Robert sprang out of bed, and stood rigid for a moment. The pills did their job of moving the excited bee from his ear canal to his brain stem, and Robert waited for his muscles unlock themselves and allow him to put on his clothes. The klaxons had fallen silent, and the voice of The Computer rang over the loudspeakers.
"GOOD DAYCYCLE, CITIZENS OF THE ALPHA COMPLEX! REMEMBER TO REPORT ALL INSTANCES OF SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY TO YOUR SUPERVISOR! BE HAPPY CITIZENS, FOR THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND. HAPPINESS IS MANDATORY."
Robert slid into his black coveralls, and followed the hundreds of other black clad citizens out of the barracks. Everyone herded towards the mess hall. Posters were placed along the hallway between doors of varying colors. Robert gazed at them as the mob moved slowly forward.
"Attention Citizens! Are you unhappy? Unhappiness is Treason! Report to a Happiness Officer immediately for appropriate medication." The next poster was a little more inspirational.
"Citizens, do your part to fight the Mutant Communist threat. Report Communists! Register your mutation! Failing to register your mutation is treason."
Every poster sang its message in big, serifed fonts. At the bottom, each one read "The computer is your friend!"
Robert stood in the food line, aluminum tray in hand. His thoughts wandered to the day ahead. He had recently been promoted from his position as Reactor Shielding Cleaner to Reactor Shielding Installer. He was happy about this. The little badge they made him wear during his previous job was constantly beeping at him, but no one would tell him what it meant. His security clearance wasn't high enough as an INFRARED citizen of the Alpha Complex for that information. Robert was excited at the prospect of a new, shiny, but above all quiet, badge. His train of thought was broken by the plop of food onto his tray. A thick pile of FUNFOODS FOR EARLY DAYCYCLE slowly spread across the tray. Today there were even extra vitamin sprinkles. Robert was happy about this.
Taking his seat at one of many identical tables, Robert ate his FUNFOODS quickly. INFRARED citizens were allotted twenty minutes for breakfast before reporting to work. He had been saving his credits lately so he could buy extra viewing time on his favorite vidshow, and tardiness would result in being fined. That would not make Robert happy. A cheerful xylophone sound emanated from the pocket of Robert's coveralls, and he pulled out his Personal Data Communicator to silence it. Robert had an email. Before he could read it, a small tube lowered from the ceiling and deposited a small black pill on Robert's tray. Robert took the pill because every INFRARED citizen knows that pills mean more happiness. After swallowing the pill, a new confusion filled his clearing mind, as the normal drug fueled cloud of confusion oozed out the back. Robert blinked and looked at his PDC again. He had an email from The Computer.
YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED BY A PERFECTLY FAIR AND RANDOM SELECTION PROCESS TO SERVE AS A TROUBLESHOOTER FOR FRIEND COMPUTER! BE HAPPY, FOR THIS IS A WONDROUS OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE FRIEND COMPUTER AND THE ALPHA COMPLEX! YOU WILL BE PROMOTED TO RED SECURITY CLEARANCE AND RECEIVE NEW CLOTHING, EQUIPMENT, AND FOOD! EXPLORE THE WONDERS OF ALPHA COMPLEX (that you have clearance for), FIND TROUBLE, AND SHOOT IT! REPORT TO SECURITY BUILDING R89485 AND REPORT TO THE GREEN CLEARANCE SECURITY MANAGER IMMEDIATELY! ALL HAIL FRIEND COMPUTER!
Robert looked around the table at his fellow INFRARED citizens with a new found disgust. "RED clearance" he thought. "No more barracks. Food with no... well, less algae in it." His newfound clarity of thought was unsettling. He gathered himself up and put the PDC in his pocket. Heading towards the door, the cheerful xylophone rang out again. Robert looked at his PDC, he had another email.
YOU HAVE BEEN FINED 5 CREDITS FOR WASTING YOUR EARLY DAYCYCLE FUNFOOD RATIONS. THIS HAS BEEN NOTED IN YOUR FILE. HAVE A NICE DAY. THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND!
Robert looked back at the table he was sitting at, his unfinished breakfast coagulating on its tray. "Damn it" he thought.
