The Beast out of the Earth
Cameron Lapcase parked his cab in the row in the taxi rank. A few minutes ago he brought home his last client, a frustrated young man, who told him something about an illness and a necessary operation and that he doesn’t want to die and so on. Cameron didn’t really listen, he always does so. Your problems, not mine. There are so many people he drives from one place to another everyday and almost all of them tell him about their troubles, feelings, funny stories or at least what they think is funny, and some Cameron can`t even understand because their tongues had gone to sleep together with their brains in a marriage-bed hours before as a result of too many alcoholic drinks in too short time. On long routes it appears to Cameron that some people actually tell him their whole lifestory or others who he refuses to answer to: “Do you ever part your hair on the wrong side to see what you look like to other people? It totally messes everyone up.” During all the years Cameron did this job he acquired the ability of not caring. In the past he would have felt sorry for the different fates of the different persons and tried to give some advice. Now this is gone. Emotions have become dangerous and Cameron doesn’t want to risk his job. He just brings the clients where they want to go, murmurs some standard phrases and takes the money.
Cameron got out of his taxi to buy some cigarettes before knocking off work. He walked to the cigarette automat and pressed his upper arm against the scanner. Like everyone else he had a RFID-chip implanted under the skin of his upper arm. Name, age, nationality, address and bank information to which a connection could be built up at any time, were the standard data on the chip and the more often it was used the more information was saved on it. First the government declared the implantation of the chip as a voluntary measure by praising advantages like quick payment and no more lines at the entrances of cinemas and night clubs. People who declined the implantation were suddenly suspicious and a two class society was the result of the government`s decision to give the people a choice. So also the former enemies of the implantation agreed to it under this pressure and the few people who still didn’t want the chip under their skin were finally forced to do it with the help of a new created law that made the implantation compulsory for everybody. What the people didn’t know when the medical specialist placed the RFID-chips in their arms, was that in future they will be connected to the satellites and everyone can be located with the GPS-technology what will make observation cameras almost needless.
The chip secured that Cameron was of full age, the money was charged off of his account and the automat spit out his usual packet of cigarettes. On his way back to the taxi he searched for the matches in his jacket and lighted a cigarette. The cold smoke filled his lungs and Cameron tried hard not to cough because he heard some strange noises not far away from him. He held his breath. Trying to attract as less attention as possible he rushed to the corner of the house on the other side of the street. About thirty meters away from him two veiled persons were pulling a man who was desperately trying to defend himself into a car. The doors were shut, the engine started, then they were gone. Cameron had put himself in a position that he could watch the whole scenario but he couldn’t be seen by anyone. That’s what he thought.
Silent, standing in the air like a hummingbird the microdrone has filmed the happening with a night camera. It was the last “flying eye” – how it’s called by the producers and users – to be send out for this day. The unit that has filmed the city during the day didn’t deliver anything interesting but now there was a success. Cameron knew, of course, that there were cameras at particular places in the city but he wouldn’t have behaved that abnormal if he also had known that. Even if you’re just standing near by someone who commits a crime it can lead you into deep troubles because then you`ll have to be able to justify what you were doing there and it brings the criminal agencies to the assumption that you’ve got something to do with the crime and then they might make use of methods that will attack your right to privacy.
Two days earlier.
It was 7 o clock. Hermine Casousa woke up in her small apartment where she lives together with her twenty year old son. She was in a bad mood that was supported by the horrific noise of the alarm clock. Though, the real reason for her annoyance about getting up was that she had to go to work now and Mrs.Casousa hated her work. It’s a call center of the pharma industry where statistics are created with the help of the data of drugstores and single clients. At her workplace Mrs.Casousa feels isolated and alone although there are so many workmates surrounding her and in Mrs.Casousa`s opinion nothing sucks more than feeling all alone, no matter how many people are around. The payment is just barely enough to raise the money for the appartment and to keep a bit of the lifestyle she got used to during the marriage with her former husband. Mrs.Casousa had left him five years ago after she found out that he had an affair with a younger woman and a few days later they were divorced. That was at a time when Mrs.Casousa was a self confident lady with the courage to get off of her dominant husband thinking she could stand on her own feet without any problems. She got the custody for the son and moved with him into a flat in the centre of the city. But after a few months she had to admit to herself that she couldn’t offer her son and herself the living standard they both experienced during the time with the wealthy father and husband.
Mrs.Casousa poured the last drops of milk into her coffee and lighted a cigarette. After a second one she went out of the house and paid the courier (the courier slided a handheld scanner up her arm) who has brought new milk because the fridge has recognized that the supply was short has ordered some. Then she took the bus and arrived at the call center.
