Tomorrow Once More

By Dennis J. Butler


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3 mins

Chapter 2: Welcome to the Kobe-Striploin Corp...

I was led into a processing area where there were numerous other inmates in a variety of different colored jumpsuits. There wasn’t much talking as each inmate was processed. One by one they placed their right hands on what looked like a glass table for a moment. I guessed that the device was used to read the person’s finger and hand prints. After that, the next step must have been an eye recognition device. Each inmate looked into what looked something like an old-fashioned eye exam machine. The person monitoring the controls motioned for each inmate to move along as he entered data into a computer system.
When it was my turn, I placed my hand on the hand print table. I knew this is where there would be a problem, since there would be no record of me anywhere. After what seemed like two or three minutes, the technician looked up at me. “What is your name?” he asked.
“My name is Lane Mason.”
The technician pressed a few buttons and I heard the machine say my name. I was thinking the machine must have recorded me saying my name and highlighted just my name. The technician sat back, put his hands behind his head and waited. After a few minutes he looked up at me again. “Where are you from? Are you from North America? Where did you get those clothes you’re wearing?”
“Yes, I am originally from New York City,” I said without much confidence. I didn’t mention that I was born in Great Britain. I figured that would make them even more curious about my background and what I was doing there in North Dakota. I completely avoided answering his question about my clothes.
“Wait here a minute,” the technician said as he got up and walked into an office at the rear of the large processing station. After a few minutes he returned.
“What kind of work do you do? Are you a cattle hand or a farmer?” the technician asked.
I had to think quickly. I couldn’t tell him I was a scientist from the past. “I’m a farmer.” I figured it would be less grueling work than working with livestock, just in case they wanted to test me or test my knowledge. The technician handed me a card with my basic information and instructed me to go into the small waiting room on the other side of the processing center. He pointed in the direction I should walk and told me the sign on the door would read, “New Admissions – Examinations & Cataloguing.”
“I wonder what the hell that means,” I mumbled to myself. I found the office quickly and sat in the waiting area trying to make sense of everything. I took a look at the card he gave me. It listed my basic description, “Lane Mason, age - 30, height - 5 foot, 9 inches, body type - normal, eye color - brown, hair color - light brown.” There wasn’t anyone else in the waiting room and after a short wait, a woman in a white nurses uniform came out and asked me to follow her. I was brought into a room that reminded me of the medical scanning facilities from back in the 23rd century. One technician operated the equipment and spoke to another technician who entered data into a computer system. It appeared they were mostly interested in my vital organs. I remember the first technician mentioning my blood type and other details about my heart, liver, kidneys and lungs. After the scanning was finished, the nurse came in and led me down the hall to another office. The sign on the office read, “New Admissions – Housing and Workforce.”
As I was walking to the Housing and Workforce office, I was mumbling to myself. It had become a habit. “What a fool I am. I should have stayed in the capsule. Now I may be a prisoner on a work farm. I wonder what crimes these people have committed.” I suddenly had a thought. I would tell them I had committed no crime and they would let me go and I would return to the capsule. I entered the New Admissions office and there were two other men sitting there looking like zombies; expressionless.
“So, what crime have you committed?” I asked the person seated closest to me.
“What are you talking about?” the man answered.
“Aren’t you a prisoner here because you committed a crime? Why are you here?” I asked.
“Farming is not so bad,” the confused looking man answered. “It beats working in the chicken house. I heard that people who live at the Edgewood Fishing Corp over on the east coast have to work 14 hours a day. We only work 12 hours a day at Kobe-Striploin’s, plus my parents trained me in farming from an early age. Also, Kobe-Striploin has superior housing; better than the other five corporations.”
“Are those just the corporations that are in the US?” I asked “What kinds of corporations do they have in Europe and Asia?”
“There are five in the US, Canada and the northern part of Mexico,” the man said. “Listen,” the man said in a whisper as he came closer to me. “Be careful what you say around here. I have a cousin who is mentally handicapped, so I understand, but whatever you do, don’t let the guards know you are handicapped.”
I was desperately trying to make sense of everything. This man actually believed I was mentally handicapped because I apparently had no idea how the world worked. Well that was certainly true. I was thinking, “Could it be possible that the world has become one big corporate controlled prison?” It made sense in a sick sort of way. Corporations were running the governments from behind the scenes back in 2235. After they completely privatized prisons, the rest was probably easy. People were already being imprisoned for minor misdemeanors like jaywalking and cursing in public. Once you were in the prison system, they kept increasing your prison sentence. When they reestablished debtor prisons owned by corporations, I knew it was the beginning of the end. All the big corporations had to do was step forward a few steps to openly take complete control of the government.
“My name is Lane; what’s yours?” I asked.
“My name is Andrew. I’m being re-processed because my wife recently died. I’ll get a single apartment. The larger apartment I live in is not needed by me anymore. It will go to someone who is married and possibly with small children.”
“Can I ask you a really stupid question Andrew?” I asked quietly so no one else could hear me. “What year is it?”
“3853,” Andrew whispered.



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