"Number 843," the lady at the desk called out. Tess got up from the bare chair in the waiting area and made her way past the other people and empty chairs to the desk. She swiped her identification in the machine, proving that she was number 843 and curiously glanced into the corridor where she had seen the people before her disappear to.
"All your files are in order," the lady behind the desk said, looking at the screen. Then she turned to look at Tess. "Have you said your goodbyes? Once you enter the programme, you will be prepped, processed and then loaded onto the spaceship without delay."
Tess nodded. "I know, I have been preparing for weeks. I'm ready."
Down the corridor, the elevator door opened and a man in a white uniform stepped out. The lady behind the desk pointed at him. "The attendant there will take you to the room where you will be prepped."
Tess nodded goodbye to the lady and walked up to the attendant, who motioned to the elevator. When they both got in, the attendant swiped his identification in the elevator controls and pressed a few buttons. The doors closed with a soft hiss and Tess quietly fought the nervous feeling in her stomach.
She had passed the background check and the medical exams with flying colours. Her files were in order, she had been accepted to be sent into space on a ten year journey to a new colony. Her personal belongings had been loaded into a sealed crate and now she would go through some final tests and be put into an artificial unconscious state. Then they would load her onto the ship. She had gone through all the information about the programme thoroughly, but what exactly she could expect at this stage was unclear. The information focused on insurance for the journey, the salary to be paid to her family, the amenities and her duties upon arrival at the colony. Not much about the technology that would put her in an unconscious state and keep her safe during the journey.
She glanced at the attendant and smiled nervously. "What's going to happen?"
The elevator doors hissed open and gave way to an almost identical but smaller corridor with two doors. One door's screen said "Preparation in Process" in red letters, while the other said "Ready for Next Subject" in green. The attendant walked out and opened that door for Tess. She took a deep breath and came into an office. It had a workstation with screens and control panels on one side and a cubicle with a more simple desk and screen on the other side.There was a second door on the other side of the office.
The attendant closed the door and motioned to the cubicle. "Please put on the headphones and watch the instructional videos. I will be over here to turn them on and monitor your progress." And he sat down at the workstation.
Tess gingerly walked into the cubicle. As she sat down, she noticed that the attendant could probably see her, but not her screen, from his workstation. The desk chair was straight-backed with no armrests, but not uncomfortable. The headphones were big and soft, muffling sounds from outside the cubicle. The screen waited for her, blank. Tess waved at the attendant. He nodded back and the screen flickered to life.
It showed a dark, starry sky with round, easily legible text slowly scrolling up. The headphones played soft melodic chords, like a breeze in her ears.
"Please sit back and relax
These instructions will tell you all
you need to know about the journey to the colony
The computer will take care of you"
Tess let out a sigh of relief. All would be revealed to her now.
"Please sit back and relax
Breathe in and out slowly
Look at the stars
Can you find the colony?
Keep reading these instructions
Breathe in as you look at the stars
Breathe out and relax deeper"
As her eyes alternated between trying to identify the different stars and constellations and reading the text, a funny, hazy feeling started in her forehead, a tickle in her mind.
"The computer will take care of you
You can just let your body relax
Right now and throughout the journey
As you find the colony
Read these instructions carefully
Relax deeper as you read
Let the computer take care of you
Body and mind
Your every thought
Relax and let the computer take care
Of your every thought"
Her body slowly slumped in the chair, her arms hanging down, her eyes staring at the screen, her jaw slack, her lips parted. Tess had the fleeting thought that these instructions were a little strange. But soon, that thought disappeared too. As the text kept on scrolling up and her eyes kept on following it, her thoughts faded out of her mind. Her eyes stared blankly, absorbing every word the screen fed her, as the soft sounds in the earphones soothed her mind into a blissful emptiness.
A blinking light on the control panel told the attendant that the instruction video was complete, and he turned his chair to look at her. Vacant eyes, wide open, head lolling against the back of the chair, limp arms, she looked ready. The attendant pressed a few buttons on his workstation to usher in the next phase, and got up. He opened the second door and rolled the desk chair with Tess still on it, dazed and silent, into a long white corridor. He pushed the chair down the corridor, past a number of doors and windows until he reached a door with a screen saying "Ready for Next Subject". He rolled the desk chair into the small room and closed the door.
The light in the room was harsh and white, but Tess didn't notice any of it. Nor did she object as the attendant started to remove her clothes. The small room was dominated by computer taking up the entire far wall, with thick wires coiling to the floor and to the all chair next to the the computer.
The attendant moved Tess, naked now, onto that chair as if he had done it hundreds of times before. He carefully moved her head to the middle of the headrest and started to stick a number of small wires with electrodes and sensors to her temples and forehead. He flipped a switch on the computer and as it slowly came to life, he repositioned the rest of her body. As her arms dangled beside the chair, he took out two of the wires and connected them to her nipples. Then he attached a big coil of wires to a unit between her legs. He took up her clothes, grabbed the desk chair and went out, leaving Tess and the computer alone.
Tess stirred slightly as the wires sent signals into her body, stimulating her to become aroused. Nothing is more effective at turning off all thought than arousal. Nothing is a more effective tool for conditioning than pleasure. As the computer started to sexually stimulate her, a mechanical voice sputtered out of a speaker near her head.
"The computer takes care of you
The computer controls you
Submit to the computer and
You will feel only pleasure
Obey the computer
Your journey will last ten years
Ten years of passive pleasure
Obedience is pleasure"
Tess stared blankly into nothing, absorbing the words. As the coiled wires whirred, her arms flailed helplessly and a moan escaped her lips. If only her eyes could see, that in the room next to her, and the room next to that, and the next ten, twenty, thirty little rooms, the same thing was happening to another person, who had also signed up for the programme to be sent to the colony.