“Something happened at the Hives today, Polly. Have you seen the Goshenites? They’ve changed. They look like people who have spent eighteen hours watching reality television. They’ve been hypnotized somehow. I’ve noticed the same effects on the lab mice at Z-Tech.”
“Do tell me, surely you don’t make them watch reality T.V.?”
“No ma’am. We have a policy against animal cruelty. We make they’re lives as pleasant as possible, unfortunately they don’t live long under carefully regulated coddling conditions of comfort. They grow fat and sleepy and like staring at pictures of cheese.”
“What does go on at the Hives?” asked Polly.
“I think some type of population monitoring or human enhancing activities. I’ve heard the word ‘HIVES’ stand for Human Illuminated V…Enhancement S…Nobody seems to know what the ‘V’ and ‘S’ mean. My co-workers tell me it’s like a gigantic hospital and gaming amusement park. Nobody truly knows except the Perfectabilists who run the place. Some of our own scientists are rumored to be members of that secretive lot.”
“Do you like your job at Z-Tech?”
“You’re the first person to ask me. It’s fun building alien-seeking drones, but lately they’ve started to act odd.”
“It sounds as if you have some reservations and want out of the company.”
“Nobody ever really gets out from Z-Tech, Polly. It’s like the Mafia or grocery-shopping. Everybody knows you cannot enter a grocery store without making a purchase. You can't say, ‘Oh, I'm just looking,’ like you can sometimes do at 7-11 from the hours between midnight and six A.M....at least without a straight face and a mask of some sort. You’re marked for life-literally marked. They insert a microchip in your arm and track your every movement. It’s called ‘getting cained.’
“That sounds horribly punny.”
“So it is…so it is…”
“But you’re not chipped-are you?”
“No, but I do have an ID bracelet I’m authorized to wear at work that acts as the same thing."