by Lori R. Lopez

I was shocked to find that in the
past year they have taken away
Birthdays.....the sole reason for
celebrating a dreary existence
in which "Productivity" is their
whole emphasis — everything
streamlined to achieve the goal.
(I log these words at great risk.)

The Cubes confining us Wagers
are patrolled by robotic hounds
to ensure no time is wasted on
anything not among our duties.
Rest is allotted for few personal
minutes; to drink, eat, stretch or
doze like cats in brief intervals.
(Not that I've ever known a cat.)

We are physically modified from
Birth in the Lab, a clinical affair,
to best carry out the drone-like
tasks essential for fulfilling our
designated roles in a dystopian
ultra-engineered civilization.....
developed after a liberal society
of countries ceased to function.

A series of economic collapses
ended the previous order, then
left the world open to the rich
and powerful seizing complete
control....The Labor Force was
diminished to Workers locked
in Underground Stations and
Grunts who repair equipment.

Those with enough money do
as they please or nothing much,
accumulating more prosperity.
None of us peons fathom what
became of the rest — the poor
and infirm, unskilled or unfit
for non-mechanized toil........
Machines perform most jobs.

(Artificial Intelligence does
most of the thinking now.)

It is rumored there are some
elite traitors, wealthy rogues,
who seek to liberate us if not
too late...Perhaps the Future's
generations could benefit by
a revolt, defeating AKS (the
Axis of Kindred Sovereigns),
and this dyspraxia change.....

Contraband videos have been
displayed over the Network,
revealing the world that once
allowed Free Enterprise and
mobility, choices, families....
Since viewing them, it's very
hard not to dream of walking
or having a conversation.......

I am conscious how drastic our
sacrifices to keep the balance;
to earn our Bread, the infusion
of sustenance and vitamins we
depend on to enhance corporal
capacity, enable us to stay alert
and resist fatigue....There is no
retirement, only Terminus........

The place we go when our work
is done, in two hundred years....
the modern point of burnout —
degeneration.....Thanks to major
advances in Science, we endure
far longer than our native-born
biological lifespan permitted.....
Not necessarily a good thing......

The process begins as a Fetus
reaches maturity in the glass
Womb....Our Brain Cells are
converted to beads of acuity,
intelligence; communicating
yet independent...connected,
aware of each other....Wired
by pulses of electric current.

(Are we still human without
individuality of the mind??)

Our craniums serve as weird
unnatural cyborg devices—
Gumball Machines holding
semi-organic microcosmic
miniglobes — encapsulated,
selected, protected by layers
of dense metallic material...
Shaken, they dimly rattle!!!

Bionic Marbles extend the
body's structural integrity,
monitor the mental as well
as emotional states to avoid
breakdowns...They provide
feedback on our status and
progress for programs that
manage The Working Class.

Today was my day of Birth.
This may be the reason for
composing speculative lines
of thought regarding present
conditions; revealing a sense
of regret over the loss of my
message flashed for seconds.

Impersonal, shared only with
me, bearing no signature, no
source....Why did the gesture
matter....why do I feel a need
to demand rights, to stand up
against The Powers and take
back what should be mine???
Have I lost my Marbles........?

Hands revolt....Neural signals
rebel....The instrument linked
to my Nervous System sounds
a shrill alarm...I've obstructed
the flow, caused a disruption,
clogging channels...I couldn't
have foreseen the blade that
slices off the top of my skull.

(Who I am was already gone;
there is little of me left to.....)

Marbles spill everywhere as
I topple on the floor...HAPPY.
BIRTHDAY...The last images
I see.......Not real......All in my
head.....until the final Marbles
bounce and roll.....Orbs blink.
Laments are recorded.............
inside those escaping balls.....

© 2022 Lori R. Lopez

Author's Note

This poetic structure emulates the Cube Spaces in which the main character labors and resides. It is also a contrast to the roundness of the Marbles, along with a symbol of the rigid conditions for living, working, thinking in this world. The extra dots or periods, of course, represent Marbles.

Lori R. Lopez is an author, poet, illustrator, and wearer of hats. Verse and stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies including Weirdbook, The Horror Zine, The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Space & Time, Illumen, Altered Reality, California Screamin’ (Foreword Poem), and several HWA Poetry Showcases. Books include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, The Fairy Fly, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours (nominated for an Elgin Award). Some of Lori’s poems have been nominated for Rhysling Awards. You can learn more about her at the website shared with two talented sons:

Find more by Lori R. Lopez in the Author Index.