Robert hurried out the door of the INFRARED mess hall, GREEN security guards eyeing him menacingly. He took a right down the hallway, and walked towards the doors leading to the main courtyard. As he stepped outside, he squinted and looked up at the bright lights covering the massive dome of the Alpha Complex. They shown like a hundred small suns hanging in a grey sky, not that Robert had ever seen a sun, or a sky. Talking about the "Outside" was treason. That's where the Communists came from. In front of the barracks building, the other INFRARED citizens were queuing up to board the Zippy Fast Alpha Complex Transit Tubes to be skirted off to their menial jobs of Reactor Shielding Cleaner, Algae Growth Vat Cleaner, Clone Gestation Tank Windows Cleaner, and the like. Robert wondered why The Computer didn't just use scrubots to clean and scrub all those things, but guessed that everyone just needed to keep busy. Not everyone could be a Bot Maintenance Technician, but now maybe he could.
He walked past the growing Tube queue toward the entrance of the next building, Security Building R89485. How often he had stared at this building from the queues, aspiring to be a troubleshooter! Robert strode proudly through the door of the building and was promptly hit in the face with the butt of a GREEN laser rifle.
"Good Morning, Citizen." beamed the security guard. "Entering this building without permission of Friend Computer is treason! Summary Execution!" The guard leveled the rifle at Robert.
"Wait, wait!" screamed Robert, fumbling for his PDC. "I received an email from The Computer!" He waived the device in front of him like a shield. It wouldn't have saved him. It was black.
"Ah, very good then! Please follow me citizen, I will show you to the waiting room." The guard stuck out his chest, his GREEN Reflec armor barely containing his bulky frame. Turning smartly, the guard marched down the hallway. Robert ran to keep up. After a series of corridors and stairways, the security guard led Robert down a hallway and to a black door. The door opened automatically and the guard pushed Robert into the room.
"Good luck, suckers." The guard winked, and the door slammed in Robert's face
Robert turned around and saw two more INFRARED citizens sitting in the waiting room. A giant vidscreen on the wall was showing the latest Alpha Complex reality shows, and the table in the middle of the room held a bowl of fruit. Real, live fruit. Robert could hardly believe his eyes. He moved his hand towards the bowl, pausing just briefly to ensure no sirens went off or large automatic weapons popped out of the wall, and picked up a strawberry. He knew it was a strawberry from watching his favorite vidshow The Alpha Complex Just a Little Bit of Variety Hour, which often showed high clearance citizens indulging in such things. As Robert reveled in the explosion of non-algae flavor on his tongue, the computers voice came over the room speakers, muting the vidscreen.
GREETINGS CITIZENS! FRIEND COMPUTER THANKS YOU FOR REPORTING PROMPTLY TO TROUBLESHOOTER RECRUITMENT. YOU DO A GREAT SERVICE FOR ALL OF ALPHA COMPLEX. PLEASE REPORT TO RED BRIEFING ROOM 124. UPON ENTERING YOUR SECURITY CLEARANCE WILL BE UPGRADED TO RED AND THE BRIEFING OFFICER WILL PRESENT YOU WITH YOUR TROUBLESHOOTER MISSIONS AND MBD'S. GOOD LUCK CITIZENS!
One of the other citizens in the room, a female, spoke up. "Friend computer, what are MBD's?"
MANDATORY BONUS DUTIES. THESE ADDITIONAL DUTIES ALLOW YOU TO FURTHER ASSIST YOUR TROUBLESHOOTER TEAM AND ALPHA COMPLEX. IT IS AN HONOR TO ACCEPT THESE MANDATORY DUTIES.
"Well then," said Robert. "Let's be on our way shall we." He stepped out of the waiting room and looked up and down the hallway. There were several doors along both walls, none of which were numbered. Robert looked back at the waiting room door. It was not numbered either. He had no idea where he was. As he stepped back into the waiting room, he asked "Um, would either of you know the way to Briefing Room 124?"
"No, we were rather hoping you did, you seeming rather Gung Ho about this whole business" said the woman.
"Well, we'll just ask the computer" Robert replied. "Computer..."
THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND, CITIZEN.
"Yes," Robert continued. "Computer, could you tell me..."
THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND, CITIZEN.
"Um," Robert hesitated. "Friend Computer?"
