Archive for alarm

Swirling

Posted in Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by javedbabar

Suzi saw him every morning. The Bakerman arrived at four a.m. looking dreadful. What did he do at nights – stay out drinking and dancing till the small hours? Maybe he was O.K. with less sleep, but Suzi wasn’t. For her to arise before four, she must be in bed by eight p.m. She needed her beauty sleep. What if one day he asked her out on a date? He was only likely to do that if she looked the part. There was the issue of how she would stay awake during the date, but if things progressed well there would be no sleeping; he would clutch and squeeze her till dawn – or opening time if sooner. She could sleep after that.

She watched him unlock the door and switch off the alarm. Once he wasn’t quick enough and it began bleating and flashing, and it looked like he was in a club dancing to a trance tune, the strobing blue light making it seem he was appearing and disappearing. He was her magic Bakerman.

He switched on the lights and the master power switch. Once a light bulb blew, shattering like a phosphoric bomb. What did they make them with now – mercury? It must have spread poison. Or maybe it was just glass fragments. It was a serious thing to happen in a bakery – glass in bread. He closed for the day and hired a specialist cleaner to remove the hidden shards.

He dragged out sacks of flour and measured portions. There was Whole Grain, oat flour, spelt flour, rice flour, rye, and good old fashioned, unrefined, bleached white flour. He used these flours for his breads, bagels, brioches, muffins, tarts, and rolls. He was an old fashioned baker using only bowls and rollers, and of course his hands to knead and punch. She imagined him beating her flesh like bread, not hard, just playfully. Enough to sting her.

Transformation required pain. A minimum of compromise and self-sacrifice and, if you were serious, rituals that caused irreversible harm. Circumcision, scarification, head-shaping, and ear-stretching. Even tattooing, marking you as different and changed forever.

His first round of baking was done by six. Truckers came in as soon as he opened the doors. Sometimes they were waiting already. Beef wanted two muffins and a double-double Americano. Taylor switched between sandwiches and bagels. Nancy loved his brioches, but would settle for tarts. It was a wonder that she kept her figure, being a full time trucker and daily pastry consumer.

Suzi went in at seven daily for a cappuccino and spelt or rice flour muffin. Something relatively healthy. She went again at twelve for a sandwich and smoothie. Her favourites were the turkey breast door stop and strawberry banana fruity. Her third visit daily was at four for tea and cake – Assam and whatever he’d made that day.

The Bakerman was nice to her initially – all welcomes and smiles. But one day she’d mentioned that she was attending a party and asked if he’d like to come along. Well to be precise, she’d asked him to “be her date”. She recalled his look of horror. It was as if the thought was so ridiculous that it had never occurred to him. He recovered quickly but too late for her to remain under any illusions. He clearly found her disgusting.

Suzi never went to the Bakery again. She went cold turkey. This didn’t stop her watching him though. His daily comings and goings. She felt most sad in the afternoons.

She missed his rainbow cake, with red, green, blue and gold, all swirling together. Rainbows were created by sun and rain. His smile and her tears.

She missed his marble cake. The brown and white whorls moving within and around each other. They were yin and yang. He and she.

Most of all she missed his Vanilla sponge cake. A simple flavour spread throughout it, combined with the flour forever.

To say she didn’t go to the Bakery wasn’t entirely true. She just held a different schedule. His keys had been easy to copy, and she’d figured out his codes by watching, so every Sunday she broke in at midnight. It was just to smell him. The breads and bagels he’d made the day before. She pushed her face into them. Smelled their cruel perfume. Once she didn’t reset the alarm properly, which he triggered when he entered. Once she’d removed a fuse to disarm the alarm, causing a bulb to explode. Sometimes she tested ingredients to ensure that they were worthy to touch his hands.

Today she had a special ingredient to add to his sourdough. Cyanide would put him behind bars for sure. At least there he would welcome her visits. Transformation requires pain.

F@rm

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Robert wanted a lie-in this morning but his body wouldn’t let him. There was buzzing in his organs and all over his skin. This repeated after five minutes, then after four minutes, then three minutes, two minutes, one minute, then continuously. There was definitely a design flaw. Had they not realized that a generalized buzzing would affect his concentration? He knew that it was an Area One alarm, but which crop was hard to say. He couldn’t focus.

