Suddenly there was the sound of music; Walker opened his eyes staring into the darkness of the bedroom. He turned reaching his left-hand out to wave it in front of the time sensor on the table next to his bed. After passing his hand through the darkness the music stopped. Walker saw the dull blue numbers indicating that it was 5:30 a.m. and time to get up and once again take the crowded shuttle ride up along Eastern Quadrant 1. The ten-lane concrete thoroughfare known as EQ1 wove a path among the industrial section northwest of his home to Walker’s place of employment. And in this great cold world all of society was ever watched by the Public Peace Reserve officials (PPR) or as the common citizenry referred to them as the “ Hawks.”
Walker “scored hours,” a common slang for where one worked for pay or more precisely party credits that enabled the worker to make a living and purchase life’s basic necessities. Iron Line Fabrication or ILF was where Walker along with about four hundred other urban souls worked the standard fifty-hour workweek. Most had long since grown accustomed to the extended workweek that had replaced the once forty-hour workweek five and a half years earlier. ILF produced railroad ties for the government rail systems that covered not only South California but also the entire country. With the high-speed rail systems that reached speeds of almost two hundred miles per hour, the modern iron composite rails, though durable still needed to be replaced almost yearly. Walker was positioned as a Detailer Class 3. He was responsible for over-seeing daily and weekly production quotas in B Sector of the huge multistory plant.
It was a Friday, seemingly just like a hundred other Fridays that had come before, now late on an early summer afternoon, the time was just after 5 p.m. only another hour to go before a two day reprieve from the endless work grind. Walker stood for a moment wiping his left hand across his wrinkled brow. He sighed just then as he listened to the endless hum and metallic clatter that echoed through the immense plant. Suddenly he thought as though he were outside himself, perhaps viewing the many workers toiling at a multitude of busy work from a great distance from far above. Gazing downward as though from the perspective of a bird flying beneath the open beam metal ceiling high above, and Walker could at once see himself—standing alone in his long gray work coat. He could glimpse the stenciled letters and numbers written across the back of his coat—DTLR Cl3. He could see the electronic notepad (ENP) in his right-hand that he held at his waist. Suddenly, Walker felt a cold distant shadow enveloping all he surveyed around him but mostly he felt a coldness that blew like a December wind into him penetrating his soul—his core. And what was Walker’s core, his soul, what was he made of? What set him apart from all of the other workers, all of the other party’s citizens? Suddenly he shook uncontrollably for a split second, for at that moment Walker realized that nothing separated him from the others in the building. He realized that he no longer knew who he was—he no longer knew his own soul; he realized he had no real purpose...