“Decreased positive emotions level, please reconsider your activity!” I felt a small tingle in my left hand and a message scrolled across my wrist. Damn, I’ve already been in this “room of happiness” twice today. I got up from my workplace again and headed to a special room called a “happy box”. The indicator marked the emotion of irritation. It is not good that it will again be recorded into the logs of my emotions, and, as a result, into the reports to my manager. Again I have to explain that I adore my job, and nothing in it can annoy me, and my mood allegedly deteriorated from the fact that some idiot spilled coffee on me in the morning.
Well, this is how a modern world looks like, now people live with built-in indicators in their hands that display the current emotional state of a person. The indicators are sewn into the skin from the inside of the left wrist, and the display of symbols and icons on them looks like a glowing tattoo. Each group of emotions glows in different colors: if you are calm and all emotions are neutral - white, from sadness to depression - shades from blue to black, if you have a normal level of happiness - green, if you are annoyed or feel angry - gradation of yellow and orange, fear - red, and if your feeling so strong that it does not fit any of the categories - the indicator shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow. Basically, according to the government, only we ourselves can know, store and disseminate the history of our emotions and permission is needed to provide logs, but if you want to get a job in a good company for a highly paid position, this information must be provided to them. They monitor the emotions of employees and by that calculate the performance and productivity of each of them. In fact, I really like my job, but this does not mean that I should always be in a good mood, however, the authorities believe that feeling negative emotions for a long time can be a sign in order to part with such an employee, therefore, in order to keep our jobs, we have to constantly be in high spirits.
I came to one of the “happy boxes”. As people say, despite the fact that the room itself is half empty, there is everything for happiness in it: comfortable chairs and virtual reality devices where you can be anyone and do anything. Time in these rooms is usually limited to fifteen minutes, and each employee can use them only four times a day. There are many such rooms, but they are all united by one system that controls everything in them, including spent time, so that after finishing a session in one room it will not work to immediately move to another. No one knows what anyone is doing in their virtual worlds, but it's enough for management that it increases their level of happiness. I went to the chair, put on the helmet and plunged into my fantasy world. I don’t know why, but all my fantasies became absolutely indifferent to me, everything became boring, monotonous, I no longer enjoyed any of my virtual entertainment. A fear began to arise in me that I needed to increase the level of happiness at all costs, otherwise an unpleasant conversation with the authorities could not be avoided. I started scrolling through all possible fantasy generations based on my preferences, but in vain. In the end, I turned on the usual walk in the forest, where in the distance I saw her.. The girl I once knew and think about almost every day, but I still don’t dare to even create a virtual fantasy with her, not even talking about contacting her in real life, so I just watch her from the side. This gave me some peace of mind, but my happiness level was still much below normal. The timer informed me that my time in the happiness room was over, and I took off my helmet, got up and went to my workplace.
Once I turned on the computer screen I got a notification to come to the meeting room in two hours.
I opened the door of the meeting room two minutes before the start of the meeting. A man was already sitting inside and flipping through something on a tablet. I recognized him. I saw him when I first got this job.
"Hello Will, I hope you remember me, my name is Noah. I am the curator of Happiness State for the employees of your department. We met with you only once, it seems it was two and a half years ago, when you were just hired." - Noah flashed his snow-white smile and extended his hand to me for a handshake.
"Yes, I think I remember you, good afternoon, Noah." - I shook hands with Noah and sat down at the next chair.
"The system noticed a significant drop in your level of positive emotions and I received a notification. It seems that you have become not very satisfied with your work or life in general in recent months. Maybe something significant has happened to you that could have affected your emotional background?"
"No, nothing special happened, everything is as usual." - I was a bit annoyed by all this meeting topic.
"Good." - Noah clicked on something on his tablet and then continued.
"Great Will, in that case I need to take a little questionnaire with you before we start any action, do you agree?"
"Okay, I hope it's fast."
"I will ask you to be as honest and frank as possible. The lies can actually affect the actions needed to take, also if you lie to me I can see it in the logs of your indicators in the system. The answers to my questions will not go beyond our conversation, I do not write down your answers, I only note possible actions, you see?" - Noah showed me his tablet, which displayed in detail my emotional indicators, heart rate and a few more graphs that I don’t understand.
"So, let's start. First question: are you satisfied with your work?"
"Are you satisfied with the working conditions?"
"Are relations with colleagues good?"
