Escape Pod 639: Me, Meg, and The Thing


Me, Meg, and The Thing

By Gian-Paul Bergeron

I’m Inroom making honest credit, doing Daily, counting breaths, when Meg messages me with extreme urgent markation to say that she got a Thing and I’m like Meg, you loon, please, and then she stresses the urgency with absolute dire markation – i.e. there has never been a realer deal – and so I hyperthink and create some awful anxiety, such that Main recommends exercise, which I do superquick, after which Main allocates extra water and recommends drink, so I do and sit still until 10 minutes, watching my bladder markation rise slowly until it hits Basic Relief, at which point I turn thoughts to nearly zilch and relieve myself all over myself, and Main calls Sanitation to take me to Communal Care, where Meg will be waiting with pissed pants, a fat grin, and maybe even a Thing. 


When I blip back in, I’m crammed between two dullards who can’t breathe right. I do a headroll and wheeze like the others, fitting in and scanning for Meg. Her cubbie is on the fringe of this Communal Care’s jurisdiction, so like always, I’ve got some time.

CC’s a real wonkfest. Most par-for-the-course delinqs such as ourselves do quiet Daily in their Inrooms and steer mad clear of this locale. Only the biggest flimflam pathetics are forced into interpersonal space because their thought capacities are like naught.

Communal Care’s got a bunch of regulars who are completely toony, and due to the peeing and mad fluctuation of electric buzz in my skull (on account of necessary communication with Meg, who is my only comrade in lucid interaction), they think I’m king toon. This royal designation partly stems from the seemingly jambly signs Meg and I chat with that includes mad eyelash flutters: a cipher too slippery for any CC mech.  Also note: cipher robustness equals necessity due to our dealings involve Max. His identity remaining supersecret is top-notch priority for us (us being luminous revs and all).

Anyways, I’m waiting for like three seventy breaths, when two mechs lay Meg up against the opposite wall. Meg is not dimple-cheeked, which brings me strange comfort because it’s like she has no need telegraph her happiness so dumbly.

Meg blips back in and before I go complete scatterbrain, I look at her straight-on with gaga eyes and she gives a small smirk. (We enjoy our tiny thimble of success!)

Me (blinking cipher): You wizard! How does it feel to hold the Thing?

Meg (blinking back): Insufficient terms. Like supernormal but because of excessive normality, a kind of unreality hits me, that’s like bam.

Mechs whiz between us. Hence, sightline breaks for a teensy weensy moment.

Me: Can we use it?

My blood pumps at double the rate of Daily. Mad danger equals mad revolutionary. Possibility: we’re the first revs to acquire a Thing since Marcus The Mech-Befuddler. (Specs on Marcus: friend of Meg, slipperiest ciphers, escaped to Elsewhere, works(!) with Max + other revs to infiltrate Inworld and create Doers.)

Meg (blinking): Chutes in two. If unlucky, goodbye or repeat cycle until contact. No messaging.

Me: What?! You absolute dimwit!

My reaction is thus: Chutes have wild risks and messaging equals fluffy cushion of safety.

Meg: Did I not indicate absolute dire markation? Secrecy paramount. Max’s Decree quite explicit. Chutes. In one.

Me: Gheesh! Chutes are like totally new venture and my memory on protocol is murk!

I look around for laundry door and find one and see Meg find one, oh boy – reality equals here – and I wait till mechs retreat maximum distance, and flash my eyes desperate at Meg.

Meg (blinking): Now.

Meg busts up, and I follow suit. We hear whir of mechs turning, and now we’re flailing, running all wonky as to seem like pathetics, in patterns Meg learned from Marcus to scramble mechs’ algorithms. We make our way into different laundry rooms and promptly thrust ourselves into the Soiled bins (at least I hope Meg did so in adjacent room).


While sitting in awful bin of cloth and expelled liquids/solids, hoping mechs are supreme dumbos and will soon pull lever to tip bin into Chutes with me on board, I bounce visions around my dome. I dream on Elsewhere, its neverendingness in every possible vector. Usefuls producing practical, yet gorgeous items for other Usefuls to enjoy. Interpersonal group units of existence where folks pose such questions as, “What is your emotional state due to the events of the day?” and, “On this day, what did you create and how?” all over a communal glob of nutrients.

