Pride

Pride

Once upon a time, there was a mode of transportation called automobiles, or cars for short.

Humanity had outgrown many things, but cars were, for simplicity’s sake, every man’s (and woman’s) everyday tool. They were also automated (auto-mobiles), such that people could use all their travelling and commuting time for something that demanded higher order brain-work, leaving the drivel to lowly computerised circuitry, an omnipresent but virtually invisible clockwork in their daily lives.

The man was only too unaware to care, his narrow mind focused on a precious little campaign speech. He had much to gain by way of the people’s support, and then with the people’s support he would have much more to gain. He thumbed through his clean, white cards upon which dirty, arcane scribbles were imprinted by an unstable hand.

The Mark 5 rolled on inexorably.

It was not unsafe, fitted with all the necessary detection and preservative equipment to brake long before a collision occurred. Drunk -driving (those primitive ancestors!) had been virtually eliminated by this cybernetic life-saving (death-preventing?) programming and engineering. Perhaps a Nobel Prize would have been given to the inventors, or patentees, of said software, but everyone had too much time and too many relevant distractions to bother.

The wife sat beside him, unaware that she was still following norms that were almost older than the cut of clothes she wore. She fidgeted in front of the neck-length dressing mirror whilst a host of mechanical arms provided her with all the cosmetics a gaggle of middle-school girls could ever want. Whenever another vehicle passed by theirs she would notice it at the corner of her vision, instinctively crossing her arms and twiddling her toes. Of course, their (“his”) auto-mobile was painted the same reflective sheen that kept most of the sun’s radiation out, and was shaped aerodynamically identical to any other, but the wife couldn’t but feel that whosoever “driving” the other faceless automatons (they all had one-way-mirror-windscreens to maximise passenger comfort) did not actually need to commute via such an efficient (and comfortable!) mode.

 

As technology outpaced the median human reasoning, the latter overtook an anachronistic concept known as “values”. Laggards called it “civics” or “religion”. This “religion” was once popular (and so resilient), except that it advocated the clinging to a sole belief in a single concept. A single concept! How atrocious that would be today. Of course the history books suggested “schools” and “sects” and all sorts of variations which different individuals believed. The individuals of yesteryear were hardly that – all they were capable of was group-think and -speak, insofar as their belief system (systems?) was concerned. Today’s person was an entity unto itself, and each had beliefs that could be regarded, in sheer conviction and tenacity, equal to that of fanaticism, but of such wide variety and volume that rendered loyalty meaningless. Certainly any other (impossible) system would be an insult to the freedom – freedom hard-earned from the revolutionary breaking of society’s shackles.

 

The man grunted anew, his mind a world that he ruled over, his world a mindless place with nothing worth owning but everything worth winning over. Apparently technology had left, leaking, the same outlets open for politics as it did since the invention of the wheel (and the scientists still insisted the wheel was the most energy-efficient system, when everyone else wanted flyers which could hover and transcend the earthly realm of human locomotion). By and large, his speech was irrelevant as the choice of the people did not really matter – whoever pushed the pen at the top was guided by the simple, unerring logic of the computers crunching formulae that was once devised by the brilliant in earnest, and what was now just a charitable, self-fulfilling machine. Not that the choice of the greater people was the final say in determining human leadership either. The cyborg judge-superior held the power to veto any (or even all, of the eligible) candidates. Of course, the judge-superior did not have the time to revel in such power or responsibility, in the same way that most machines lack an ego.

 

A fairly pleasant bleeping interrupted his reading reverie, signaling a blockage in the route ahead. The whispering of brakes accompanying automated deceleration ensued, but instead of changing vector, the vehicle came to a complete halt. The indoor music increased in volume to mask the (barely perceptible) whirring engine.

“What of the weather?!” came the wife’s exhortation, as though her echoing voice would move the bodies that intercepted them. A small crowd, not quite a mob, had gathered several car-lengths in front of their own auto-mobile. They held some sort of cloth or canvas banner with perhaps a sign, or slogan inscribed on its worn, rugged surface. Those holding it maintained a stoic, perhaps fearful, expression, although this was entirely lost on the man, his wife, and all other other commuters who shared the same road.

The auto-mobile adamantly refused to budge.

The man looked up momentarily, overrode the system, and jammed the accelerator.

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