The days get hard to distinguish. With so little changing, time starts to lose meaning. I have the same conversations, with the same people, from the same places. I follow the same basic routines, and feel the same few emotions. My world is the hab, the data feeds, the stims, and the terminal. Sometimes I get to go outside. Out there, somewhere, the virus lurks. We are asked not to think about that – it will always be out there somewhere. As long as we see risk, we will continue to acquiesce.
I scroll, sluggishly, through the data feed, pausing to rub at the grease on the comm unit’s screen and blink hazily. I’ve been inside so much, looking at nearby walls for so long, that I can’t help but feel my eyesight is fading. Is the screen blurry because it is unclean, or is my body breaking down?
My health says the latter. I lost the fight against weight-gain weeks ago. My motivation is crushed, and my spirit ebbs.
I found some green space, the other week. It was a spot of life discovered wandering through the haunted city streets. There was a shallow depression in the grass, perhaps twenty meters across, the ground cracked and hard. After a time, I realised it was a once a pond, now desiccated by the unseasonable heat. No moisture left. No life. A place of dried dirt and dust.
I relate to that place. I stayed there for a time, pale skin burning in a light that it is unaccustomed to.
The only way to know how much time has passed since lockdown began is to read the news feed, and see how much worse the world has become. How much higher the viral death tolls are, how much angrier everyone is. The wealthy and the elite – much the same thing, in many cases – have taken everything from the citizens they left behind. Money, opportunity, power. Freedom. All gone.
This world is their playground, now. They flaunt rules that they impose on others, and they supress dissent or those they do not favour, through legalised violence. They live in secure suburbs, technological towers, and edifices to excess. They lash out at the roving protests that rage around the world, and they dismantle the place we tried to make.
Lockdown was their victory. We live in what is left. If you follow the rules, you will have a worse life than those who do not. Less joy. They prey on the choices of people who wish to be consciously good; those who have been taught to follow the rules. The rules they make are simply there to give them more time to take what they want. They don’t intend to keep to them. That will be the lesson imparted to the next generation.
Vast wealth, vast power, disdain for everyone else: all of this is yours, if you just want to take it. Try not to get caught, unless you have influential friends; someone needs to be the example to keep everyone else from figuring it out.
I remember, a long time ago, debating with a young woman in a bar. We shared awkward drinks, meeting for the first time after an unplanned night together. We tried to find common ground as we threw back liquor to take off the edge, letting the conversation rove where it would. We couldn’t find any thing we agreed about, and never met again.
That conversation circles often in my thoughts, though she’s probably long-since forgotten me. It was fifteen years ago, maybe closer to twenty by now. She said that the world was only going to get worse, that there was nothing good about our future. I emphatically disagreed. We really couldn’t line up on anything.
But at the moment, she was right.