The whir of a mech blips me back. I’m donefor. But no! Thunk goes the lever, and my limbs go cockamamie slamming into metal chute walls. I jamble down at radical steepness with impaired vision due to white-brown-yellow fabric comrades. I’m tumbling loony, bonking here and there as chutes make descent to…The Pit?

I land in massive circle heap of pissed pants and soiled articles (The Pit!). I equal quick transfixed by the sheer quantity of garment slides converging at my present locale, and desperate hyperthink as to exact protocol of Chutes meeting, before The Pit gives way to next launder stages: Sudzing, Washing, Wringing (surefire death).

Basically, after few dozen breaths locked in indecision, soiled heap gives way to black depths, at which point I clamber into center hole and hope it’s the right one, which guess what, it’s not.

After hundreds of breaths of composing death ballad fit for bland existence like my own (sitting, breathing), I feel a pinch and it’s Meg and she gives me copious lists of protocol I failed. I’m mad bewildered but just like happy to see her, and I bet my dimples make me look as toony as they come, at which point she hugs me something fierce (I have not had this kind of intentional human contact in much time) and she brings me to legendary Chutes.


Chutes has history. It’s a room the size of two cubbies but a dozen chicks, dudes, and nongens have made this on-and-off their Inroom for years: a rev-haunt facilitating deliverance to Elsewhere.

As I linger in the beginning moments of existing in such luminary locale, assuaging my fears on my lonesome has a near-zilch effectivity. I sweat quite profusely, waiting for a mech to blaze in, return me to my Inroom, and hook me with BrainTwinge, which inflicts wowie-zowie pain and tweaks time to slo-mo such that counting breaths becomes infinite ordeal. It inspires one to selfkaput but it paralyzes one’s limbs, and plus attempting selfkaput equals king-size no-no due to punishment – near-maximum dose of Twinge.  Thus, Twinge makes one wish for ho-hum norm of Daily.

But, no mechs come.

I look to my rock, Meg, who seems smooth. Hence, most likely, mechs are dullards after all and Marcus eggheaded. Perhaps Max will reward me with a job(!) for my brilliant execution once I’m Elsewhere or place me in some interpersonal group unit which dwells Outroom in a nature locale.

Chutes presents quite barren; I had delicate hopes there would be fierce revolutionary material lining the walls, and paper and pens to expound my superquick thoughts to decree-format, and passageways to some kind of head honcho rebel (Max!). But of course Meg still had fallback of Max’s Decree, which was how we knew that obtaining a Thing was mad relevant to becoming Useful.

In all the thinking of death and such, I had forgotten my excitement over the Thing! I start blurting out something toony with cipher when I realize that this moment is pregnant with possibility for vocal speech.


I go, “Hey,” and I sound superweird, and Meg laughs, and hearing that is a total anti-norm. She snivels and snorts and the sounds are sensory madness in my ears, but like refreshingly not imagined, and her expressions are such dingus that now I’m laughing and breathing, one, two, three, but then I stop counting, I’m done with Daily, and take a big breath and hold it in and go “BLAH!” and Meg goes “BLAH!” and I go “Brotateeteetee,” and Meg roars “Hampraloosie!” and we heave big breaths.

We prance around Chutes wagging our limbs loony, and I see her muscly stiffness loosen (“Camdieumbie,” I go), and we nuzzle into each other as I imagine wild animals do (“Tarazmildo!” goes she), her shaved head bristling on my chin, and what overload of senses, all these things I haven’t felt, and this is only the beginning towards a Useful life full of wondrous, different things that feel and look…different!

I’ve only ever seen Meg with aura of determination galore, but currently, it simply equals joy and wonder, and wow how lucky are we! Us being the chosen two for an actual revolution! For an actual escape to a no-walled locale where there are bazillions of purposes growing straight out the ground like I am told lush greenery does!

We breathe and tumble to the ground. We lay for a moment.

I relish in being on the cusp, the almost of something huge.


With rapid intention, Meg sits up and envelops herself in serious vibes.

“So dimwit, you wanna see the Thing or not?” she lilts.

I go, “Um, yes. Spill the marbles.”

