Authors: Dayton Grey
“Okay, that’s enough for the Shay family reunion. How about we terminate this love-fest and go see Mama V?”
Geon nodded and began following Sabien when Allea suddenly grabbed his arm and said “We’ll meet you in a minute, guys.”
Sabien and Kumuki walked out, leaving brother and sister to themselves.
“G, I know this must be so hard for you. So I want to make sure you’re okay and make sure I can help you through this. Mom and Dad… they’re gone,” she said, looking lost in her thoughts and sad. “But in a way, they’re with us. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.”
Geon nodded in understanding. “I just never expected any of this. How could we? How’d you do it Ally? How did you live without them?”
It must have been so hard for her. She must have been so brave.
“G, I’m not going to lie. There were times when I wanted to… to just…
. The pain was so deep. The only thing keeping me alive was the chaos around us and the instinct to keep moving and survive and the thought of you possibly coming back to me. But when I stopped moving, it became even harder. Sometimes there are quiet nights when
“I know,” Geon interrupted. “When it’s just you and your thoughts. I don’t know how to explain it, but when I was asleep, all those years, I still had thoughts, memories, and dreams. I wasn’t fully aware, but I wasn’t fully asleep either. It’s not like I remember seeing them yesterday. It feels almost exactly like how long it was…
. It’s just… I really miss them.”
“I know, G. I know they would want to be here and I know how much they adored you. They would want you to remember them but not let sadness keep you from living.”
How can I live without them? How can I move on with my life without the love of my mother and father?
Geon thought about his mom’s smiling face and tears began to well up in his eyes.
She was so loving. And Dad was always supportive and encouraging. They wanted me to chase my dreams and do anything I could imagine.
Allea touched his hand gently and said, “They’re still here, G. Know that. Their spirit lives in you because you are the personification of them. Your wonderful qualities…your humbleness and kindness, your creativity and pragmatism, your competitive drive…all come from them. And your not-so-wonderful-qualities…your overemotionalness, your mischievousness, you
“Okay, okay, I get it,” Geon said with a small smile. “I just need some time to process it all. I’m just glad you’re still here, Ally.”
“Me too, G,” she said with a hug. Geon held her tight, not wanting to let go.
I just wish that I could hug them also, one more time, and tell them how much I loved them, and tell them “thank you” for everything they did for me.
They stood up and walked toward the door, which parted automatically in the middle and opened to the rest of the home. They found themselves in a small hallway with two doors across from them, Sabien and Kumuki patiently waiting.
“Those are the bathrooms,” said Sabien. “Sinks, toilets, steamjets, the usual…”
Geon crinkled his face in confusion.
“It’s basically a shower, but…
“Faster is good, right, Sabe?” Allea said with a wink. “Especially when one of us doesn’t seem to understand the concept of ‘in-and-out!’” She and Sabien turned to glare at Kumuki.
Kumuki shyly smiled. “It feels nice! I like the steamjets!”
“We all do, Kuki, but last time you were in there for… what…
minutes? That’s just
! What exactly were you doing in the bathroom for so long?”
Kumuki shrugged and looked down as they continued walking down the hall.
Allea gestured at the walls and ceiling and stated, “This house we live in is a pre-fab structure, made in factories by the bulk, same as everyone’s houses these days. EarthShift destroyed nearly all existing structures so our government stepped in and began making and distributing these. It’s completely built of recycled rubble and materials, totally self-sustaining, hydro- and wind-powered, with a rain catcher on the roof, and it recycles and filters our water and waste back for use. We have our main podroom where we sleep, two bathrooms, a main living area where we study and eat, and Mama V has her podroom on the other side. There are only a couple windows, because, frankly, there isn’t much to see out there. It’s not the same as how you remember it.”
