Monday, 24 June 2013

Day 41 3520 A Strange Meeting

The most bizarre thing has happened. I was working away, feeling really pleased about the progress the Z Zoners are making. Then I suddenly got a communication from the Head of Education. She’s a strange person and everyone’s a bit afraid of her. She totally refuses to be known by her real name. She speaks quite sharply, but apparently, she’s worse with the men than the women. But anyway, she wanted me to meet up with her, and in the Reality Park, of all places.
Well, I met her just before noon this morning. She’s smaller than she looks on screen and older. Close to, you can see the wrinkles. In fact, she looks permanently worried. It was cold, as well, sitting outside this time of the year. But she said she didn’t want anybody to overhear us.
Anyway, of all things, she wanted me to tell her all I know about Julien. Well, I couldn’t tell her much and I actually chose to tell her even less than I do know. Not that it’s all that much, but there is that time he came back in such a state, and that time he went down into the cave systems.
She did tell me a few things that I didn’t know about him. That, just like Kaleem, he has no birth records. He doesn’t have a work record either. In fact, they didn’t know he existed. They suspect him of being a Hidden Information peddler.  
It’s really scary. But I wish she hadn’t contacted me. He is my friend. I don’t want to have to give him away.
I popped round to see him. He was a bit distant, but we’ve arranged to go out tomorrow to one of the nectar bars. Hey, that sounds like a date. Me and Julien? Never. But even so, it feels good to be going out. Even if it is with a man who often dresses up as a woman. And even if it is just because he’s under suspicion.
You know, I should be worried, but actually I feel strangely excited. 

Day 41 3520 Progress in the Zone

We put the first of the Grade 6 learners though their tests today. We’re not testing the lower grades yet. And we’ve designed the tests so that they don’t feel like tests, anyway. They’re really not there to challenge the children. They’re just to show us how well they’re doing.
We don’t have to mark them. The dataserves do that, of course. But the results were spectacular. They were so good. That it’s been my job today to check about ten of them manually. Tedious! But the dataserves were absolutely right. Not only had these eleven-year-old Z Zoner kids passed, but they had got some of the highest marks ever.
It was just like Razjosh and Kaleem say. Give them the same tools that we have and they’ll do even better because they’re used to hardship and have learnt to make the most of what they have. So, give them a lot and they’ll do a lot with it.
I wonder, though, will they get used to it all and will they then sit back and get as fat and lazy as we are?
I wonder if we’re helping them in time to stop them all dying so young/ and will that mean that they’re going to outlive us? Because it is part of the agreement: no switch-off for former Z Zoners.
I also had a little message form Cheryl, who is now working with the Adulkis. Apparently, the better food, more fresh air and their specially designed learning program is actually making a better match between their real age and their mental age. Their mental age is going up and they are losing some of the ageing traits they had. Of course, we can’t actually make them younger. Most of them are over forty. But how long will they live, now? Will they have a Normal Zone life span?
I do wonder.  But what if we’ve got disease back under control? Will that mean we will become over-populated? I suppose we could colonise more empty planets.
Actually, I also wonder, do I want to live forever? I don’t want to face switch-off, but the alternative might be going on forever and ever.
Hey, I’m getting depressing. I think I’d better get out more. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Day 36 3520 Razjosh

I am totally depressed today. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and ended up watching the celebrations of Razjosh Elder’s life. He still seems very active to me. And he’s certainly been so supportive to Kaleem. One day he’ll die.  And to think by now he should have been switched off!
Kaleem! How is he going to manage without that constant source of wisdom? It will all be down to him once Kaleem’s gone. What will the Z Zoners make of that? The man who persuaded the current Peace Child to work with them, now having to go through that very thing which made them turn to the Z Zone in the first place.
Razjosh was an unlikely Peace Child then. He was very popular when he was younger and also very athletic. Perhaps that explains why he is still so fit. He wanted to be a sports man.  They watched him at all the school meets. Oh they do that. Creepy, creepy, creepy. I think that’s why they have all of the meets. Just so that they can see exactly what we’re like.  
Anyway, they picked him because he was always defending the kids who were bullied. He even got into a fight with one of the bullies and ended up breaking the other kid’s jaw. Razjosh? Who would believe it? They took him in to a juvenile detention centre. While he was there, they watched him even more closely. Then someone saw that he was good at grammar and tried him with a couple of other languages. Just like Kaleem, he took to it straight away.
It was a bit sad, though. He had to leave a girlfriend behind.
Sounds familiar, or what?
Of course they didn’t give all of the details. They didn’t tell about him having been to Zandra three times. And I expect there are lots of other stories about places he went to that even Kaleem and I don’t know about.
They showed some video clips of him working in his study and he actually talked to the audience about some of his work. He didn’t talk about anything secret, and of course that meant he could really only talk about his studies, not about all the things he has actually done. Hidden Information and all that. But he seems such a wise, peace-loving, gentle old man.
How can we do without him?   

Day 36 3520 Progress in the Z Zone

The new courses for the Z Zoner kids have started. They are well into everything now. Amazingly, they already understand the new dataserves. At first there was a lot of messing around. They had to get used to the easier voice recognition systems, and the holoscening. So, there was a lot of excitement and experimentation, but now, amazingly, all those in the trial areas are working steadily. The test results are good – amazingly good, in fact, and they are making more rapid progress than normal zone kids. It really is incredible. So, perhaps it’s true: because they’ve had it so hard that they can make better use of what they do have. Will that fade after a while?
I’ve even had some more news of the Adulkis. They, too, are having it a bit easier now. The Housing Executive Committee has shipped out some quick-build units to give them some more comfortable apartments. They started erecting them three days ago and today, I’ve heard they are putting the finishing touches to the inside. The Adulkis and their helpers will be able to move in tomorrow. It will be so much nicer for them. They’ll be warm and dry all the time and they will be able to look out of nice windows. There is still some beautiful natural land in the Z Zone.
No more news of Julien. He called me up earlier today. He’s going to be away for a few days.  I wish I could find out what he does. 
There are some more people moving into this block today. I wonder whether there’ll be anybody interesting.     

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 30 3520 Down in the Caves

I’ve done the wickedest thing to do, but also possibly the most daring thing I have ever done. I just happened to be leaving the building at the same time as Julien. He didn’t actually see me and I had this crazy urge to follow him.
That’s really such a freaky, sneaky thing to do, but I just had to. I’ve got to find out more about him. He does worry me a little. I like him too and I don’t want him to get into trouble. I guess I wouldn’t be able to stop him, though.
Well, he didn’t get into a transporter, so that made it easy. He walked – fairly briskly, I have to admit, so that made it difficult – over the Reality Park. He could have taken a public transporter. I’ve no idea why he didn’t. I had to keep some distance, from him, of course. But I could see that he was talking on his communicator. Did he walk because he wanted some privacy? That is worrying in itself.
I watched him go out of the entrance that’s near Kaleem’s old place. Kaleem showed me it once. I can’t believe he used to live there –and to think that that used to be the grand home of Marijam, Louish and Frazier, when Frazier was Head of Education.
Anyway, Julien then completely disappeared. The funny thing was, though, that the entrance to Kaleem’s old cave home was actually open. Could Julien be down there? And if so, why?
So, I went down as well. At least the old apartment was still locked up. No sign of Julien. I wonder who he was talking to? It did look as if somebody had been there recently. It couldn’t have been Julien, could it?
Anyway, I closed the place back up and made my way back to work. A quick meet with my boss, and then back to my own dataserve. Tomorrow, the lesson goes live for the Z Zoner kids.