AT YOUR SERVICE!
"Right, could you just point us in the direction of Briefing Room 124?" Robert breathed a sigh of relief.
I'M SORRY CITIZEN, BUT THAT INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE AT YOUR CLEARANCE LEVEL.
"But computer..." Robert faltered.
THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND, CITIZEN.
"Oh dear" thought Robert. "Friend Computer, why can't you tell us where the Briefing Room is?"
BRIEFING ROOM 124 IS A RED CLEARANCE ROOM. INFORMATION ABOUT THIS ROOM IS NOT AVAILABLE TO INFRARED CLEARANCE CITIZENS. FURTHER INQUIRIES INTO THIS INFORMATION MAY BE CONSIDERED INSUBORDINATION AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO FINES.
"Gee, thanks Friend Computer" replied the woman.
AT YOUR SERVICE, CITIZEN! HAVE A HAPPY DAY.
Robert thought about this for a moment. "Excuse me, Friend Computer?"
AT YOUR SERVICE, CITIZEN!
"What room are we in right now?" asked Robert.
YOU ARE CURRENTLY LOCATED IN INFRARED WAITING AREA 120. PLEASE ENJOY THE STRAWBERRIES.
"Right," said Robert. "Come on then. Let's see if there is a RED door down this hall." He waved for the others to follow him. Robert was happy.
Robert and his fellow INFRARED citizens walked down the hallway looking for the door to the briefing room. Two doors down on the right, a RED door stood partly open. Robert, in his excitement, exclaimed "Here we are, I knew I could find it" and walked into the briefing room. Several large INDIGO lasers dropped from the ceiling and trained themselves on Robert's widening eyes. The Computer's voice sang over the ceiling speakers.
HALT, INFRARED CLEARANCE CITIZEN!
A hail of laser fire lit up the doorway. The two citizens who were following Robert peered into the room, their vision slightly obscured by the floating red mist that was previously Robert's head. Robert's body wavered for a moment, and then slumped down on the floor.
TRESPASSING IN HIGHER SECURITY ROOMS IS NOT PERMITTED. THIS WILL BE PUNISHED BY ...BEEP...BEEP. CONGRATULATIONS CITIZENS, YOU PROMOTIONS TO RED SECURITY CLEARANCE HAS CLEARED THE RED SECURITY CLEARANCE PROMOTION SPOOLER! THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND!
The two newly promoted troubleshooters walked through the floating remnants of Robert, and took their seat in the desks at the front of the room.
Robert opened his eyes to a pink new world. He attempted to scream, but found his mouth and lungs filled with fluid. This reduced his screaming to an odd swishy sound, and was completely unfulfilling. He looked around, but all he could see was an endless haze of pink interrupted by an occasional bubble or shadow floating the distance. The last thing he remembered was the world going a bright shade of purple, and his head feeling much lighter. He was not sure that pink was an improvement. He began to feel a gentle suction around his toes. If Robert had known what the word erotic meant he would have used it and he thought that perhaps this new life would not be so bad. The deafening sound of a vacuum motor ramping up told him to stop being so optimistic. Robert's pink new world dropped out from under him.
The impact on the cold steel floor stunned Robert, the leftover pink goo that had been flushed along with him doing little to cushion the blow. Vomiting profusely, he staggered to his feet. There was a pink haze still covering his eyes, but this cleared quickly when Robert was shot in the face with a jet of ice cold water. The screaming came easily this time. When he could see again, a man in an ORANGE coverall was looking him over.
"Hold still, clone. Let's get you cleaned up!" the man yelled at him.
The sound of machinery and vacuum pumps filled Robert's ears. He looked down to see he was naked and dripping with the pink goo. This was soon remedied by continuing sprays of cold water and air from the ORANGE technician. Robert was still naked, but much cleaner. His genitals screamed at him as they beat a hasty retreat from the cold. Once he was reasonably dry, the technician shoved a pair of black coveralls and boots in his hands.
"Welcome back, citizen!" the tech yelled over the noise. "Get dressed and get your ass back to..." he consulted a vidscreen nearby "Security Building R89485. Follow the guidebot out of this building and it will take you to a Complex Taxi."