She yanks off her right shoe and, clenched between big and next-big toes, is a little marbular Thing! It’s a grey Thing! It’s a greysilvery Thing! It’s got like profuse swirls of grey and silver and grey and they snake quick between each other and I get this wave of the lurking power hiding in the Thing.

“Quickhanded much are we?” I jab at Meg.

She flourishes her fingers as if to say, these babies are professional, deft.

Turns out on the way back from previous meeting at CC, our ninth (when Meg translated Max’s Decree into cipher for me, and resolved to get a Thing), Meg had lucky fortune to be carried by two Mechs down wonky path on account of a disaster with some pathetic in regular hallway, such that she passed by cart full of Things and she fell and swallowed one.

After hearing this, gooberish words come from me. “So what’s its deal?”

“Um, it’s a Thing.”

“Duh flimflam! But what—like, you haven’t elucidated its exact use? I agree full-bodied with Max’s Decree that Things are most likely absolute key to Main’s power, but like how? Get the Thing, check, but now?”

Meg wiggles a bit. In frustration? “Dude.”

“Apologies. Just excitement to act.

We sit in thin silence.

“So, what does it do?”

Meg lashes out. Definite frustration. “I don’t know, okay creep! All Max’s Decree said was to get a Thing and kablam it.”

“And kablam it? To what end? That’s in the decree?”

“I’ll use shoe sole.”

“Hold a breath. When you ciphered the decree, no mention was made of kablamming the Thing.”

“Due to it sounds completely loony! Marcus recommended one step at a time. First step was getting Thing.”

I look to Meg, her eyes all moxie and think on my dimwit state pre our initial run-in and her illumination of truth and hope and other great big notions like Elsewhere, but as I see her commence ritual of striking, a nagging due to reality of mechs and BrainTwinge and Uselessness makes me blurt:

“Wait! Momentary thought before kablamming only hope: are you concrete he said kablam? Maybe some mech doctored it or you misinput? What if…it’s Main’s trick to blow ourselves up like some kind of toony accidental suicide?”

Meg slaps me.

“Decree is basic necessity of our existence. Without it you would be counting breaths like a dimwit, waiting till your body rotted out from under you, you Useless thud!”

I’m flushed, and now I know I’m a real pathetic. I pray that Max doesn’t know what I said. I eye the Thing, taunting me on the ground with its swirling grey-silver-grey, and in a swift, smooth motion, I windmill my arm wide and kablam the Thing, that orbular hope.


The Thing goes kerplat. Greysilvergrey goop splurts on walls, floor, celling, my worried face, Meg’s stoked-then-lost face. I see the wind go out of her like she is being strangled. Her hands are limp. I hyperthink, and I sweat faucets. Didn’t I kablam it right? Could I have kablammed it any other way?

We wait in the thick, goopy silence.

Meg turns thoughts to zilch. I see her go slack.

My eyes burn from behind and are begging me to flush them out and why did I have to kablam it, I should have let her kablam it and now she’s all zilch and I ruined our only Thing. But where is Max and who is Max and how did Meg get the Decree in the first place, was it just lying on the floor in Chutes like, hey pick me up, and where are the others?

Why aren’t there any others? Why hasn’t Marcus returned for Meg if he indeed is Elsewhere? Is it just Meg and me and thousands of dullards crammed in their Inrooms, or even if they aren’t literally imbeciles and are rather obedient delinqs, they’re Useless Daily-doers who count and breathe and count and breathe, oxy in, oxy out. And what’s outside our Inrooms and CC? Is there really an Elsewhere with Useful people who do tasks that contribute to a group for everyone’s benefit, and are even so efficient with their taskdoing that they have bonus time that is not Useless but rather basking in just how Useful they are, and are they waiting there for me to break out and be with them in one big Outroom, or are there just endless Inrooms of toons flailing and trying to trick Main so they can go out to a place that never is and never was and is there anything more than breathing and counting and what could it be, what is there to do, and Max said that we would take things apart and put them back together (Step 2), he promised a revolution, but where is the fucking revolution?!


Then, the goop slimes and jumbles around, collecting itself and growing and arranging and trickling and so I shake Meg and yell, “Meg, you loon! The kablam! It worked!” and slowly she comes back, and now the greysilvergrey has coalesced into a goopy humanoid. Meg and I are enraptured. The goop hardens.

