Yes, I sleep in the kline in the main room. I call that my ‘not ergos’ kline. The one in my ergon won’t let me sleep in it for obvious reasons, as I already mentioned. Besides, I spend most of every day in there. I would rather not sleep in there, too! I read that some Ministers in the Echelon had tried this, set their vid to wake them up if someone had a problem. That lead quickly to sleep loss, and some very irritable Ministers, and so they didn’t do that for long. The brotherhood can sleep too, and we can deal with issues the next cycle, my next ergos. Well, my vid can still wake me up if I’m really needed. An earthquake nearby resulted in a few high priority brotherhood sessions in the middle of the night for me, and I didn’t mind. The quake woke me up anyway. But that happens only rarely. Otherwise, I sleep at night. I think I need my sleep. And Violet sleeps in the kline in her room, easily in just about any position, as far as I can tell! Her vids all shut down early in the night anyway, unless she falls asleep before then. I guess kids learn better if they are well-rested. The system enforces that. And Violet and I have this bed-time ritual. As we both begin to fall asleep in our own klines…

“Good night, daddy, I love you.”

“Good night Violet, I love you too!”

Well, it was a few cycles after my 13th gen, in the evening. I had just arrived home from a very long ergos. On top of a normal ergos, I actually had to attend an evening meeting with the Echelon. There is a huge room down below, row after row of small seats… and all us Echelon around meet there. The lights are kept low, and we have to wear these wierd brown hats that cover everything up but our face. They are not… very… nevermind. At the front is a huge vid, and someone much higher up in the Echelon (usually in the 300’s) speaks to all of us other (lower level) Echelon. Well, that Echelon on the huge vid knows exactly who is sitting in which seat, and they can and do ask us specific questions about, well anything since the last Echelon meeting. A blazing light immediately shines on just that lower Echelon member being addressed. Most comments are vague, or maybe helpful at times. But sometimes the higher level Echelon on that vid down front really reprimands one of us lower level Echelon. That aspect in itself sets everyone at the meeting on edge. We sit there, mostly in the dark, hoping we don’t get singled out, and if we get the light, we hope… Well, it was a dreadful event, but certainly those higher up… I shouldn’t even think that. Well, it was a required meeting; all Echelon meetings are. I think our positive attitudes were required too. I think that is what made it so hard for me, and this meeting seemed especially taxing, I don’t know. And to put all that on top of my normal ergos… After that meeting dragged to a close, I dragged myself through the port and into my doma, exhausted. Violet was still up (barely), sitting in my kline, waiting for me. She stood up, put her arms out, and we hugged briefly, then we both headed for our own klines.

“Good night, daddy, I love you.”

“Good night Violet, I love you too!”

We were both soon asleep.

The next morning, I think I slept in a little. Well, my last ergos was really tiring, and very long. The system will let me sleep in occasionally. I normally don’t need to. But Violet had turned her kline away from her vids, and towards my kline. She was watching me, and jumped out of her kline and climbed quickly into my lap when she knew I was waking up, trying to sit up. We hugged right away. Violet waited a minute maybe, to be sure I was maybe a little coherent. Then she asked me quietly “Daddy, what is love?” Well, wow… What a question to greet my earliest waking thoughts! Still, I knew… that she knew the answer. I just smiled. She understood right away that I expected her to answer. This was a part of what she learned in her instructional vids. It is, after all, another basic teaching of the brotherhood. She said slowly “I know… Love is complete acceptance, no matter what. That means we accept all the brotherhood around us… (She then said quickly under her breath) “…except Jane…” (then she continued) “…regardless of past or mistakes.” I just smiled again.

It was quiet briefly, and I slowly realized that Violet was deep in thought. Then she explained, almost complaining. “Daddy, I was really scared that you didn’t come home last night until very late… You said you would be late, but still… Daddy, I really need you and…” Violet was fighting back tears by then, and that hurt me. I hugged her tightly, hoping it would help her calm down, which it did. Then my own daughter said something that I absolutely couldn’t answer, or even barely understand. “Daddy, I love you so much because I need you so much. How do I understand that? That isn’t just acceptance…” I was quickly lost, buried in thought, buried with her question. Violet just relaxed in my hug for a while. I was thinking, and I think Violet knew that. I had nothing to say, and I think she knew that too. A few minutes later, Violet must have been feeling better. She popped her head up, smiled, then said “I have the best daddy in hen gase. Let me know when you figure it out!” Violet then jumped out of my lap, and was quickly in her own kline, probably immersed in her instructionals. Well, it was morning, after all.