A small silvery bot on the floor waved at Robert and chirped cheerfully. It hopped back and forth in anticipation of getting to fulfill its only purpose in life, and whistled a merry tune. Robert felt an overwhelming urge to smash it under his boot, but thought that might be unwise. He quickly dressed in the new coveralls, and began to follow the little bot out of the maze of tanks and pipes. Robert was thoroughly confused, and the memories coming back to him were not helping. According to the last thing he remembered, he should be dead. He pushed these thoughts from his mind as he ran to keep up with the guidebot. The bot led him outside and towards a waiting Complex Taxi. Robert looked over his shoulder at the building he had just exited. A large neon sign read "Cloning Tanks", and the building sat in a sector of Alpha Complex Robert had never seen before. As he got into the taxi, the little bot jumped up and waved goodbye to Robert. The taxi zoomed off, pinning Robert to the backseat. Robert was not happy.
The taxi skidded up in front of the security building, slamming Robert against the Plexiglas barrier separating him from the front of the taxi where the robot drive sat. A crackly voice filled the backseat.
"Thank you, citizen for using the Complex Taxi service. You will be charged ten credits for use of this service. Good day!"
Robert got out of the Taxi and ran towards the security building. As he pushed open the door, he heard a familiar voice.
"Good morning citizen, trespassing in this building is treason!"
"Oh shit!" exclaimed Robert. He ducked just in time to avoid being hit in the face by the security guard's rifle. "It's me, I was just in here! One second I was being shot at, and the next I wake up in a vat of goo!"
"Ah, very good then. Do you know your way back?" beamed the smiling guard.
"Um, yes. Yes, I think I can make it." Robert ran down the corridors until he found the stairway that led to the INFRARED waiting room. Reaching the top he saw the familiar black door, and headed down the hall to the briefing room. Coming to the RED door, he stepped slowly inside, ready to spring back at the first sign of a laser cannon. Scrubots were carefully cleaning the remainder of his corpse from the floor. At sight of this, Robert proceeded to vomit all over one of the bots. This caused a frenzy among the bots as they began attacking each other furiously with loofahs and caustic cleansers. Robert stepped quickly out of the way to avoid adding a second corpse to the mess.
"Troubleshooter, Sit Down!" There was a woman in a GREEN security uniform standing behind a podium at the front of the room. The two others who were with him before were seated at desks in front of her. Robert made his way to an empty desk and sat down. On top of the desk was a new RED set of coveralls, and a RED reflec armor vest.
"Can You Hear Me Troubleshooter!?!" said the woman behind the podium. The sheer volume of her voice caused Robert to cringe.
"Y-y-yes, ma'am. I can hear you just fine" said Robert
"Good! My Voice Is Kind Of Scratchy Today, And I Don't Want To Have To Shout! Now, As This Troubleshooter Has Demonstrated, In Addition To Your Thousand Credit Monthly Salary And Troubleshooter Clothing, You Will Receive Five Backup Clones. The Computer Has Provided These Clones Free Of Charge. A 2000 Credit Value, Isn't That Nice!?!"
Robert's ears were ringing at this point, and he'd had about enough of this. "Hang on, you mean we will be getting killed regularly during this work?"
"No!" replied the woman. "Troubleshooter Work is Perfectly Safe. The Computer Has Provided These Clones Free Of Charge. A 2000 Credit Value, Isn't That Nice!?!"
"But I just?" stammered Robert. "Does that mean I only have four left? The computer shot me! That's not fair!" The Computer's Voice came over the room speakers.
CITIZEN, YOU SOUND UNHAPPY. ARE YOU UNHAPPY?
"Computer, how could you..." , but The Computer cut Robert off.
THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND CITIZEN. ARE YOU QUESTIONING THE COMPUTER'S JUDGMENT?
An INDIGO laser cannon, one which Robert was intimately familiar with, lowered from the ceiling.
"Um, no Friend Computer! I'm just a ... bit ... confused. Um." Robert focused on the barrel of the laser.
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME DRUGS, CITIZEN? YOU HAVE HAD A BUSY EARLY DAYCYCLE.
Robert thought about this for a moment. "Yes, Friend Computer. Yes I would."
