“Come, child, there’s work to do, cease your playing now.”
“But Mah-ahm, this IS my work. A kid’s job is to run and jump and explore and dig and poke and all.”
“Time enough for your ‘real job’ after you finish your chores. You’re almost done anyway, aren’t you?”
“Then finish up and you’ll have the rest of the day after that.”
“OH. kayyyy …”
He set down his instruments of play and trudged to the corner where his false job awaited, full of lights and humming thinking-machines and the other enemies of his nature.
The door closed.
He sat and looked around the room at the objects he saw every day but never saw. The baseball. The unmounted shelf propped against the wall. The books in their places. The old radio waiting to tell stories.
Outside, above, hundreds of birds tested the air currents and sang a symphony. A glow to the east made the daily promise of illumination. A cool breeze swept in from the lake. He shivered, but more from excitement than the cold — or was it with the peaceful joy of knowing he could be disconnected for most of this day? Mom was right: One more task for the glowing box, and then he’d be free for these hours.
He flipped a switch, shutting off his own flesh-and-blood mind to disappear into the false lights, but he kept his finger near the switch. The true world would be waiting for him.