They continued down the hall. Once past the edge of the bathroom and their bedroom, the hall opened up into a large room with a round white table in the center surrounded by what looked like wooden chairs, but in different shades and layers of weathered material. The table had a silver cylindrical object protruding from the center of it, about two feet higher than the surface of the table. To the left of the table was a seating area with grey plush-type of sofas that were low to the ground and ragged, with different patches of material covering up some obvious tears and holes. To the right was the kitchen area. It was comprised of strange-looking appliances built into the walls and counters and a sink in the middle. The room was filled with the sounds of clanking and humming.
The same large woman who was next to his pod during his awakening stood with her back turned to them, wearing white sneakers, a grey frock, and a short white jacket over a black shirt. Her skin was pale and her silvery shiny hair was pulled back into a bun behind her head. Her legs were like short, thick tree trunks and she had tight white socks wrapped around her ankles. She stood over what appeared to be a flat stove of some kind, heating up a bowl of some mushy bone-colored substance.
“COME IN, ALL OF YOU!” she boomed with a heavy accent. “I give you something to eat, okay? Geon, baby, you must be starving. You haven’t eaten in six years!”
“Actually, Mama V, Geon’s REMpod infused his body daily with the necessary vitamins, nutrients, and fluids that a human needs to survive. It’s all skin-absorbent for easy transference.”
“Skin absorbed? Transference? Did Mama V say ‘you haven’t absorbed and transferred vitamins and minerals in six years’ or did she say ‘you haven’t
in six years,’
? I gonna give you good home cooking now, okay?”
Geon smiled at Mama V as Sabien chimed in. “You tell her, Mama V! Now bring some of that disgusting sludge over here so Geon can see what the year 2031 tastes like!”
“It’s not sludge! It’s more like…
. Okay? But it’s good goo for growing boys and girls so you eat it vit a smile, okay?”
All three chimed in unison, “Yes, Mama V!” as they each grabbed a chair and sat down at the round table. Geon noticed that all three of them were wearing some sort of thin, clear, flat bracelet on their left wrists. He pointed his nose at Allea’s and asked what it was.
“These are our LifeCuffs. Everyone has one. It’s like a computer with artificial intelligence. A communication device, learning tool, nav system, camera, holographic projector, credit device, and even monitors your health and vitals at all times, and it can be fitted with skin-absorbent medicine if you get sick.”
“And it plays music!” Kumuki screeched.
“Plus, it also knows where we all are at any given time. And by
,” said Sabien. “It also keeps track of calories spent each day, so if you don’t reach the minimum,
know that, too. They regulate everything and if you don’t comply with them, then
you know what
Geon detected dismay in Sabien’s voice again, knowing that he was referencing the government once more. He noticed that Sabien was speaking with a half-smile, but his sarcastic tone seemed more
than humorous. He also noticed that Kumuki seemed troubled by Sabien’s comments.
?” Kumuki asked, looking worried. “I don’t know what’s
. Sabe, what’s
“Kuki, just relax,” Allea jumped in with a smile. “Sabien is just trying to scare G, that’s all. There is no
Kumuki nodded and went back to playing with his LifeCuff, but Geon noticed Allea looking back toward Sabien with a sigh and a scowl. He felt like there was more to this than they were telling him.
“G, you’ll get your cuff later today,” said Allea with a smile.
“And what about this thing?” Geon said, as he reached out to touch the metallic cylinder protruding from the center of the table.
“That’s an E-Pillar,” said Sabien. “You’ll see them around the city and at school. It automatically syncs with your LifeCuff and provides you with a holographic canvas to work on.”
The word immediately made Geon feel nervous. He had only a distant memory of going to school with other children but had no idea what it was like now, or what to expect. His nervous anxiety was mixed with excitement as well. He felt glad that he had the other three to lean on. “So…
. What’s it lik—”
Mama V had grabbed a squeeze bottle from the fridge and with another loud
squirted something reddish-brown into the white sludge. The faint smell of sour fruit lingered in the air.
