Server Duty

10 2 4

The next day, a note pops up on the smart mirror in my apartment with directions to my new job assignment. They tested my connection speed last week and said everything grew great, so I've been waiting for it.

But holy crap, why is it so far?

After taking an autobus all the way to District F, I get off at the job site. The buildings seem ominous, huge and black. A cold shiver runs down my spine. Don't be a baby, I tell myself. Get Mom out of your head.

Wow, the buildings here are at least 40 stories tall! They form some kind of giant complex. The glass on their exterior is a flat black. I can't see anything inside.

I summon my courage with a deep breath and walk through the front doors. The overhead speaker announces my arrival. That's normal. I've gotten used to buildings registering my CID when I walk in. For such an enormous building, the waiting room is incredibly small. All four chairs look uncomfortable, but I don't get a chance to sit down.

"This way," a short brunette in gray scrubs says after appearing from a door to my right.

"Okay." I try to sound confident. "I got a weird message that you guys have my meds?"

"We'll get you taken care of," she smiles.

I jump slightly when I hear the door click loudly behind us. It feels like being locked in.

Wow, Mom's done a number on me.

I'm led into a small GRID server room. Two other people are already here — walking along on treadmills with empty expressions. I've heard about this. They're run on an exercise program while the GRID borrows their brains for a bit.

"Am I starting work today?"

"Yes," the woman smiles again. "The doctor will be right with you."

She leaves and I stand awkwardly in the room with the dead-eyed workers. The doctor that comes in is a huge, dark-skinned man in really dark purple scrubs. He looks grim.

"Good morning, Arthur." He holds a hand out towards the treadmill. "Step on up for me."

When I do, he hooks biomonitors to my chest and a silicone pad to my cheek that establishes my GRID connection — like when they tested my connection speed. I take an instinctive step back when a needle on a robotic arm extends from the wall in front of me.

What the hell is that?

"No need to be afraid," he says, resisting my flight with a hand on my back.

"What's that for?" I ask.

"It's just going to run an IV line," he replies. "We don't want you to get dehydrated."

I swallow down my fear as I let the machine connect me to the IV system, but I start to feel panicky. Something is wrong! Lots of people have told me what working at the servers is like. No one ever mentioned an IV. And why did I have to travel so far?

"We're going to start your session now," he says, making selections from a screen beside my treadmill. "Do you have any questions?"

"How long is my shift? I didn't get my meds yet."

"That depends on how you do," he replies. "No need to worry. We'll run your medications through the IV, and you won't remember anything from your session. You'll just feel like you're waking up when it's over."

That didn't answer my question. I'm about to ask again when he presses a button and activates the program. 

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