Artwork by the Miro Shot Collective
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
A (W.T2.F.) Sunday Series
–Short Story Time–
Speculative fiction is a way to explore a future that may or may never exist, technologies that we can only dream of today, and of the capabilities to exploit or improve the Earth and human lives.
The world is your oyster means that you can achieve anything you wish in life or go anywhere because you have the opportunity or ability to do so.
A Saying from Someone by Shakespear’s Seashore:
(Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor)
THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER
Snowflakes cascade in flurries of white powder like foam frothing and bubbling as the ocean churns wave after wave. Evergreen trees disappear under ski booted feet, warmly wrapped legs, and a torso suited up in a bright red parka. Black mittens and a woolly gray hat top off the Michelin man.
Andy breathes crisp air in the howling wind. A pale yellow sun peaks through dark gray clouds, specking the hills with hopeful rays of light. He clicks ski poles together to dust off the gathering white.
They sit in silence the two friends, enjoying the slow approach to the zenith above. Cheerful laughter floats through the air, echoing from the lift ahead. Just in time, the safety bar is raised, and out jump Andy and his mate, shooting down the landing strip to a large opening, a gathering place where all could meet who came this way. In the center, a fire pit blazes underneath damp mittens and frosty cheeks. Those just passing by appear, and then disappear, flickering in and out of the scene like dancing flames and spitting embers.
Andy presses back one leg at a time and stretches forward to glide to the vista, the lookout over the valley at an impossible elevation. Above and below, cabin lights glow in the haze, decorated with lights and chimneys, as if each one a little snow globe ready to be picked off the shelf.
He presses onward, looking back to his friend to catch the tacit challenge. It’s time to race. Down, down and down they fall, skies barely touching the large drifts and curves. Knees pump while arms shift with precise balance and counterbalance.
They reach the bottom, breathless and side by side. Smiles break the furrowed brows and shoulders dip back with open arms.
Let’s do it again?
Andy, let’s do this for real.
For real? He gazes at the perfect storm packing perfect snow around gingerbread-like homes and decorated pines. He portals to their own enclave. Boots, skies, jackets and pants now safely stored in inventory. Hands are warmed over an infinity furnace while they steam hot cocoa and sort through resort games. Andy wonders if it could get any better than this.
Let’s do it Andy, why not?
Andy relents. He hasn’t left before. There’s been no reason. He wouldn’t have thought to do so on his own. He feels himself nodding and slipping gently from the warm cabin, glowing lights and howling wind.
The sound of pressurized clasps and knitted seams pulling apart alert Andy to his return. He blinks through blurry eyes into a darkened room. Dust shines under one flickering light and he leans back onto the worn sofa, sneezing in a fit of particles. Coughing violently he readjusts to the here and now. He searches a few times for his mask until his lungs are once again equipped to walk through this empty house.
Backup generator reds, greens and shades of blue light up a single room until Andy finds his voice, waking up his SIM and mecha home. Ventilation, vacuuming and general duties are quickly performed by small assistants that scour the floors, walls and every object in the designated radius. Andy clambers over to the mirror.
Bright eyes sparkle back in a hollow skull and toned corpse. He’s pale and frail, but conditioned through the ingenious design of the SIM. Electro-stimuli pulsate muscles to preserve this pretty cage of his. He looks back at the giant SIM, and the small throne to gently rest his face until the end of time.
It’s been a long while, he knows, not knowing if he can still bring his legs and arms to balance even on gentle slopes in a milder climate. He tests the lines and numbly makes the arrangements. Andy looks around, touching, feeling everything in the room. Is it real? Is that him in the mirror, gray haired and stooping?
Tenderly, he wraps his arms around the SIM, and moves lovingly to the mask and throne. He sits in it and the soft cushioning beckons his tired bones. Just one more time, and then he’ll go for real. He dips forward, smiling, eager, and young.
Wind caresses his face with gentle snowflakes cascading in flurries of white powder.
By Anne McKinnon