With great difficulty, I slowly pushed Violet’s question to the back of my head, and tried to finish waking up. I had ergos to do, too. I had a small meal, then was quickly in front of my ergos vid. But instead of the brotherhood all morning like I normally do, I had to jump into a difficult interchange with another of the Echelon first thing. I am a helper, a Minister, and this other person is a Researcher; these are the two main branches of the Echelon. Researchers are responsible for the bulk of the provided, gentle suggestions that pop up on my vid as I work with the brotherhood, and the issues they encounter. Those system supplied suggestions are researched and refined constantly by the Research branch of the Echelon. But the interchange was hard because this Researcher took issue with how I had dealt with a (rare) permanent pairing (PP) that I had sessioned with. Researchers don’t have brotherhood Help sessions, only Ministers do. But that Researcher basically confronted me because I ignored those gentle suggestions posted on my vid, and trusted my intuition instead. This was one of those rare occasions I went blatantly the other direction from the Minister Help suggestions. That flagged on this Researcher’s stack, and they then researched my session with this couple, then they jumped into my session que. They were in the Echelon; of course that was my first session. I couldn’t skip it, or even put it off…

And I was so glad… The vid link between both me and whoever I am talking with, whether brotherhood or Echelon, special vid handling adds a brown hat that covers my entire head, and allows only my face through. Well, they did try having all Echelon wear such a hat for their ergos at one point. It was the same hat we still have to wear for actual Echelon meetings down below; they are so extremely uncomfortable. Now, for all vid sessions, computers automatically, electronically I guess, put that hat on for ALL Echelon, and scrambles the voice too. It is almost impossible to find your Minister just by walking down the hall. You would never know. That morning, I had that hat on… and this Researcher had that hat on… Well, I absolutely never wanted to run into this Researcher, I knew that much.

And I guess I need to talk about clothing here a minute. My clothing is called a ‘mat'(1), short for some other word in some archaic language that doesn’t even matter. I heard someone say it is like a “thin sweatshirt”, whatever that is. From the neckline, the mat covers 4″ down my arms (short sleeves), and comfortably covers my whole body down to 4″ above both knees. And it has a zipper that runs from the middle of the neck in the front, down to just above my belly button, where it veers to the left, then down again along the front of my left leg, to where the mat ends above my knees. I can take my mat off if I want to, but I don’t need to. The lav takes care of all of that when I, uhm, vent used food. And the hg, the body cleaning equipment, it cleans both my body and my mat, all at once, and automatically. Part of the cleaning involves some nice warm water; it is very relaxing. (The hg can also trim my hair just like I want it, if I select that when I go in.) Both the lav and the hg are in a small room off this big room, to the right. But I don’t ever have to take my mat off. I wear it constantly until the system decides it needs replacing, and that happens quickly and automatically in the hg too. Everyone’s mat is like that, the same. Well, we pick the color. My mat is medium Blue. Violet chose pink for her mat. And all Echelon have their E number on their mat, in the middle of the chest on the left side, above a small pocket. And all Ministers have these two small white reflective squares on their mat, straddling the zipper, just below the neck. I don’t have any idea what those are for.

This is a lot of background information I know; we do wear clothes! But the reason I bring this up, about my mat, is because the air temperature inside my doma is set to 67 degrees, and that is usually fine. Dealing with that Researcher made me sweat quite a bit… ok, a lot! I suddenly felt cooler air blowing past me as the doma tried to help me out, cool me off. Well, my interchange with that Researcher was really that difficult for me. I felt like I was being reprimanded, and by another lower level Echelon at that. Honestly, that doesn’t happen very often.

And I don’t know why… Maybe it was some sort of system glitch, but that part of my Vid that quietly flags other issues for the brotherhood as I help them; well it posted a small but bright orange exclamation mark in the bottom corner of my vid as that Researcher chewed me out. (I know that doesn’t sound very nice, but that was how I felt.) Normally, if I am trying to help one of the brotherhood, and a mark pops up like that, it means I don’t have the whole picture. The system helps me out, and opening that mark can supply the rest of the story. So one of the brotherhood is feeling depressed. That mark could flag elevated alcohol levels, alcohol use. (The system allows alcoholic beverages still, in small quantities.) The additional information is usually quite helpful. Still, dealing with another of the Echelon, that really shouldn’t happen. Like I said, it was probably a system glitch. I would need to bring the mark up and examine it then dismiss it, but because I was meeting with Echelon right now, I just ignored it. Actually, I was just anxious for that first meeting to be done. This Researcher was clearly not very happy with me. There was just nothing I could say. I did what I thought was best, the most helpful for these brotherhood, this permanent pair. Researcher E435R12983 just didn’t agree with me at all, and plainly, pointedly told me so. Like I said, I sweated quite a bit.

Thankfully, that Echelon session was finally over, and I started working through sessions with the brotherhood. Like I said, I usually don’t mind that. Still, in the back of my head, I was also slowly working on some approach to even investigate Violet’s question. I would need to examine brotherhood documents, and even some of the older information in order to try and come to terms with what Violet was even asking. Part of me really wanted to understand that too, but I was very driven to teach my own daughter, to answer a question clearly from her heart. More importantly, it was also clear to me that Violet’s perception was that I would find out for her, and this had allowed her to relax and return to normal. I didn’t want to let my daughter down, ever. Honestly, I doubted the system would understand any of this, or even care. Sessions with the brotherhood went long, and Echelon interactions were short, but included another quick reprimand from that same Researcher again, later in the day. It seemed she was doing a little more research on my mistakes… I just shrugged, then apologized. I didn’t know what else to do.

