Blue Markinsonn is called for Calibration one morning but decides not to go.
Somebody must have been telling stories about Blue Markinsonn, because one morning as he was finishing his nourishing powl of borage he received a text message requiring him to present himself at the Recalibrating Office.
Who could have done this?' He demanded, staring out of the kitchen window at the block opposite, where early-morning windows, tilted to let out the night's bad air, reflected the sun rising over the two hundred serried blocks of the North Point Estate. Blue lived on the seventh floor, alone since his wife and her co-husband had received their restraining orders.
Who could? He asked the autoplant, which merely snickered and resumed its watch for the aerial cat which prowled the space in between the buildings. Blue had once tried to grab it and his wrist still bore the scars. Since that incident the autoplant had redoubled its sneering at the humbug-striped beast whenever it floated past.
Blue knew little of Recalibration, and talking openly about it was reckoned to be in bad taste at least. His late father - still hale at 78 years but always late - had mentioned it once, suggesting,
"Perhaps they could cut a part out of your brain. That would help you."
No it wouldn't, he thought. It would cut my imagination out as well. For his whole life since then he had tried to escape the blade that would rearrange him.
Although as he understood it, that wasn't what Recalibration did. It was a subtler knife by many orders of magnitude.
This was your brain, he thought. at the base of the flatblock he made his way along a street forever shaded by evergreens, face lowered against the eyes of people coming the other way. This city was your brain, its walls and the towers. He walked modestly by the wall, half expecting a Recalibrator to pounce from the foliage at him, as people had always done, as in his childhood there had always been dead-eyed boys waiting to pounce, fondle, molest, debag' and then the other things he found it hard to think about. Which of the slick thirty-somethings taking the tram this morning might have been there when he screamed into a pillow and the night was the dark of aged stone? But until now, in the mass of the Estate, he had felt safe, breathing with the massed breathing of its inhabitants until he believed - or at least allowed himself to fantasise - that the North Point was in some way living itself, that it had shouldered its ponderous way out of the ground and heaved itself up to allow humans to inhabit it like the birds sheltering in the branches of a tree.
Blue walked towards the tram stop. He ignored the phone in his pocket. What could they do to him, after all?