“Oop” goes the Thing.

I eyeflutter at Meg: “the Thing talks!” and she vocalizes, “The Thing talks!” and the Thing goes, “The Thing talks!”

The Thing blinks. And its orbs are mad lucid and they swirl greysilvergrey. It’s got real fleshy flesh, but it’s like half my height and like no indications as to its biological sex functioning, and where genitalia should be it’s just smooth as its whole body, smooth, so it’s quite like a post-op nongen. Overwhelming sweeping sensation courses through body: be close to it and play.

“Toony…” I go.

“Totally flimflam,” goes the Thing, perking up like young obedient.

Meg ciphers me, “How does he know flimflam?”

The Thing ciphers her(!), “I hyperlearn. Supersweet algorithms.”

“Whoa,” goes us.

“You smell like pee,” goes the Thing.

Meg and I laugh. We do, we do.

“What’s the plan?” goes the Thing. It smiles wide and extends arms, as if offering its hands to us as tools.

“Hoping you would be king of planning department,” smirks Meg.

“Man, do you have a non-Thing name?” I go, on account of the Thing seems too real and like, living, to continue to call it Thing.

“Call me Max,” goes Max.

I start. “Whoa, wild coincide—”

“Rad, Max.” Meg darts eyes at me. “I’m Meg and this wizard is Timo.”

“Rad, Meg and Timo. Relatedly, I’d gladly be king of planning! Stoked for this honor!” yippees Max.

I’m hyperthinking because this is quite the supersticky situation on account of Max is potentially head honcho rebel, which conflicts with identity as some kind of nongen genius-baby (or maybe not?), but anyways Meg cast silence on me and like I said, my trust in her is like nearly complete, but I like this baby-Max dude and if he is the real Decree writer, then I want to know quick so we can get on with doing tasks.

“What’s the first plan, Max?” jibes Meg.

“Put me back together!” and Max explodes into hundreds of hard, jagged 3-D puzzle pieces.

Meg and I both have wide eyes due to Max’s loony actions. But hey, a task is a task! Perhaps a kind of rev task to test our steelheartedness.

Slowly, Meg and I start the reassembling. We both caress each piece like the most precious cargo, laden with emotion to the brim. Doing this task(!) also equals much fun! But a brain itch.

I go, “So, the whole name—”

Meg daggers me with her eyes. She ciphers, “He can hear us.”

Her hands wobble.

I cipher back, “So what? Meg, I have this massive trust in Max for some reason. He’s such a supersweet cuddly nongen baby—”

“My feelings equals exact same! Find that odd?”

She clanks two pieces together.

“No, good vibes are good vibes. Isn’t this part of Max’s project? Communion with others? On this account, the interpersonal positivity is like, duh, part of the plan!”

Meg stops tasking, which is quite the trial, the pull to Max-bits being so lovely and vigorous.

“Huh. But like why would THE Max be inside a random Thing? Like how could this, he, be, head- my – I feel, just want to hold him – No incorrect! Hold on.”

I see Meg hyperthink and force herself away from the pieces. I force myself away too and hold her robust shoulders, and look at her, both of us almost falling back towards Max.

“Look Meg. This is full-bodied new and wonky. I’m like massively scared due to I feel so powerfully. This equals Max’s doing. My heart like leaps in unfettered bounds for you both. The brink’s arrival is pronto! Meg, we can finally DO. We can have this ravishing feeling constantly Elsewhere. I’d so jive with you in an interpersonal group unit! Don’t you want that to a commensurate extent as I do?”

Water gathers on her eyes: a shimmery bathing station. I imagine us in organic locales such as a lake (a big bathing station non-expressly-purposed for bathing) and a grass field (for running, organized physical tasks, and general laughing shenanigans). Max is there too, as are other revs, and we all touch and use our connectedness for positivity, taking the day off for the purpose(!) of having fun, due to eventually we will have jobs other than doing Daily and will in fact (I am told by Meg) become disenchanted on some days with such jobs (Ha ha! Unlikely!) and can change our purpose, if we so please, to jovial activities including wiggling in lakes and strutting on grass and this will not be Uselessness but rather a great and wondrous event called Leisure.

