The people applaud and lean in towards their screens to get a closer look at the orb. They “ooh” and “aah” and speak in different languages. I hear someone with an American accent say, “But it’s so small?”
Everyone is focused on the golden ball. I hide behind a small cupboard.
Tapas holds the ball near his heart. “This orb powers this entire community.”
I sigh. I’m so tired of hearing Tapa’s sustainability speech. Isn’t he sick of saying the same thing for months already?
“But that’s not what we’re interested in, is it?” he asks the people on the screen. They laugh.
I peep out from behind the cupboard and see Tapas projecting a video. It must be one of his Tapas-Drones recording, because the angle is high in the sky.
“We want to see how the orb powers the individual.”
The video zooms in and the camera passes through the electrical grid. The streets get larger. It focuses in on one street and eventually zooms in on one person. I recognise her: Mrs Vigis. She’s working in her garden, picking loquats from her tree. She’s wearing a silver suit.
“An old woman, almost 80 years old. One of the firsts in our experiment. She used to struggle to stand up straight. But now…”
Tapas swipes the tip of his pinky finger and makes a pattern on the ball. “Soldier mode, activate,” he says, in that robot voice of his.
On the screen I see Mrs Vigis stand up. The drone lowers and hovers in front of her face. Her eyes shine silver.
“Lift.” Tapas speaks into the orb.
Mrs Vigis’s hands shoot out in front of her and she grabs hold of a thick branch of the loquat tree. In one move she pulls the whole tree out of the ground and holds it above her head. Sand falls off the roots and rains down on her face; she doesn’t flinch.
I swallow hard.
The people on the screen clap their hands.
Tapas bows as if he is on stage. “We no longer need to depend on young men to fight our wars. With this orb and my silver suits, every citizen, regardless of age or gender, can be a soldier in service to your country. Finally, our elders will be useful.”
“100 beelleeon!” a man on the screen with a thick Russian accent says.
“We’ll pay 101 billion!” the American shouts.
The other people on the screen all start talking at once, shouting big numbers.
Tapas puts a finger to his lips and they stop. “We have only made this one orb and it will go to the highest bidder. I am glad to see all of your interest. But it’s only fair that I disclose that we are still in the development phase. There are a few kinks we need to work out, the major one being liquid interference. Unfortunately, these suits are not yet waterproof. The suits are so concentrated with electricity, the technology will malfunction if it comes into contact with any water. But rest assured, my scientists and I are working hard to find a solution.”
That’s why he’s got rid of all the water in the skiem. It would mess up his experiment.
“Yes, Netherlands?” Tapas points to the man on the screen who’s holding his hand up as if he is in a classroom.
“Hallo, Netherlands here. Err, Tapas, who is det?”
Tapas is confused, “Me, I’m Tapas, that’s my name.”
“Ja, of course, Tapas, but I mean who is det?” The man points and then waves. “Det child over der by da cabinet? Hallo, leetil one.”
Tapas turns around. Our eyes connect. I pull my head back behind the cupboard and hold my breath. I wish I had never come here. I hear Tapas say, “Watch this. All soldiers, there is an intruder in Tapa Headquarters. Top floor. Commence protective action. ATTACK!”
Tell us: What do you think of Tapas’s plan?