Welcome to the Apocalypse
A cacophony of sounds swims around me, punctured by a wailing cry of, "Mom! I want the PHONE!"
The apocalypse has happened. I am among zombies.
It's a swelteringly hot day, but somehow, I feel the overwhelming urge to shiver. I'm terrified, truly. It's been fifty-something years, and I thought the future would be badass; flying cars, robots, you know what I'm getting at. It's The Future! But instead, I am surrounded by the undead.
All around me, there are people. A writhing child tears at his mother's sleeve as she clicks away at a black object in her manicured hand. Vehicles honk and swerve and weave through the bustling street. But they're not really people, I don't think. They all stare at these sleek cubes: holding them out in front of them, smiling at them, holding them up to their ears. And their eyes; they're glazed over, like they've been dug out of their graves and forced, like pawns, to act like they're alive.
Again - I didn't ask to be woken up into the apocalypse. I'm a scientific miracle, for God's sake! Couldn't I have at least been woken up in some kind of robot bar, maybe taken some of the strain of being frozen for decades off with a whiskey? But no. Zombies. Just my luck.
Lights flash around me as I march forward, determined to appear normal. To appear like one of them. I stare at a distant point ahead of me, hoping my eyes will swim out of focus and I'll look like just another zombie, going about my zombie day. I don't want them to suspect me - to kill me. No. I must act like one of them. To protect myself.
One foot in front of the other, Thomas. Keep on going.
All around me, there is motion. Lipglossed mothers pushing around crying babies in warped baby carriages. A teenage boy dashing past on a tiny-looking skateboard, his t-shirt tattered and worn. Yellow, sleek-looking automobiles zipping through pedestrian-laden walkways. Flashing signs, flickering store lights. I can't even wrap my head around how much there is - how many people, how many streets, how many bicycles with shrieking bells. My head pounds with the sheer humongous-ity of it all. I need a glass of water.
Speaking of water, a cold glass sounds like the gateway to Heaven right about now. Sweat clings to my back, sinking its sticky fingers into every one of my pores. It's unnaturally hot - dangerously so. I clutch the collar of my shirt and pull it away from my neck, feeling it detach like an old bandaid from an injured thumb. New mission: get water.
My eyes drink in the storefronts lining the sidewalk where I walk. A man in a business suit, eyes covered in darkly tinted sunglasses, pushes past me, nearly knocking me over. I stop in front of a garishly lit yellow sign, bigger than my entire body. It looks like an upside down W, or maybe a weirdly drawn M. A woman walks out the door, gazing at me pointedly. She holds it open for a second.
I step forward and walk through.
Instantly, I'm surrounded by a sticky, salty smell. It fills my nostrils and travels up into the endorphin-creators in my brain, pumping seratonin throughout my nerves. Fries.
I approach the counter, behind which a kid with bad skin stands. He's staring at one of those godforsaken cubes I saw the mother looking at earlier. He, like all the others, has a glazed, zombie stare. I gather up the courage to walk forward.
"Cup of water, please."
He continues to stare at me, eyes still empty as the center of a doughnut. Man, a doughnut sounds good right now.
"You have to buy a meal first, sir."
I shove my hand into my jeans pocket, twisting around and coming up with - nothing. When planning to be frozen for an unknown chunk of the future, money isn't exactly a priority.
"I got nothing, pal." A sudden thought enters my brain. How could I have not asked this earlier? "Hey, what year is it?"
For the first time that I've been in this weird limbo of a future, his eyes glean some sense of emotion. Confusion. "2019. And if you've got nothing, then nothing I can do for you."
Jesus. 2019. 67 years. I decide to ponder this length of time later - right now, I need to focus on the task at hand."Come on, just a glass of water."
Obviously irked by my continued questioning, the kid caves. He grabs a plastic ringed cup and fills it with water from some odd-looking machine.
"Here you go. Goodbye."
I shoot him a quick smile, then turn around towards the tall doors. My eyes are instantly drawn back to the street. Like a living organism, it seems to grow and warp and breathe, like each little zombie-person is a blood cell or capillary keeping it alive. It's beautiful, but also too much. Far too much.
The street is singing to me - harmonies comprised of intermittent honks and rising voices. I take a deep breath, stepping forwards towards the door. This is it.
Well, 2019. Here I come.