"DECANTING CITIZEN PERRY-R-ENL-2."
"WELCOME TO ALPHA COMPLEX, PERRY-R-ENL-2. HAPPINESS IS MANDATORY. HAVE A NICE DAYCYCLE."
That voice...It is the voice of authority. I should obey it.
"Thank you, Friend Computer."
"YOUR SUPERVISOR REPORTS THAT YOUR PREVIOUS CLONE, PERRY-R-ENL-1, HAD AN INSUFFICIENT HAPPINESS QUOTIENT. PLEASE REPORT TO RESEARCH AND DESIGN FOR A MALFEASANCE CONTROL DEVICE."
Research and Design... why does the name send shivers down my spine? Is it a half-memory from my previous clone? Or just treasonous rumors?
"Yes, Friend Computer."
The transbot is over there, it can take me to R&D. Just have to remember to keep smiling. Always smile. Happiness is mandatory. Cameras are everywhere. Never stop smiling. You're happy. You're in Alpha Complex, a wonderful place to be, and you're happy. You love Friend Computer. You've never heard of any secret societies. You aren't a dirty mutant. You're happy. Keep smiling. The Computer Is Your Friend. You're happy.
"Says here that your supervisor, Gregor-O, reported insufficient levels of happiness in your prior clone. Is that right, Perry-R?"
This citizen is a YELLOW. Respond to him quickly and humbly. "Yes sir." The lab is stark, bare, metallic. The items clustered on counters and tables are complicated, intricate, dangerous-looking. They are probably above my security clearance; I shouldn't look at them. All of the things in this lab--which one is he picking up? That one?
"This device is called the Joy Adjustment and Monitoring Elevated Device. J.A.M.E.D. for short, of course. Let me just strap this on..."
I can't move, or I'll be terminated for treason. I'm RED and he's YELLOW; I have to let him strap this metal cylinder on my head. Computer knows what it does. Those two arms--
"There we go, nice and snug. And these two little arms here go in the corners of your mouth like-- so. Now, the bot brain in here will monitor you for signs of unhappiness, and correct you into a smile if it detects any. Isn't Friend Computer generous?"
It hurts-- a bit. The wider I smile, the less it hurts. Smile. You're happy. Friend Computer is generous to you. "Yes sir." Keep smiling. Maybe your friends in the society will know how to get it off---ow--but you don't want it off, you're happy that it's on your head. You're happy...
The smell of the food vats is nauseating--ouch--the smell of the food vats is happy. You like working in the food vats. You like working for Gregor-O-ENL-4. You like making the algae that sustains all of Alpha Complex's citizens. You are the backbone of the society. You are important. You are happy. Smile. Smile at Gregor-O.
"You're late to your shift, Perry-R. Are you seeking to damage the efficiency of Alpha Complex?"
His face is unpleasant. And I saw the society propaganda in his office the other day. He's probably a traitor. Ouch-- it's really beginning to hurt, now. If I grimace at the pain, it only pulls up harder. My lips are sore and raw at the corners, my head is heavy with the weight of the bot. He isn't a traitor. You were mistaken. That was just paranoia. He's a loyal, happy citizen, just like you are a loyal, happy citizen. "No sir, Friend--augh-- Gregor-O." They pull up harder. It hurts. It doesn't hurt you, you're happy...
"Then why are you so tardy, Perry-R!?" He's fuming. His face is turning pink. "Production is falling behind because YOU aren't at your station!"
The smile is fading, the machine is pulling, the flesh is ripping. Drops of blood fall to the ground. You should be smiling--but he's making me so angry, he's the treasonous one, I'm the loyal one!
"Sir, might I-- yeagh!--" The pain... It won't stop pulling!
"Citizen! Answer my questions! Or have you been a traitor all along!?"
"No!" The muscles are tearing now; you must be happy. You're happy. You're smiling! You're happy and you're smiling that your boss is yelling at you and you're happy that the machine is tearing your skin and you're happy that your vision is clouding red and you're happy that the bot's arms are ripping and ripping and you're happy--
"DECANTING CITIZEN PERRY-R-ENL-3."
"WELCOME TO ALPHA COMPLEX, PERRY-R-ENL-3. HAPPINESS IS MANDATORY. HAVE A NICE DAYCYCLE."
This story is based on the PARANOIA role-playing game, and specifically on a couple of the ideas from the long out-of-print comics based on the game.