Content advisory 18+ My family and I live in High Rise No. 378 in the southern city of D. Recently, to our immense delight, we acquired a new apartment on the 256th floor, thanks to its being vacated by its owner, presumably due to some sort of psychological pathology. His family, who live in the seaport city of L., some 250 km away, engineered the sale.
Our building is the tallest in the neighborhood. It stands at 1,890 meters above the ground, and from the circular glass corridor, I can look down at the tops of the other buildings as they rise out of the clouds. They appear to be shaped like spears, their long shafts narrowing to sharp points. Maybe, together, they resemble some odd kind of rounded fenced-in area marked off for purposes of top security. Possibly that's why their peaks resemble sharp spikes which would surely impale you if you jumped from the window and landed on one.
But of course, there is only one special room between floors 300 and 400 where it is possible to go outside on what in the old days would have been called a balcony. It is a small open area protected by a tall gate and is often used by the residents who go there, one by one at their allotted times, with their pipes to smoke the legally-sanctioned drug lugubrus -- the best remedy for depression currently on the market.
My family and I never leave our building. Why should we? On every 50th floor, going up or town, there is an official drone-community of robots which operate the restaurants, fitness centers, medical facilities, schools, and so forth. Each family receives a schedule from the Central Security Mechanism which tells us when we are permitted to evacuate our apartment and enjoy the immense variety of state-of-the-art facilities at our disposal on the 250th level. This wonderfully orchestrated method of controlling social migration within the building allows us to enjoy our lives without the meddling interference of other people.
Real people, I mean -- of course ! We are not so strange as the population living a century ago in the filthy muck and murderous jostle of the city way down below might think us if they were alive today. Sure, we NEED contact, but we have learned that the best way to do this is with "imitation" (for lack of a better word) people. OK, so they are not 'real' in the antiquated sense, but so incredible are the contemporary possibilities provided by the miracles of Artificial Intelligence, we can now enjoy the better qualities of what humans used to demonstrate while avoiding the worst, which, anyway, have been virtually eradicated -- at least in this part of the building where the wealthiest and most advanced people live.
I am a combination doctor and scientist -- a "doctorist", if you will, and I work in the Brain-Rampling Department in the huge clinic on the 278th floor. This technique was developed some years ago by the famous Dr. Vertigo and is designed to re-channel the part of the brain which register's sexual attraction for other people to machines instead. This has proven to be especially effective in the workplace, where it has been clinically proven that people will work harder and produce more perfect results if they feel sexually attracted to their computing devices. To quote an old idea from the distant past, the worker thus tries to "win the heart" of his machine by applying himself assiduously and tirelessly to his tasks.
If, at the end of the day, he or she --- although it is promised that very soon the authorities will create a totally androgynous world at this level (not in the rotting streets below naturally) where all traces of gender will have disappeared -- but (as I was saying) if at the end of the work-day (16 hours is the standard amount of time spent in the office),) the job has been done correctly, the virtual orgasm device is activated and the worker is able to enjoy an ecstatic three-minute sexual blending with his or her machine.
From the male standpoint (which will soon be a moot point) there is no messiness involved in this brief spell of ecstasy because the organs that used to be used for sex are now removed at birth. A long time ago, there was something called circumcision, but such a half-measure form of mutilation is now obsolete. New humans are created in tubes now, so there is no reason for any so-called "sex"" organ or any other such superfluous appendage dangling from the male body, which would only get in the way and need to be washed or even treated medically from time to time.
For this reason, permanent, chemically-induced mastectomies are performed on females as soon as they reach puberty. Why have breasts poking out or swaying around when there is no need for them? It is now the ambition of modern science to eliminate the puberty stage altogether in young adults because it only leads to social unrest and much mental confusion. In the streets below us, which I recall as smelling constantly of garbage and fast food from street vendors, everything that I describe continues. We call those Neanderthals "Gooners". Well, I say leave them to the pizza and their bizarre dances and funny hats and their strange, crazy thought-formations...
Up here, my family and I are safe. At the moment my Marital Unit and Offspring-Units one and two are sleeping. It's early in the morning, but not too early for a puff or two on my lugubus pipe. So I am alone now, which is how we are better off being. This hour, between six and seven o'clock on Saturday morning, is my designated recreation time for pipe-smoking and gazing at the sky-scape. No neighbors. So I am smoking my pipe and already I can feel a state of bliss beginning to come over me, enshrouding me, as it were. I have no worries, no stress, no fear.
At such moments life is what I know it should be, as I look down, down, down, at the silent towers that rise up from out of the clouds like something from an old fairy tale. They are silver mostly, crawling upwards like stainless-steel worms from the gray mist to form what seems to be a vast, lovely spider web.
That's what I feel like. I feel like I am some handsome, all-knowing spider standing in the center of my great web. Above me, a few aircraft are passing and, you know, I feel so superb that I imagine pulling them in, like flies, amid my dancing, rippling, silvery web high in the sky. This is the moment I live for. I wonder if people ever felt like this back in the long-gone centuries where they had things like rivers and railways and bicycles -- the stuff of the old novels which the authorities are gradually recycling and pushing from our memory.
But I wonder sometimes. And last Saturday, while I was out here smoking lugubrus and enjoying the view, a really unusual event happened. All of a sudden, something came tumbling down from somewhere above. It fell past me so fast that I couldn't identify what it was, but it seemed to be making a wild and crazy noise. Like something screaming.
But why? I just kept smoking. No matter how hard you try to straighten everything out, there is always some unpredictable disturbance, isn't there? An issue causing confusion. I think of these problems as tumors in the brain. What is needed is a really advanced rampling machine to disintegrate them. I think we'll have it one day, don't you?
Frankly, I am a little bit worried and unnerved by the fact that next week I must leave the building and travel to a distant city to visit my mother. She is very old and, despite our repeated invitations, refuses to come and live with us in our skyscraper. She recently received the news that she is terminally ill with cancer and that I should come to her at once if I ever expect to see her again.
My Marital Unit and I discussed the situation at great length. I am really very reluctant to make the journey. In truth, I am a little bit afraid of being down there with the Gooners. But I suppose I should go.
Anyway, it will be interesting to leave the skyscraper and see it from ground level -- Ours and the others that huddle together so closely that there is hardly any light left along the city streets. Only the Gooners with their malevolent expressions, standing on the corners drinking beer and muttering their curses, while among them start the multitude of steel stems that rise up into the clouds -- the futuristic architecture that has redefined us all, placing us among the heavens where we, the Best Units, truly and without a doubt, belong.
===Eric Richard Leroy===