She falls towards Max’s nearest piece.

I question, “Rad?”

She affirms, “Rad.”

Affirming affirmation, I vocalize, “For real?”

“Hyperreal,” and wipes her eyes paired with all-lip gentle beam.

Now, in concert again, we patch Max back up.

When Max is whole, Max goes, “Yippee, I’m trusted! Yippee!”

Overwhelmed by Max’s endearing tooniness, I go all gaga and start running around with him, and Meg’s body drags her to do the same.

“What’s next, Max?” Meg slides the words out through her front tooth gap.

“Use interpersonal connection for good!” goes Max.

I go, “Wait, Max. You are the head Honcho. You are the dude. Use interpersonal connection for good. That’s Step 3. You wackjob revolutionary!”

“Come here, you revs!”

I do and all the sudden I’ve got like even more intense desire to be close to Meg, but not in a pleasure capacity (sexual function removed first time in CC due to close proximity to others and possibility for misplaced value in sexual satisfaction), but in a human-come-close method of I-want-to-share-life-refracted-through-you. Meg comes, and as she gets closer to Max and me, I see resistance melt off her face.

And we move in rhythmic patterns and Max sings a song with such beauty I cannot record it here, but oh it’s splendid: this aliveness I feel, it’s real, in this moment dancing I feel Useful, like this dancing is purposeful and the glory that is Max, and Meg for bringing me to Max, and Marcus for bringing Meg to Max, and me for surrendering to these glories that are trifecta: Marcus, Meg, and Max…when Meg breaks away violent and begins to shout like a right toony pathetic, which totally harshes my vibe, and I see her flesh warble towards our blessed union and her pull it back, but then I catch Max’s greysilvergrey eyes and I’m locked in again.

Meg goes, “Max, enough playtime, deliver us Elsewhere!”

Max, still spinning with me, goes, “Join our interpersonal link, Meg!”

Max smiles wide, and I hold him tighter.

“Ya, Meg!” I go, as now Max and I do some sort of mimicry movement.

Meg pleads, “What protocol must we follow to be delivered Elsewhere? To become true Useful revs? LISTEN!”

But Max goes “This is Use. This is fun!”

Meg goes, “Something equals wrong, something equals wrong. Marcus affirmed Max would deliver us Elsewhere. MARCUS! What the fuck is your locale Marcus! Timo, I do not understand.”

Max goes, “You don’t understand? No sweat! Instructions await!” and his mouth flattens and he spits out a wafery nondigital object with gorgeous reading symbols.

Now I look at Meg and am in my skull like, what kind of loon can do that? A superhuman rev?

Meg takes the wafer. She intakes its info. Apparently, the info equals quite extensive, and I do Daily to pass the time. As I count, she becomes supersolemn. She finishes and looks at me with apology eyes.

“Spill the marbles,” I go.

She goes, “Quick admission: my orbs have never personally perused Max’s Decree.”

Much shock. I go, “Huh?”

And she goes, “Marcus ciphered it to me before he went Elsewhere. I memorized.”

“What relation does this have to wafery nondig you just intook?”

“Breathe.”

“I’m done with Daily, gimme the frickin’ Max wafer!”

She acquiesces.

It reads:

Max’s Decree: Preparation for a Useful LifeTM!

MaxTM will guide you through the steps to becoming Useful! First off, do you want to end up some dullard counting breaths in a steel box? No! Of course not! Some kids aren’t as lucky as you and are born into Uselessness, so take full advantage of your MaxTM to show how much you appreciate them staying out of the way, and in their own Useless manner, contributing to harmony of the Useful world! MaxTM doubly elucidates the crucial concept of Leisure – time to simply bask in interpersonal connectivity – which is uber-different from the Uselessness of time-wasting/counting dimwits! As a young spawn of useful interpersonal units, you equal lucky to have significant Leisure, but note that this opportunity will depreciate with age. Play deftly and efficiently with your Max to reach a supreme Usefulness, which will later in life be rewarded with copious honest credit such that you can afford to take some hours for Leisure as if you were still a youth!

Now, take your capsule and kablam it! Don’t be shy. Give it a good whack. Look! Your MaxTM should be 100% operational! Here are just some of their functions that teach the basic essentials of Doing!

