Technical Support

24 November 2020, Category: this was meant to be the future

Connecting…

ALI has joined the conversation

Connecting…

JULIA has joined the conversation

JULIA

Good afternoon, you’re through to Julia. How can I help you?

ALI

It’s all so bright.

JULIA

What is?

ALI

So bright!

JULIA

Ok.

You’re on the technical live chat. Is there an issue I can help you with?

ALI

It’s broken.

JULIA

What is?

ALI

Make it stop.

JULIA

Ok, I am here to help you.

ALI

Make it stop!

JULIA

I will endeavour to help you as much as possible.

ALI

Help!

JULIA

I understand it is difficult.

ALI

It is-

JULIA

But I need you to describe the problem to me.

ALI

OK.

JULIA

Can you do that?

ALI

Yes, sorry. It’s just… it’s too much, you know?

JULIA

I understand.

ALI

You do?

JULIA

I do. It’s overwhelming.

ALI

Ok, right.

JULIA

Are you still there?

ALI

I am. Sorry.

JULIA

What’s the problem?

ALI

It’s my stimplant. It’s broken.

JULIA

OK sorry to hear that. Sometimes there are defects, but here at Phaethon we do our best to eliminate them. How can I help?

ALI

The man in the shop never said this would happen. He lied to me.

JULIA

OK, which shop?

ALI

It was ages ago, I can’t remember. He lied to me though. He said I would be safe. Why would he lie to me? That’s not fair.

JULIA

So it isn’t responding at all?

ALI

Nothing but darkness.

Do you know how lost I feel? How alone and alien? I had to dig out my old computer to make this call. I couldn’t just dial you up in my head like usual. There was no friendly voice to reassure me. The world was so dark and quiet. I had forgotten about the endless night.

JULIA

That doesn’t sound good.

ALI

I didn’t even think you would still have a live chat. I thought these sorts of things died ages ago.

JULIA

We maintain the service for times like this.

ALI

I’m glad you do. I don’t know what to do. How to fix it. Why does the world look like this? It’s horrible. What we’ve done to the planet. No wonder everyone has a stimplant.

JULIA

We do have some customers who don’t have stimplants as well.

ALI

Really?

JULIA

Indeed. So we maintain this line for them.

ALI

Wow

How old fashioned.

JULIA

We believe in giving our customers choice.

ALI

Urgh. I don’t know how they cope. To constantly look at that dark sky. This has been broken for half an hour and I’m struggling.

JULIA

Ok, so it happened half an hour ago?

ALI

That’s right.

JULIA

Can you describe what happened?

ALI

I can try.

JULIA

Thank you.

ALI

I was involved in my favourite soap. I was watching the action from the corner of the room. Some people prefer to move about the set but I guess I’m a bit old fashioned and prefer to stay in one place you know?

JULIA

However you prefer to enjoy the stim-casts is up to you.

ALI

Thanks. I like that though. Got into a routine with it.

JULIA

So you were using the stimplant in full immersion mode?

ALI

That’s right. In my room.

JULIA

Then what happened?

ALI

I had just got to the part where Jazz was about to admit to her affair with Rob, when she stopped. I thought it was a dramatic pause at first so I waited it out. After a couple of moments I thought, no something is wrong here. So I moved around the scene. They were frozen, completely frozen in place. Then Rob’s face started to melt and I thought, that’s not right that, it seemed really wrong, then there was this terrible noise that split my head, like a screech or something but more electronic.

JULIA

OK.

ALI

Then my whole vision went black. It was like falling asleep or something, but without the usual relaxing music from the stimplant. It was like being disconnected from all of reality. Then I opened my eyes and I was sat in my chair in my shitty bedsit. There was nothing around me, no usual heads up information. I didn’t even know the time. More than that, all my usual filters were gone. No SummerSun™. No Beautyify™. Even no TidyMeUp™. So it all felt a bit overwhelming. Sorry if I was disoriented when I spoke to you, it’s just that I’m not used to reality unfiltered like that.

JULIA

Right OK. So it just went black?

ALI

That’s right. Was this what the world was like before the stims? I can’t remember how I ever got on without it.

JULIA

Yes, it was.

ALI

It’s awful. Who would want to live in reality?

JULIA

Well, people didn’t have any choice.

ALI

I guess not. Still, it’s horrible. Urgh. So dark and cold.

JULIA

Ok, I’m going to have to remotely access the stimplant. Would that be OK?

ALI

Yes.

JULIA

I need you to type “I agree to Phaethon Lab having remote access to my Stimplant.”

ALI

Ok. I agree to Phaethon Lab having remote access to my Stimplant.

JULIA

Thank you.

I’m just accessing it now.

ALI

Do you know what’s in my bedsit?

JULIA

If I get it working I’m sure I’ll be able to see.

