Arjun Attam

Seattle, June 2027

22 Jun 2020

I have been on my VR headset for 36 straight hours now. After I started using my hiking bladder as a food feed, my time breaks have been few and far between. I wish I had clocked enough to unlock the silver flame pants, but that will have to wait. There are things my hiking gear cannot solve and taking a dump is one of them.

I should batch my tasks in meatspace. The plants could use some water. The trash and laundry can wait for now. When I bought this headset, I had no idea how central it would become to my life. Today I am one of 14,232 people who have one. I know because Zoom Pro shows a real-time count, with 16 different gender labels. I often switch between them. The means to express myself are in short supply.

Making more headsets is out of question. The curved glass inside the headset cannot be 3D printed. Making more would need an assembly line of human hands that can touch and mould it. But humans do not gather in meatspace, not since we found the 64th strain of the virus. Work can continue, as long as it is on Zoom Pro.

The 14,232 of us work to unlock meatspace: we are looking for the vaccine. The clusters from Shenzhen and Menlo Park were the first to take charge and they rallied the others. They broke down the problem into small Lego blocks. Blocks that are apt for a neural network built with the working class.

I spend my time finding Lego pairs that fit and pass them along. The system is strict and time breaks are shunned. Some of us have joined the Lenin cluster. The leaders countered with a carrot: shiny costumes for the best among us.