By Ashley Felix
Dr. Davidson has been a brain surgeon for twenty-seven years and in those twenty-seven years he has not performed a single operation on his own. In fact, he has only ever assisted the machines four times. He is exceptionally trained in his field and more than capable, but his real job is simply to program and monitor the machines that actually perform the surgeries.
His days begin promptly at five thirty every morning. After receiving a healthy and sufficient breakfast consisting of egg white omelets, pancakes, fruit, bacon and toast from the chef machine that operates the kitchen, Dr. Davidson heads to the garage to begin his hour long journey to work in his sealed auto-drive ready vehicle. During his drive he listens to music or watches various sports games on the luminous display of his car’s windshield. The ride never takes longer than an hour and in that time he simply sits back and relaxes. He enjoys the primitive recordings from the Twenty First Century Archives, he enjoys his daily coffee, and above all, he enjoys listening to the extended version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now in the last five minutes of his drive.
From the moment Dr. Davidson leaves his vehicle in the parking lot of Jacob Davidson Hospital, he is instantly reminded of the familial pride he carries and wears to work each day. Every time he walks through those front doors, the name, brightly lit in blue and gold and towering several feet above the five-story building, fills him with absolute joy. Upon entering, his fellow colleagues instantly greet him with good mornings and smiles and quips and since there are so few of them, they all feel like family to him. This is mostly due to the fact that four of the sixteen workers there are actual members of his family.
His grandfather, Jacob Davidson, founder of the hospital, is the chief programmer of the medical machines and has been for the past fifty-two years. His father, Victor Davidson is the assistant chief programmer and his cousins, John and Derik, are also programmers and machine monitors.
An average workday for Dr. Davidson consists of making several visits to each room on the fourth and fifth floors. With the assistance of John, they assure the comfort and safety of their patients, monitor the progress of the machines and analyze the data received and recorded for the benefit of advancing science and medicine. At exactly one in the afternoon he has lunch with his father, grandfather, John and Derik. At five he heads up to the office he shares with his father and grandfather to contribute to their usual end-of-the-workday discussion concerning the machines and the patients. By six thirty he is on his way home to join his family for dinner, a meal that is always prepared by his wife, Whitney, who insists on cooking despite the existence of the chef machine.
An invisible seal designed to filter out the polluted air from outside and trap the clean air inside protects the home Dr. Davidson shares with his wife and their daughters, Maya and Marissa. The sealed home design, created by Whitney’s great grandfather, Erwin King, used to be a family owned but is now official government property and is not available to the mass majority. This unavailability has less to do to with production costs and more to do with killing off the poor.
Apart from homes, most basic modern structures and vehicles, government owned or not, are protected by the same seal, the life force of which all remaining societies continually sustain. Unfortunately the ratio of unsealed homes to sealed homes in most modern areas is thirty-to-one, a verity Dr. Davidson tries very hard to keep from his mind.
Standing at exactly six feet, Dr. Davidson maintains a strong and lean physique that has been the product of lightweight training, yoga and countless nightly runs on his basement treadmill. His skin is naturally olive toned and on his clean-shaven, square jawed face sits a neutral expression of severe intensity that mirrors the eternal stark look of his clear gray eyes. This look however, is unreflective of his true nature, which is quite easygoing. Rarely does he ever experience anger and he never, ever strays from his daily routine.
His wife, a beautiful petite chocolate colored woman with warm brown eyes, married him because of how routine he is. She was attracted to his stability and could sense he would make a good husband and father. Since they married, twenty-five years ago, she is happy to say that she was right.
When they first met, Dr. Davidson was instantly made known of the fact that she was a miracle baby, a fact she proudly informed him of within the first five minutes of their acquaintance. Her mother, Ava Carson, was poor and lived in an unsealed home near the poisoned Hudson River in what used to be New York City but has since become the New York Community due to it’s rapidly dwindling population.
