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"Another Day"
By: Cailean Darkwater

He clocked on, 8 sharp as he always did, strode into 
the office, entered his cubicle and powered up his 
terminal. Some people working in another company 
might have been late, even just occasionally, but 
not him. No delaying event entered his life, 
actually, no adverse event ever entered his life, 
whatever time of the day. It wasn't in the schedule, 
which meant it wasn't part of the Plan.

Anything that didn't affect the Plan (which wasn't 
much, being such a widespread and intricate Plan) was 
ignored. Anything that interfered with the Plan (such 
as a late worker), was deemed counterproductive, 
henceforth not tolerated. Working for the Corporation 
had its benefits!

He liked his work. He'd been told about the Plan in 
his induction, about how it kept everything going 
like clockwork. He was proud to be a part of the Plan 
that kept everything running so smoothly. The 
Corporation's Plan allowed the seamless flow of 
Events, organizing everything behind the scenes.

Like clockwork.


The robot smoothly activated, lights gradually 
blinking on, the rising hum of servomotors spinning
up to speed, relays switching to new configurations. 
The faint smell of ozone.


He'd been in Recruitment for a while now, everyone 
in-house knew it was the fast-track, if you did well 
you could write your own ticket to a good position 
anywhere. Once you proved your worth - earned your 
spurs, as it were - to the Corporation in Recruitment, 
you were virtually rocketing up the corporate ladder. 
Recruitment was difficult and esoteric work. It took 
skill to classify the different units and divine their 
possible use in the Plan. (It was policy to use the 
term "unit" for the same reason that laboratory 
hamsters are unnamed; no emotional attachment that 

Really effective Recruiters found units and modified 
them ahead of time, preparing for the future steps of 
the Plan. This was quite an art, and the powers that 
be in the Corporation really concentrated on people 
who had an intuitive grasp of the Big Picture. Units 
were altered by Events, created by other individual 
units or Special Operations. There was a symbiosis 
between Recruiters. The Event you created with your 
unit that helped another Recruiter's unit to be 
altered might allow you to create an Event later that 
would affect another unit under your care. It paid to 
scratch each other's backs.

It was teamwork. They were all working in line with 
the Plan.

Like clockwork.


The robot began its task, every movement totally 
efficient, unbelievably accurate, working in seamless 
harmony with the rest of its steel siblings.


"Request for a #8276 in Operation 7924. Psych profile 
follows. All Recruiters, please present suitable 

Looking through the basic unit type and the 
accompanying psychological profile, he knew he had 
the perfect candidate for the operation.

"Request for Operation 7924 filled by Recruiter #5062. 
Thank you for your co-operation."

His co-worker next to him in #5063 asked him "How did 
you get it so fast?"

Replying with professionalism and confidence he 
revealed his technique. They weren't competing in 
this organization. "Think of them as acronyms. Instead 
of a #8276, it's an LMJ."


"Loud Mouthed Jerk. Then you check the psych profiles, 
and see which one is the closest match. LMJs are 
common, but rarely called in for much precise work, 
occasionally the call for a mob of them for some 
Events. Sheer chance that I had what they wanted, 
sheer chance."

"Ah, you're kidding yourself, stop being so modest! No 
chance at all, you're just one with the Plan. You're 
going to go far, son. Really far. You know what's 
going on."

Uplifted by his colleague's vote of confidence for his 
advancement, he sat back at his terminal and brought 
up the details of the Event. Pity he'd never got the 
guy's name, it just never came up in the office.

Hmmm, the Event was the #8276 slamming into a #0408 
and #0411 unit with his car, deactivating them. It 
would be deemed a tragic accident, of course, and this 
Event would lead the surviving #8276 to another Event, 
the unit's self-deactivation. Such an Event would 
cause other Events to ripple out within the units 
related to all three of the deactivated units. These 
Events would cause improvements to road safety against 
other unit deactivation. Consequently, a key unit that 
would have been deactivated without these improvements 
would be spared.

Like clockwork.


The robot picked up the components before it, 
assembled them into one complete form, finely 
machined pieces slotting together exactly. Each 
movement never changing, always the same twists and 
turns, perfect in motion.

The few must suffer for the sake of the many. It was 
all for the greater good. (The term "death" had been 
removed from official Corporation terminology. The 
term "deactivation" had been deemed far more 
productive and efficient.)