“TALK LATER! Here, now eat, children. Geon, how are you feeling? Can I get you anything else? Here is some vater for you vit some vitamins to help you heal,” she said, bringing over a metallic canteen with a domed lid on top. She opened the top and dropped a small green capsule in the liquid. It immediately dispersed and disappeared, leaving only a slight fizz behind.
“I’m pretty thirsty too, Mama V!” said Sabien as he motioned at Geon’s drink.
“I bet you are, Sabien, darling. Help yourself to some nice vater. I’m going to sit down and rest my bones now!”
Sabien grimaced as he got up and grabbed more canteens for the rest of the table, placing each one by one on a small shelf in the kitchen, where a spout lowered into them, injecting each with water.
Geon looked down at the bowl in front of him. Mealtime had been one of his favorite things when he was younger. His mother used to ask him many nights, “Okay, sweetie, what would you like to eat tonight?” He would reply with all types of unique and different cuisines and his mother would present him his food that evening and declare “Your dish, good sir! Duck a l’Orange tonight! Does this please you?” Of course, it was always more or less the same basic kid’s food every night, but he remembered enjoying the adventurous role-play with his mother. Looking down at the light grey mound of gelatinous substance in front of him, he felt his excitement for new and different foods wavering. The grey blob was covered in the center by a small ring of some other shiny reddish-brown goo. The whole concoction smelled like a mix between rotten mashed potatoes, spoiled sour fruit, and something that could only be described as
“Uhm, guys. What is…
?” Geon whispered, so as not to offend Mama V, who was now plopped down on the sofa, arms folded and eyes closed. He picked up his spork and dipped it into the mush, which bubbled, jiggled, and settled like a bowl of pudding. Really
“Well, that’s one question that even the brilliant Allea can’t really answer for you, G. To be quite honest, no one really knows. It’s basically some sort of amalgamation of different edible proteins, nutrients, vitamins, and starches… and we’re convinced it has some kind of—”
“—fish.” Allea jumped in. “We don’t know what kind, but you can smell it and sort of taste it. Probably not like any kind of fish you remember eating though. Remember when Mom and Dad used to take us to that crab shack at the pier? It was so long ago. Do you remember? They gave us hammers and we would crack the crabs and eat them right there, outside next to the water?”
Geon smiled and nodded as Allea looked at him with wide eyes. It didn’t feel so long ago for him. He remembered his dad would say, “Geon, you’re making a mess of your food!” as he would hammer away at his crab, shell fragments flying through the air. But his mom would always smile and laugh at his tenacity. She always gave him the freedom to be himself…
himself and his world. It was the one thing he missed most about her.
“Bottom line is, Geon, it’s putrid and probably the foulest thing you’ll ever eat. Actually, no I take that back. We have even
foul things in the city. You’ll get to experience them
later today!” Sabien chuckled. “But at least when you eat here at home, you know there won’t be any microchips in your food.”
Geon looked at Sabien quizzically, wondering if he was joking. “M-m-microchips?”
“Don’t listen to him, G. Sabe is completely paranoid.
is a conspiracy to him!” Allea said with an eye roll. “Wait! I take that back. I… I think I just ate a… yep, it was a…
! Tastes good!”
Kumuki’s eyes widened as he looked cautiously down at his bowl.
“First off, you probably
eat a microchip,” Sabien retorted. “Actually, you probably ate hundreds. They’re tiny, see,” Sabien said, turning now to address Geon. “And secondly, you wouldn’t
you ate a microchip, as it wouldn’t make sense for them to be flavored.”
Geon laughed and Allea rolled her eyes and continued eating. Geon then turned and looked at Kumuki, who was already half finished with his bowl, devouring it at a breakneck pace.
“Mmmmmmm, it’s good!”
Allea curled her upper lip in obvious disgust and groaned softly. “The food is government rationed. It’s not good, but for now, at least we have something to eat.”
Allea? It’s been, what, five years? And we’re still eating this sludge?” said Sabien, who was getting noticeably upset. “CARE has been telling our people for years that things will improve, but they never do!”