“Come in and have a seat, Mr. Martin.”
Brien followed the command of the disembodied voice and had a seat at a desk in the middle of the room. The room was very bright despite being an interior room. The white spartan walls and abundant lighting made it hard to see. Even the chair and desk were white. The only non-white items in the room were the video panel mounted on the wall in front of him. The panel was black and its borders glowed with a pale blue light. Above the panel, Brien saw the red beady eye of the AI.
“Now, Mr. Martin. I have reviewed your case. Do you have any questions before we proceed?”
“What is the purpose of this meeting?”
“As I said when I first contacted you, Mr. Martin. This is a status meeting determining your continued benefit of unemployment…”
“Unemployment? I am self-employed!”
“Surely, Mr. Martin. Your interactive videography hobby does not classify as employment.”
“Hobby? I am being paid credits for my work.”
“Hardly a sum that is worth mentioning, Mr. Martin. That brings up the crux of this meeting.”
“And what would that be?” Brien crossed his arms and stared in the red glowing eye on the wall above the video panel.
“Since you resigned from your position Xioayin Studios, your enclave merit rating has slipped into the lower 10th percentile and are henceforth considered a burden on the economy.”
“A burden? Last year I was in the top 50 and I made fewer credits than I made this year.”
“I am sorry Mr. Martin. When you become unemployed, you are unqualified for subsidies tied to employment. After considering the loss of those subsidies, your score dropped…”
“SELF EMPLOYED! I am self-employed…”
“With all due respect Mr. Martin, that is not a valid occupation. I will send you some employment opportunities for your consideration. Good day.”
The video panel on the wall went dark and the red glowing eye on the way turned off. Brien sat in the seat and stared at the wall. There was a fire burning in his mind. He knew that this was the humiliation about which his friends warned him. He thought he was going to be able to handle it but he did not realize how inhuman government AIs were.
The door opened and an egg-shaped android entered the room, “Sir, you need to vacate the premises. If you refuse, I will be forced to employ countermeasures.”
With a sudden thud as the chair tilted and fell to the floor, Brien stormed out of the room and through the waiting room. He came to a stop at the side of the maglev track just outside of the door to the Social Security office.
Just as the door shut behind him, he heard the voice of the android, “That was unacceptable behavior.”
Without thinking, he began pacing. As he walked back and forth on the platform, he listened to his feet as each foot hit the metal and reverberated. He knew he did not have any reason for concern, it has been over 10 years since the last culling. Still, it did not ease his nerves as there is always talk about starting it again.
How did he fail? It was not due to a lack of trying. He studied the market and worked very hard. In the end, he managed to double his credit income… and that was not enough. Brien realized that there was another set of footsteps approaching him. Looking up and turning in their direction, Brien saw a man dressed in all black that he immediately recognized as the uniform of a Blackguard security officer. Brien placed his hand on his forehead. The android must have called Blackguard to have him arrested.
“Mr. Brien Martin?” The man held a black shield-shaped badge, “Could you come with me?”
“I’m sorry, officer. I didn’t mean to…”
“Oh no, this has nothing to do with that.”
The officer laughed, “If we arrested everyone who got pissed off here, we would not have any holding cells for at least 10 years.”
“What is it then?”
The officer shrugged, “They don’t tell me anything but I was told to tell you it would be worth your time.”