In the near post apocalyptic future, a boy who has just come of age enrolls on the Price Programme, the new system for managing society. The boy meets a woman who opens up a new perspective on life.
The Price Programme is the system for managing society, based on digital credits. Every adult has a microchip implanted in them which contains credits which are downloaded based on that person's participation in State social life. A person is able to live their life in a way which befits their behaviour. Every person with a microchip fitted is therefore able to demonstrate their own worth with the aim of improving their life. Ivano finds himself in a difficult situation, with few choices and he will be forced to come to terms with the person who determines the credit system and its recognition of a person's value.
Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Liczba stron: 107
Copyright 2017 - Luigi Passarelli
First Edition - January 2017
TEKTIME - www.traduzionelibri.it
Traslator: PETER SAVIN
It was an ordinary day, just like any other. Ivano had been waiting his turn in the elegantly styled doctor's waiting room along with all of the other children born on the same day as him. He had only seen four or five of them. He was the second to last. Nobody was talking, nobody even said a word. It was better this way. At the end of it all there would be a practical exam. Everybody was reading the instruction leaflet, which they had all already read so many times that they had all learned it off by heart throughout many years of school and at home life. Redundant stuff. But he knew that even the most obvious things are often filed away as superfluous by a certain type of brain. And in some cases, cases rarely reported in the media, something goes awry. Ivano had never personally experienced or heard any stories of people close to him which were seriously worrying. Just like all the others, he was pretending to be responsible, engaged and interested in the instruction manual. He pretended to read history notes while all the children of his age were obliged to do a three day medical exam to work out if they were eligible for compulsory military service. At the end of the day it was nothing new. The world was just as it always had been. At the end of it all; boring. Perhaps it was always becoming a little more boring. Just like the summer when school is over. That strange summer which opens the door on a whole new world, be it the world of university or the world of work. No homework to do. Studying for studying's sake was a thing of the past. His family had never been on holiday. As the only son, he had only been on short trips close to home, always for educational reasons. But he was never away for longer than one day. He thought about his friends and other people he knew. He would have been happy if one of them would become one of his colleagues in the future. But that would take a great deal of luck. He envied those who could move away even now. He had always had the urge to travel. He should have been able to go to university. Then there would have been many jobs that he could have been able to do, one day in a distant future.
“Ivano? It's your turn, come in.”
Finally, it was his turn.
It was not a good idea to ask questions about the Price Programme. Happiness was a step too far. There were many different possible techniques which he could use to deal with what was coming. Over the past few days his father had made him watch the video courses in preparation for the big event. The day he had been waiting for ever since he was born had finally arrived. It was simple. All he had to do was to get up out of that comfortable armchair, forget everything about his life up to that point and follow the nurse.
The operating roomreminded him of visits to the dentist.
Ivano knew that the whole thing would be over in ten minutes.
The anaesthesiologist, who had grown accustomed to the procedure set to it without any hesitation. Nobody said a word. Someone smiled half a smile out of tired courtesy.
It's difficult to fake it forever. Even in front of a young adult facing the most important event of his life.
However everybody was well trained. Ivano braced himself and used the mental isolation techniques he had learned. The anaesthetic and the smell of the room both helped.
He did not lose consciousness. It was obvious that he was annoyed by the cannula which was stuck up one of his nostrils. It was making him nauseous. The wire had to travel all of the way to the pineal gland, where the latest version of the microchip would be inserted, and back again all without doing any serious damage.
It was only then that he started to wonder what kind of relationship there could possibly be between organic matter and technology. But, intrinsically it was the same as it has always been. It was for sure that neither the microchip nor the doctors were suffering any pain at that point.
After a few minutes everything was over. The relief of the cannula being removed came at the same time as the effects of the anaesthetic beginning to wear off. After a short while he would be able to get up and take his first steps in the new grown-up world.
In some ways he felt reborn, in other ways he felt like he had a new burden to carry and he was very much aware of a massive change in his life.
“You can get up, Ivano.”
Yes, he could get up. A slight headache, a slight crick in his neck and he felt a little off balance.
He waited for his paperwork. The file containing his provisional password and the myriad instructions which he already knew off by heart.
“Welcome to the Price Programme, Ivano!”
That was it. It was the wait that was longer than anything else. What had happened was nothing too special. The consequences would be significant though.
All that was left was to retrace his footsteps, to head home and try not to cause any trouble on the way.
He was walking home along his usual route, when he found himself in front of the shop where he had fallen in love with countless girls and women throughout his adolescence. This time there was nobody in the window who inspired him. But he tried a little experiment anyway, a test.
