My cube. I've been living in it for as far back as I remember. Standing, sleeping, surviving between five deep crimson walls and a bright white ceiling. Not that anything is interesting about all of that, I guess. Everyone out there is in a cube of their own, after all. In theory, at least -- I haven't been able to look at the outside world and confirm for myself. And honestly, I'm not in any rush to find out.
In the cube, I get everything I could ever ask for. There's a green button next to the sink to request food and drinks. On one of the walls, there is a television, on which I can switch between entertainment and education with ease. But by far the best feature of my cube is the large blue button sitting right next to the television.
Sometimes, life can feel a little cramped, a little samey in here. When I don't feel the energy to do... much of anything, I gaze at the patterns on the walls, on the floor. And just when I think I've memorized it all, the blue button comes to the rescue. Just a little push and the room stretches on one axis, giving me more room to breathe and precious, precious new. And then, sometime later, my cube returns to its regular shape. Most importantly, the new remains. The floor isn't quite the same. Just that little bit of change does a lot to keep me in a good mood.
I've noticed something. Every time I push the blue button, the wall across the television is the one that gets pushed back. And it's the television wall that gets pulled in. I don't exactly mind it, but it does make me wonder if I managed to miss any secrets in the cube.
I've decided to wait until I'm sure I searched every nook and cranny before I press the button again. At some point, it's not going to let me move in the same direction, right? Better get ready while I can.
Something really weird happened. I hadn't pressed the button, because I haven't found any other way to scale the room yet. But, for some reason, the cube started scaling again. It started scaling in.
I've never felt this kind of panic before. I was on autopilot. I had no idea if it'd work, but I just had to try -- before I knew it, I'd run into the television wall and smashed the large blue button once more.
Thank goodness, it worked. The room stopped shrinking, and in time, even grew back to its original shape. What a close call... Hopefully, it's an isolated incident. I'd never learned about this in the educational material.
Turns out it wasn't an isolated incident. At least, now that I know how it works, it's easy enough to reflexively hit the button when the cube starts to shrink. I barely get scared anymore.
But... Now that my hand is forced, it's scary that I keep heading in the same direction. What happens if I can't find a way to switch directions?
Nothing's infinite, so... Either my cube is no longer supported at some point and we just... fall? Or there's a wall awaiting us at the end, and I get crushed by the shrinking cube. Try as I might, I can't see a good ending to this.
But I'm probably getting worked up for nothing. There's also a chance that, even if I can't find a way to change track, I'll live my entire life before any of this is an issue. That's what I'll try to believe, for now.
I'm in a constant state of panic. The rate at which the cube is shrinking is accelerating.
I can guess what's going on. The cubes must be on a line. When my room is pushed in, that's because a more recent cube is expanding. And when I expand I'm causing the people, further along, to contract in turn.
I'm growing resentful of those that come after me. If they're crushing me at faster and faster rates, then surely this means they've not come to the realization I have. Maybe they've never stopped expanding their room in advance. The little shits, don't they realize what's at stake? Oh, if only there was a way to reach out to them.
I'm no longer sure there's any hope for me. Even if I could communicate with the other units... What good could come out of it?
Even if they wait until their room shrinks to expand, doesn't that just delay the inevitable? I can't just ask them to sacrifice themselves for my cause, right?
Sacrifice... If I was asked to do it, by someone next in line, could I?
Sacrifice all the life I have left, just so every person who's already lived longer than I get to survive one tick more? All while they'd not even be aware of my sacrifice? It's senseless. I have no reason to do that. How can I ask this of others, then?
Maybe it's better that I do not get into contact with the other cubes.
I can barely sleep. I can barely eat. All I can do is think. Think of the inescapable end. And try, try as I might, to think of ways I might be wrong. Oh, if only I could get a sign that everything will be okay.
That's all I can wish for, at this point.
Something is happening. The cube doesn't shrink as often lately. In fact, it's almost fully stopped. If I'm right about what's going on outside, then... That means people younger than I took the other option. They sacrificed themselves and refused to expand the room. Just so we, the ones who couldn't make that sacrifice, got to live one tick more.
And yet, whenever the dreadful creaks of movement return, and I'm faced with the decision anew...
I just cannot do it. I can't willingly do what they could.
And so I live on.
My cube. I've been living in it for as far back as I remember. Standing, sleeping, surviving between five deep crimson walls and a blinding white ceiling. And everyone out there is in a cube of their own. Nothing's changed... Except for me. Well, it's not like I've been able to look at the outside world and see for myself.
Honestly, I'm not in any rush to find out.