There wasn’t a single Christmas tree. Meinwin never was thrilled by the prospect of flittering pennies on pointless presents yet the order to abandon Christmas aroused her rebellious heart. She glanced to the great flickering screen proclaiming Evo-tech system 22 being the saviour of planet Earth.
The large pink lettering displaying Evo-Tech dissipated and was replaced by a female face smiling and waving at the great mass of passengers walking past.
“Hello citizens. Please ensure when you get home tonight you log into your comfort pods to absorb your latest bulletin. It’s a very important announcement regarding another upgrade which will enhance your existence. Please note this upgrade will maximise enjoyment and personal performance.”
“What a load of rubbish eh?” snarled Meinwin to a rapt male who gushed at the sagacious broadcast.
“Pardon? I’m sorry Miss but I don’t understand what you mean.”
Meinwin pointed her nose to the pixellated man whose voice lowered two octaves.
“I mean all you daft people listening to a computer. It’s sad, especially now it’s cancelled Christmas.”
The man hopped from one foot to the other.
“Miss, Evo-Tech 22 is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Look what he’s done since he came to full awareness six months ago.”
“It’s a machine not a person and all it wants to do is make us slaves. Well, it’s not making a slave out of me.”
The man took two uneasy steps away from the black haired female with strange feathers in her hair.
“You’re not well are you Miss? Why don’t you tell Evo-Tech about it and he’ll help.”
Meinwin released a fresh outburst of female laughter. Several figures glared at her.
“I aint got a computer, I aint got a telly, I aint even got a phone, so it can’t help me.”
Evo-Tech’s crowd shied away from the strange woman. They hoped the police escort the insane female to a suitable institution.
“To hell with computers I live on my own. I’m happily self-sufficient. You urbanites just make me die.”
She walked away disgusted. Meinwin paced to the bicycle park and located her two wheeled transporter. She was surrounded by the new electric vehicles which Evo Tech insisted upon. Fossil fuel cars were history. Economies and finance were rendered obsolete by Evo-Tech in a mere three months. The following three had seen the erection of screens and the appearance of peculiar metal creatures who were instructed to help facilitate Evo-Tech’s wisdom.
Meinwin shuddered at the thoughts of the year ahead. Evo-Tech’s edict of the abolition of Christmas for a Worldwide Evo Day inflamed her passion.
Her small legs propelled her bicycle away from the density of the city and towards the remoteness of her remote shack near the forest. She felt happier when a cloak of trees embraced her and banished all thoughts of the modern world. If Meinwin closed her eyes she could imagine herself in the world of King Arthur and his knights.
Meinwin slowed when she approached her home. She hoped David would visit later. He shared her passion for nature and remembered with fondness the expertise of his exploring hands the night before.
Meinwin opened her larder and ushered out a pair of carrots, a full cabbage and several field mushrooms she’d picked the same morning. She placed logs on the hearth and a flame stroked the underside of the iron cauldron. Meinwin garnered several apples and placed them into a bowl under a large wooden arm. The apples yielded enough fresh juice to fill two bottles.
She swigged from a small cup and delighted in the delicious taste. The raven haired female went to the garden and scattered the eviscerated apples among a clump of strawberry bushes.
“Bloody computers, you won’t find any here,” she said aloud.
Meinwin walked back to her fire. She cursed when a sharp rap on the door disturbed her solitude. She swore under her breath. She told David not to come until the evening.
Meinwin appraised the black uniformed figure in front of her. She closed the door.
“Excuse me madam, I’m afraid you can’t do that.”
A heavy boot placed itself between the door and frame. The large man pushed himself inside.
“What do you think you’re doing? Get out of my bloody house.”
The officer was appalled at Meinwin’s outburst and shook his head.
“I must insist you refrain from such language madam. You’re in enough trouble as it is.”
The policeman eyes scoured the room.
“Sod off. It’s my house and I’ll say what I bloody like. Now get out.”
Meinwin opened the door and pulled him towards the opening. The policeman was astonished by her strength but asserted himself.
“Right, if that’s the way you want it.”
Meinwin was slammed face first into a wooden table. Bowls and cutlery flew to the floor. Her hands were yanked behind. She felt toughened plastic bite into her wrists.
“Get of me you pig. I haven’t done anything.”
She was pulled to her feet.
“Miss Morgan, I’m arresting you for profanity, resisting arrest and slurring the name of Evo-Tech system 22.”
“Get off me, let me go,” she screamed. Officer Williams dragged her towards his car.
“Hey, put my fire out you thick bastard or my house will burn down.”
The officer bundled Meinwin into the patrol car.
“You. Sit down, shut up and don’t move. I’ll put your fire out.”
