Written by Cassidy Bull
Art by Alejandro Skol
A beep—the sensor scans the chip in my arm, clocking me out for the day. The automatic doors of my office building slide open, and I breathe a sigh of relief as I step out.
The city’s bustling swarms me as I head to the bus stop. People glide across the sidewalk, wearing the latest i-glasses. Texts and TV and video games scroll over the lens screens. The skyscrapers are covered in digitized advertisements. Everywhere, there’s no respite from all this urging to buy.
Three different pop-up holograms appear in front of me as I walk. Prostitute androids coo and coax, claiming they’re more lifelike than ever.
I guess the city’s algorithm senses my misery.
I pass straight through them.
I can barely remember life before it turned robotic.
Once I reach the stop, I stare down at the screens built into the ground while I wait for the bus.
I hate the bus. But it’s better than the self-driving taxis, which often malfunction. Despite the deaths every day, they’re still the most popular mode of transportation. Their original design was faulty, something with the proximity sensors, but profits would have tanked if they issued a mass recall. So they didn’t. Only the rich own their own cars. The rest of us sign waivers saying we won’t sue if we die.
I keep waiting for someone to do something about this artificial existence. Sometimes I think I might. I’m not sure what I would do exactly. I could burn down the server district, or plant a garden.
The bus stops in front of me.
I peer at the faceless robot in the driver’s seat. I shouldn’t get on. I don’t want to. But if I don’t, I’ll get a visit from the government androids, asking why I broke routine.
With a sigh, I swipe my wrist under the scanner on the bus’ side.
The doors open.