"Yes." - I answered honestly for all the questions, I was really satisfied with my job.
"Hmm, what about outside of working relationships, do you have any friends?"
"Of course." - All this meeting idea and questionnaire is ridiculuos.
"Is your relationship with your family normal?"
"I always had excellent relations with my parents and siblings."
"What about hobbies?"
"I do sports, play video games… Nothing special."
"Hmm, do you have a permanent partner?"
Noah stopped for a moment and looked at me carefully.
"I don’t know, it’s strange to ask."
"On the contrary, a rather suitable question “why?”, you have a decent high-paying job, you look good, we have recorded that you go to the gym in the company building three times a week, I think it’s not a problem for you to find a girl or a guy according to your preferences of course, so why don't you have a partner?" - insisted Noah.
"I cannot answer this question."
"Then the next question would be: do you have feelings for anyone right now?"
"The indicator registered a slight increase in heart rate, it seems this is not true Will."
"Maybe the indicator is wrong."
"I repeat the question, do you have feelings for anyone?"
"I said no."
"Okay, Will, look, this procedure is really important if you want to stay on this job. The company needs positive people who have no problem with increasing levels of negative emotions. And I'm really trying to help you. You don't feel many positive emotions, you feel a lack of something in your life and I am trying to identify what it is. If you do not want to continue, I understand, but I will have to provide a report that you refused to cooperate with me. What do you say to that?"
I started feeling like Noah was really trying to help me.
"... Well.. Okay, I have feelings for someone."
"Okay, who is it?"
"... This is.. one girl…"
"Yep, keep going."
"... About five years ago we met with friends in a bar.. and one of our mutual friends brought her.. we all hanged out together.. after some people went home and it so happened that I stayed alone with Kelly…"
"And you started a romantic relationship?"
"Not really.. We just talked all night, walked around the city.. and we just soon became friends. We called each other several times a day and just chatted, walked and drank coffee together, it lasted for several months.. I started to have feelings for her, but did not confess so as not to destroy the friendship.. Once we had a big fight over some nonsense.. Since then we stopped seeing each other and both were too proud to make up. Then I dated other girls, but all this time I only thought about Kelly…"
"Then the system shows that your task will be to call Kelly and confess your feelings to her, this will cause a big surge of emotions and restore your emotional balance."
I was a bit shocked, my task will be "what"?!
"But I'm not even sure that she still has the same number."
"I don’t know if you know, but I don’t work for your company directly, I have a contract here from a government organization, therefore, I have access to the telephone database of all citizens of the country, please send me the exact name and surname of your Kelly."
"Not sure if I can do it."
"We're signing a non-disclosure agreement, so your friend's details won't get out of our conversation." - Noah showed me some documents on his tablet as proof of his words.
I reluctantly sent Kelly's data to Noah on the work chat.
"This number right here is registered to Kelly Esther Brown." - Noah gave me Kelly's number and it matched the one in my contacts. I swallowed nervously.
"Great, then your task is to call Kelly today and say that you love her, also the system advises you to do this as quickly as possible, say before the end of the day, that is, before 12 at night."
"… What? But.. I can't just pick up and call her for no reason!"
"The system advises such a task, Will, that’s all for now, you have my phone number, so you can call me today from ten thirty to twelve, since you are currently my priority among clients, and now I have to go to another meeting, good luck." - Noah quickly packed his things, stood up and headed to the door.
"But wait, this is some kind of nonsense, you probably understand this yourself, how will she react to this?!"
"Sorry, Will, my time is very limited, now I have to leave urgently. As I said, you can call me in the evening, goodbye."
I was left sitting in the conference room in a complete stupor, my indicator showed a strong excitement. What the hell, how is this going to help me keep my job? This world has completely lost its logic, everything has been swallowed up by these damn emotions and feelings. What will I tell her? “Hi Kelly, we haven’t spoken for five years, you probably already have a boyfriend or even a husband and family, but you know what? I love you.” She'll think that I've been thinking about her all these years and I'll just look pathetic. Damn. “Increased level of excitement, take measures to restore calmness, take a deep breath and exhale” the indicator ticked. “Okay, we need to calm down, in the evening I will call this Noah and discuss this situation, maybe he will change the task.”
I returned home at about nine in the evening, a strong excitement began to build up in me, I had dinner, and when the time on the clock approached ten forty, I sat down to call Noah.
