This is the second part of the short story I posted last Friday. If you missed it you can find it here: Auto Park Part One. Parts three and four will be posted before this time next week. Thanks for reading!
It had to be a computer glitch that had even let me this far back into Serv-Tech, the company where I had worked for ten years before the new rules were established. I had started in the dredges of the cyborg department and worked my way up long before there was any Auto-Park installed. The last year I was here I pulled my luxury car into one of the few reserved spots. Now six months later the entire company had been retooled. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time had earned me a cozy cell on the ground floor of the original transitional living facility which had been constructed ten years ago.
The cyborg department started off small. Our only purpose was to create machines that could operate and maintain the essential functions of the plant. The idea being that the unemployed could not be counted on to work the non-stop hours required to keep the plant running.
I stepped around and peered inside the open door. At the desk sat a woman with sharp features in a navy colored suit plucking away at her keyboard. Without looking up she gestured to the chair in front of the desk. “Deborah Hawkins is it? I was about to cancel your pass.”
I looked back down at the pass and could not speak. I had not even realized that the name on the paper was not mine.
The woman pointed to the identifier that sat on her desk. “Go ahead and put your arm under the identifier so I can do the verification and we can get onto the interview.” Once you are deemed unemployed you are required to submit to coding. Your code means more than your name.
I reached out my arm and pulled back my sleeve to reveal the bar-code. I winced as the gash caught on the scratchy wool of my coat sleeve.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” The woman pointed to the long angry wound that sat across the lines of the bar-code. “How did this happen?”
“At the plant today. Another worker cut me when he tried to replace the blade on his…” I rubbed at the cut which had started to itch as it scabbed over and noticed that it obscured the last number of my assigned code. The voice of the worker who had cut me rang in my ears, “You’ll thank me for that.” The phrase was one my husband used to use before he died. He worked with me in the cyborg lab in the early days and was known to make frequent mistakes. At first I was upset when I had been assigned to his team, but I quickly learned that David Henry’s mistakes often led to breakthroughs. One of which became my greatest accomplishment.I stole a glance at the pass and saw that the code assigned for Deborah Hawkins was the same as mine, except for the last number.
The woman snatched the pass from my hands. “Verbal verification please.” She scanned the pass and depressed a button on the top of the verifier.
I leaned forward and repeated for her my code except for the last number. “6-10.” It was too much of a coincidence but at this point I had no choice but to play along and see what would happen. If I admitted now that I was not Deborah Hawkins I would surely be accused of the crime of fraud and taken to the real prison cells where they didn’t even pretend you had a chance of escape.
The woman looked down at her computer. “Like I need this hassle.” She picked up the phone on her desk. “It has requested a higher authorization.”
My mind raced. Higher authorization. That meant that someone from the department would need to come down and verify that I was the person they had sent for. Someone specifically asked for Deborah Hawkins. The minute they walked through the door they would know I had lied.
I looked around the room but there seemed nothing at hand that would get me out of this situation. I cleared my throat. “Excuse me; do you know what type of job they are hiring for?”
The clacking of the computer keys stopped and the woman looked up at me quizzically. “I assume since they asked for a higher authorization that you already know why you are here.” She leaned forward in her chair. “What is your specialty?”
The office door opened and there stood one of our first cyborg models. We had learned early on that while these cyborgs could handle executive functions they lacked the dexterity of the more recent human-based versions. These shiny steel barreled robots were still used in the mail room at Serv-Tech and apparently they now acted as escorts.
“The robot will take you to your interview.” There was a small whinny as the robot wheeled around and started to move down the hall. “You better follow him. They aren’t trained to wait for the unmotivated.” I cringed against her insult. Even now there were those that had no problem with the way the government ran things and with what Serv-Tech did. But I was convinced it was because they didn’t know what was really going on. I had to believe that. I didn’t even really know what was going on and why they kept me alive.