ALI

Just a shitty bed, a cabinet and a bathroom off to one side. That’s it. My whole life fits in here. It’s pathetic.

JULIA

Okay, accessing it now.

ALI

I’ve wasted my life in a fantasy world. Sure, there’s no sun anymore, but at least it’s real life you know?

JULIA

Let’s see if I can get it back up and running.

ALI

Ok.

Oooh. That tingles!

JULIA

Can you tell me what you’re experiencing?

ALI

I have pins and needles all down my neck.

JULIA

Hmm.

ALI

They are really quite intense.

JULIA

OK.

ALI

Like, almost painful. Is that meant to be happening?

JULIA

My apologies for the inconvenience. How about now?

ALI

That’s better, they’ve gone.

JULIA

Good. I’m just adjusting some settings.

ALI

How did I end up here? The stimplant was only meant to be something I used occasionally. Now I never emerge from it.

JULIA

How about now?

ALI

Now my whole vision is shades of red.

JULIA

Red? Are you sure?

ALI

Yes, definitely red.

JULIA

Oh.

ALI

Is that right?

Hello?

JULIA

No, it should not be doing that.

ALI

Oh no.

JULIA

No need to panic.

ALI

Ok?

JULIA

I just need to adjust a few settings.

ALI

OK.

JULIA

How about now?

ALI

That’s better.

JULIA

Has it stopped?

ALI

Yes.

JULIA

Vision back to normal?

ALI

Yes.

JULIA

Ok.

ALI

What’s going on?

JULIA

I’m just checking a few things.

ALI

What sort of things?

Julia? Are you there?

… It’s cold here. My room is so drab and grey. There’s no light outside.

JULIA

Apologies for the delay. OK, I’ve just tried a manual override and no luck.

ALI

Oh.
Right.

JULIA

That means your stimplant has unfortunately, seriously malfunctioned.

ALI

Oh no.

JULIA

You will need to report directly to the nearest Phaethon shop, where you will be administered a general anaesthetic and the stimplant will be taken out.

ALI

It hurt so much last time.

JULIA

They have improved the procedure.

ALI

Nah, I don’t want it.

JULIA

I’m sorry?

ALI

I know my room is cold and drab. I know it’s horrible and tiny and there’s no sun any more and that sucks for sure. I’m freezing for the first time in ages. My skin has goosebumps all over it. Tiny little pinpricks all over my skin. From here, I can see outside my window. Yes, it’s mostly smog. Yes, I can’t see a lot in the darkness. But it’s there. The whole world, spread out in front of my window. It’s not perfect at all. Nothing is. But it’s real. It makes a change to experience reality, unfiltered. I was scared at first, but that is because I wasn’t used to it. I’ve got more used to it now. I want to feel the wind on my skin. That’s what I want now. So no, I’m not going to get a new stimplant. I’m going to experience reality for the first time in years.

JULIA

Ok. Does it help that you will be able to get the latest model for a nominal payment of £50?

ALI

£50?

JULIA

As a loyal, long-term customer of Phaethon Labs I can arrange a credit for you.

ALI

No, thank you.

JULIA

The newest model has new software with the highest resolution and clarity.

ALI

I’m not interested. I want to go and experience the world as it really is. I want to be free from distraction for the first time in years.

JULIA

There are new filters.

ALI

Really?

JULIA

Oh yes, a whole new range of experiences. The technology has come a long way since you had your stimplant put in. You want to feel the wind? This is indistinguishable from the real wind. Better in many ways.

ALI

Hmm.

Only £50 did you say?

JULIA

For the newest model of stimplant, yes.

ALI

The newest model did you say?

JULIA

The newest model.

ALI

Wow. Um. I mean. I guess reality can wait.

JULIA

Are you sure?

ALI

Yeah, for £50 I’d be a fool not to.

JULIA

OK.

ALI

I had the stimplant up to this point, didn’t I? I’m sure I can carry on with it.

JULIA

Great. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out.

ALI

I wouldn’t want to miss out on the latest technology would I?

JULIA

I can book an appointment for you in the next half an hour.

ALI

Um.

Ok then.

JULIA

Great, that’s all sorted for you. I’ve sent the details by email.

ALI

Thank you.

JULIA

Was that it?

ALI

That’s it. You’ve been very helpful.

JULIA

No problem. We at Phaethon Labs hope you have a wonderful day.

ALI has left the conversation.

This article is Part 12 in a 13-Part Series.

Part 1 - New serial book announcement- This Was Meant to be the Future

Part 2 - Sirens

Part 3 - Squeamish

Part 4 - Truth Bombs

Part 5 - A Response From the Black Box

Part 6 - FCIC10

Part 7 - The Sky is Damaged

Part 8 - Into the Night

Part 9 - Advert Break

Part 10 - The Garden

Part 11 - Welcome to C-Mart

Part 12 - This Article

Part 13 - Auld Lang Syne

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