Welcome to 2030!
The Story of "Operation Microstage," Part One, in which Arthur's Therapist Enrolls Him in an Experimental Therapy...
[“Welcome to 2030” is the first installment of “Operation Microstage,” a story about Arthur Aislado, a 21st-century human with archaic psychological needs, and the ambitiously high-tech medical treatment his doctors give him to help his brain adjust to the demands of modern society.]
“Happy New Year!” boomed Dr. Donnola. “Welcome to 2030, Arthur!” He thrust out his pudgy hand and smiled.
“Thanks, and happy New Year to you also, Doc,” mumbled Arthur, grabbing the doctor’s outstretched hand and shaking it halfheartedly. The doctor beckoned towards the leather couch, and Arthur sat down. The doctor remained standing.
“And before we get started, can you confirm your full name and date of birth?”
Arthur nodded. “Arthur Jeremiah Aislado. December 31, 1989.”
“Right! And happy belated birthday! How does it feel to be 41?”
“Thanks, Doc,” said Arthur. “I guess one more year, and maybe I’ll figure out the meaning of Life.”
“What?” Dr. Donnola cocked his head slightly to the left and scrunched up his face.
“It’s a joke,” said Arthur.
“I don’t get it.” The doctor looked sideways at him and frowned.
“Remember when we talked about the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last time?”
“Not really,” replied the doctor. “Is that your favorite book or something?”
Arthur shook his head. “No, it’s just, last visit, we talked about how in Hitchhiker’s Guide, they calculated the meaning of Life on a computer and it came out to be 42, and you know, wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy to get the answers in Life.”
The doctor stared blankly at Arthur without responding.
After a moment of awkward silence, Arthur continued: “Anyway, you asked me how it is being 41, and so I was, you know, referencing our conversation last time and making a joke about it. You know, ‘42.’ Like, next year, when I turn 42, maybe I’ll figure out what Life is all about. Since ‘42’ was the answer to the question about Life’s meaning in that book.”
“Interesting,” said the doctor. “So your plan is to wait till you’re 42 to determine your life’s purpose?”
Arthur shook his head and forced a nervous laugh. “No, I was just, you know, trying to crack a joke. I guess it wasn’t very funny.”
The doctor squeezed his round body into the chair next to his desk and leaned back. He looked thoughtfully at Arthur and nodded a couple of times before responding tersely, “Very interesting.”
Arthur half-smiled and inhaled deeply through pursed lip. He raised his eyebrows expectantly and returned the doctor’s gaze.
The two men silently looked at each other for several seconds. Arthur began fidgeting nervously, shifting his weight on the sofa. He started lightly drumming his thumbs on his leg. The doctor studied Arthur’s movements, picked up a tablet, and began tapping out some notes.
The doctor finally spoke: “So how have you been since our last session?”
Arthur shrugged and looked down at his feet. “I think I need another adjustment.”
“I see,” muttered the doctor, continuing to enter notes on the tablet. “So you feel like your brain chemistry has been giving you problems?”
“I guess,” said Arthur. “I’ve been feeling this, hard to describe, but feeling like I’m hungry for something, but I’m not wanting to eat. Like I want to find something, but I have no idea what it is. I keep feeling like something is about to happen, but I have no idea what.”
“Yes, sounds like a case of bad brain chemistry,” agreed the doctor. “Are you still having any dreams that you remember after you wake up?”
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