, as if scanning for an imaginary culprit around me.
Now I can feel my whole body begin to sob. Wet tears streak down my face, blurring my vision.
I take off in a run. I don’t know why, but I feel like it will help. I push through the crowd of shuffling bodies with little regard for what happens to them. They might fall and scrape themselves, but I am dying. I keep going until I can’t run any longer. My legs are on fire as they beg for oxygen. My lungs can’t take in enough air in time and I feel myself getting dizzy. I look down at the iLive display.
Impossible. The iLive charge has never gone up, it can’t go up! I just bought myself more time. Suddenly the realization dawns on me. I spin around and look back from where I had come. It makes no sense, but it is the only thing that makes sense. My vision is still swimming, people look more like blurred masses than anything. But there! One of the masses looks like it is pushing through the others, running. Running towards me. I look down at my PCD and see that iLive is back at 9%.
I turn and half-run, half-walk, pushing myself as hard as I can go. Every few steps I glance down at the small device in my hands, the piece of technology that is rapidly counting my life away. I look back up and see something else strange. Someone is barreling through the crowd, moving against the flow. I lock eyes with them for just a second before risking another glance.
I veer right and ignore the screaming from my legs. I need an alley, a hospital, something that I can either lose these people in, or find protection. My PCD vibrates in my hand. It has dropped to 5%. A message opens.
Please prepare to make arrangements. Do not be a burden on your family.
Before I can even clear the message, I see the charge drop again. Then one more time. There must be another one of them this way too. I pivot and turn back the way I came. If I am fast enough I can slip by them. I don’t dare look down at my PCD until it vibrates again. The display reads 1%. Something else pops up, and I catch a glimpse of it for a fraction of a second before the holoscreen disappears, the whole machine goes dark.