For a new employee it would be difficult to find one`s desk immediately because there’s nothing personal on them and they all look the same so that any desk could be the desk of anybody at any time. But with Mrs.Casousa`s years of call center experience she got to her one at once. No problem. She switched on the computer and pulled an apple out of her handbag and took a bite to get rid of the smoky taste she still had in her mouth from the breakfast. She flew over the todays to-do-list with the names that she’d have to call until lunch break and put on the headset. Mrs.Casousa just wanted to start with the first client but then a call from the outside arrived and she answered: “Joe Obbit Care industries, my name is Hermine Casousa, what can I do for you?” “Mrs.Casousa?”, repeated the male voice at the other end of the line in a low tone. “Yes, that’s right, how can I help you?” “I need to see you. Come to the café in the Railstreet 55 at half past two. I’ll explain everything to you later” “Who is there?”, Mrs.Casousa tried to ask but she was interrupted by a series of beeps. The mysterious man has hung up.
Cameron pulled the cover of his bed closer to his face. He shivered. On the one hand because somehow it was freezing cold in his room, on the other hand because he had just thought of the creepy incident from last evening of that he became accidently a witness. He stretched his leg and touched the heater with his toe but removed it quickly because the heater was cold like a stone. Strange. I turned it up before I went to bed last night. He stood up and slipped over his bathrobe and checked the other heaters in the kitchen and in the bathroom. They didn’t work, too. Cameron wasn’t really into heater mechanics but he wanted to try to solve the problem by himself because he thought that it might be just a little defect that any housewife could fix without any problems and furthermore he hated the idea of having goosebumps and cold feet all day long. After some knocking - and hammering – techniques didn’t convince the heater to function again, Cameron gave up and grabbed for the phone to get help from a specialist.
“Bye Rupert.” “Good night Rupert, get home well” They closed the door and Rupert was alone again. He had a really bad day and spent several hours in his room, staring at the ceiling, just wishing that he had someone to talk to and finally he had decided to visit two friends and tell them about his problems.
Two weeks ago he went to a doctor because he had a throbbing pain in his belly and felt sick since a few days. The diagnosis was Steatohepatitis, a liver disease that was caused by Rupert`s diabetes, as the doctor explained to him. For therapy Rupert would need a liver transplantation that is actually paid by health insurance, so he wrote an e-mail with the request for the absorption of the costs for the necessary operation. The answer of the insurance was as follows: “We are really sorry to inform you that we can’t pay the costs for your liver transplantation. We took a look at your data with the list of the food that you bought within the last five years and noticed that under these products was a huge number of food that contained many units of calories and fat. We see the reason for your illness in personal eating habits and have to dismiss your application.”
Rupert watched at the timetable of the bus line and saw that the last one has left fifteen minutes ago, so he took his mobile phone and called a cab. Actually Rupert was sick and tired of thinking about his misery but when the taxi arrived he decided to tell the driver his story, hoping for some advise and understanding.
Mrs.Casousa took the last drags of her cigarette, and then she dropped it on the ground and went into the café. After the confusing phone call of this morning her first thoughts were that she`d definitely not go to a café to have a conversation with a man she doesn’t know but then she changed her mind because she knew the place where the stranger wanted to see her and that it’s always crowded there, so she had no more worries about any harm the man could possibly do to her, especially at this daytime, when anything could be committed, but not a crime at a grown up lady in a café full of people. Deep inside she hoped that the man on the phone was a handsome gentleman who had a crush on her and finally found the courage to call her but because of his good manners he wanted to see her at this café to look her in the eyes and say that he fell in love with her.
So Mrs.Casousa took her handbag and went to the café in her lunch break. I have nothing to lose.
When she entered she immediately noticed a man who was sitting at a small table in the corner and waved decently with his arm in her direction. She walked right towards him and with every step she made she recognized more and more the face of the man who was just in terms of standing up from his chair to shake hands with her and then it came into her mind where she knew him from. She had seen him once in a while in the fitness center they both visit frequently and had already some chats with him from time to time.
