Tomorrow We Dance To Freedom

Staggering To the Six-By-Six

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Leaving on the tube was not the problem. There were many empty seats at this late hour. Not that it mattered to Logan. His fiery taste of hell was across the newly declared border in Glasgow.

Last week started without much fanfare. A few stragglers lounged outside his building when he left for lunch but this was typical. Not much remained for these older citizens to do except loiter around businesses that weren’t closed. Anyway, they didn’t last long. Most were scooped up the next morning by the “Scavenger Rakes”. Rumors were rampant these days. The latest tale to make the rounds of the dispossessed was like all the rest. All of them were focused on finding tiny morsels of food and surviving the “Burn Hour” close to occupied buildings. This just guaranteed a good morning’s scoop.

Compound fractures were the aliment most prevalent in Logan’s patients. They may be the privileged class but they were also slowly starving. Most of their paltry income went to the “Energy Consortium” a mega-multinational firm setup by oil industry lobbyists back before the “Big Fry”. Just to keep their sleeping closets cooled to a bearable ninety-five degrees the majority of citizens handed over more than 2/3’s of their paychecks to the Consortium.

Housing was long ago demolished in favor of closet blockhouses that could better withstand the daily wind vortexes. They were also more energy efficient with only a few square feet to keep cool. Each cell had a mist shower, vacuum toilet, sink, drop bed, chair, and table. There was only room for an average sized occupant. Fortunately most citizens were now no taller than five and a half feet. A poor diet devoid of most essential vitamins had exacted a serious toll. The human race was degenerating both mentally and physically.

Water was also in short supply. The rains stopped almost thirty years ago. Desalinization was draining the oceans just to supply the trickle that came out of full-bore open faucets.

Mist showers were a marvel of technology that saved many billions of gallons of reclaimed water. Having thousands of microscopic jets you could step into the enclosure and almost immediately be dripping wet over your entire body. Pushing a button inside the shower after your quick dowse released a burst of anti-bacterial skin tingling chemicals. Eyes must be closed tightly or you’d stumble out blind. If you still had your sight the last step was the close contact vacuum that sucked up the chemicals that had already bound to all the particulates now dancing wildly in the glistening drops.

A new addition to the chemical burst was a fungicide that would kill most of the many varieties of fungus flourishing on this dead world. Logan was treating more and more cases of fungus poisoning. When the trees died they lay on the ground for years blowing off into dust from extreme winds let loose from a dying planet. Many burned leaving ash to accumulate that also became a vector for new forms of bacteria, viruses, and a proliferation of even more deadly fungi.

Written more than a decade ago a now forgotten philosopher broached the question: “Why do we struggle to endure this torturous existence?” What was odd is that this was asked back in the “Better-Days” when there was still a semblance of a livable environment. The end-days hadn’t yet been reached – real food was still being harvested in climate controlled greenhouses. Now this question is on the parched lips of everyone you meet. Cannibalism just doesn’t inspire much humanity. It is utterly impossible to even grow a weed. Not a single species of animal is left to suffer with their masters.

Miles stood between those who forecasted our doom. Now that it is too late, not even a tear is adequate to convey the shocking daily vision. Worse yet is the hopelessness. Tired beyond comprehension the body just withers to a mere skeleton. Winding back the clock is no longer an option. There are no options. Death visits regularly. Even the ‘corporate bleeders’ face the same extinction – theirs is just a prolonged staggering to the six-by-six.