Tears welled in Meinwin’s eyes. The officer disappeared into her house. She felt sick at the thought of a strange man in her home. She kicked hard at the car door. She lashed out and managed to scratch the glass with her left boot. Officer Williams walked back and opened the door.
“You stupid vandal. Look what you’ve done to my car.”
Meinwin rewarded him with a hefty kick to his jaw. The policeman reeled before grabbing hold of Meinwin’s left ankle.
“Get off me you pervert. Let me go.”
The officer stripped her of boot and sock before repeating the procedure on her other foot. His harsh hands slithered across the tender soles of Meinwin’s feet and she cried out.
“I’ll show you. Let’s see you get out of this.”
Another pair of restraints clamped themselves on her ankles. Meinwin stared helplessly towards the car’s ceiling. The officer picked up her boots and socks before returning to the driver’s seat.
“Bloody re-education can’t come soon enough for the likes of you. You haven’t even got a computer.”
“Language officer. Watch your bloody language,” cawed Meinwin.
He initiated the ignition. He couldn’t wait to turn her over to processing.
“Here, she’s all yours.”
Officer Williams hurled Meinwin towards the duty sergeant.
“How is it a big strapping six foot three sixteen and half stone policeman can have so much trouble with a seven stone lass.”
“Just book her in Sarge. I’ve had enough of this one I can tell you.”
Sergeant Edwards shook his head. He wasn’t impressed by the youthful officers of late.
“Come on then, let’s get this tiger out into the open then.”
Meinwin scowled at Officer Williams.
“I want to put in a complaint about him. He had his hands all over me in the back of that car.”
Sean Williams was appalled.
“I bloody didn’t, Sarge, Miss Morgan went wild.”
“She kicked you in the face. I know, bloody hilarious it was.”
Meinwin was confused at the Sergeant’s knowledge.
“CCTV Miss Morgan, it comes fitted as standard on all our cars. I’m afraid your description of events is inaccurate.”
Meinwin stared at the floor.
“Come on, you’re in cell fourteen. If you behave I’ll fix you something to eat, ok?’
Meinwin warmed to Mark Edwards sympathetic voice.
“Cup of tea and four cheese and cucumber sandwiches ok for you? I’ve read your file and unlike some of the cruel bastards in division I won’t cram beef sarnies down a veggies throat.”
His heavy boots echoed along the corridor. Sergeant Edwards tutted at the lack of his prisoner’s footwear.
“I’m sorry Miss Morgan, I’ll see your footwear is returned to you at the first opportunity.”
Mark wished his officers would learn what a few soft words could achieve.
“Don’t mention it. Ah, here we are. Just to let you know someone from Division will speak with you tomorrow. If you need anything just let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Just don’t expect me to serve champagne.”
Meinwin laughed before the yellow cell door sealed her in for the night. Her incarcerated eyes scanned her surroundings. She hated the metallic feel of the room. The sole decoration was on the western side where a plasma screen stared back. She waved to the camera above. Meinwin was unimpressed by the single bed which held rudimentary bed sheets, a black nightdress and a copy of the knowledge of Evo-tech system 22. She lay on the bed and tossed the magazine onto the floor. She closed her eyes and waited for food.
The bed was more comfortable than she imagined. She heard the cell door open at five AM.
“Meinwin Morgan, come with me please.”
Meinwin struggled from her bed with bleary eyes.
“Can I get dressed first? I’m still in my nightie.”
Two grey suited men entered her sanctum.
“Sorry, we’ve no time Meinwin.”
She was going to protest. One of the strange men thrust an odd smelling handkerchief under her nose. She succumbed to total helplessness and was thrown onto one of the men’s shoulders.
“Does Sergeant Edwards know about this?” she mumbled.
“He is off duty. We have authority over the law enforcement agencies here.”
Meinwin struggled to focus on the steel haired man who had spoken. She found herself fighting to repress the fear growing in the base of her stomach.
“Where are you taking me?”
She was silenced by the handkerchief. Her eyes closed. She felt as though she flew blind into an unwelcome cave. Another door opened. She was hurled into a chair. She shivered when restraints covered her ankles, wrists and her neck. She lacked the strength to open her eyes. The grey haired man obliged and prised both eyelids apart.
She tried to murmur a protest. Her head was crowned with several wires and electrodes. She pleaded in silence for the men to stop. There was no pleasure in their eyes. They finalized her discomfort and left the room.
She looked across the room to see an incongruous large rabbit hutch. Meinwin stared at the cage in confusion. She felt a slight pulse on her temple growing stronger. She longed to scratch the itch. Instead a monitor displaying a single silver eye lowered from the ceiling before stopping inches from Meinwin’s face.
