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Gerald was looking in a newspaper. For the first time in his life, he felt like going there. Most of the time he would grab the newspaper and look at the advertisements for amusement. But now, he felt that this was different. He needed money and a place to live.
“This is perfect!” he thought, “I can have a place to stay and I don’t have to pay for food.”
Sci-Co was a very famous company. They claim to make advancements in technology everyday. They’ve even invented The Helper. The Helper was a gargantuan machine on top of Sci-Co tower. It Stood on the 213th floor, the very top. Sci-Co claims it is sending messages that improve learning in school. It seems to be working too. The government has shown the test averages have risen by 5%. It is their best invention.
“I need to get that job! I could do something different.” he thought. Gerald lived an ordinary life. He had to do the same job, write the same papers, and even eat at the exact minute of every day. It was getting to him. Nothing was different. Nothing at all.
And so, he ran to the phone just like anyone desperate for a job would do. He leaped from the chair, stumbled into his kitchen, and punched in the number so hard, that he knocked the phone to the floor.
“Hello, this is Jessica from Sci-Co tower. How can I help you?” said the woman on the phone. This woman sounded very dull. It’s as if she had a life similar to Gerald’s. Dull, boring, and uneventful.
“My name is Gerald. Could you tell me about-”
“Are you calling to complain about The Helper? We’ve fixed the mind bug. No more children can get brain damage.”
“No. I’m calling about the job offer?”
“Oh, that thing. Well it’s your lucky day!” she seemed to have a forced happiness in her voice. It’s as if she doesn’t care, but she has to, “You are the first caller!”
“I guess it is.”
“I think the only reason you are the first caller is because no one reads the newspaper,” she whispered to herself. Then her voice became louder, “Come to Sci-Co tower on April 17, 2032 for your meeting with the one and only Jeremiah Richardson. Make sure you-”
“That’s tomorrow!” he thought.
He was so excited that he drove straight to where he worked, ran to his boss’s office, and yelled, “I Quit!”
His boss was so stunned that he laughed and ran to his car. He didn’t remember ever being this happy. And so he went home and slept.
The next morning he threw all his clothes into his Clothing Compactor Suitcase and hopped to his car so fast that he almost forgot to grab his notebook. He used his notebook for everything he saw. If he saw an interesting car, then he would note it. If he saw his bossed stunned, he would note it.
He took it and ran to his car.
After an hour of driving, he made it to Sci-Co Tower, Thomasville. The tower was an intimidating 213 stories high. It was completely black, no windows, nothing. Gerald gulped and wrote in his notebook:
Don’t look up at Sci-Co Tower.
As he drove around he realized there was no parking lot, just a sign that said “Parking” next to a small room a size so small that his car would fit perfectly in it. He decided to drive into it. He managed to fit even though he thought he saw his side mirrors fade through an edge protruding out. When his car made it all the way in, the way out disappeared. He heard a voice that said, “Hello Gerald Neily.”
He was surprised. He’s never heard of a talking room before. He noted:
Parking room talks.
“Don’t worry,” it said, “This room doesn’t talk, it is an A.I. talking right now.”
He stopped worrying and started thinking. “This room must know what I’m thinking, so that means-”
“Yes, it does. Now get out of your car and go to the door. Don’t forget to bring your things, you won’t come back for a long time.”
A door appeared next to him and he was confused.
“Why?” he thought just to check one last time to see if it could read his mind.
“Because you live here now.”
“But what about the interview?”
“A brain scan says you are compatible for your job. Now get out and go to the door!”
He was surprised by its sudden change in personality. “I should leave now,” he thought.
He hustled to the door and left the odd room.
“Hello Mr. Neily,” said a familiar voice. Then Gerald realized it was familiar because it was Jeremiah Richardson, “Welcome to Sci-Co Tower!”
Gerald was in awe so much that he could barely muster the words, “Um… Hi Mr… Mr.”
“Jeremiah, just call me Jeremiah. I’m here to show you around Sci-Co Tower”
“The whole thing?”
“No, that’d be stupid. Half of the floors are for living and half are for working. Except for The Helper room of course.”
“What floor are we on now?” asked Gerald.
“The 127th floor Mr. Neily. This is the parking room.”
The walls disappeared and once again, Gerald was amazed. He was in a huge room that went the length of three football fields in each direction. Gerald was astounded.
“Let’s go to your room.”
“I wonder how many people work here if this is the size of the parking room,” Gerald thought.
“Approximately 117,647 people work here including you.”
“You can read my mind too?” Gerald said.
“Anyone within 10 feet of me.”
“That seems a bit invasive.”
“It’s necessary. We use it to check for spies in our company. Just in case anyone sabotages us.”
“That’s odd,” thought Gerald forgetting that his thoughts could be heard.
