Monday, August 15, 2318
I met a man yesterday. He was tall and broad and smiled at me as he blocked out the few drops of sunlight that squeezed through the choked gray sky. For a moment I was taken aback caught in the bright blue of his eyes. The sky, I had thought thoughly captivated.
“Is that a bird?” He asked pointing to my lap. Confused, I looked down to see this journal, the pages spread wide where I had doodled in the margins. I quickly clutched it to my chest but the damage had been done. “It’s alright.” He whispered, taking a seat beside me on the bench. I had come to the park after Services bored from the ever long drivel spouted from the holy mouths of Religion. Voices that droned on, while we sat obediently as they lecturing us, reminding us of our duties to our Government.
Though this wasn’t a park like my father had once whispered. Those that had been filled with streches of green grass and bushy trees. Where birds sang and people happily played. No, this was not a park of old but a stretch of dull gray cement pimpled with ugly black metal statues -an artists rendition of trees- and a few unwelcoming benches sandwiched between thick bands of heavily clogged throughfare.
“I don’t know what you mean.” I replied. One side of his mouth turned up sending shivers down my spine. He was dangerous, even in a blindingly orange shirt slapped haphazardously with affiliations, there was a darkness about him that warned me. Yet, I couldn’t help the pull I felt, like a black hole sucking me in. I was afraid, not knowing if I would be shattered reduced to simpering molecules or tossed out the other side into some magnificent new world.
I trembled under blue intensity.
We talked for a few stuttering moments of nothing truly important. He asked my name, he gave me his. Tybal. “Can I have a sheet of paper?” I looked at him warily, hesitiated. My paper was precious. When he cocked that lopsided grin at me I tore a sheet from the back. Our fingers brushed as he took it and I was sure it wasn’t on accident.
“No! That’s not-” I nearly snatched it back from him when he started creasing the page then sat mystified as he turned it this way and that, adding bends and folds. He turned away from me, hiding. I wanted to crawl over him to see but thought better of it. Finally, he turned with his hands cupped and the paper no where to be seen.
“Tell me where you saw a bird.” His voice was so low I barely heard him but I looked around afraid. So many monitors we have on our lives; video, audio, satellites, spies. There isn’t a single thing that transpires that isn’t captured and cataloged. But we were away from them for the most part, it was why I chose this seat. While I was sure we were being taped in some form, our low voices wouldn’t carry over the whir of cars, bikes, Personal Transports, and pedestrians that milled around us.
I leaned in, close to his ear. He smelled of spice and machine oil with an underlying dampness. I took a deep breath in, savored it. “My father.” I whispered, “He saw them in books.” If half of one smile made me weak, witnessing one that included both sides reduced my innards to jelly. He layed a small, white thing on my lap. I looked and quickly covered it so only I could see. Then stared at it a long time tracing each line with my eyes. It was beautiful, elegant like in my dreams. And when I finally looked back to him, he was gone.
Today was not a nice day. In fact, it was terrible.
Four days a week I work in a processing department in the business district. I listen over an ear piece and type out everything I hear. This is how I know we are watched so rigidly. This is why I am so weary. I walk into the beige room, find an empty cubical, log into the mainframe and type until my fingers are numb and stumbling over the keys. Until the ear piece has cut into my sensitive flesh resulting in a headache that will last well into the night. With all our technology, you would imagine they could make comfortable ear buds.
They have machines that do this, too. Voice recognition software that automatically decodes conversations. But sometimes there is distortions, background noises, that the computers can’t understand, little things that they are working to correct but until they do I have something that can pay my bills. Or perhaps, they just need something mundane to keep us all busy.
Today when I left I walked down the crowded streets. We have never been rich enough to afford a car or even a PT, those small personal transports that are no more than a disk on wheels with a high back. They have always made me nervous. But each of them takes gas, something that our society has never been able to live without even though there is so little left. But just when you think there is none, they find just a little more. And still they hoard it like thirst-dying animals in a desert fighting over a drop of dew instead of leaving the desert to find an alternative. Why won’t we learn?
The building where I live is called family housing. All housing is assigned based on size and need and, of course, income. The only way to get a better home, in a better area, is to make more money. But, for the low medium class like myself and my father, the Government assigns your job for you where there is no ability to make more money unless you are reassigned or pay for it. For both you need to know someone that has their hands dipped in power. We do not. Excuse me, I do not. I forget I am alone.
So, I walk home, slump up the many steps to the floor that houses the small flat my father and I shared. There is no one to greet me, no reason to rush. Before I even get halfway down the corridor I see it. The neon green sign is plastered to the beige door just under the symbols 17B. My throat closes up. I have to force my feet to move forward, breath to fill my burning lungs. I had known it would come, I just thought I had more time. My brain is under the assumption if I don’t see it, don’t read the words, than it just will not exist. But I finally reach it.
Under Article 6.48092, subsection G, paragraph 875, line 3
of the Government of New Merica’s Reconsitiution,
You are hereby given twenty-four (24) hours notice to vacate the premises.
Based on the information that you no longer qualify for the assigned dwelling.
Please report to your nearest Housing Office for reassignment to a qualified unit.
If you choose not to vacate, you will be in breach of Government protocol and will be subject
to a fine of no less than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) and three (3) years serving
your country in the State Penitentary.
Have a nice day.