"Yes, Will, according to your indicator, you still have not completed the task."
"How do you know?"
"Your level of excitement is not very high. In the majority of cases, people have a much higher level of excitement." - Noah replied calmly.
"In the majority? So have you already given a similar task to others?" - I was surprised.
"Sure, the system advises tasks based on previous experiences. Okay, Will, you can do it, just start calling, write to me in the work chat when you will complete the task, and remember, your work depends on its completion."
"… Well, I … Maybe I'll call you later."
I disconnected from the conversation with Noah and for a long time remained sitting just looking at one point and wondering what to do.
I started rehearsing the speech a bit: “Hi Kelly, I… Do you remember me? … This is Will. I need to tell you something.. Crap!" “Hi Kelly, this is Will. Do you remember me? We were friends about five years ago, how are you?” “Hi Kelly, I don’t know if you remember me, it’s Will, sorry for calling so late, I just need to tell you something.”
“Okay, pull yourself together, it’s okay, I’ll just add that she doesn’t owe me anything.”
For some time I just walked around the apartment, saying in my head what I would say, while cleaning up and doing some small household chores.
It was already eleven fifteen by the clock. Damn, the tension was rising, the indicator was displaying warning of an increase in excitement every five minutes, I decided to call Noah again.
"Noah, I’m not sure that I can do it, just imagine, she probably forgot me a long time ago and didn’t even remember all these years, I’m nobody for her at all, especially if I call her and remind her of myself, she will think that I’m pathetic loser or that I could call her much sooner if I thought about her all this time or..?"
"Will, just do it and live peacefully, for you it's only pluses, you complete the task, I will tick you and you keep your job, and if “your” Kelly sends you to hell, you will stop thinking about her, let her go and find yourself a new girl. Trust me, your life will only get better after this."
"… maybe you're right …"
"The system does not make mistakes when choosing tasks, so let's just as soon as I hang up, you call her."
"So, on the count of three: one, two, three.."
As soon as I heard the sound of beeps, I half-heartedly opened Kelly's contact and pressed the handset icon. She is probably already asleep, at least I hope so, then that will be a good excuse to not do this task.
I swear my heart stopped beating the second my brain recognized the sound of her voice.
"Eh, yes? .. Will, is that you?"
I was paralyzed. She recognized me after so many years! I nervously tried to regain my breath, the indicator just screamed on my hand that the excitement was at its highest level.
"Yes, hi, it's me…"
"... Wow.. How I.. haven't heard from you for a long time …"
".. Yes, hah, I haven't heard from you too …" - My heart was beating like a drum in my chest and my hands started sweating, I tried in vain to regain my breath.
"I.. well.. I'm calling you to tell you something.."
"Yes, I'm listening."
"I .. I should have told you this a long time ago.. probably even on the very day when we met and walked until the very night.."
Kelly was silent.
"It is of course a bit strange to hear for you probably … but … Kelly, I love you."
Kelly remained silent and I started to get even more nervous.
"You don't have to answer anything, I... just wanted you to know. I've been thinking about you all this time and didn't know if it is right to contact you.. Maybe you don’t want to see me anymore.. I kept thinking.. Maybe I'll meet you on the street one day and we'll just go for a walk in the park like we used to."
".. Me too.."
".. I also thought about you all this time.. I looked for you in every person passing on the street, peered into every face that was even slightly reminded of you.. It seems.. I love you too.."
It was as if a wave of cold water had washed over me, like a pulse of electricity, a discharge ran through my whole body, I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time, a strong and powerful feeling rolled from somewhere deep.
"Will? You're here?"
"Yes, I'm here, let's meet? Right today? Maybe even now? - The rhythm of my heart at the moment probably reached a world record."
"Yes, I agree!"
"Send me your address and I'll come to you! I'll get together and call you back in a couple of minutes!"
"Great, I'll be waiting!"
It seemed to me that the whole world had ceased to exist, my head was buzzing a little and everything around seemed somehow blurry and non-existent. Like a volcano, emotions were seething in my chest, it seemed they would tear me apart from the inside. I checked the chat with Noah, he sent a new message: “Congratulations Will, I saw your indicator data, you did it, tomorrow I will file a report on the restoration of your emotional state, good luck!” I answered him "Thank you, Noah". I simultaneously felt relief, joy and infinite happiness. That level of happiness that I probably haven't felt since I last saw Kelly. My indicator began to shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow.