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Stay on Schedule
"Good morning. Good morning. The time is approximately 7:04 a.m. It is time to get up. Repeat. Good morning. It is time to get up."
Elayna groaned and rolled over, trying to ignore the insistent, mechanized voice echoing through her skull. "Give me five more minutes."
"It is time to get up. The time is approximately 7:05 a.m. Repeat. It is time - "
"Okay, okay, I'm up." The annoying voice in her head abruptly cut off mid-sentence as Elayna groggily swung her legs over the side of her bed and stood. Some mornings, she really hated her Personalized Assistant Implant. It couldn't allow her to sleep in just once on a Saturday?
"Good morning. The date is Saturday, March twenty-first, year two thousand, five hundred and fifty one. The temperature outside is approximately sixty-five degrees Celsius, so you are advised to dress appropriately if venturing outdoors."
"Like I ever get a chance to go outdoors, anyways," Elayna muttered, but pulled on her thermal cooling suit just in case. At the sound of her voice, the PAI stopped monologing, then continued when it sensed no instructions were forthcoming.
"You have a scheduled meeting with fellow classmate Zoé Starkill, class 32A, subcategory C, at 7:45." The PAI whirred and clicked inside her head for a moment, then continued with the morning routine. "It is 7:07 a.m. It is time to brush your teeth."
"I haven't had breakfast yet," Elayna complained, hastily combing her hair.
"You have no time for that if you wish to be on time for your meeting with Zoé Starkill, class 32A, subcategory C, at -"
"Then why didn't you have me meet her later?" Elayna demanded, pulling on her high-gravity boots.
Her PAI continued in a monotone. "It is most profitable for you to socialize with your fellow classmates at an early hour of the morning."
"Wouldn't we study better if we were both well-rested?" Elayna grumbled.
"Seven hours and four minutes is an adequate amount of sleep." Her PAI paused for a moment, then added unhurriedly, "Brush your teeth."
"I'd rather eat breakfast."
"Brush your teeth."
"Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth." A high pitched whine started up, vibrating unpleasantly in her skull. Elayna instinctively clapped her hands over her ears, but the noise was inside her head, generated by the PAI. "Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. Brush your-"
"Okay! Okay!" Elayna took a step towards the bathroom and the horrible sound instantly stopped, leaving only a ringing silence in her skull.
Half an hour later, after a quick 190 kilometer per hour subway ride, Elayna was directed by her ever-present PAI to room T-16 at the Interplanetary Education Hall of Mercury. Zoé Starkill was already in the study hall, waiting at one of the many computer stations that were strategically placed throughout the building.
"Greet your classmate," Elayna's PAI ordered. "Her name is Zoé Starkill, class 32A - "
"I know what her name is," Elayna snapped. Zoé looked at her curiously, but her expression cleared as her own PAI presumably explained the situation. Elayna couldn't hear Zoé's, of course, each person could only hear their own Personalized Assistant Implant. The surgically-implanted devices were designed that way.
"Greet your classmate," the PAI commanded, no hint of inflection in its voice. Just to keep it quiet, Elayna obeyed, making sure to phrase her sentences carefully and correctly so as not to annoy either her classmate or her PAI.
"Good morning, Zoé. I trust that you are well?"
"I am quite fine, thank you, Elayna. I trust that you are also having a pleasant day?"
Well, it hadn't been pleasant so far, but it wouldn't be polite to say that. "I had an agreeable morning, thank you. What is our current assignment?"
Elayna's PAI interrupted then, answering her question. "You are to research the first founders of the original settlement of this planet Mercury. You must produce a minimum of four typed pages on the subject by 12:00." Zoé, having also heard the answer from her PAI, immediately began powering on the closest terminal. Elayna proceeded to do the same with her computer. Essays and encyclopedia articles on the settlement of Mercury were already popping up on the screen, thanks to her PAI's wireless signal. Frowning at the screen - there was so much material to look through! - Elayna quickly began typing on the holo-keyboard that appeared, at her PAI's signal, under her fingertips.
The basic facts were common knowledge and easy to put down. The original settlement was established in 2342, everyone knew that, and the original settlers had worked industriously to create a utopia. Not wanting to have a planet ruled by havoc and chaos like the old settlements on earth, one of those long-ago scientists had come up with the idea of a surgical implant to instruct all Mercurians in their day-to-day -
Elayna paused in her keyboarding, a thought suddenly occurring to her. Who had told those first settlers what to do? If they hadn't had PAIs with them, educating and explaining and informing, how had they known how to complete complex tasks, like raising the first buildings and piloting their starships? How had they ever learned to do anything, without something to instruct them?
Her PAI beeped in her mind, a warning to get back to work. Elayna ignored it. How could anyone live like that, without their schedule prearranged, their every waking moment planned to be the most productive it could be? Elayna almost laughed - why, there would be times when people would do nothing. The idea was almost too ludicrous to consider. People would waste time, waste their lives! They would make the wrong choices, do the wrong things, and maybe even -
"Get back to work. Get back to work." That high-pitched whine was starting up in her skull again. Shaking her head at the total absurdity of those early settlers, Elayna obediently placed her hands back on the holo-keyboard and went back to work.