Whitney’s father, William King, hastened to relocate Ava to his sealed home upstate and it was around this time Ava learned that she was pregnant. One day while Ava was grocery shopping, her contractions began. She was only six and a half months pregnant and completely unaware of her impending labor, so she mistook the stabs of pain for simple Braxton Hicks and continued shopping.
The sealed grocery store was only a five-minute walk from her home, a walk Ava usually enjoyed very much but on this day she was feeling slight discomfort. She went on of course and after receiving her bags of fruit, milk and vegetables; she glanced down and discovered her water broke. The cashier quickly jumped into action and insisted on taking her to the nearest hospital straight away. Feeling weak and unable think through her pain, Ava relinquished her life and faith to the kind young man. Unfortunately this kind young man was very poor and the old-fashioned vehicle he drove, seemingly untouched by time was regrettably, unsealed.
Ava made it to the hospital in the end but she had already given birth to a tiny ailing little girl in the backseat of the kind young man’s car. The doctor made it clear that, due to the obscene levels of mercury and other unknown harmful pollutants, the child would not live past a year. But twenty-one years later Whitney stood, alive and well and sharing her story with her future husband and it was at that exact moment, Dr. Davidson decided he would marry her someday.
Although married to a man of such distinct routine, Whitney King is a spontaneous woman who lives her life quite erratically. Once fully vigilant, after her husband has left for work, she joins her daughters for breakfast, a meal she rarely gets to make due to the fact that her husband leaves the chef machine on every day. Usually, the thirty minutes or so she shares with her daughters are lively, but the many secrets Whitney has been keeping lately have rendered her mute. She watches her daughters pensively now, through squinted eyes at times, unhearing, uncomprehending. She feels remote. Her mind is too far away, her worries are too suffocating and their teenage dialect is confusing to her.
At around eight twenty, she sees them to their school bus and waves goodbye as the sealed vehicle pulls away. Once the bus is completely out of sight, she goes back inside to shower and change into the scrubs she has hidden away from her family in the basement of their home. Afterwards she’s off in her sealed auto drive vehicle headed to the New York Community where she will nurse and look after patients in unsealed homes, apartments and shelters who cannot afford health insurance or even the means to go to a hospital.
On a daily basis Whitney exposes herself to hundreds of diseases, harmful chemicals and pollutants. On a daily basis Whitney pushes herself to extremes, physically, mentally and emotionally. For reasons Whitney has never learned, only suspected, she is practically indestructible and immune to all things but death. Always back in time to welcome her daughters from school and long before her husband, Whitney avoids all possible suspicion.
When Dr. Davidson gets home, dinner will be ready, the girls will have done most if not all of their homework and everything will seem just as he had left it. He will ask their daughters how their day was and if there was gossip to share they would fill him in. He’ll ask his wife about her day and as usual, she will reply, “It was fine.” She will ask him about his day too and as always, he will reply, “Same.” During dinner, he will make a light-hearted joke about the chef machine doing a better job and his daughters will laugh. Whitney will smile and marvel with secluded sadness, at how mechanic their lives have become. She will look at the machine serving food to her family and think of the machine that collects their laundry and cleans the house and then she will think of the machines that take her to the New York Community, her daughters to school and her husband to work. She will think of the machines at the hospital working on the patients, the machines at the store checkouts, at the banks, on the roads, in the streets, at every state border. She will think of all the machines she sees on a daily basis and try to remember a time without them.
Machines have infiltrated nearly every workforce imaginable and are capable of programming themselves at an exponential rate that allows them to do essentially everything by themselves. Many fear the possibility of a time in which their human capabilities will no longer be needed, many fear the loss of control. Dr. Davidson is not one of those people. He does not believe in a world where humans are not needed and he does not fear losing control. His grandfather’s one and only slogan is this, man is the origin of machine, and it is this notion, of which he avidly trusts, that has allowed him the confidence and comfort he possesses.
Every day is the same for Dr. Davidson, save for of course, the rare and few occasions of novelty.