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Electric Cigarette

metaphorical_cowboy's picture

After sun set the stars were still hid by Camden lights. Outside city limits you could see them between the satellites and planes zooming over the vertical farms. This city stopped sleeping a long time ago. From the bird’s eye view of all the people crowding her streets, you forget the two child policy is actually working. From ground zero, their med-mask covered faces blend and fade from your memory as soon as you’re past them.

After replacing the filter, I switched my cigarette back on. Its blue tail caused little blue reflections off the helper ants as they mindlessly cleaned the room and purified the air. This hotel wasn’t my first choice, but the auto shop was close. Cars seem to always break during long trips. The radio frequency generator for burning saltwater broke. The folks offered their places but I figured this place was the lesser of three evils.

There was nothing but junk TV so I checked Tim’s blog on the disposable bamboo laptop I bought downstairs. They say the warning signs are more about the entry’s length than the content. Responding to a lost loved one’s last post became a socially acceptable form of grief/closure at some point. The whole idea seemed vain.

Sleep would’ve been nice but it wasn’t in the cards. I couldn’t focus and I don’t use stabilizers so I got the emotional roller coaster over with.

By the time of the funeral I was fairly calm. The folks sat next to each other probably for the first time in years. I don’t think a lot of the people here knew Tim well because there were more sad-masked awkward faces than sad faces. Eventually my little brother’s ceremony ended but the way everyone was catching up you’d think a reunion had just started. The folks decided on a cremation but I’d heard mom tried to have Tim’s ashes pressurized into a set of artificial diamond earrings. Rather than dealing with the folks I left for the parking lot.

I was right at the car when I heard that familiar voice. I don’t know how I missed her face in the crowd. Ex-fiancés tend to stick out. The human brain is like a pheromone powder keg. I should’ve sped off. Instead I ended up with Maria and her new husband at a sushi restaurant.

The conversation was awkward and I wasn’t sure she was even conscious. The newer implants allow people to live on autopilot. The ten-thousand core chip automatically returns control in an emergency or from the brain’s wake command equivalent feedback. For most people, instant information is worth the miniscule risk. She could’ve simply been referencing keywords in my responses to a satellite. If nothing else, I left with a full stomach.

Before we parted ways, Maria suggested we should stay in touch knowing we wouldn’t. Social pretences always seemed like things that should’ve disappeared after stabilizers were invented.

I checked my messages during the drive back to the hotel. Mom and Jamaal, her third husband, decided to have another child since the two child policy has a replacement clause in cases of death. Tim’s funeral ended five hours ago and they were already picking which features their future little girl would have. Pregnancy affects the brain’s behavioral subroutines in both parents. Maybe Mom and Jamaal forgot their ten year marriage license is almost up.

Back at the hotel, I tried to sleep. It wasn’t in the cards. The mind’s tired but existentialism clogs everything. There was nothing but junk TV so I cracked the window and let in the breeze. Something didn’t feel right about everything. An object’s value is supposed to stem from its quantity. The two child policy reduced the world population to less than five billion. People should have increased in value. I haven’t seen noticeable change. Looking at the sky, I could see occasional glimmers of satellites. They powered electronics via solar energy. They give people information via implant.

There were more rants, but I fell asleep. When I woke up, the window was fully open and everything valuable was gone. The hotel billed me for the television, coffee machine and mini bar. I called the folks and gave said my good byes. With nothing to pack, I drove off.

Is this the same world as

Is this the same world as 'Statica'? It definitely seems like it could be, with technology offering people opportunities that probably aren't doing them the favors they may think it is. And the same is apparently true of government policies.

The word that kept coming to me as I read this was 'numb,' and I liked how the story showed people feeling that numbness in different ways.

Well-written, and leaves me hoping for more.

metaphorical_cowboy's picture

Same World

Yeah. I'll try expanding a bit more w/each one. Everyone's expects magic to fix everything.

A lot of information to take

A lot of information to take in so quickly, but all of it is very intriguing. Are you going to expand on this? It works as a vignette rather well, but it seems a shame to abandon all those ideas you have packed in there.


metaphorical_cowboy's picture

I might,but most of my early

I might,but most of my early ideas sucked. Otherwise, I'll just make more stories that take place in its world like statica.