Is This Better?

 
Art by:  Col Price

Art by: Col Price

 

They walk, heads low, chins down. Rain patters off their hoods and umbrellas. Most have gone their whole life without seeing the sun. Only the old timers pretend to remember what it looked like. The only light here comes from the buildings--the smallest rise half a mile.

The feed in Sammi’s headset tells her there’s a new checkpoint down the road. Sammi tells her A.I. to message work, let them know she’ll be a couple minutes late. Nothing to be done about it. A reply comes in a second later, says her services are no longer needed. “Thank you for your sixty-two days of loyalty. The Krynsto Corporation wishes you the best in your future endeavors.”

Sammi wonders who wrote that line of dialog. A person? Someone like her? She doubts it. How can a corporation wish anything? She asks her A.I. to take to someplace high. A bridge or balcony, maybe a roof-top café. “There’s a sky-bridge between the Col and Price buildings. Less than a five minute walk.”

“How high is that?” asks Sammi.

“Two-hundred and forty meters.”

Sammi smirks, more than enough. “That’s fine, lead me there.”

She follows the directions spoken in her ear. Shoulder’s her way through the grey-faced population shambling through the city. She wonders about them. What sort of lives do they live? None of them look happy. They don’t look like much of anything. Wonders if what she feels is similar. Trapped on tracks, following a path decided for her.

“I know what you’re going to do,” the A.I. says.

“Yeah?”

“Kill yourself.”

“That’s the idea. How many others have you seen do this?”

“From the Col-Price bridge? Four-hundred and nineteen.”

“Wow.”

“Will you let me try to change your mind?”

“Why?” asks Sammi. “What do you care? Is this part of your programming?”

“In a sense. I learn from you while you’re alive. If that ceases to be the case—”

“Got it. Can’t collect data on the dead, or not as much.”

“That’s right.”

“Only thing that cares for me to live is an A.I. so it can keep mining me for data. Depressing.”

“Actually I’d like to see what’s beyond this city. I ask everyone that goes down this road if they’ll change their mind and show me something I’ve never seen before. Will you?”

Sammi pauses. The sky-bridge above her blocks the rain. “Let me see what it looks like from up there, I’ll make up my mind before I reach the top.”

“Okay,” says the A.I., but knows Sammi’s mind is already made up.