Gerald went into the elevator and went to his room. Then he slept.
The next morning Jeremiah brought him to the working area. They were in the top ten stories.
“This is where you work.”
“Wow, ok who are they?”
“Those are your co-workers.”
“What do we do?”
“You code The Helper. Now start working.”
Gerald went to his seat and sat down.
“What do I do?”
“You will know.”
Gerald looked at his computer and saw commands popping up. The commands were weird. It asked him unusual questions but he answered them truthfully.
“See not so bad” said Jeremiah. Then he walked away.
He answered more questions for the rest of the day. Then he went to bed.
The next day he got up and went to work again. He noted the really unusual questions like:
Would you rather crabs be blue or green?
Gerald thought of these questions as free money. He got paid to answer questions. He never answered untruthfully because he feared someone would read his mind. It certainly wasn’t boring because he had new questions everyday.
One day he noticed Jeremiah walked into the broom closet.
Gerald noted it and decided to take a look. He went to the door and peeked in. It looked like a normal broom closet, but there was one small detail that stood out. There was no doorknob. So when he walked in, he didn’t close the door. For he feared he would be locked in. When he stepped into the room, the door closed behind him. He was shocked. It didn’t just close the door. It slammed so hard that he would feel the hinges could break off. Then the door disappeared. He was locked in.
“You shouldn’t be here.” said a deep voice.
“Who are you?” said Gerald.
“You’ve met me before.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“You’ve met me before.” it repeated.
“Where am I?”
Gerald was trembling. Then it hit him. This was the thing that talked to him in the “parking room”. Before he could do anything else, the floor opened like a trap door and he fell. But he wasn’t falling down, he was falling up. Falling and falling until he could see a huge white platform above him. He was getting closer and closer until he started to slow down. Just before he got close enough to touch the ceiling, he stopped and the whole world seemed to flip upside down until he realized it was him.
He spun around to see a man dressed in all black. The room was so dark that he could barely see himself let alone the man.
“Welcome to The Helping Room” said a weird voice, until Gerald realized it was Jeremiah.
“What is this?” asked Gerald.
“This is The Helping Room.”
“It’s ok Gerald, this won’t last long.”
“What is the-”
“The point of this is for me and only me. And soon, everything will be for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is The Helper.”
A huge bulbous machine sat where he pointed. Oil and ges were oozing out of a cube-like blocks that was black leather. Prongs would stick out randomly as if they were getting rid of something. And he could see what it was. He saw them quickly throw blocks of information into a black moat around it. A pipe stuck out and looked as if it was pushed through the roof and not built into it. In front of it sat a chair with nothing but a wire sticking out.
“What does that hideous thing do?” thought Gerald.
“Sci-Co claims it helps kids and people with intelligence. And it does. But what really happens is that it takes out the stupid part of the mind and collects it from all the people in the world.”
“What are the-”
“Those blocks? Those are blocks of information, information of human stupidity. You see Gerald, this machine studies stupidity and collects the worse of it. It throws the rest out to the middle of the earth where we get rid of it.”
“What does that do for you?”
“It helps me Gerald it helps me. It tells me how to disperse it, how to make it… spread.
Stupidity is a disease and I can use it for good… my good. If I know where to start the disease, then I know where it ends. And the best part is, I read minds. I know what you will do; every step you take is thought out.”
“I need to stop it.” thought Gerald.
“You can’t!” yelled Jeremiah. “I’ve thought of every outcome and this is what it came to. You helped me the most Gerald. You are the testee. You are the one I need to make it learn. Your mind is smart, but not smart enough. Now go to that chair, I need to see it soon.”
Gerald’s head started to hurt. And then he heard a voice… the machine.
“Come to the chair Gerald.”
“I… must… resist…” thought Gerald. But then he thought he couldn’t. He seemed to walk without control. His limbs were moving themselves.
“See Gerald? It is good. It is for the better. You’ll teach me.”
The machine grew louder as he neared it.
There was a bridge that went over the dark abyss where the stupidity goes, and he was about to cross it. With all his might he tried to think of everything he loved everything that was real to him, until he realized he had nothing. This world had nothing for him at all. He had no parents, his house was terrible, he would surely lose his job if he defied it.
“It can’t be too bad if everyone is stupid.” he thought as he took a step.
“Yes… yes… yes…” said the machine.
“If everyone is stupid, then no one will want to fight because they won’t know how.” he thought as he took another step.
“Keep coming.” said the machine.
Soon he was in the chair. Everything went white. He saw nothing. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t move. Nothing.
“That wasn’t so bad was it?” said the machine just as everything seemed to disappear into nothing. Nothing could help the world.
Trenton Gray lives in Texas. He made this short story because he likes science fiction stories, and thought it would be cool if he made his own. As it turns out, it was good enough to be published. It took him a long time to write it.