He didn't know how they would get the #0408 (RAG; 
Rebellious Angst-ridden Girl) together with the #0411 
(MWS; Mild-mannered Wage Slave). Both of the units 
seemed completely inappropriate for any type of 
social interface. But he didn't have their psych 
profiles. He had to handle his own part in this Event, 
other Recruiters would handle theirs. Time to get to 

He had it. As well as some minor situations he could 
arrange, he had two units which would alter the 
specific #8276 to the appropriate state for the Event. 
First, after the unit had performed wage-earning 
activities for higher designated units, he would be 
approached in his favourite bar by a #8352 unit (STD; 
Sexy Teaser of Drinks) who would ply him for cocktails 
and leave after she was sated, lowering his meagre 
funds without any return on his investment. Result to 
unit #8276: increased anger, frustration, 
blood/alcohol level, decreased feelings of duty and 
compassion. Next, the #8276 meets a #4989 (SAD; 
Speeding Abusive Driver) while driving home. Result to 
unit #8276: increases in frustration, anger and 
vehicle speed. Specially prepared mechanical faults in 
unit #8276's car cause said unit to lose control of 
the car at a critical juncture, causing the successful 
deactivations of units #0408 and #0411. He set the 
wheels in motion; it would be ready by tonight. Event 

Like clockwork.


The robot had finished its work, not wasting a single 
joule of energy with unnecessary motion. Precise, 
perfect. It moved on to its next job, different 
pieces, same motions.


All part of the Plan. 

Barring UEs, of course.

They had been cropping up far too often for the 
powers-that-be to ignore as "acceptable inefficiency". 
It was believed that these UEs, Unknown Events, were 
caused by a shadowy reflection of the Corporation, an 
organization pitted against the Plan. In essence, an 
anti-Corporation whose Plan was the destruction of the 
Plan. He refused to believe that such people existed. 
The Plan was humanity's only hope - imagine what life 
would be like if things just happened, no control, no 
organization, no Plan. Such an existence would be 
indescribably chaotic, no underlying reason or logic 
behind anything. He shivered at the thought, such a 
thing was anathema to him.

He was thoughtful as he left his cubicle, preparing 
for his trip home. Scheduled to be uneventful, as 
always. He thought of arranging a "chance meeting" 
with an old friend from his college days. As long as 
it didn't interfere with the Plan, it should be fine.

On the train ride home he read through the 
Corporation's edition of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New 
World". He found the utopia described therein e
nchanting, comforting, a society that worked, all 
people in all strata of society determined to fulfil 
the Plan. For the greater good.

Like clockwork.


The robot, now in stand-by mode, ran through a 
self-diagnosis procedure. Finding minute 
temperature-alteration cracks and repetitive stress 
points, quickly repairing these minor flaws carefully 
and methodically.


Looking over the aisle, he couldn't help but notice a 
young woman in black; hair, clothes, nails. She was 
reading the same book, although a conventional 
version, containing the sections that were considered 
anti-Plan, which had been removed from his copy. She 
looked at him, nailed him to the fibreglass wall of 
the carriage. Deep electric blue eyes; cerulean orbs, 
held him rooted to the spot. Why was she looking at 
him? Why did her eyes show so much animosity? He was 
just another face in the crowd, what made him stand 
out? Why did she see him different to anyone else?

It was hard thinking of this living, breathing human 
being by a unit designation. She was real, she was 
THERE, right in front of him. At the office it was 
easy; units were designated with code numbers, not 
names. Units were deactivated, people didn't die. 
Here, in the midst of humanity, the knife-sharp edges 
of the Plan started to blur. He clenched his book 
with trembling hands, priest grasping for holy 

"I know what you did."

He could hear the soft whisper of anger in her velvet 
tones, accusing him, focussing her wrath upon him, 
sunray shining through magnifying glass.

He felt like an ant.

"You TOY with people's lives, twist them, MANIPULATE 
them for your MASTERS. And you only have a vague 
notion WHY. You are an ignorant fool; while you 
control other people like puppets you are just a 
PUPPET yourself. At least I know they are messing 
with me, and I'm not going to TAKE it any MORE!"

He'd found one. Someone that opposed the Plan, and 
worse, knew far too much about it. They weren't 
mythical - they were real. The enemy. He blurted out, 
almost by reflex in his shocked state: "It's all part 
of the Plan."

Like clockwork.


The robot suddenly was patterned with tiny rust spots 
over the featureless metal, growing larger by the 
moment. Self-repair systems were initiated to stave 
of this new threat to the tireless worker. An alert 
flashed through silicon mind, "DANGER!"