He hoped it was Manola, the easiest crop to manage. It didn’t need much tending, just checking  WaterTM and fertilizer levels. It could also be Pootato, spuds whose growth was accelerated by modified manure addition. The third possibility was Aqua, his most complex crop. He hoped it wasn’t that. Aqua’s eco-systematic, multi-level farming required a careful balancing of salts, algae, larvae, and so many other things. Get one wrong and the whole thing falls apart. He’d messed up last year and the consequences had been dire for him. The F@rm had implanted a second chip, meaning that he was now only 80% free-willed.

The buzzing stopped when he got out of bed. His head cleared quickly and an auto-analysis showed that the alarm was for Manola. Robert pulled the USB from his side socket as quietly as possible, but his movements awoke Roberta who said, “What time is it, love? Isn’t it still early?”

“Sorry baby, an Area One alarm was buzzing. It’s Manola. I’d better take a look.”

She flopped her arms towards him, but he was out of reach. “Do you have to go now? Can’t you ignore it? It’s only Manola. Even a MonkeyTM could grow it.”

Robert smirked. “My semi-simian sweetheart, that’s why we grow it.” They’d been told that if they didn’t consume ten-a-day, stem-identical materials, their human genes may deteriorate back to apes. “Would you feel differently if it was called Womanola?”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “I just meant that it grows perfectly well by itself. We don’t need to do anything.” She waved him off and flopped her arms back under the covers.

He checked the Area One / Crop Control Panel and realized that Roberta was right. Nothing was the matter at all. It was a false alarm. He’d had no choice though, the buzzing wouldn’t let him sleep. Damn that second chip!

He returned home to bed. There was no need to re-plug himself as his electric components were fully charged already. Staying on wireless would be enough. Plugging in caused a light buzzing which was generally pleasurable but sometimes annoyed him. It felt like fine sugar in your blood – making life sweeter, but also causing decay. His electric components were 100% safe officially, but who knew really? All he knew was that he’d never heard of anyone having chips removed, only chips added. Some people said that the old ones disintegrated, and new ones were required to maintain functionality.

Robert slept for an hour before he was awoken by another buzzing. This time it was an Area Two alarm. “I hate this job,” said Robert. “It’s worse than being a peasant in the Middle Ages. At least they got a good night’s sleep.”

“What’s it this time?” she said. “The Beefs?”

“Probably. It usually is.” Robert hoped it was Temp, which like Manola was easy to grow. This valuable crop grew just about everywhere, and since climate change, even Antarctica. Temp could be eaten, juiced, woven into clothing, compressed into bricks, distilled into fuel, made into furniture, used as currency, its stalks formed into small boats and light planes, and – taking you even higher than that – its essence was an aphrodisiac, and hallucinatory. It had initially been banned by The Authority, but mass civil disobedience had caused them to relent, and it was now grown legally.

It wasn’t the Temp though. When his head cleared, he said, “You’re right again. It’s the Beefs. I’ll be back when I’m done with them. Don’t wait for me for breakfast.”

He entered the Meat Shed. Something had spooked the Beefs and there was a chorus of groaning. He patted the most shaky meat blocks and they settled quickly. That’s all they’d needed – some loving. He waited awhile to check all was well.

Robert was about to head home when an alarm buzzed in The Wilds. This was really annoying, as there was no Crop Control Panel for him to check there – it could be anything. Something must have damaged the fencing. He hoped he wouldn’t have to go in there physically. He’d never entered this self regulating part of the F@rm before. Regulations required 10% of farmland to be set aside for Wilding. People who lived there were not disturbed on condition that they produced a weekly supply of potent, natural food. They used no fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides; no irrigation, electronic management, or additives of any kind. Their pure food was sent to labs for cloning – though everybody knew that a good proportion was sold illegally to traditional doctors.

“Oh my god!” said Robert. Standing near a hole in the fence was one of the unchipped, unplugged people. She was barefoot, naked, and dreadlocked. Apart from, yet part of, this world. Robert was scared, but gulped and waved at her. He said, “Hello, I’m Robert.”