Life as He Knew It
Katie Scholl ’15
It was a lovely day. Outside the stately dwelling there were green trees, and green grass. As young Adam viewed the garden, all he could notice forever was green, if not to count the yellow square in the sky. Black butterflies mechanically cycled out of the grass, only to disappear again moments later. Other than the absence of pollution, you would think it was the olden country days. That’s what the world prided itself upon. It was the year 3102 and there was no more need for technology. There was no more need to carry around cell phones to talk to people, for now every person you could care to communicate with was in your direct vicinity. There was no more need for the automobile, for every location you could ever need was always surrounding you. There was also no more need for jobs, for money was no longer a necessity or desire in the modern society. With the worries of money eliminated, so was the distress of competition and rivalries. Everything was perfect.
When Adam’s day started it was always 6:98 AM, as the clock told him. And every day he had a few choices for what to do. Sometimes they varied, but they were usually always the same. He frequently asked questions to his mom. He could also either redecorate the house, or he could search for connections. The garden outside the stately dwelling was always a good place to find connections, people who would be standing around and notice him. Then they could start a conversation, or go on a walk. “It was normal for people to want to talk to others” Adam said, quoting mom. From a young age, mom had filled him in on the Ways of Human Interaction, saying that if you screened the locations to the right and left in the outdoors, you will see plenty of others just like you who would like to make a connection. Today, on this perfect day though, he couldn’t notice a thing for ages, except the rhythmic movement of the butterflies entering and exiting his vision of reality.
Adam had tried counting the days since he last found another human being like him in the gardens. But it was hard, because each day seemed just like the other, and things tended to be forgotten easily. The mom of his always said that it was normal to forget things, because he was not smart and had a bad memory. But sometimes he wondered why it was that he never met another person walking to his stately dwelling, and why it was that everything in his life seemed to say that meeting other people was a normal part of the human experience. “Oh well,” he thought, “guess I better try one of the other activities today.” he said, minimizing the clear window that he could view the outdoors with. Turning around, Adam was in the kitchen. His mom was standing in the corner, pouring ice in the coffee mug, like she always did.
“What can I help you with? Would you like some edibles, or a list of divertments available to you this morning?”
“Can you tell me about people again?”
“Alright, young child. People, like yourself and your friends are assigned to stately dwellings within their loving families, where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace and happiness. There are billions of people in the world, and unlike the times of The New Age, people like you take comfort and happiness in knowing they have real connections in the world. The more connections you make gives you even more incentives and cool possibilities for customizing your dwelling artwork, garden type, family life, bedroom, color scheme, and more exciting features related to your stately dwelling.
“Would you like to view your upgrade status?” she added as an afterthought.
Adam knew this response, this was the one she used often. But his parents weren’t that smart. Being a child, Adam often had questions about the world. He wanted to know why the butterflies existed, what the outdoors felt like, and what it meant to go on a walk. He wanted to know how people have a friend, and what made a person different from a friend. Was the mom his friend? He wanted to know why his memory was flawed, and he couldn’t remember the days of The New Age, even though he heard of them so much. He wanted to learn how he came to live with a mom, and how people get old enough to become one. Or, this was even assuming that the other people had one. He needed to know why he was left to figure everything out and mom had all the answers, but yet why he was able to see things. Things that she couldn’t.
Every day, Adam asked his mom one question, and he was going to ask his now. He thought of many things that he wanted to ask, but ended up asking something so different, and unexpected, that he was surprised at the strange sound of words coming out of his mouth.
“What is love, Mom?”
He waited for the response, and got the same one as always, the answer she gave for most of his questions. “Do not worry if others do not understand you. Worry if you do not understand them. Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
He often thought about what this meant, but could never figure it out. After all, he was just a little kid with a bad long-term memory.
All of the sudden, Adam experienced a sensation. A sensation that he had felt before, but never like this. An awareness of some sort of something concrete. An itch. He had an itch on his forehead that burned. He yelled and screamed because he didn’t know what to do. He begged his Mom to do something, but she sat leisurely, stirring around her ice with a blank stare.
What Adam didn’t know was that all humans have reflexes and instincts. He felt a part of himself moving up to the itch to scratch it, and in succession, he touched something. It seemed to be something hard surrounding something round, that he had a new sensation for, that he could feel. He grabbed at it and ripped it away.
He had just awakened from a long, scary dream. Air in gentle waves cycled around his eyes like the butterflies, where the screen had sat. Memories flooded back into his mind, of smog so thick that people could disappear, and a giant warehouse sort of place where thousands of people were put into tiny chambers, and entered into this virtual video game. He couldn’t say why, or how, but now he had more truths. That it was virtually impossible for anyone to disconnect from the fake life, that people as he knew them had been gone all along, that he appeared to have the body of a 45-year-old, and that he may as well be the last man on Earth.