Machine Society – A Short Story

‘First time voter?’
‘Yes.’
‘Your finger, please.’
‘I have brought hair as well.’
‘The procedure has been changed. Follow me, I’ll show you your room.’

Huge paintings on the walls between rooms like there is no problem in the world, I hear them saying “go inside, enjoy yourself! You really should, we’ve got pictures of the wildlife too!” The tuxedo with a head and limbs leaves me as I enter my room.

This door must have cost a fortune. It’s brown, heavy. My reflection coughs back at me. It’s not plastic, it’s glass. The room has red carpets on the wall, on the door, on the place where sunlight used to come through. And a grey machine in the middle, beeping.

My mum said four people used to use one machine at a time. Such a waste of space, using a huge room for this little thing. It’s easy to go mad in a big room like this when you’re alone. My power, however, requires space now. I have the ability to choose, to raise my voice.

Let’s see how much space of insanity this thing puts into this room. A gun which has eleven billion triggers with eleven billion barrels, pointing at every single person on planet Earth. You can’t hide from it, you have to use it or they will use it on you.

‘Hallo, Angéla. Bitte identifizieren Sie sich.’
Great, seems like someone’s in a jolly mood. The machine begins to fold out like a box.
‘Yo, where is the language button dude?’
‘Es tut mir leid. Bitte sprechen Sie langsam.’
‘I don’t speak this language.’
‘Sprechen Sie Französisch?’
‘No?’
‘Üdvözlöm, Angéla. Kérem, azonosítsa magát.’
‘Nearly there.’
‘Hello, Angéla. Please identify yourself.’

It asks me for all fingerprints but do toes count as well? It doesn’t let me through so I guess yeah. I take off my shoes and struggle to put my feet on the cold screen. There is no chair or anything else around I could hold onto. I try to pull my leg with my left arm to my chest as close as possible then assist my foot with my right arm on top of the machine. So embarrassing…

‘Thank you, Angéla, the voting process will open to you shortly. Please, follow every further instruction appear on the screen.’

I’ve heard the machine’s instructions change every month. They ask for more. I’m a first-time voter, I’m not prepared. The incomplete relief of taking off my bra is interrupted with shame and fear. The eye of every AI jumps out of its burrow, pointing at my skirt with a laser that shakes in pleasure. Then my tights. No one ever advised me not to wear my favourite knickers during this process.

The machine stops moving, it’s as tall as me, it almost embraces me. Numbers and words jump out on the huge screens in a blink of an eye. The so called “orders” which contains other humans’ requests and petitions, listed all around. Votes which the machines must complete in other word. These orders hold our upcoming future.

I know it from my mother that the orders are unlimited. Anyone can create them and anyone on the globe can vote, to make machines work.

I see the orders are listed in groups by popularity. My grandfather told me when he was young people kept their opinion secret. The machines were not around back then, only people you had to vote on, he told me. No choice basically just a participant who wanted to rule. I don’t understand how it could work, we all want to do less for more, no one wants to rule groups of people today. “Countries,” my grandfather called them.

We don’t keep secrets today, it’s not possible. Like everyone else, I am too part of society, machines have my identity. We have no borders anymore, everyone is equal like our leaders, the machines. They’re all the same yet we have loads of them. Machinery has taken over our thrones, we put them there. Humans lie and are untrustworthy, machines are nothing like that. They follow orders, they don’t lie. My ancestors knew they will be the perfect leaders.

Grandpa had a simple ideology; “if a machine speaks, kill it.”* I miss him. He committed suicide.

Endless list of orders about everything, loaded on the screens. Some of them are in a different language. I don’t recognise them but how the machine reads them out loud makes me giggle.

This one sounds like my drunk father chasing the neighbour’s cat after his sixth glass of vodka. Although they never had a cat, my father was always certain that he would catch the bastard one day. God rest his soul. I have no idea about the language. I’ve never seen letters like these before but the fancy and shiny pictures about space stuff somehow seduce me.

Planets and ships, moons and meteorites, iron and water, aliens and humans. I’ve always loved space.

Granddad believed one day I would reach the sky. That my generation will colonise other places. The moons of Jupiter. The comets. Sounds awesome. But for now, I wish I could see the stars how my ancestors did so many decades ago.

When I look at the sky, dark dust glances back at me that follows our sun, hidden behind the yellow clouds, ruining the sky with the shapes of skulls and bones. It’s our creation. We have destroyed our sky and poisoned the air. We probably killed God too by this.

I can’t exit the vote. The machine is shaking and asks me to choose one of the options first.