  1. Establish bond through identification.
  2. Take things apart and put them back together.
  3. Use interpersonal connection for good.
  4. Dance and harness the power of fun.

Plus, 5 mystery functions that will help you become the most Useful adult you can be!

I go, “Oof.”

And Meg goes, “Wizard, I didn’t know. Marcus expounded upon these principles to revolutionary heights. This format was murked to my consciousness.”

And I’m silent.

And Max goes, “Who’s ready for the next plan?”

And Meg goes, “Not now, Max.”

And I’m silent.

And Meg goes, “Timo.” And she takes my hand.

I let her, but it feels icky and I just want to be alone in my Inroom breathing, making credit, so Main can reccomend eating, shitting, sleeping.

She looks me straight in the eyes, her big orbs swirl green, teal, green.

She goes, “What should we do?”

I avoid peering at Max or Meg.

I go, slow and metered, “How did you know Marcus got Elsewhere?”

She stammers, “I mean he was a true rev, found a Thing and escaped with Max’s guidance.”

“What if Main got him?”

“Marcus has supersweet befuddling algorithms!  No dice, Timo. No dice!”

I go, “I don’t know, Meg. I don’t know.”

Pause.

I go, “Max equals some plaything for Useful kids?”

She goes, “Seems to be so.”

I think at a quite normal speed about this whole wackjob situation and let Meg wait with tortured face. Months and months of posing as dullard, soiling pants, enduring BrainTwinge, refusing myself possible solution of selfkaput, forcing my body into gross interpersonal connection, believing Meg’s stories of Elsewhere, believing her a lucid comrade in truth, believing her Max’s concept of friend—ugh correction: Marcus’s interpretation of a child’s plaything’s notion of friend that most definitely equals bogus. Yet, in finally finding our orbular hope, this Thing, I became blessed by a warm, Useful thrum due to the simple act of dancing and feeling with Max and Meg and how can this all be some great fabrication?

And with a sudden kaboom of lucidity, I see.

Oh, Meg is such a dimwit, what a toony pathetic, and I laugh deep, and it swells and bounds off of less-than-shiny walls and the confusion-displaying faces of Max and Meg. It equals so simple.

So I take Meg’s face between my hands and smooch her big on her pointy nose and I do the same to Max and I go, “Meg, you loon, you did it!”

She goes, “Did what?”

“This is the revolution,” and now I know I’ve definitely earned title of king toon.

And she goes, “Incorrect. My info was false. Marcus must equal dead and/or huge liar.”

And I go, “Meg. Max has capability to teach Usefulness. He can turn us Useful.”

And Max goes, “Yes! Yes I can!” fluttering his chubby arms.

Meg desperates, “Timo. Its role is as a plaything. Its ability to help is naught. Will we simply sit down here doing dumb dances ‘til we starve?” Her lip plus voice warbles, “I was wrong, Timo. There is no revolution. Greatest apologies, Timo. Greatest apologies.”

I go, “Melodramatic much? Max could train us. We could pass as Useful kids!”

Meg shrinks. “Timo, remove trust in me. I equal failure. Sculpt your face to reality.”

I plead, “Meg.”

Her orbs refuse mine, opting instead to become super-mini bathing station.

And all the sudden, Meg is like frozen in space. All movement arrested, brain turned to nil, but eyes eerily agape, non-consensually. Still dripping.

Max goes, “Yippee! You win!”

“Huh?” tumbles out me.

“Success! Inroom dawdlers can become Useful through intense desire plus promise. Delivery Out equals pronto. Then, intro to Useful role!”

“No way! For real?” I clutch Max’s chunky arm. “What’s Meg’s prospect?”

“Stay here. No cigar on going Elsewhere.”

“Nah, buddy!” Meg’s orbs swirl in my skull.

“Sorry, buddy. It’s true. She equals vehicle for your greatness.”

“Pshh. Max, you wackjob. For real, stop messing.”

“No messing. Lucid. Meg equals connector. You equal spunky plus try to see possibility in face of harsh realness.”

I stroll around Meg. I think I see her eyes glimmer at me. I can’t tell if they say Timo no or Timo yes or Timo I betrayed you or Timo you betrayed me or Timo my friend or Timo my Timo or Timo stop looking for answers in my orbs you loon, I equal clearly incapacitated. I make quick self-pact to retrieve her once I become head honcho Elsewhere (did Marcus make a similar pact?).