He pointed his phone at a girl in a bikini to check if the Programme was working properly. She seemed to be friendly and happy. It turned out that his account had not been activated yet. Ivano could not see the price and could not add the girl to his basket or his wish list.
The girl waved back at him. He couldn’t hear her, but it was easy to understand. She obviously wasn't displeased with his looks. It was a shame that she was not to his liking. Ivano left and started to think back to all those girls he had dreamed about for so many nights, the ones who gave him real, sensual companionship in his fantasies. The ones who had drifted away from him slowly. He was a little ashamed. Mostly for the sake of his family. They had told him straight away that he should never take certain assumptions into account. Starting a family was a completely different matter, even at that time. He would have found the right woman in his own time. His little misadventures with a few friends during his school years had not been all that they could have been. Always hidden and always accompanied by an element of fear.
A beggar caught his eye. Ivano wanted to have another try. He wanted to understand the new power he had acquired, just to see if it was all true.
He pointed his mobile phone at the man.
Yes, this time it worked. The man cost around 3000 credits. This old man with mutilated legs, a beard like one of the ancient prophets, dirtier than most people could ever be and dressed like a Napoleonic soldier, he smiled at him mockingly.
“So, little boy! Do you want to buy me? Are you having fun? Why don't you give your mum a present!! Take me home, give me a room and my own bed!! I could be very useful in your family don't you think?”
Ivano was scared. And ashamed. Yes, it's true, this is how things worked.
He ran away quickly and his thoughts turned to the question of respect for others. At the same time he was thinking of the practical uses for other people. There was still choice when you were in the Programme. You had to be smart just like before. Or at least you always had to remember profit was key. Now he was scared that someone would discover his real value and try to take advantage of him just while walking down the street.
Everybody knew the first rule of the Programme by heart: only other people can find out the actual amount of credits an individual was worth. You cannot check your own value with your own device, only someone else can.
Before Ivano went to the clinic, his father had tried to reassure him: once you are registered on the Programme, you can relax. Credits are standard for everyone, it depends on your journey through life, but he already knew how to deal with things, and he expected a reasonable figure. A figure which would have left him free.
Ivano however was busy imagining what it would be like when he got home.
There would be sermons. There would be too much attention. Yes indeed, his father would not miss out on this opportunity to draw yet another picture.
They didn’t want for anything. It was just that there had never been a remote possibility of being able to travel.
The outside world was something which was distant and unknown. His family had only even visited a few areas of their own city. This would have to be enough for him.
The world was just too dangerous to be enjoyed to the full. All trips were controlled by the Programme and only a few lucky ones were allowed to leave their own Area of Competence. That was the case for him and his parents and probably for all of his friends and acquaintances.
Ivano was walking down the street, going past the few shops which were still open. They were almost all greengrocers selling fresh food. He was tempted to secretly make the first purchase of his life. Who knows, it could even have just been a candy. Deep down he knew however that his father would be furious with him if he did. He would have ruined his Price birthday. His father might even have complained to the System Tutors and got them to impose a spending limit.
To really be an adult and to please those around him, he would have to behave properly and not give in to silly little whims. In reality not much had changed in comparison to the past. He couldn’t do anything before and now he could do even less. All he could do was to wait for the right moment to invest in something of his own. Certainly not on a whim or on childish things like candy.
He would have to wait for his father to check how many credits he was worth. He quivered to think about how much they had recognised his commitment, his work and basically his whole life.
He trusted in his father, but it was not a blind trust. He remembered that he was not infallible, he could still make a mistake in his calculations somewhere. He even feared that his companions could be worth much more than him. He was ashamed.
He started to walk faster, nearly home now.
Ivano rang the bell. He had never had a set of keys. His father ran to open the door. He was free that day, just like any other father on their child's Price birthday.
“Ivo!! Has it happened?! You are back!! Come in, come in!! So? How do you feel? Do you feel like a grown-up now? Sit down, I have a surprise for you!”
His mother brought in a tiny cake with a huge candle on it.
Now everyone was sat at the table. Well, not really everyone. The rest of his family was missing. But since the Programme did not provide extra credits for presents or holidays, nobody celebrated anything anymore.
As soon as Ivano blew out his candle, he wanted to go straight to his room. He could forget about that though.
Ivano's father got out his mobile phone and solemnly pointed it towards Ivano's head.
“Are you ready? Do you want to know or not? Aren't you curious? All of these years that I have been here, guiding you, giving you advice. All it takes is one little click to know! Ah! Did someone assess you already on the street? Or were you so ungrateful as to ask a passer-by to do the favour? What do you say Ivano? Shall I do it?”
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