A small tray lowered from the ceiling with a glass of water and a small clear tablet. Robert got up and went to the tray, ever aware of the laser cannon following his movements. He swallowed the tablet and finished the water. His vision briefly went out of focus. When his focus returned, it brought along its new friends Euphoria and Joy who proceeded to have a brief, but messy orgy inside his sinuses. The security officer handed Robert a handkerchief and directed him back to his desk. A moment later, a slightly damaged scrubot covered in blood and machine oil tapped Robert on the shoulder, and handed him his PDC. Robert looked at the back of the room at a scene of carnage. Blood, vomit, machine parts, and caustic cleansing powder covered the floor. Apparently this scrubot was the only survivor. He smiled and thanked the bot, which saluted him with a loofah sponge and wobbled out of the room. Robert was feeling better.
The Security officer passed out a series of forms for the new troubleshooters to fill out, in triplicate while she was giving them their instructions. These included Equipment Requisition forms, Clone End User License Agreement forms, and Mandatory Bonus Duty Recommendation Quizzes. Robert got the duty of Team Happiness Officer. This came with all the drugs he wanted, or he thought that anyone else should have. Robert was excited, he had never been popular before. The woman on Robert's team, Janet, was made the Team Leader. She would receive a button for her coveralls that said "Leader", and a HappyFun Motivational Baton. Mikhail, the other troubleshooter, was made Hygiene Officer. This came with a small box of lemon wipes, and some pamphlets entitled "Fighting the spread of diseases, like Communism." This seemed to upset Mikhail, but Robert couldn't figure out why.
"You seem upset, Mikhail. Would you like some drugs?" said Robert.
When they had finished filling out their forms, the troubleshooters were told to change into their new uniforms and received their MBD materials. The security officer briefed them on their first mission as troubleshooters. They were to head upstairs and check out the noisy air handling ducts in Equipment Room 525. While they were there, the Equipment Manager would assign them their additional gear, and a change of clothes. The officer informed them that since this was their first mission, they would be escorted by an ORANGE clearance troubleshooter who would judge their performance. A man in ORANGE coveralls and reflec armor entered the room from a side door carrying a clipboard. The new troubleshooters got up from their desks, and followed Janet out into the hall. The ORANGE troubleshooter walked behind them making "tsk, tsk" noises and jotting notes on his clipboard. At the end of the hall they found the double doors of the elevator. Janet pushed the button for up, and the elevator door slid open. Everyone stepped inside, and Janet hit the button for the 5th floor. The doors slid closed and the elevator started its assent.
Only a few seconds had passed when the elevator came to a stop with a loud mechanical groan. The lights flickered and went out, dowsing the team in pitch blackness.
"What should we do?" asked Janet.
"Humph" grunted the ORANGE troubleshooter. "I'm sure it's only temporary, The Computer will have the lights back in..."
Bang! An incredible noise filled the elevator accompanied by a blinding flash. Robert hugged the wall, slightly disoriented by the noise. Suddenly the elevator lights came back on and they resumed their assent to the 5th floor. The elevator stopped and the doors slid open to reveal a hallway filled with crates and boxes. When Robert looked down, he saw the body of the ORANGE troubleshooter on the floor with a massive gunshot wound to the chest. He looked up to see the other troubleshooters staring at him.
"What happened?" Robert yelled, still a little deaf from the noise.
"What? Why did you shoot him?" Janet yelled back.
"I don't have a gun! How can any of us have guns? We all changed into new clothes in the same room" replied Robert. The troubleshooters looked from one to the other.
"As team leader, I say we continue with the mission. Right now." Janet said.
"Agreed!" replied Robert and Mikhail. Mikhail passed out lemon wipes to his fellow troubleshooter to clean the blood splatter off their faces. When hygiene had been restored, the team gingerly stepped over the body, and made their way down the hall. Squeezing between stacks of plastic crates, the team came to a large red door. Janet opened the door and led her team inside. The equipment room was much like the hallway. Crates were scatters about the floor, some spilling their contents. One crate lay in a pile of thousands of wing nuts. Other's appeared to be leaking. What they were leaking was indeterminate, as the crates were labeled with nothing but a serial number. At the back of the room was a stock counter with an ORANGE stock clerk asleep on the desk. Robert looked around the room. He could see many air vents in the walls and ceilings. A great clanging was coming from a few of them.
