Contest inspired. Uncomfortable with an arranged marriage and a way out presents itself.
|On the planet Mishla, it is customary for the parents to arrange the marriages by exchanging a male child for a female one. In this manner, they generally make two arrangements in one transaction. Write the story of a Mishlusian that is not comfortable with being traded as well as the story of the one that he/she would have been traded to.
“Money and power are two words that say it all in a society such as this on planet Mishla. Love plays a big part too; the love of money and the love of power drive our society. If each of these things were a point on a triangle, then you can only have all three things if you are objective- meaning you are inside the triangle.” Julia was pacing, but would pause in her speech long enough to make eye contact with Sammy. Sometimes, the force of her stare would lend weight to her words. Julia threw her shoulders back and managed to stomp her foot once she realized Sammy wasn’t giving her his full attention she deserved.
“Do you just make this crap up?” Sammy wasn’t in the mood today to deal with his fiancé. He came from a family loaded with money and her family had a royal name but was struggling to pay the bills. With this arranged marriage they would tie their families together and pool resources both political and monetary. This sort of deal happened all the time.
Once two families agreed to an arranged marriage, to show commitment it was customary to give their child to the other family to raise until a marriageable was reached and the deal could be finalized. Since science had long ago advanced far enough to connect the human brain to the world of science, the ritual of exchanging had become just an exchange of bodies because the mind would exist on an entirely different level, completely unaware of its own body, in most cases. Sammy was an exception simply because this is what his family’s money would allow.
When Sammy chose to view any persons’ real body as it was hooked up to the machine, much like pushing back a heavy curtain, he was able to look through them to see their actual body floating in a gel-like substance artificially stimulated. The advantage was he could tell approximately how old a person’s actual age was, thereby getting an idea of their real state of existence, at a glance. Often, numbers flowed across the equipment telling the stability of the body and Sammy had spent enough time looking at the numbers to get a good idea about people’s state of health. People who were jacked in completely tended to live several times longer than a skimmer, or someone who just sometimes jacked in.
Another advantage to seeing a person’s real body was he could quickly grasp approximately how wealthy another person was. If they were well off, they would often have a person caring for their body rather than floating in a chamber with little or no contact with other living people. Sammy was careful to note that people who were jacked in to the machine did not have to float in the gel-like substance, and in fact, they could even walk around with the help of these real people. Furthermore, he noted, these people were nowhere to be found in the system. If they were anywhere in the system, with his resources, he would have found them, but there was nothing, no trace of them anywhere. The only possible answer was that these people never jacked in to the machine. When Sammy went to the people who gave him his power he got no answer that he could accept. The people were contractors whose contract allowed them complete omission from the Machine. More than that, no one would say. Maybe they didn’t know?
Julia didn’t have Sammy’s sight. She simply had no use for it. “Besides, I don’t like thinking about it.” Julia was quick to tell Sammy. Sammy even told her how old her parents really were. Julia’s parents were old, too old and wouldn’t last much longer. This only spurred her desire to make it successful on her own, preferably by publishing her own book. Being successful seemed to be hardwired into her system, which was probably why she was considered a perfect match for him. Especially from his family’s point of view, even though they married into royalty, so to speak, they intended to keep their money!
Until recently, Sammy hadn’t kept secrets from Julia. She was his fiancée, after all, but contractors were a subject Julia strongly disliked discussing with him, so he kept his observations to himself. Sammy witnessed a contractor bump into a skimmer and the skimmer showed no reaction. It was like it didn’t happen! It didn’t take Sammy long to realize contractors were completely invisible to everyone but him and a couple of his own family.
Most people in the world were just skimmers, meaning they didn’t fully jack into the system. Still, it would stand to reason that skimmers would see the contracted? Money could buy any information, but enough money could keep your privacy too.
Sammy paid close attention to the people coming and going, doing their jobs unseen by anybody but him. These people had some unknown purpose he fully meant to uncover. Sure, machines could do their jobs just as good, probably better…
“Sir? Can you see me, sir?” This woman/contractor had just moments ago planted a kiss upon Sammy’s real body, perhaps thinking she could have it unnoticed, yet probably wishing she could get a proper response, but shocked when she got any response at all. This was her prince…alive? Her expression, which was so hopeful, quickly dropped into sadness. Her prince was still unaware. It was her apparent sadness that caused Sammy to fall in love.
Fear grasped Sammy as he fought to return his pulse to normal rates. It wouldn’t do to get caught watching her now.
Over the following months, he heard this woman proclaim her love for him and he believed her, which is probably why she made such a good handler. There was some degree of uncertainty when dealing with love, but that is what love is all about- taking a chance.
Finally, Sammy had his talk with Julia. She was his very best friend, after all, and she knew something bothered him. The moment Sammy shared his memory of the ‘kiss’ with Julia, tears crept down her cheeks. “Go to her. But come back once in a while. We are after all expected to produce an heir you know. Our daughter should get a chance to know her father, after all.”
“Or son.” Sammy cut in.
“Both. You can at least leave me with a full family. More convincing that way.”
Julia was given her full family and her success as a novelist was fulfilled. Her husband had become just a shade of the real ‘friend’ that was Sammy and loneliness weighed her down until she finally went and had Sammy’s vision installed for her own use. Looking back, she realized how unhappy Sammy was with being traded off. If it weren’t for that he might have been happy being married to her. Maybe she would catch a glimpse of Sammy? Why shouldn’t he be there taking care of her?