By Henk Van Den Berg
7:00am: The morning was clear and bright. The gleaming sun and cold air gave a false sense of warmth. Catherine Phemes had just begun her run. The neighborhood was still quiet, and the grass was still soaked. Catherine’s pace was set to her music as she ran down the street. The milk delivery man was on time as Ms. Phemes exchanged smiles with him as she turned the corner. A jingle played from her phone as the screen read: “ANONYMOUS – TEN POINTS”. She turned back and smiled at the delivery man as she pointed her phone at him and swiped. The delivery man smiled back. As Catherine ran, the birds in the trees chirped in the background: a robotic tune. She was nearing the end of her run as she approached the coffee shop. “Watch where you’re going!” a stranger said as Catherine bumped into her; spilling the stranger’s coffee. “What the hell is wrong with you,??” yelled the stranger as she stomped off angrily. “OH, I almost forgot”, the stranger pointed her phone at Catherine as she swiped at the screen, “ANONYMOUS – ZERO POINTS,”. “Oh come on!” said Ms. Phemes as she wiped the coffee off of her shirt. Catherine then hurried home, as she was going to be late for work.
9:14am: “Catherine you’re late, I’m sorry but i’m gonna have to dock you.” said the concierge.
Catherine’s phone jingled, “STEPHEN HOUSE – ZERO POINTS”
“Oh come on, I had an incident this morning” proclaimed Ms. Phemes.
“Don’t be late again,”
9:30am: The nursery was abnormally full. Parents and family stood outside the window pointing frantically at each baby as if they weren’t sure which one was theirs. Catherine was assisting one of the doctors with the Mania chip implants. Each baby was to have a Mania chip implanted in their left eye, within the cornea. Every person is required to have the chip implanted at birth. The chip became required by law 120 years ago. “Make an incision here Catherine,” said the doctor as he pointed at the edge of a baby’s cornea. Catherine carefully eased the scalpel into the cornea as the doctor slid the microchip into the eye.
“Have you ever wondered if the chip is any use to these babies?”
“I’ve actually looked into it, it’s of no use to them until they turn sixteen. They won’t be able to receive or give social ratings, they would only be able to see other people’s ratings. Their social status is based off of their parents’ social status rating.” said the doctor.
“Oh, I don’t even remember using the chip when I was young.” said Catherine with a frown.
“It’s very interesting how these chips work. The guys at Mania sure are smart. They made one small chip that would determine how social classes would function.” said the doctor with a look of envy. “I mean just think about it, Catherine. Your rating, which mostly other people determine, decides your: social status, occupation, and living condition. Just think about those with sub-two ratings” said the doctor with a look of pity.
“I remember meeting one of those,” said Catherine. “I saw him here in Silicon Valley. He was just like us, but he was miserable, and lost.”
“That’s odd” said the doctor as he looked up, revealing the shiny chip in his left eye. His rating of 9.89 flashed in front of Catherine’s eyes. “How was he here when Silicon Valley is an eight or over zone?”
“He wasn’t here for long,” said Catherine. “He was shot.”
4:00pm: Catherine stood waiting in line. She was waiting to see her social rating advisor. The clock on the wall’s ticking echoed throughout the room as most people in the room stood quietly. One man stood with sweat covering his forehead. His rating popped up in front of Catherine’s eyes, “GREG GATS – 2.39 POINT AVERAGE”.
“Hey, how are you today Catherine?” said the advisor with a warm smile.
“Great, um so how’s my score looking this month?”
“Well overall Catherine, your score is still healthy. But you’ve dropped a little bit recently, you’re almost down to an 8, and you’re currently at an 8.42.” said the advisor with a frown. “Now now, no need to worry though as I’m sure it will come back up. You’re far away from ‘the zone’”.
Catherine gulped nervously, “Oh alrighty, thanks Paul, um I’ll see you next month?”
“You betcha!”. They both pointed their phones at each other and swiped.
“PAUL GOODMAN – TEN POINTS”.
6:00pm: “Oh my god I can’t believe you’re going on your first date!!” shrieked Anaideia. “You’ve been alone for too long, you’re finally ready to meet someone!” “I guess so. I heard he’s a high 9. I hope my status rating is high enough for him”. “Oh please Catherine, your rating won’t matter when he sees how beautiful you are”, “Oh shut up Anaideia, you’re a high 9, you’re basically a star”, “Trust me Catherine, your score won’t matter.”.
