And Then the Silence Came

Kim Roberts

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Peter looks down at his arm to look at his monitor, which is deeply inserted into his forearm, to see what the time and date is. The date is June 4, 2073 and the time is 12:29 pm. He has lived most of his life with his monitor. It became a law when he was 3 months old. He starts messing with one of the wires on his monitor then turns around to see his pet rat, Frank, jumping up at him. Peter walks over to Frank and he stops jumping. Then Frank starts scurrying down the hall. Peter follows him. Frank leads him to the emergency escape door. Peter picks him up, hurrying back down the hall.

“No, we’re never supposed to go out there, emergencies only, remember?”

Not once since this system had been enforced on America has there been an emergency.  Peter then goes to the kitchen. When he gets there, Peter sets Frank aside so his father won’t see him. Then he sits down and types into the screen in the kitchen table. He gets a reply from his father, who is sitting right across from him, telling him to have some lunch. He sits there and eats without talking to his dad. The house is silent while they eat, while they sleep, while they work, only the sound of machines humming can ever be heard.

After lunch Peter walks back to his room to watch a show. In 2073, remotes don’t exist. Neither does having to decide on anything. Ones monitor analyzes the mood of the user and conjures up something the user would enjoy watching based on that. Peter has always been amazed that the monitor could read his thoughts. Amazed yet disturbed. He always ignored how the technology troubled him since everyone else in his family seemed to be okay with it from what he as observed through the messages they sent to his monitor. However, he always longed for a more intimate conversation. Something more than a simple message telling him what to do instead of his parents actual voice. After he watches TV, he usually goes through the home portal to the arcade but they aren’t any fun anymore. Maybe the games aren’t enough to fill the void within him anymore. He thinks he should probably talk to his parents about this. Then again, maybe he can manage.. or maybe not.

The shows don’t make him happy anymore. The video games seem like a waste of time. The constant buzzing of the monitor inside his arm annoy him. He gets up out of the chair and walks back to his bedroom. He realizes that anything involving technology can’t make him happy anymore. It is just depriving him of everything that will.

He wants to feel something.

Anything. All he feels inside himself is emptiness. Emptiness instead of happy thoughts and memories and enthusiasm for life.

He wants to feel something.

A pat on the back from his father for doing well on a test. A kiss on the cheek before bed from his mother. All he feels is the shudder of the monitor on his arm after receiving a message like, ‘you need to work on your project, Peter’, or ‘turn off your light, Peter’.

He needs to feel something.

Anything to replace the emptiness consuming him.

Thinking there is nothing he can do he goes to the wall next to his door and taps a screen that opens a door in the wall to reveal a rope. He thinks maybe the feel of a thick rope closing in around his neck will do. Peter reaches to grab the rope but before he can he see Frank jumping again. He stops and walks over to Frank. Frank starts scurrying for the door again. Peter follows him through the door into the hall and comes face to face with the emergency escape again. After a couple of minutes of standing there he picks up Frank and walks towards the emergency escape. He turns the big handle in the middle of the door and pushes the door wide open.

No one is around so he steps through the door into the outside world. There is a big yellow orb in the sky, so bright that keeping his hand in front of his face barely covers it. He has never seen so much light in one place. He notices there is green stuff all over the ground. He bends down and touches it. It doesn’t feel like anything he has ever touched before. As he walks he notices that the green stuff is all over the place, no solid ground to be seen anywhere like inside his home. He continues walking and finds Frank in an open field. He looks around and notices he is not alone there. Some one else is standing on the other side of the field staring at him. Peter slowly walks over to them and notices that the person is a girl.

After standing in the field, staring at each other for a couple of minutes the girl starts to talk.

“My name is Jane,” said the girl. “What’s yours?”

It took Peter a second to realize she was asking what his name was then he answered.

“My name is Peter.”

Peter and Jane continue to stand and stare at each other. No one said another word for a while until Jane turned her head sideways and asked Peter a question.

