Chris has written more than 200 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.
Please visit my profile page to find your way to Parts four and five of this story.
“The game just changed completely. We’re holding those two against their will,” said the man.
“Production is running at peak performance. If we let them leave, the chances of replacing them with two equally gifted children would be unlikely.” The woman sipped her coffee leaving a smudge of lipstick on the rim. A nameplate on the desk read, Yasmine Albright.
“So do we start locking them in their rooms when they wake up?”
“Who says they have to wake up?”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“If we sedated them, would their brains still serve our purposes?”
“That’s a question for the science division. Are you serious about this?”
“If we keep them sleeping permanently, or at least for the time being, production will soar. The other Sleepers don’t come close to what these two are accomplishing for us.”
“You’re right about that. With the others, there’s a lot of downtime or the equipment operates slower.”
“Their demand to leave the company may have been a blessing in disguise.”
“I’ll run the sedation idea by Dr. Jeong.”
“If The doctor gives us the thumbs up, I’ll shut down those hefty bank accounts we keep pumping money into. It appears they may never have the opportunity to use them.”
“You are heartless, Ms. Albright.” The man laughed and stood.
“For now, just let them wake up as normal, but keep a close eye on them. They’re likely to run if we give them half a chance.”
The man left the room and the window darkened.
“My God, Ben. What are we going to do? If they sedate us, we’re finished.”
“First, I want us to try communicating like we are now when we’re awake. We’ve opened some kind of channel that doesn’t seem to be related to the brain implants. If we can communicate without being heard, then we can continue to make plans after we wake up.”
“And if it doesn’t work, then what?”
“Then we’ve got no choice but to break out of here tonight.”
Benjie opened his eyes. He was lying on the bed in the control room. He turned his head and saw Chesa’s eyelids flick upward. The door opened and two security men entered.
“We’re here to escort you back to your quarters,” said one of the men.
“Where’s Mr. Matthews? He’s always been our escort.” Benjie got up from the bed.
“We have our orders.” The guard nodded toward the door. “Let’s be on our way.”
As soon as the guards were gone, Benjie stood in front of the door that separated his and Chesa’s suites. He closed his eyes and called to her in his mind.
“Ben, I can hear you. It works.”
They baked a frozen pizza and spent the evening using their new form of communication. It was awkward at first. One would open their mouth to speak, and the other would shush them. If the company hadn’t been eavesdropping on their conversations all along, they certainly would be now.
“In just a few hours, we’ll be back in the control room for the beginning of our shift. If we fall asleep, chances are they’ll sedate us.” Benjie summarized their immediate concern.
“And I imagine we would never wake up again. At least not for a very long time. Maybe after our bodies had atrophied to the point of uselessness and our minds began to weaken, they’d simply put us out of our misery.”
Benjie had his computer on his lap. Chesa scooted closer.
“First things first,” said Chesa. “See if you can contact the police on that thing.”
“I already tried. I can navigate and search, but all the communication tools have been disabled.”
“Disappointing, but not surprising.”
“This is what Progressive Technologies Incorporated is doing with our brains. They build electric cars, drones, and military vehicles. We knew about those. But, get this—androids.” Ben turned the monitor toward Chesa.
“Not just robots. Lifelike androids. Look at this hot number.”
“That’s a machine?” Chesa grabbed the computer.
“Her name is Katja. I wonder how lifelike she really is?”
“You wouldn’t.” Chesa shoved the computer back into Benjie’s hands.
“What do we need?”
“We need help, that’s what.”
“Such as getting the hell out of here?”
“Or at the very least, find someone who won’t allow them to sedate us. But none of the guards seem to be fond of us.”
“Too bad we can’t have this android beauty walk by. She’d have them so distracted they wouldn’t be able to see straight.”
They sat in silence for several minutes.
“What if we could access the robots?” Benjie went back to the page where the androids were displayed.
“Even if we could, we don’t know how to program robots.”
“No, but the network as a whole probably does. Maybe we can talk to the network.”
“Will we have time to try before they sedate us?” Chesa grabbed another slice of pizza.
“We need a distraction. Something that will take all their attention.”
“Like a fire?”
The next morning, Chesa and Benjie lay on their beds in the control room. As soon as their bodies were asleep, they met in the secret room which they named, The Closet. Their first task was to create a huge distraction for the PTI facility.
Benjie stood in the darkness and focused his mind. The window glowed. The image sharpened. Androids stood at attention in row after row with frowning, emotionless faces and wide open eyes that stared ahead until Benjie spoke.
“I need your help.”
Heads turned. They were looking at Benjie and Chesa. In unison, they spoke.
© 2019 Chris Mills
Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 24, 2019:
The company can hear their communication which occurs through the wireless network. But Benjie discovered a room in his mind that was not part of the company's network. It came about as an organic connection between himself and the network outside the wireless one. That included communication with Chesa that could not be monitored.
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 24, 2019:
The power of the mind! How is it "the company" can't read or hear their thoughts? Isn't it their minds that are tapped while sleeping? Or is it only the conscious mind they can't penetrate?
Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on January 20, 2019:
This is up my alley for what I like! One to part four.
Ann Carr from SW England on January 19, 2019:
Yes, I think you're right. It's easy to see this sort of thing happening.... heaven forbid!
Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 19, 2019:
Ann, I think "near future" sci fi makes it easier for some people to suspend disbelief which is necessary for any genre. I was hoping people would enjoy this one. You and John seem to be, so I'm happy. Thank you for sharing some of your thoughts with me.
Ann Carr from SW England on January 19, 2019:
Brilliant! I'm right there and can feel the oppression of the security and the sense of urgency for these two. I've never been a 'science fiction' fan but this is far superior to anything I've read before. Off to read the next one!
Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on January 18, 2019:
John, part 5 is on the way. Finding the right photos is tougher than writing the story. Thanks for reading
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on January 18, 2019:
I love this story, Chris. I have to read the remaining chapters immediately.