With raging fires subsumed underwater; hissing and 
sending up great gouts of scalding steam, she 
retorted: "LISTEN to yourself. Whose Plan is it? Why 
is it so freaking good? Why are They right, with 
Their Plan? It's not MY plan, not YOURS, either. 
Freak, WAKE UP and smell the REALITY, bud. You're 
just a slave like the rest of us, but while we are 
slaves through ignorance, you know the score and you 
still SUBMIT to the masters. You have CHOSEN to be a 

He had to concentrate on the Plan, its beauty, its 
purpose, its comfort. Her foul lies were getting to 
him. He had to remind himself that it was not up to 
him to ask why.

Like clockwork.


The robot saw the rust race across its surface, 
leaving holes and crumbling framework in its wake. 
Inside the inner workings came a metallic screech of 
gears clashing discordantly. Humming of servomotors 
faltering slightly, occasional lights burnt out.


She left at the next station and he couldn't let her 
go. Not only was there major kudos for bringing in 
such evidence, it really would help the Plan, remove 
the possibilities of UEs from the equation. Noticing 
that he was following her, she broke into a run, 
striding speedily into the concealing night. He 
picked up the pace. She opposed the Plan, but once 
she understood, she would help them in the 
Corporation. Once the Corporation showed people the 
magnificence of the Plan, they saw the light of 
reason, saw the wondrous order that the Plan brought.

Like clockwork.


The robot perceived its self-repair systems repairing 
holes within its form, patching holes, restoring 
integrity to the unit. Threat neutralized for the 
moment, it sought for a logical explanation for this 
degradation of its substance.


Just a little out of his reach, he'd almost caught up 
with her as the road curved sharply. Bright 
headlights illuminating sable cloth on dead-white 

Suddenly she about-faced and grappled him into the 
undergrowth. Behind them, a scream of tyres, 
thundering smash of metal on wood. The jack-knifed 
sedan slowly sped off again unsteadily. Scorch marks 
on the road and the smell of burned rubber surrounded 
the place where they had been locked in pursuit. 
Around the track lay the highway pickets, red cat's 
eye plastic sparkling in the darkness, wood strewn 
around like corpses blasted by violent explosion.

She got up from the greenery, brushed herself off, 
but she didn't run away. Just stood defiantly in 
front of him.

"You saved me."

The shock tore through him - he had almost died, and 
she had averted that terminal event. Wordlessly she 
showed him a dossier, her picture emblazoned on the 
front of the innocuous beige folder.

"UNIT #0408-80-9249. Scheduled for deactivation by a 
unit #8276 in Operation #7924."

The fury was back in her voice as she recited the 
Event that described her scheduled death, mixed with 
regret and pity. She'd found out the when and where, 
and had avoided her execution. He thought the aspect 
that infuriated her most was that she had been 
reduced to a simple number, to be removed from the 
equation of Life at a whim.

She held forth another dossier, photo glinting on 
beige in the flickering streetlight.

UNIT #0411-15-5062

His number. His photo.

The Corporation had set him up to be deactivated 
(screw the euphemisms!), to DIE. He was merely 
another pawn to be sacrificed in another move of the 
great game. Bloody heart ripped out of still-living 
chest, burnt in holy homage to the Plan. He imagined 
all the people whom he had reduced to numbers, 
killed for "the greater good." Not to mention the 
countless individuals warped and tortured from their 
choices, enslaved by the Corporation's wishes.

Regret and anger ran through him; fire and ice 
hopelessly intertwined. But she could see the signs 
stamped upon his face, she embraced him firmly, 
lovingly. They were both crying, tears of anguish, 
tears of rage. Blinking back the drops, she looked 
deeply within his eyes, and he knew her, he could 
feel her. A person who cared about him. Not a number, 
never a number. She whispered softly, voice 

"Welcome back to the human race." 


The robot searched for the threat, but the 
self-diagnosis program intervened. "DANGER" The rust 
had returned, destroying integral structure faster 
than before. The unit seized up with rattles and 
clanks, vibrating madly, falling supine upon the 
ground. Shuddering, breaking itself apart.

From the broken shell a man arose, eyes wide with 
wonder, as if seeing the world for the first time, 
seeing life through fresh eyes. He saw the robots 
slaving away perfectly at their tasks, never 
changing, and knew that this shrine of stability was 
not his place. An open door led to a lush meadow, 
cool breeze blowing lightly on his bare skin. He left 
this world of steel and glass and entered another.

He did not look back.


"Request for a #0411 in Recruitment, cubicle #5062. 
Existing position holder rendered untraceable due to 
UE in Operation #7924. Need another."

(c)opyright 2000 by Cailean Darkwater