“Why are you outside Peter?” she asked. Peter stood there and thought about the question. He really didn’t know why he was outside. He looked down at Frank who was finally happy that Peter was talking to someone else besides him. Peter looks back at Jane and realizes that he doesn’t know this person. He also realized he is outside and that is against the law. He quickly turns and starts running for home. As he runs he can hear Jane calling his name. He continues running until he gets to his house. Once there he notices that the emergency escape is shut tight. He lifts his arm and types into his monitor to his father and asks him to open the door. Within a second gets a message back telling him is never allowed back in the house because he broke the biggest law. Peter turns around to sees Jane running toward him. Not knowing what she was going to do when she reached him, he started running in the opposite direction. He heard her hollering from behind him. “Oh no,” He thinks to himself, “She is probably going to turn me in to get executed.” He continues running until he gets to another open field with pieces of metal standing in the air like they can be played on. Peter turns around and sees Jane standing right behind him.

“What do you want?” Peter asked. “Are you going to turn me in and get me executed?”

Jane starts to laugh.

“No,” she said through her laughter. “If I turned you in I would be executed too.”

Peter had forgotten about that.

“So if you aren’t going to turn me in then why are you following me?”

Jane looked at him for a minute then said, “I want to know why you are outside. I’m outside because I feel trapped whenever I’m inside surrounded by the technology that has single handedly corrupted the minds of everyone here. I hate it so much.. I refuse to waste my life away sitting behind a screen.”

“I want to be able to live,” she said. “To connect with others for a change, and not just from through a computer monitor.”

“Same reason why I’m outside,” said Peter, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

They both realize they want the same thing. So Jane takes out a screwdriver and wrench from her pocket and starts unscrewing her monitor.

Peter asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking off my monitor so I don’t have to live with technology anymore.”

Peter watches as she unscrewed all of the screws on the monitor then lifts the monitor up from her arm. The place where the monitor had been is pale from the monitor covering it and there holes in her skin from where the screws had been.

“Here, let me take yours off.” Jane says.

Jane then says, “If we work together we might be able to technology abolished.”

“Okay. We can work to together. I think we should go to city hall downtown,” said Peter.

“Good idea,” Jane replies.

Jane turns around and starts to walk so Peter follows her. Peter and Jane keep walking until they get to the steps of city hall. They slowly walk up the steps to the emergency escape. Jane pulls out the screwdriver again and starts undoing the hinges. Once she gets the hinges loose, the door falls off. They they enter a long hallway and open a door at the very end. Peter and Jane walk through it to find the council members in the middle of a meeting.

Jane walks up to the table to present their idea.

“We believe that technology and any laws involving technology should be abolished.”

Everyone at the table looks at each other and to laugh. Then they stop, realizing Jane had talked. He points at her arm then at a scanner which meant she has to put her monitor under the scanner so they can get her ID. She lifts up her arm and places it under the scanner and the  men gasp at the fact that she doesn’t have a monitor on her arm. For a minute they look around at each other. Realizing they aren’t getting anywhere with this, Jane turns to Peter.

“She is right,” Peter states, “Technology has caused people to lose their humanity. We arent even people anymore… just statistics.”

Once again the man started typing a message into his monitor and it came up on the big screen. It says that he too had broken laws and was to be executed. Peter looks at Jane and can tell she had the same idea as her. They both start to run out of room through the door, through the lobby, the emergency escape and into the outside world. They keep running until city hall is no longer in sight. Once they get back to the open field they were in when they first met, they stopped. Peter caught his breath and asks Jane,

“What are we going to do? Soon they are going to have the national government chasing after us.”

“We need to run away. Get away from this town, this state, this country,” she said

“How are we supposed to do that?” asked Peter.

“We can find a boat that is going to another country and try to find a way to get on to the boat.”

Peter thinks for a minute and realizes she is right. That there is nothing left for them here. His family has disowned him and Jane’s family has probably done the same thing.

“Okay, I agree.”

And with that they started running for the town line to get out of that place forever.

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And Then the Silence Came