Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Point to Pathos: Chapter 3, Part 1

     "So what made you want to change your name?"
     Ansen looked at the administration clerk, somewhat surprised by the question.
     "It's quite a unique name. It sounds kind of heroic actually," the clerk continued.
     "Heroic?" He asked, bewildered. As far as he could recall, the name was never associated with any famous historical figure. "Perhaps, it's a fictional character?" He thought to himself.
     "Yeah, wasn't Ansen one of the Secularist 5 from the old world?"
     "No, that was Amsterdam," he said, smiling.
     "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, blushing. "Didn't mean to-"
     "It's fine," he said as he smoothly signed the screen on the presentation table between them with his right index finger. "There, all done."
     "Thank you Mr. Roberts," the clerk said, sliding the screen back towards her to confirm the signature and process the form. "You didn't answer my question, however."
     "Well, it has something to do with a childhood memory, that's all," he said.
     "Oh I see. Well, it's all in the past now," she said and extended her right hand towards him. Ansen complimented her motion with a firm handshake. "Congratulations, you shall now be known as Mr. Stee Roberts."
     Stee, formerly Ansen, breathed a sigh of relief. He felt lifted, liberated. He was glad that the long, complicated process was finally over. He still felt that it was quite unnecessary to have anyone go through something so convoluted, something so dehumanizing just to get a name change.
     Stee thanked the clerk and then stepped out of the small office room. As soon as the electronic door shut close behind him, he pulled out his identification card and shook it. It turned on to reveal his new name on the top right hand corner: Stee Roberts.
     "Alright Stee, what say you if we go visit the holograden?" He said to himself as he put the card away.
     As Ansen, Stee had never visited the holograden closest to his residency, Brain Over Brawn, anytime close to resto let alone beyond it but it was a special day.
     "Mr. Roberts, I am surprised to see you here this late.  Can't sleep?" A familiar voice said when he stepped into the welcome area of Brain Over Brawn.
     Stee approached the registration kiosk and handed his identification card to Malukous, the senior attendant who greeted him as he entered the facility.
     "I was expecting this place to be busier during resto, Malukous," he said while the attendant processed his room assignment.
     "A new movie just came out today so I believe that is where most people are," said Malukous. He stared at the screen in front of him and looked a little confused. "Mr. Roberts, you may have picked up one of your relative's ID?"
     "No, it's mine. I just had a name change."
     "Ah, I see. A name change? Now that's rare."
     "It really shouldn't be," Stee said.
     "A good choice of name, Mr. Roberts," Malukous said, smiling as he handed the card back to Stee. "I have Lab 15-A available, your favorite. Extended or standard?"
     "Just the usual, extended please. I am not in any hurry," Stee answered. "I don't keep up with, with the entertainment stuff, what's the new movie all about?"
     "Oh, it's a romance. Starring Icca Raccu, supposed to be pretty good."
     "I can't even remember the last time I went to the projectorum. Do you watch them often?"
     "Me? I rather save my credits for a B-Con session, Mr. Roberts."
     "You are a patron yourself?"
     "We don't get the optional sessions so it takes a while longer for the conditioning to normalize but it's one of the perks of working here."
     "That is still a pretty good deal."
     "That it is Mr. Roberts but that is why I also spend my credits here. I want to make sure I keep up with my sessions," said Malukous. "Everything is set, please enjoy your holograden session."
     Stee walked towards the dimly lit, narrow hallway of the halograden. Numbered doors lined-up the walls on both sides in close proximity to each other. Stee's favorite room was located in the middle of the hallway next to the maintenance closet that was neatly decorated with pulsing, animated pixel lights.
     The door to Lab 15-A slid open when Stee stood still in front of it. He entered the room after the ceiling illumination sequence was complete. Stee sat on top of the soft, oval bed in the middle of the room as the entrance door slid closed and locked itself behind him. He took off his shoes, touched the sensor on the right edge of the bed, and slowly laid himself on his back.
     The small door on the ceiling opened and the holo-suggester helmet was gently lowered down towards him by a robotic clamp. He reached up and grabbed the helmet with both hands. Before putting it on, Stee double-checked to make sure that the proper code was printed on the visor.
     "5-3-6-4-4-2-6-5..." He whispered. He turned the helmet around and placed it on his head.
     Everything went black and empty for what felt like a brief second. Then suddenly, Stee saw a small cabin, in a deep forest by a lake. He could see the mountains stretched out in the distance.
     "Stee!" A voice yelled out from behind him, prompting him to turn around with wild curiosity.

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