Read it as a book

There was something wrong with the coffee this morning. A metallic aftertaste that made him remember the taste of rusted nails he used to pull out from used planks, every time he and his father dismantled some obsolete shed or barn around the old house. It seemed like another life. There were thin, spiderweb-like threads that connected him to that period, each line, a memory. Many cords were broken, but those summer days when he and his old man worked side by side, tearing down wooden shacks survived.

Cat entered the room, looking at him with those golden eyes, the pupils as thin as nails.

“Again with the nails… it’s going to be one of those days”, J thought. He did that often, fixing on some material thing and seeing it everywhere. He tried figuring out where this compulsion came from or when it first started to manifest, but so far he couldn’t pinpoint it.

An acute meow woke him up, signalling it’s time for breakfast. Cat, as the name implies, was literally a cat. Too lazy to come up with a name that would suit the little ball of dirty fur he found one day hiding away under a car, he just named it Cat. She didn’t seem to mind.

Even today, he couldn’t remember what made him stop and take it home. There was nothing special about it and in that part of the city, there were hundreds of stray cats he passed by every day. In three years, he didn’t feel in the mood to help any of them, until that morning, almost half a year ago.

With the house pet, now munching away happily, J decided to finish that long overdue article. Arne wasn’t the most patient of editors, but writers who’ve lived before and through the Awakening and lived to tell the tales were scarce. J knew that and took advantage of it. Delaying it also helped him. Residues from a time when working under pressure was a choice but one driven by a corrupt reality.

Of course, not Arne and not anyone else knew what “working” meant back then or how close J was to those despicable beings called “marketers”. They knew he worked within the travel industry, but not that his first job was as a writer for a magazine that brought praise to the appalling advertising industry. If they only knew…

“That’s a story I’ll never write”, J thought, while writing down some ideas for the article’s title.

“Ignorance was bliss.”

“The years the Earth stood still.”

“We did start the fire!”

None of them was good and he wouldn’t use one, but J loved playing with these cheesy titles. It reminded him how the entire world strolled towards its end: by reading motivational quotes, drinking bad coffee in very tall paper mugs and listening to shitty music. There’s an entire database that documents it, visible to everyone at the Minister of Unrepeatable History. It’s called Instagram.

***

Arched over the laptop’s keyboard, J was trying to recollect all the things before the Awakening, that foreshadowed the level of spiritual decay to which humans will succumb to.

There was a book called The Circle, written by a guy called Dave Eggers, which J read just before the world started to go crazy, that at that point seemed to be onto something. It talked about this fictitious corporation that in a not so distant future from 2013 (when the book was published), ends up controlling everything through the power of Internet, from people to governments. Back then, the now defunct Sunday Times wrote: “It paints a horrifying picture, in minute detail, of a future we’ll be lucky to avoid.”  They even made a shitty movie about it with some of that moment’s biggest actors. Little did people know back then that Hollywood’s quick grab of the movie rights meant that any genuine question the book raised, will be quickly munched and immediately defecated into a mass-pleaser, mind-numbing blockbuster. It didn’t help either that the movie got shitty reviews and bombed at the box office. Actually, the opposite.

Today anyone could download and read the book for free from the WorldDatabase. Only one physical copy of the movie remained, in the archives of the Minister of Unrepeatable History. It could be accessed online by everyone, but when J check the views counter it showed 0 (zero) hits in the past 6 months. Not a strange thing happening to a Blockhead Movie – how most of the Hollywood’s products came to be known – but it dazzled J nonetheless. Residues of a time when everything was all about counting fans, impressions and likes.

J looked at the time and realised he spent over two hours without writing one single word. He decided it’s time to go out and get some fresh air. He needed some food for Cat anyway and his fridge was also in a desperate need for supplies. A quick trip to the local FreeStore would be more than welcomed. The exercise will also help, J thought, remembering doctor’s appointment was next week.

Cat was looking at him with those big eyes while he was heading out but didn’t bother to answer the goodbye in any way other than putting his head back on the couch. “That lazy fucker” J thought while entering the car. The engine started as he climbed in and, after giving it the destination, he watched the not so new houses in his neighbourhood moving backwards. He considered himself lucky, remembering the times when he could drive in a convertible on the coastal roads of Italy. You could still do it now, of course, but because no one else did it anymore, finding a functional, 50 years old car, was more troublesome than getting on the actual Moon. 70 years after the first human being walked on its surface, Earth’s sole natural satellite now housed the first permanent human colony.

As the name implies, the FreeStore offered basic goods to everyone for free. It was part of the DoT (Department of Trade) network that offered everyone on the planet access to free food, transportation and utilities. Things like alcohol or cigarettes, even marijuana were also available, but not for free. Consumption of these products wasn’t regulated in any way but with the advancements in medicine, your physician could immediately detect them on your regular visits which meant an immediate halt in free healthcare access.

J tried to remember when was the last time he heard about someone overdosing or getting totally smashed… It must have been more than 5 years ago…