Mikhail was the first to speak up. "I am thinking we should be splitting up. Cover more vents at once, Ya?
"Um, right" said Janet "Mikhail you look at that one on the ceiling. Robert, we will look at the two vents over here."
"OK" said Robert. He followed Janet over to the far wall. He looked over his shoulder, and saw Mikhail climbing up a stack of crates and removing a vent cover. When he thought Mikhail was out of earshot, he went over to Janet. "I think there is something wrong with Mikhail" he told Janet.
"Yeah, that accent is all weird;" replied Janet "and those pamphlets seemed to upset him. Do you think maybe he's a ..."
Just then all the air vents on the ceiling fell in and several men dropped to the floor wearing heavy grey coats. RED laser fire began pummeling the crates Robert and Janet had jumped behind. Mikhail yelled at the other troubleshooters.
"Your time has come, comrades! Join the revolution! Communism is the only way; you must read the writings of John Lennon!" Mikhail pumped his fist into the air.
"Vladimir, comrade." One of the other communists corrected him.
"What?" Mikhail paused and looked at the man.
"Is Vladimir Lennon, comrade. Not John." The man replied.
"No, is John Lennon. Sang `Revolution'. We play song at meetings" snapped Mikhail
While this argument continued between laser blasts. Robert looked over at Janet.
"Communists!" hissed Janet.
"I can see that! What did you think they were?" replied Robert.
"I don't know, Hippies or something. Mikhail didn't seem that excited about hygiene. We have to fight back!" said Janet.
"We have to get the fuck out of here!" Robert was now digging in his waist pouch for more drugs.
"Listen, as your troubleshooter team leader, I order you to do something!" yelled Janet.
"Do something?" replied Robert. "Fine." Robert got up between hails of Commie laser fire and took a running dive behind the counter, knocking the sleeping old man onto the floor with him in the process. Janet, swearing under her breath followed suit. When she landed, she yelled at Robert.
"Some troubleshooter you are, you fucking coward!"
"Janet, you don't seem happy." Robert said as he grabbed her jaw and forced several multicolored pills into her mouth. "Have some drugs." Janet slumped down with a blissful smile on her face and a runny nose. Now Robert had a chance to think. He noticed the sleeping old man had a very old laser pistol on his belt holster. Robert gently pulled it out and looked at the weapon. It was so old that all the paint had worn off, so he had no way to know how powerful it was or what the different settings were. He twisted a promising looking dial, and waited for his chance. When there was a pause in the laser fire, Robert sprang up and pulled the trigger. The front of the pistol exploded, knocking Robert back against the wall. Everything in front of him was bathed in a deep orange light, and the sound of bacon sizzling filled the room. When he finally let go of the gun, it fell to the ground smoldering. Robert picked himself up and surveyed the scene.
Everything on the left half of the room was melted slightly, with the communists`skeletons fusing to the warm plastic of the various crates. Robert was breathing heavily, hands shaking. A familiar Xylophone sound came from his pocket. He pulled out his PDC. Robert had an email from The Computer.
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SUCCESSFUL ELIMINATION OF THE COMMUNIST THREAT! YOU HAVE DONE A GREAT SERVICE FOR ALPHA COMPLEX AND STOPPED THE NOISY BANGING IN THE AIR VENTS. PLEASE COMPLETE THE ACQUISITION OF YOUR TROUBLESHOOTER EQUIPMENT. DIRECTIONS TO YOUR NEW LIVING QUARTERS ARE ATTACHED. YOU WILL RECEIVE A 200 CREDIT BONUS FOR SUCCESSFUL MISSION COMPLETION AND EXEMPLARY SERVICE AS HAPPINESS OFFICER. BE HAPPY CITIZEN!
Robert put his PDC back in his pocket and looked at the two unconscious people on the floor. Behind the counter, there were several packages labeled "New Troubleshooter Equipment Bundle". Robert found his Equipment Requisition form tucked in another pocket, and began separating the different copies. He placed the pink and goldenrod copies under the head of the sleeping clerk, snatched up a bundle of equipment, and strolled out of the room. He carefully avoided the corpse still riding up and down the elevator, and rode down to the ground floor. Tonight he would watch his favorite vidshows in the new troubleshooter living quarters. Robert was excited.