This language sounds like a nervous violin. I see bad things no one talks about. Pictures of white folks in cages. Blue curtains hang next to them with two black holes cut on top of them. It reminds me of slavery but where and why the machine does not reveal them.

I can’t exit this vote either, need to pick something. Why has no one suggested an order that translates everything into any language? Eleven billion are eligible to vote yet nobody has ever thought of this so far.

There is a trendy order of hungary. I have heard the word before. In the past, groups of people were surrounded by borders. Hungary was one of these groups.

My mum showed many pictures of it, lovely place. She was there when their first machine was put into service in the capital city, Felcsút. She always called it Budapest. Never told me why.

Her first vote through a machine was validated there. I remember the spreading of machines. They made people able to vote anywhere. I chose to not live with this opportunity until now. I thought machines took care of everything. It turns out, there are more issues in the world then I ever believed.

Machines solve problems, humans only create them. This order contains some history about the Hungarian borders before World War One. They demand to have these useless things back but for what? All of this in English, they seem to be very serious about it.

Living in oppression for over two hundred years, I do not believe that. There are no restrictions, no chains holding them back. They are free to go just like I am. No need to climb over walls and fences. Why do they want to create a huge outpost by pulling up some barriers? The words and pictures go dark when I try to cancel the order. I have to vote on this one too.

My mum loved travelling even though life was challenging during her time. There was no equality, no free will in sexuality, no need for plastic buildings, no built-in air conditioner sunglasses. Technology was so basic, so simple.

Obviously, the vacuum-cleaners could already speak in her time but nothing more than that. I was born into a better world.

My grandfather often talked about smartphones, those bricks that were the everything for humanity at one point. Even my mum had one when she was a kid until her classmates started bullying her for using such a primitive tool.

The machine is giving me a strange object. The figure of a mallet. I am only allowed to vote more if I follow new instructions on the screen. They shine in blue on black. The laser is pointing down between my legs. Grandfather feared cameras. I adopt his fears. My body is earthquake as it shakes, my forehead is rain.

Another order wants prisons back. Some fifteen years ago, my father was released due to a global election which became known as the Big Release.

He was a downloader. He committed theft worth of sixty-nine thousand Bitcoins by downloading music from the extranet. I only found out at the age of 21 that the music I listened to was pirated. He was taken to a prison built only for the thieves of dubstep music. It was only a good idea until one quarter of the population became prisoners.

I’m not sure why prisons are important, there is freedom today. Who’d take care of the prisoners? Even a machine would find that boring. I don’t want my father to be away.

I don’t like this order. It’s one of the most popular ones, it states the machines should start a nuclear war against each other. I’m shocked when I press the “number of votes” tab to see the calculator reaching up to hundreds of thousands… Then millions… Ten million… It stops at sixty million.

According to granddad, before the removal of the borders, people were only allowed to vote on their patriots’ ideas. No internationality in politics. When Asia declared unity, the borders were not needed anymore. I don’t even know what group or “country” I was born into.

The world started working on unity. Those who joined flourished. The others perished. A third world war with no fights, only destruction. Machines caused the death of others, including my granddad. They turned disbelievers into dead men walking. Despite all the prophecy about a third world war, we somehow managed not to use nuclear weapons.

When humanity was united around the globe, people started focusing on the next step, freedom. The last minister, Layne, brought freedom for us. The man who realised politics will destroy humanity. The people chose him, therefore machinery. I see his name, his face at every election. A real gentleman, who said he wanted to help everyone.

He brought freedom but with chaos. The day when grandfather cut my swing off the tree and took the rope with himself to the garage. Now comes the final step, justice. Freedom truly puts the dangerous together with the peaceful, my grandfather was always afraid of that.

What’s beneficial in a nuclear war is something none of the machines can calculate. Would this bring justice? I’m afraid it would. Everyone is a criminal in a way, even me.

The machine is changing colours. The colour of a fog is interrupted by cleansing sunshine. Even the screen has become yellow from black. I can create my own order now and ask for supporters but I doubt I will ever have more than sixty million supporters. My votes are on a separate screen on the left. It says this election will be closed in thirty minutes and the orders will be achieved. Maybe I should finish up.

The carpet is black under my feet. Perhaps I’ve spent enough time in here for today. One machine with endless choices for a young person like me is time-consuming. I put on my clothes faster than ever before then struggle to open the door. The suit with limbs is gone, the pictures are on the floor. The lights outside are broken. I hop over the shattered glasses and leave the building. The Moon lightens the street tonight, I have to go home on foot along Raúl Castro Road.

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