He opened his eyes and saw the white walls surrounding him. The shades at the window snapped to the top of the frame, and the sun’s light engulfed the room. His fingers tingled from sleeping on his arm weird. His lungs rose and fell inside of him as his heart hammered against his chest. All of his emotions swelled inside of his stomach, ready to burst. He scanned the walls, watching screens ignite to life with schedules, times, and locations.
“Nova,” he inhaled.
“Yes, Joseph?” the computer’s voice sounded like Mikayla. The same sweet tone entered his ears and took away the anxiety building in his chest.
He shook his head and flipped the covers off of him. The bed spiraled ninety degrees to the right, where his bathroom door was already open. The sheets pulled themselves off of him and rolled up into the footboard. His body slid down the mattress as the bed stood up on the footboard. Joseph stepped onto the conveyor belt that led into his bathroom.
“Shower on,” he said, feeling the multiple mechanical arms from the walls slipping his pajamas off. He stepped into the bathroom and the temperature was set to his comfort zone. “Thanks, Nova.”
“You have a meeting with the Corporate Overlords this afternoon, Joseph. I have assembled you…”
“Whoa! What? Corporate Overlords, what the hell do they want?” he asked, looking up at the ceiling, where a blue screen appeared. He saw the scrambled image of Mikayla. “Well, are you going to tell me?” He grabbed the shampoo from the edge and squirted a dab in his palm.
“That is classified,” she answered.
“Classified? So now they have taken over your operating system?”
“I have your clothes together in your closet when you are ready, Joseph. They will be waiting at Helix Headquarters.”
“A meeting at my office then? When did we authorize these guys to hack into the system and change all of my schedules, Nova? Did they hack into your firewalls, while I was sleeping or something?” He rinsed his hair and left the shower. “I guess I’ll find out at my meeting then,” he said, walking to the closet, where his suit was ready for him.
* * *
Joseph slid his finger down the inside of his black jacket as he pushed his blue tie down to his navel. He combed the sides of his head and slipped the comb into the inner pocket of his jacket. The conveyor belt led him to the front door, where an escalator was waiting to take him down to the street. A wide clear screen appeared in front of him as his mother appeared on the screen. His head reacted with a painful migraine panging at his temples.
“Joseph? Joseph? Is this thing working?” she asked, tapping the screen.
“Mom, stop, I can hear you,” he answered, squeezing the top of his nose with his index finger and thumb. “What is it, Mom?”
“I was worried about you, sweetie! I haven’t heard from you in days, and I feel like you’re trying to avoid me.”
“Impossible, Mom. The system has always set up our days together. When the time is right, it will schedule our family time,” he said, knowing he has the ability to fit her in his schedule. “Actually, I have to go. I’m kind of in a hurry.”
“How can you be in a hurry? It’s not like the system would make you late.”
Joseph scratched his head and turned his attention to the side of the screen, where his company stock appeared. He saw the points elevate in ridiculous increments. He flipped the screen over his mother while pretending to listen to her.
“You’re right, Mom. I’m just a little preoccupied.”
“Preoccupied? Seriously, son, do you think I’m just some rag you can toss to the side? I want to see you! You’ve been avoiding me I know it!” Her voice cracked.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I’ll be a better son,” he answered.
She continued to ramble on with tears and anger, while he flipped through the local news. There were multiple headlines that read: “Apoch Discovers Eternal Life”, “Helix to Release New System in June”, “Death of Loved, Life of Soul”
He read through the headlines realizing why he was summoned to a Corporate Overlords meeting. Joseph smiled and let out a sigh. He flipped the headlines out of the way, watching his company’s stock soar on the screen.
“…I know she died from a freak accident, but seriously, Joseph. You really need to…”
“Wait, what?” he interrupted. “Mom, please, I don’t want to talk about this. Let me call you back later. I’m walking into a meeting,” he said, disconnecting the feed. “Finally,” he said as the conveyor belt pulled him onto the escalator to Helix Headquarters.