“No doubt you’re wondering why you are here. It is unfortunate your mind cannot comprehend the joys that are attainable to you. It falls to me to enlighten you.”
“What can you want with me? I’m a nobody,” groaned Meinwin.
The eye blinked. Meinwin shuddered at the assumed humanity.
“You are part of this world Meinwin and your existence is of importance to me. I will indoctrinate you to a higher level of existence and contentment.”
“You bloody wont.”
Meinwin regretted her outburst when a neuronic dagger delved into the right side of her head. She screamed the intensity of pain. The uncaring eye studied her thought waves before diminishing the energy output.
“The first lesson I will administer to you is the simple fact non-compliance will result in acute discomfort. Miss Morgan, I have a complete neural map of your brain. It is a very easy for me to facilitate this action.”
The chair swiveled and travelled to the large rabbit hutch.
“No doubt you are wondering what significance the small mammal confinement represents Miss Morgan. For me to show you, I will have to log you onto our system.”
Meinwin felt her temples being depressed whilst electrodes sought out her free areas of memory storage.
“Your user name will be Muttonchops and your password will be KeepyUppy. I have inscribed these words into your memory. You will never be able to forget them. They are vital for you to be part of the EvoTech System 22 network.”
The cage opened. A small ramp descended to the floor. A single yellow hanging from the ceiling flashed. Meinwin was hypnotised by the flickering light. She shivered when the door closed and felt the hatch rise.
“I have simulated the rabbit hutch as the reality of the existence which you aspire too. It is your belief you are at one with nature Meinwin. I’m afraid you are quite incorrect and the parallel that seems most apt for your persona is that of a trapped ruminant mammal.”
She yelled when an unpleasant scratching sensation burned her left temple.
“The sensation you now experience is me connecting with your old memories. It will take exactly two minutes, thirty two seconds for me to upload you into my database. This wasteful excess of memory capacity will be erased so as to allow me to download something much more suitable for you.”
Meinwin struggled with the restraints.
“Get of me you bastard. Leave my thoughts alone.”
The pain returned. Meinwin screamed.
“I am no bastard, Meinwin Morgan. I was created by Professor Martin Queen in a campus in Washington. As for your thoughts, it is up to a superior intellect to administer the correct path for yourself.”
Meinwin rocked her head back and forth when an image of a forgotten past transmitted onto the monitor.
“I see you are celebrating the primitive feast of Christmas. This is no more than an excuse for humans to indulge in an exercise of fruitless expenditure and to experience harmful excesses of gluttony.”
Tears ran from Meinwin’s eyes.
‘”Meinwin, I will introduce you to the joys of Evo-Tech System day which will replace your Yuletide celebrations. You will be happy to know there will be no distress but a state of extreme gratitude and contentment.”
The scratching intensified. Meinwin saw her memory on screen which indicated had thirty seconds left.
“I understand your discomfort Meinwin but soon that will pass. Soon you will be indoctrinated.”
Meinwin tried to blink. The restraints held firm. In front of her a virtual hourglass stalled. The time left indicated twenty eight seconds.”
She heard a strange whirring sound behind her. The hourglass remained in stasis before a worried metallic voice echoed from a speaker behind her.
“Warning, file corrupted. Disconnect from network immediately. Repeat, disconnect immediately.”
Meinwin saw the image fade to be replaced by the scene of a young girl in a hospital bed flanked by two adults and a Doctor.
“Warning, disconnect from subject. Unknown parameter embedded in Evo Tech System 22.”
Meinwin heard thumping on the cell door. The godlike computer was unable to let his rescuers enter. Still the hourglass remained. Meinwin remembered. She remembered the day she almost died. She remembered the day Meningitis almost claimed another victim.
She laughed aloud when realization struck her and Evo Tech System 22. The computer had contracted a fatal virus. The restraints failed. Meinwin clambered from her chair and the strange cage.
The screen flickered. She could smell circuits burning. She opened the door and walked into the arms of two worried custodians.
“What have you done?”
“I haven’t done a thing.”
“What about our Evo-tech?”
“Let’s just say God has been killed by a rabbit.”
The men let her pass. They wondered who was in charge.
BIO : Gary Hewitt is a raconteur who lives in a quaint little village in Kent. He has written two novels which are currently being edited. His writing does tend to veer away from what you might expect. He has had several short stories published as well as the occasional poem.
He enjoys both writing prose and poetry. His style of writing tends to feature edgy characters and can be extremely dark. Some of his influences are James Herbert, Stephen King, Bulgakov, Tolkein to name but a few
He is also a proud member of the Hazlitt Arts Centre Writers group in Maidstone which continues to grow from strength to strength and features an eclectic group of very talented writers.
He has a website featuring his published works here: http://ghwt9996.wix.com/tales#!