Patrick took a sip of his coffee, in front of him was a croissant, he picked it up and took a bite, the buttery flavour filling his mouth. Across from him Sherry drained the last of her coffee from her cup in one large gulp, “I’ve got to get going, see you later tonight?”
“Yeah, do you want me to cook dinner?”
“That’d be great, I’m don’t feel like eating out again.” Sherry stood and after giving Patrick a quick kiss she left the coffee shop. Patrick took another bite of his croissant and another sip of coffee, he felt a strange pang in his stomach, a second later a small flashing icon appeared. Sighing, Patrick stood and wound through the tables of the coffee shop, he stepped outside into the bright sunlight and began the walk home. It was a short walk but he was feeling antsy, he kept looking around himself as he went, wondering if people could tell, if they knew. He made it back to his apartment without seeing anyone he knew, which was a bit of a relief. The flashing icon was red now, he had to hurry.
Patrick sat on the comfortable couch and closed his eyes, a second later he opened them. The room had changed, gone were the carpet and soft furnishing, instead he was in a small room, about five feet by five feet. The machine whirred and ticked as he stepped out of it, already hating the way everything felt. The cold grit beneath his feet, the shiver of goosebumps across his body. He stumbled to the door and pulled it open, revealing a larger room, this one had a small table and chair, in one corner there was a sink, across from it was a toilet, a fridge had been shoved into one corner, Patrick went to it, muttering to himself. God damned machines always breaking down, his feeding tube had gone offline about two weeks back and they still hadn’t fixed it. It had been hell keeping it a secret from everyone, how would they react if they knew he wasn’t important enough to have his tube replaced immediately? It happened to Gary, his and Sherry’s neighbour, a year back and his had been replaced within the day. Patrick pulled open the fridge and grabbed out a meal pack. He tore the foil wrapping on it and started eating the flavourless block. His stomach growled as he ate it, wolfing it down as quickly as he could. That was one of the great things about Life, the food there was flavoured and delicious. He finished the bar and let the wrapper drop to the floor, joining the other wrappers strewn across it. At least the company were giving him food blocks to keep him going until they fixed everything and the waste disposal unit was still working too, thank god for small favours. He glanced out the window, the sky was a flat, lifeless grey, everything here was a drab, lifeless grey, the sky, the ground, the buildings. He caught sight of a clump of green, probably weeds. Tall towers were dotted across the landscape, buildings just like his filled with hundreds of thousands. Most people lived in the small room that contained their access Pod, Patrick, being wealthy enough, had the luxury of this extra room. He shook his head, it was always so ugly out here, but then why did that even matter? Hell most people never see it anyway. He turned from the window and went back into the room with the pod, quickly getting back into it. It took a second for the machine to start then everything went black. A second later his apartment appeared and he felt the soft couch beneath him. He went to his computer and wrote another email, maybe this would be the one that would get them to hurry up. He had to get this fixed before anyone found out, if Sherry knew she’d probably leave him and he’d lose all of his friends too. They’d be afraid that his lower standing would infect them. It was funny, how much he’d taken it for granted, he was wealthy, of course he was, but he hadn’t nearly as much as he thought. It had seemed that over the years the fortune had been slowly drained away. As it was there was a danger of them moving him to a new place in the Outside, he’d be stuck in one of those small boxes, like all the other poor people. The thought of it made his skin crawl as he imagined being in just a small room. He pushed the thoughts away, he had to act normal and remain calm. It would be fixed soon, of course it would. He went into the kitchen and started pulling out ingredients, he had spent longer Outside than he had intended and Sherry would be home soon, it was time to get started on dinner, he still hadn’t gotten another job and she wouldn’t be impressed to come home to an empty table. Things had to be normal, he had to be normal.