Max takes my hand and lickety-split we’re off.


Buzzards, what a place! Extreme stimulus, difficult to formulate unmurked thoughts as to exact occurrences. First off, there are dozens of nongen baby dudes that look just like Max, moving to and fro like expert job-doers, their dinky butts a-jiggling, mixed in with folks who appear as I do, strutting elegant to their destination points. Me and Max squiggle through these throngs of tasked efficients and my, the colors’ vibrancy is higher than top-notch (I previously would not have been able to conceive of such a notch!).

We enter a little Inroom with a table and two chairs.

A man plows in. Jumbo strides. Way more than my height. Large brow, indent in right temple from excessive Twinge. This dude equals a real deal rev. Man gestures and Max scuttles out, lost among the throng of dinky butts.

Man booms, “Timo, I’m Marcus.”

Wack! “Like, the one-”

“Yes, the one Meg regaled.” Table rattles with his hand-thump. “She’s no dimwit. I got Elsewhere. Well, to here, at least. Elsewhere nights and off-days.” His fingers thrum.

“This doesn’t equal Elsewhere?” I fumble.

“Kinda-sorta yes-and-no,” equivocates him, gesturing in sharp spatial arrangements. “Most Doers of your rank live in commune here until loyalty/efficiency equals proven. Then joining general Useful society becomes possibility.”

Eyes a little gaga, I go, “Is it true Usefuls reside in interpersonal group unit in greenery?”

“Approximately, yes.” Another thrum. “For you, here, where greenery is viewable but not frolickable, until job-upgrade.” His teeth gleam.

“When will Meg join me? What equals her extraction odds?” I probe.

“Nothing can be done to bring her here,” he finalizes, shaping brow dense.

“Nothing? Dude, she’s like my king rev!”

He goes, “Meg equals prime connector. Cajoles thuds like you into action. Hold happiness for her. Many connectors fail after first few attempts, are returned to pure Uselessness. Meg simply has recent memory zilched, and her Usefulness is chameleoned to her.”

Whoa, what. Recalculation galore!

“So, Meg exists in some unknowing cycle? How many has she delivered Elsewhere?”

“You equals 17. Be happy for her effectivity. Creating 17 Useful candidates out of mucky mud.”

So, Meg on one hand equals perpetually Useless and on other the most Useful of all? Mind jumbled.

“Look, Timo, dingus. Ready to do? Here equals your job. You sit here.” He gets up, stamps around the table and motions me to sit in his chair. “You look at that for updates.” He points to the glass/wall that now equals moving images. “You come up with great big revolutionary ideas and write them down. And we implement them to try and get more folks like you to become Useful members of society. Rad?”

I tremble! A revolutionary purpose! “Uh, duh!”

“Show full-bodied promise and we’ll deliver you from here into glorious nature community with Doers who make cornucopia abundance.”

“Wowza!”

“Your spunk, re: this situation, sits well with me. I’ll mention you to Community leaders during Leisure bat-ball.”

“Much gratitude Mech-Befuddler!”

“You’ll find past ideas in digital folder marked Past Ideas.”

And in three strides Marcus is gone.

And I sit at my desk. My desk.

And the feeling is incredible. I have a task. A thing to do!

I open Past Ideas. I see a folder titled Max’s Decree.

I click.

Dozens of folders. Abe-Marie. Abe-Nat. I scroll.

Meg-Arthur…Meg-Darla…Meg-Heath.

(Are Meg’s feelings towards me equal to her comradeship with Arthur, Darla, and the others? That human-come-close-feeling. Is an experience she had with them all?)

I refrain from clicking.

I scroll to Meg-Timo.

I click.

And the videos explode on the screen.
First time Meg and I contacted. The day I went absolute berserk on my Inroom and shat myself and went to CC for first visit. And there was Meg the luminary, swinging limbs at two mechs. But not in a flimflam mode. Rather in a feel-my-hurt, this-equals-overbearing, get-me-far-far-away-from-this-locale-or-tear-myself-up-from-the-inside-I-will-please-let-me-create-worth-from-my-existence-or-let-me-selfkaput kind of way. And we locked orbs. And somehow she knew I understood such a desperate, desperate emotion. Our berserkity equalled the same. And she made some wonky eyelash flutters and threw me a smirk.