After my Minister Help sessions were all done, after my ergos was done, I stayed on my vid, and tried to do a little research myself, looking for information about Violet’s question. As I remembered, the brotherhood documents were almost painfully short, and included just what every child is taught in instructionals. Even typing in “What is love” (Violet’s very question) just brought up the same carefully prepared explanations. None of that was even helpful. I would not give up. I moved to the restricted archives and logged in (after having to research how to even do that). I have clearance for some of that because I am part of the Echelon. I typed in the same question, and got a few nibbles, from earlier brotherhood documents. It seems that the statements were a little fuller many years ago, but I found nothing helpful. But I did find one or two sections that might work, extended discussions. When I selected them to pull them up, the same message popped up; “E Level insufficient for access.” My E level, a part of my Echelon ID, is E436. I’m not very far up in the Echelon, and didn’t know what I could do about that. I just leaned back in the kline and thought. That upset Researcher was E435, one step above mine. I know that sounds funny, but the lower E level means you are higher in the Echelon. There can be many for most levels, but for E99 to E1 there is just one person. And I am not even close to that! This Researcher was only one level higher than I, but what difference… I would probably never ask E435R12983 for help anyway. And at that point, I realized I had already spent a lot of time searching, yet I felt like I was getting nowhere, and was out of ideas about a possible next step. I felt discouragment begin…

Then I noticed that orange exclamation mark, still on my vid screen from this morning. It would stay there until I opened it, and then dismissed it. I almost mindlessly opened it, and almost got rid of it immediately. I read it though.

“E435R12983: Excs Post Ad. C.S. Rslts Vws”

That was it. I again reached over, and almost dismissed it, but I stopped, inches away from that button on my vid. Like I said, the presence of this was probably a system glitch. Brotherhood system help shouldn’t happen with other Echelon. I should just dismiss it. But this cryptic message; I knew how to parse it, what it meant. I do that on the fly quite a bit when dealing with the brotherhood. I mindlessly expanded this message in my mind: “Excessive post-adult Chrome String results views…” When you go to choose a child, you compile a Chrome String, what that child will actually be. And the computer shows you what the adult form will generally look like, the adult view. I quickly skipped over that step for Violet; that was her life, not mine. But evidently this Researcher was doing that a lot, evidently viewing pav’s a lot, such that the system at least flagged this. Whatever… I reached over and almost closed it again. This was surely a system bug. And I am not a vengeful person. This Researcher had made my ergos difficult, but what this Researcher did on their own time…

I sighed. I had little evening left, and my ergos was hard, thanks to this Researcher, and yesterday’s ergos. Still, if I reported this, reported them, then maybe I might get a promotion. I doubted that, but I knew it happened occasionally. I heard a higher up Echelon say once this was healthy; it helps weed out less helpful members of the Echelon. For ten minutes, I just sat there, deep in thought, and maybe falling asleep. Reporting this would be easy, I just would feel bad about possibly ruining another Echelon’s life. I reached my finger out to the reporting button on my vid, but I didn’t press it, really quite unsure…

When I woke up with a start a few minutes later, I could tell by the routing feed… In my sleep, I had pressed that button, that Researcher was reported, and the upper Echelon would take care of it from here. I was suddenly wide awake. I really didn’t think that was the right thing to do… That was not the way I usually counseled the brotherhood to respond… Small irritations like this just need to be ignored… But… I couldn’t undo that now. I felt really bad… Then I sighed… “Maybe I will get a promotion, and my new E level will allow me to be able to answer my daughter’s heart-felt question…” I doubted it… I felt guilty… Another Orange exclamation mark popped up just then… I knew it was for me… “Algorithms suggest you did the right thing.” Bah, I couldn’t argue with the system.

I got slowly up out of my ergos kline, and tried to relax in my other not ergos kline. Violet was quickly in my lap, and told me all about her day. She soon noted I was falling asleep. “I’m glad you are here with me, daddy” she said quietly as she hugged me, then she jumped out of my lap, and ran back to her own kline again. I fell quickly asleep.

—–

c2018 by Shysage

1. The concept, construction and details of the ‘mat’ are copyright January 12, 2018 by Shysage. This simple, comfortable piece of clothing is private attire in our world. Things would surely be different if economies of scale forced everyone to wear the same thing, as in hen gase. And I know there is little rule of law left in this internet connected, advertising driven world economy; few care any more about right, rights, ownership… I know I can’t stop unscrupulous producers anywhere from making thousands from my design. But I can suggest this. True friend is real, and is the king of the universe, and he treasures justice. True friend can take care of this even if I cannot. Capitalizing on my design without my permission will ultimately not be worth it.

 

 

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