The main living space in my hab is seven steps long. It is five wide. From the living area to the sleeping pad, it is another seven. I pass the wash room on the way, weaving slightly, unconsciously, as I pass overburdened coat-hooks that intrude on an already-narrow passageway. There are three windows, and the floor is cold, unadorned.
It is too frigid, outside, to keep the widows open for long. So, the air in the hab is either too-close or too-chilled. The lights overhead,conversely, are called warm by the manufacturer. They cast a shade of off-white that hints at orange, hiding the increasingly pale skin on which they shine.
This is my life, in the grim days of the future we founded. In the wreckage of our broken society, this is the world I now live in, alone. For as far forward as any of us can see, until the virus abates, this is the cell in which I will spend my days.
Most of those days, though, I do make use of the limited exercise time I am allowed outside – weighing the risk of contagion, leading to poor health, against the risk of inactivity, leading to poor health. There is only one way to win that scenario.
And so I run, feeling the hot burn of lungs and legs, or, like today, I ride. Rushing through cold morning air on two wheels, feeling the wind, finally, on my face. Eyes streaming from the biting sting of winters’ last snatch, but, for a while at least, happy. I fight a battle of calories in verses calories out, and know that although I am only barely winning, I am winning.
Well, most days.
Yesterday was a bad day. I doubt I’m the only person who has had them, or will be the only person that has them in the coming weeks. It was a day curled on the sofa, legs up and slumped to one side, barely moving, barely able to comprehend the point of anything any more. I was focused only on the screens that were glowing around me, never more than a few meters away – and often much, much less. This isn’t life. At best, when staring at those screens to talk with a remote friend, it is a simulacrum of life. But it is not living. It is… being. Living includes being around other people.
But the exercise does help. It is rightly one of the few things that has not been banned, although the self-appointed digital civilian militias would have it shut down too, if they could. They scream and rage on the social feeds, desperate to assert their own brand of authoritarianism. I ignore them.
I keep my distance from others; I understand the rules. But I need that burst of exertion. I have decided that each week I will run twice, and cycle twice. There is, fortunately, a network of parks and low-traffic speedways around this area, and with the lockdown there are fewer speeders than usual. So I will run. And I will ride. I will build my stamina and stay moving for as long as possible, longer each time. And on the other days I walk for my allotted time, exploring the routes and paths that I have overlooked so far in my time here, in Zone Four.
On the days I walk, I have promised myself that I will follow up with exercise at home. I a have a mat and a small set of weights. The legacy of an unrealised dream to be fitter than I am, they are hardly impressive but are enough that, for now, they will allow me to exert my weak body.
The comm doesn’t chime enough, and the stim shows are not engaging enough. I’m not committed enough to work to throw myself in at all hours, and I don’t have anyone here to distract me from my darker thoughts. But exercise helps. It is something that, each day I do it, is something that I know I did right. Each time I beat a previous milestone, it is something I improved.
It’s not much, and it won’t stop the bad days, but it will help.