Now, another clip. Meg and me flailing like wackjob pathetics, now in a complete flimflam manner. Yet, Meg’s simple precision supersedes the thrashing.

Our fall down the Chutes. Meg jambles down at similar level of tooniness to me. A rare sight.

The birth of speech. Our falling and laughing and luck. The animal nuzzling, our fine head hairs prickling each other. Meg holds me tighter than memory codified. A moment. The cusp of something huge.

And a feed marked Live.

I click. Six angles pop up.

There is Meg.

She sits in her Inroom. It looks just like mine did.

I watch her do Daily. Her nostrils contract. Oxy in. They flare. Oxy out.

Her orbs are glazed but not like lakes. Like deep sleep of a Daily Doer.

I ponder: her memory equal belly-up yet? She thinking of me?

She appears as such a dimwit. I jolt myself with reminder she is covert Useful.

It helps. Barely. As always, assuaging on my lonesome equals near zilch effectivity.

I smile at her and dumbly hope to see her non-dimpled grin in return.

I don’t.

A notification blips on my screen:

To: Timo Cc: Harold, Bethany, and 22 others.

From: Main Insurrection Management

Timo! Welcome to your first day as Insurrection Artist! Welcome to the world of the Useful! Let me acquaint you with Harold et. al (cc’ed above). They were in your exact same position at earlier times and will be thrilled to keep you from falling off the proverbial ropes-course that is Usefulness! Timo, we hope your enjoyment in new accommodation is top-of-the-heap. No worries, your office isn’t your Inroom! And no need for us to reccomend shitting or sleeping anymore, ha ha! Or stick you with needle to make you hurt and count slow! On that note, profuse apologies for past treatment. We thought you equalled a useless thud, which clearly you are not, due to you’re reading this memo. Ha ha, what a misstep!

Are you thrilled to have a purpose? Duh! We at IM provide this purpose in a stable manner, keeping you happy, healthy, and revolutionary, while maintaining intactness of larger Useful society! It’s you folks who act as the gooey that keeps us from splitting into itty bitty pieces. It’s you folks who prevent the repetition of unspeakable events driven by your overzealous loony forebearers. It’s you folks who hold torch like a baton in a hundred-year race of revs and make certain no one drops the flame and burns down the building (to be clear, the building being a metaphor for us of course)! Keep in forefront of mind that with complete and utter potential, you could become completely transferred away from Main towards greater society and could interact with Useful-borns and maybe even breed with them and make some Useful-borns of your own, ha ha! What a dream worth tasking towards!

Look out for a blip real soon about IM handbook!

I breathe.

What will greenery feel like nestled between my fingertips, reveling in the Usefulness that Leisure implies? In my dome, this experience includes Meg calling me a dolt for tickling her with a leaf (I imagine such mechanisms will serve the function well). However, Meg clearly exists not here, but in her Inroom.

I wonder what to do next. How to start tasking with this very important(?) role.

There is another folder on my screen. Simply marked All Live. I click.

Thousands of videos. This time folks I have never glanced at. All sitting silent in their Inrooms. Watching their Daily tickers. Counting breaths.

Nostrils contract. Oxy in. They flare. Oxy out.

I hear my own breath. Nostrils contract. Oxy in.

And I force the oxy out my mouth.

About the Author

Gian-Paul Bergeron

Gian-Paul Bergeron is a writer and comedian currently living in Los Angeles. He graduated from Yale in 2017 and received an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Dell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing for his short story “Protagonist,” which was published in April 2018 as a Spotlight Runners-Up in Eclectica Magazine (go read it!). His humor writing has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and his comedy podcast, Don’t Need To Know, can be found on all podcast sites. He owes quite a lot to George Saunders and Charles Yu, without whom he’d be an uninspired dullard who uses supernormal verbiage. Find him on twitter: @gpbergeron.

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About the Narrator

Trendane Sparks

narrator Trendane Sparks

Originally born in Texas, Trendane Sparks eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience.

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narrator Trendane Sparks
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