Kya never liked having to wake up for morning shifts, and it was made even worse as she looked outside through the slits in her blinds, and saw the still dark city streets. The sky near the horizon changed colours as the sun was readying its final push to start the day, and Kya knew she needed to get ready for work. She looked at her alarm and was mortified to see that she had slept for ten hours, but still felt like her internal energy stores were empty.
A checklist played out of order in her mind cell phone, brush teeth, grab lunch, get dressed, keys, and bus pass. She pushed her body from her bed, tossing her thick duvet towards the side pressed against the wall. As she avoided the mirror, she grabbed her clothes that were chosen the night before. Kya grinned on the inside at her smart planning. Her brain still slowly processing the things she needed to get done before catching the bus.
She had a shower, got dressed, brushed her teeth, slipped her phone into her back pocket, and grabbed her small shoulder purse. She checked to make sure she had her bus pass, and felt ready to head out. As she reached the door, she did one last mental check, and realized that she had completely forgotten about food. Her belly made a slight rumble, as though it had just been reminded that it was empty. Kya grabbed her lunch from the refrigerator, and a granola bar from the cupboard. She knew it wasn’t much of a breakfast, but that there would likely be muffins and coffee at work.
Kya arrived moments before the bus, swinging open its door, the bus driver smiled at Kya and with a slight tone of shock in his voice he announced, “A rare day when you beat me to your stop, isn’t it?”
Kya nodded and forced a grin. Taking her regular seat at the back, she closed her still burning eyes and waited to arrive at work.
The bus, using its own roads through the city, was able to get Kya to work much faster than if she had owned a car and attempted to drive during the start of rush hour. Kya looked at the time on her phone and knew that, even with the efficiency afforded to public transit, she was cutting it very close to the start of her shift. As the bus arrived, Kya hastily jumped off, and walked briskly towards the large towering building. As she entered Starlife Technologies’ front hall, she found her will to rush vanished and her pace slowed to a crawl. Most people didn’t recognize Kya and looked at her strangely. If it hadn’t been for her staff badge, Kya felt she would have been stopped by security or her other co-workers long before arriving at the IT department offices.
“Well, well, Kara.”
“Kya.” She corrected in a frustrated, but controlled, small voice.
“You are late.” The menacing, booming voice came from an open doorway to her left. Kya knew right away who it was. Don Georgetown stepped from his office, each step made a loud clacking noise as his over polished dress shoes slammed into the tiled floor.
Kya looked at her phone, and she noted that she still had two minutes before the official start of her shift. Feigning innocence, she responded, “I was sure I’m on the day shift this week. Am I wrong?”
A deep rumbling sigh groaned from Kya’s boss, “The policy states that all employees are to be here ten minutes before their shift to have the proper amount of handover time between shifts. Are you an employee of Starlife Technologies?” As he said the name of the company, Don grinned and lifted his arms to gesture at the building around him, and he drifted closer to Kya. His whole demeanour dripped of arrogant pride. “Do you wish to remain an employee of Starlife Technologies? If not, such a thing can be arranged.” When he finished speaking he was only about three inches from Kya’s face. Mr. Georgetown’s cologne wafted into her nose, burning it as it entered.
Kya stifled a cough as she thought about a million things she wanted to say, things she knew would make her boss livid, but instead she swallowed those impulses and looked down at the floor. With a mildly insincere tone to her voice, Kya meekly responded, “Sorry, sir.”
“Seriously,” his voice boomed as Kya walked away towards her desk, “who hired such an undisciplined… No team spirit!” His shoes clacked against the floor as he made his way back to the door he had come through. When he reached the door he turned and hollered to the whole room. “I’d be better off replacing all of you worthless idiot normals with machines!”
His frustration didn’t weigh on Kya at all. Tom, the co-worker that Kya was to relieve, tossed the logbook at her before turning to leave and she scanned it quickly before signing it. She sat down at her desk and sighed. “Just another day at the office.”
The man at the desk next to her stifled a chuckle and Kya looked over to see the older man who had greeted her at the end of her last shift. His nameplate was the only personalized item in his otherwise plain cubicle and with deeply engraved white letters it said Elliot Shepherd. Kya had worked along side Elliot once before, but it was rare that the other departments, including other sections of the IT department, interacted with personnel in Computer Operations, like Kya.
With his receding hairline, it looked like Elliot tried to hide the fact that he was getting older by growing it longer and combing strands over the worst of the balding areas. His light grey suit swam on his waif-like frame, and his eyes showed a strong sense of doubt and frustration as he stared deeply into his monitor. But as he turned to look at Kya, his eyes brightened.
“Glad to see there is still fire in your belly.” He whispered, and winked.
Kya let the corners of her mouth curl into a smile. “It’ll take more than that to break me.”
“If I didn’t know better I’d think there was granite coursing through your veins.” He turned back to his monitor. “Never lose that.”
Kya nodded at him, and returned her attention to her own work. The trays next to her desk were filled with different hard drives. Some needed to be mounted for the testing that had to be done for a new software update. Others were part of the normal routine, and were just blank drives that needed swapping so backups of company data could continue.
Kya’s attention returned to Elliot when she overheard another coworker greet him.
“Hey, Shepherd, You still not retired hunh?” The man slapped Elliot on the back in a friendly manner. “I haven’t seen you in days.”
Elliot shook his head and chuckled. “Our days off must have overlapped. I haven’t gone anywhere.”
The newcomer sat at the computer next to Elliot and logged in. “Jeez, man. Did you happen to see the email last night about the promotions?” His eyes were glued to the screen “I mean speaking of retirement and all.”
“You know, Gavin, I did see it.” Elliot said with a sigh. “Hey, Kya, did you see it?”
“Yeah!” Kya said with a note of surprise at being included.
Elliot raised his eyebrows in a manner that insisted she continue.
“Well… Um, it kind of bugged me.” She said, looking at the two men.
“Well, yeah! It’s supposed to!” Gavin said as he adjusted his tie. He wasn’t as pompously put together as Leonard, but Kya could tell he was another one who was dressing for the job he wanted, and something in his demeanour told her that it just might be working. “They want us to know there’s no room for Normals in the retirement home.” He pushed a few strands of his longer, but neatly coiffed, dirty blond hair behind his ear and smiled at Elliot.
“As much as you joke about me retiring, it is something I’d actually like to do. But you’re right.” Elliot hesitated and began typing and clicking madly before continuing. “There doesn’t seem to be any room for Normals in the retirement home, or nearly anywhere in this society anymore. Guess I’ll just have to go buy myself a Super or two.” He grinned first at Kya then at Gavin.
“Like what?” Gavin asked. “Is there a Super for Anti-Aging?”
Eliot broke out into a hearty laugh. “I hope so!” Kya felt a wave of awkward energy being projected through Elliot’s laugh. It was a little too loud and all three of them decided unanimously not to speak another word.
Kya watched as Elliot turned his full attention back to his computer screen. Just as she was sitting down to focus on her own tasks, she witnessed all of the positive energy melt from his face and Elliot’s sorrow filled eyes returned.