My eyelids slide up and back into my head, clicking into their storage units. The charger makes a swooshing sound as it disconnects. The cover snaps down and into place so my plug-in is hidden. I reach up and open my Mind holder. I pull out the little microchip and push it into the slot on my neck. It takes a second to connect to my interior membrane.
My face switches to happy as yesterday’s memories replay.I crawl from my sleep cell and stand. I walk down the aisle and stop in front of cell 94733. My face switches to worried. He isn’t there.The light above the main doors turn green and they open outward. I rush to my place in the forming double line. I glance at the gap he’s left before facing the front, marching with everyone else to my assignment.The lines split once we’re out in the hallway. Mine goes right. More hallways branch off to the sides and people drop out of the line to follow them depending on their assignment. I don’t turn until almost the end. The ceiling and the walls speed away from me as I enter the huge creation room.I move to my station in the middle of the two assembly lines. I slip the scanner over my head, not yet placing it over my eyes. The station next to me is empty. The vacant space is ominous, like it might open up and swallow me. The work buzzer sounds. I hurriedly pull my scanner down as the conveyor belts start moving.I watch for interior pumps among the mesh of parts, filling the tub in front of me. Then I scan each pump, checking for defects, before placing it back on the belt. I go through three loads without finding any. I’m just starting the fourth when a hand touches down on my shoulder.It’s him. My face switches to relief and then confused. He should have gone straight to his station. His face looks funny. It’s on neutral. And so is his voice.“You’ve been summoned. Follow me.” He turns without waiting for me. My face is on worried again.He leads me to the intersection where the lines split and turns right, away from the sleeping room. The sounds of machines fade behind us. I have never been this way. The hallway is straight with no leadoffs. I feel closed in.He stops and I stand beside him. It’s a dead end. I reach for his hand but he already has it balled up, hitting the wall. It opens like a door. My face switches to surprised. He steps inside, moving deeper into the room. I pause just inside the doorway. The wall bangs shut behind me.People form a U around the room. They’re all bigger. And their faces are different. They have more parts so it’s harder to tell what they’re set on though it’s easy to tell that none of them are on happy. My face switches to afraid.He stands next to the one directly across from me. He stares just above my head. The bigger one speaks. “25326, you have been summoned.”“Why?” My voice is on high.The bigger one looks from me to him. “It has been found that you and 94733 hold the same defect and it must been remedied.”“What defect?”“Your Mind is producing a feeling that is not real. That you should not be feeling.”“How does that happen?” I have a defect. My face is switching between expressions, trying to pinpoint the right one.The bigger one ignores my question. “You must both be wiped.” He holds up a microchip. “We have already removed and incinerated 94733’s Mind.” The bigger one gently pushes the chip into his neck and 94733’s face instantly switches to happy. “And replaced it with a new one.”My face settles on surprised, then worried, then afraid.“He is completely defect free. And the same will happen for you. You will return to normal. You won’t remember any of this.”The U seems suddenly tighter. 94733 is partially hidden behind the bigger one.“All you have to do, 25326, is give us your Mind.”My face settles on terrified.