“Mrs.Casousa.”, said the man and offered her the chair across from him with a short and precise move with his hand. “Igor Johnson?”, she answered. “You could have told me that on the phone!” Mrs.Casousa said in an angry tone followed by a fake laughing. “You know, I wondered the whole time who this could have been.” “Oh, I’m sorry about that, must have forgotten it. I hope you can forgive me if I pay for a round of cappuccino.” , Mr.Johnson replied, knowing it would be unwise talking open about his identity during a phone call. “The reason why I wanted to see you”, Mr.Johnson started again and made a serious face, as if he wanted to stop now with the niceness and the bad jokes and come to more serious topics, “is that I wanted to ask you to do me a favor” Sounds good! “A favour that concerns what?”, Mrs.Casousa asked and leaned her head to the side. “To come straight to the point, I need some information about a certain person and I want you to provide it from your call center.” Mrs.Casousa looked confused and got a deep wrinkle between the eyes. It seemed that she couldn’t find the words. “I can’t do that!”, she finally answered and shook her head vehemently. “We are not allowed to give any information about our clients to any person who doesn’t work at Joe Obbit Care industries, not even to the employees who work in other compartments and…” “I know, I know, I know.”, Mr.Johnson interrupted the furious speech, “Do I look so clumsy as if I didn’t know that already? You know, Hermine, sometimes playing the game always isn’t the most profitable thing that you can do.”, he said and took a little sheet of paper out of his jacket. “Maybe this will change your mind.” The sheet was a transfer check, prepared with Mr.Johnson`s account number already filled in and a huge sum standing at bottom of it. “Just fill in your account number and the money is yours. In case you can deliver me what I want, of course.” Mrs.Casousa didn`t know what to say but she knew without a doubt how desperately she needed the money, just now because with this money she could raise her personal living standards what would give an enormous boost to her self-confidence. Driven by these advantages and a spot of charm by Mr.Johnson she said confidently: “I’ll do it!”
The next day Mrs.Casousa met again with Igor Johnson and handed him a memory stick with the information about the person that Mr.Johnson wanted to have. It was the information about Steven Bagman, who developed a new medicament for smokers. He found out that heavy smokers not tend to thinking about the consequences of alternative decisions, so the new medicament would have a calming effect on the smoker that helps to have also an eye on the negative sides of important decisions.
Mr.Johnson had heard of this development and his first thoughts were that this medicament would be his opprtunity for might and wealth if he could take possession of the patent that wasn’t applied yet. All he needed was some information about Steven Bagman and now he held it in his hands. He remembered that Mrs.Casousa has often mentioned how tired she was of working in a call center and Mr.Johnson assumed that it would be a child`s play to achieve the information he needed with a little help of insecure Mrs.Casousa, and he was right after all. His next step was to hire two henchmen who should do the dirty work for him, unfortunately for Mr.Johnson`s plan, they were filmed inwardly by a microdrone when they dragged Steven Bagman into their car who was just leaving his house and a person who wasn’t involved at all, was affected, too.
“It’s that house right there.”, Rupert said to the taxi driver and pointed with his finger at the apartment building at the roadside. It seemed to be the first time that the taxi driver cared about something that was coming out of Rupert`s mouth. The whole journey Rupert has talked about his problems and his anger without a pause but the driver either shook his head very decently or he didn’t show any reaction at all. Now the driver slowed down the car and stopped in front of the apartment building. “Ten fifty, please.” Rupert paid and got out of the taxi, which drove away and parked in the row in the taxi rank. Rupert pressed the bell with the name “Casousa” next to it what made his mother jump up in the flat. She couldn’t wait to tell her son that she can bring up the money for the liver transplantation.
The bell rang at Cameron`s flat. He opened the door and let the mechanic come in and showed him the heaters in the different rooms. The repairman inspected them and in Cameron`s eyes he looked like he knew what he was doing. “I need to remove the air from them.”, the mechanic finally said. “That’s no big deal. It`s a standard injury. I think I’ll fix it within the next thirty minutes. You can do something else in the meantime. I’m going to start with this one”, he explained and went to the heater in the living room. Cameron was happy that the plumber did all the work by himself and didn’t need any help, so he disappeared in his bed room, where he noticed nothing at all, that the so called mechanic - in truth he was a liaison man - indeed repaired the heaters but also installed tiny little cameras on the counters of them. This was the day when Cameron Lapcase became supervised in his own flat and him having no idea of it.
He lay in his bed and waited for the repairman to finish his work. Cameron had looked at his bookshelf and had chosen the bible that he hadn’t held in his hands for a long time but now he wanted to read a few lines to pass the time. He was surprised and in some way also shocked, when he read a short part of the book of the revelation, that made him realize that maybe the destiny of the society of his generation was already known a long time ago: “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Christopher Then.
Published on e-Stories.org on 28.04.2009.