Vitaria, East Side, 2040
Trey Davis was twenty seven.
“Yeah, I see it now.” he said quietly to himself as he lay there alone in his bed. “When I wake up, this will have all been one very long dream. The sun will gently ease me into the day, shining brightly through the gap between my curtains. I will open my eyes and realize that I am ten years old again. My parents will be there, my grandparents will be there, all of my old friends will be there, and they will be very happy to see me. It's going to be the summer holiday, and when I go downstairs I will finally find the time to eat breakfast for once. There will be no worries about being late to the factory or being too tired to work. The streets outside will be peaceful again. I'll be calm, and all of this stress is just going to melt away.”
That night, Trey dreamt that his boss was shouting at him for breaking one of the machines. He wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, or how it could have been his fault, but he promised her over and over again that he would be able to fix whatever it was. When he opened the machine up to try and get a look at the problem, the inner workings had been replaced with an intangible mess of bloody flesh and writhing organs. Bulging shapes of pink and red squirmed around, resembling nothing but the abstract idea of human viscera.
He hesitated, and then thrust his hand into an opening. The muscles inside the machine tightened their grip on his arm until he could no longer pull himself free. Wincing in pain, he cried out to his boss for help, but she was already walking back up the stairs to her office. The machine slowly dragged him in.
Vitaria, Eastern Slums, 2060
Trey Davis was forty seven.
“It’s all okay.” he whispered to the ceiling above his bed. “When I wake up, I’ll realize that this was all just a horrible nightmare. I will be twenty years old again, and full of life once more. The air outside will be clean, and I’ll never get a cough this dreadful. I will be handsome, strong, and able to lift heavy parts all day with ease. My back won’t ache, and the scars on my hands will have completely vanished. Work won’t be so strict, because the union will always be there to have my back whenever management gives me any kind of unfair trouble.”
It took Trey a long time to fall asleep. The walls were hollow, and full of tiny holes that served no purpose any more. The sounds from the upper and lower floors manifested as ghostly voices and distorted music in every corner of the apartment. His flatmates were awake too, talking loudly in the kitchen. He couldn’t help but think about how his parents owned their own home long before they reached his age, and how much he wanted this for himself. It wasn't a realistic dream; the market had decided that more people renting meant more money in constant circulation, and that apparently that was the world's most important thing. He also couldn’t help but think about the black mold in the bathroom, and how the landlord still hadn't responded to any of his texts about it.
The next morning, Trey was in an accident at work. One of his colleagues, in a tired daze, switched on one of the machines as Trey was repairing it. His hand was crushed and mangled by the gears. Unable to fulfill his duties, he was immediately let go with only a pittance of compensation from his company, who insisted that his accident was the result of his own negligence. If he had been more alert, they said, he would have had his hand out of the machine in time. They made the recommendation that all workers install productivity lighting in their bedrooms, pointing out how it can lead to an increase in employee performance of up to 1.3% in many cases. He had worked there for almost three decades.
Vitaria, Southern Outskirts, 2080
Trey Davis was sixty seven.
“Everything is in its right place.” he thought, as he lay awake on his coffee-stained couch, with the dysfunctional servos in his cheap mechanical arm whirring erratically. “When I wake up, I will laugh at how silly I was to have ever believed that any of this is real. I will be twenty years younger, my arm will be fine, and I’ll be back at the factory. I’ll work harder than ever, and my boss will love me for it. She'll finally get me that promotion that I chased for so long, and I’ll finally make enough money to marry the woman I loved for even longer. We will live together in a big house, and she’ll never get sick of me or be in want of anything. My life will look up and up until I reach the very top of the world.”
The following day, Trey got up and activated his seratonin booster. He wanted to grab something to eat, but his cupboards were almost bare, so he knew that he would have to go shopping. Going out first thing in the morning wasn’t an exciting prospect, as it was always hectic and unpleasant outside, but it was still better than wasting his time looking for low-paying monkey gigs. Nobody wanted to hire an old man to perform menial tasks. It was obvious that robots could easily outcompete him at just about anything. He freshened up as best as he could and then put on his coat. Welfare had come in, but he would probably still only grab a loaf of bread at the local corner shop. He thought that fruit was far too expensive, and was afraid that if he hung around for too long then he'd be tempted into buying alcohol, or something even worse.
Trey had been outside for all of three minutes before somebody bumped into him, just as he was about to cross the road. They didn’t even apologize, they just kept on going. He didn't really blame them. These streets were too crowded, too narrow and sprawling, and if someone didn’t have somewhere they needed to get to quickly, that someone probably already sick of life and everybody in it. Distracted, Trey took an extra second to notice a car, one of the fancier models that his old job used to produce, driving way too fast. The steel bumper smashed into his frail body, killing him almost instantly.
His corpse was rolled out of the road and into the gutter, leaving behind a trail of crimson. At least one person considered stealing his arm before realizing that it wasn't actually worth anything. He waited for a full hour in the sun, eyes wide open and staring blankly at the dark clouds above.