7:00pm: Catherine sat waiting at the dinner table, her date was late.
8:00pm: The tall and handsome man walked into the restaurant. He smiled at Catherine as he walked towards the table. “Hey, I’m Eris”
“Oh hi” Catherine smiled.
“Sorry I’m late, the law firm kept me a bit late” said Eris as he sat down.
“Oh you’re a lawyer?”
“Of course I am, haha my high nine star average has to mean something.”
“Right, of course,” Catherine said as she giggled nervously.
Eris reached for his phone. He swiped around at his screen until he twitched for a second.
“You alright?” asked Catherine.
“Oh yeah, my law firm doesn’t allow us to keep the Mania program on while at work, as what we see is usually confidential.”
“Oh I didn’t know we could turn the program off. I thought we were born with the program?” “We are, but people above 9.95 have the option to turn the program off as most of us have important jobs. Speaking of jobs, what do you do as a profession?”
“Oh, I work at the nursery, at the Silicon Valley Grand Hospital”
“Oh that’s cool.” said Eris as he twitched again.
“There we go, now I can see everything, oh… um, I thought you were a high eight?”
“Oh yeah, haha, I’ve had a rough day. But my advisor says that I’ll recover soon.” “I’m sorry, I can’t be with a low eight.” said Eris as he got up.
“What, no. You can’t leave, we matched on Rednit!”
“I’m sorry, Catherine this was a mistake.” said Eris as he walked out the door. Catherine felt her throat clog up as a feeling of embarrassment overwhelmed her. “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!” screamed Catherine as she made her way out the restaurant. “Madam! Your bill!” yelled the waiter. “SCREW YOUR BILL” Catherine yelled back, as she stomped out the restaurant.
8:30pm: Catherine sat on the curbside as she stared at the ground, “Your rating won’t matter, blah blah blah” wept Catherine. She took out her phone as the screen was littered with notifications:
“JOSH PALIN – ZERO POINTS”
“ANONYMOUS – 1 POINT”
“ANONYMOUS – ZERO POINTS” and similar messages followed.
Catherine sat and watched as her status rating dropped to a low five. Just when she thought it was over, a notification popped up on her screen, “You’ve been tagged in a video.” Catherine swiped the notification and a video popped up on her screen. A video of her tantrum at the restaurant. Comments began streaming onto her phone,
“What was she thinking??”
“OMG drama queen much?”
“Ahaha she got rejected”
“she’s so stupid, how could she act like that?”.
Catherine watched as her status rating continued dropping. She began to panick. “Oh my god… what have I done? This can’t be happening. I’m going to lose my job and everything.”
9:00pm: Catherine had lost all hope. She wandered down the empty street as everyone was home on the monday night. The air was cold, the sky was dark. Catherine’s phone began buzzing.
“INCOMING CALL – PAUL GOODMAN”
“Hey, it’s Paul Goodman, I’m sorry to say this but your status score is too low for you to be with our firm any longer. I’m truly sorry.” Before Catherine could respond, Paul Goodman hung up. For the first time in her life, Catherine no longer felt organized. She felt hopeless. There was no one to turn to, and nowhere to go.
11:00pm: Catherine arrived home. Her mascara smeared all around her eyes, dress dirty, and hair in a mess. She looked as if she had just walked through the Sahara desert. In reality, her rating was too low for a cab ride home. Her phone buzzed again.
“YOU HAVE BEEN BLOCKED – BY ANAIDEIA”
A small message was written out underneath:
“Catherine, you were my best friend, and the nicest person I know. But I can’t be seen associating with a low 3. I’m apart of the high class now Catherine. I can’t be seen with a low class.”
Catherine threw her phone on the ground and laid on the ground of her garden. A siren came from a distance. 5 minutes later a police car was behind Catherine.
“Excuse me mam?”
“Yes officer?” said Catherine, with her face in the grass.
“Is this your house mam? I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Silicon Valley is an 8 or above zone.”
“What?? No. This is my house officer, you’re mistaken.”
“Sorry mam but I have orders to take you away from this zone.” The officer grew tense.
“NO I AM NOT LEAVING, THIS IS MY HOUSE!”
The officer took out his handgun and pointed it at Catherine. “Mam I have no tolerance for your low rating.”
“I AM NOT LEAVING!” yelled Catherine as she stood up.
A bright flash came from the chamber of the officer’s gun as Catherine flopped to the ground, lifeless. “This is officer 402, I’m going to need clean up crew. Just another low 3.”