Authors: Dayton Grey
Sabien smiled and shook his head as he punched in his order by tapping the pictures of the Crunchy Roll and the red drink. Allea also punched in her order of the Sweet Roll and a green drink. Geon finally settled on the Rainbow Roll and a blue drink for himself. The pictures of the menu faded out and only four small blinking circles in the middle of the table were left of the hologram. Geon sat back in his chair and watched the plates of food and drinks sliding out of the holes in the back wall, traveling quickly down the clamoring track in the room. As they approached their designated tables, the other patrons of the restaurant grabbed the food and drinks right off the track.
There are no servers in this restaurant.
“So, G,” Allea said, looking up from her cuff. “First day… pretty overwhelming, right? Are you doing okay? What are you thinking?”
Geon thought about her questions before answering.
It’s true. It was an overwhelming day. There was so much going on. So much to process. So many new things. It’s hard to know how to feel yet.
“I’m not sure, Ally. It’s all so new. So
. Knowing how many people died is hard to handle. And the destruction around us…that flood and those waves… it was
But also, it was sort of exciting. It felt good to run, too. But, this place… this world, is so dark. It’s not the same. And the people seem really…”
“Out of it, I know,” Allea said as she nodded in agreement. “We try to make the best of it, but it’s not easy sometimes. It’s not the world you remember.”
The four of them talked about the day’s events and laughed about their narrow escape. All of them agreed they would keep their perilous event a secret from Mama V.
“Besides,” Sabien chimed. “Mama V doesn’t know a REMpod from a steamjet, let alone know how to track us on her cuff. What big Mama doesn’t know won’t hurt her!”
A signal from their table notified them of their approaching dishes. Geon turned behind him and grabbed the items, knocking the bottle of purple drink on the floor as it quickly flew past them. Fortunately, nothing spilled from the canteen-like container.
“Oh no!” Kukumi cried as he reached down to grab his drink.
Once on the table, Geon looked down at his order. On the side was a bottle of light blue liquid and on the plate in front of him was six pieces of a sliced sushi-like roll. It contained a number of different cubed items within the middle of the roll, each a different shade of grey, and the entire outside of the roll was a thick, smooth, off-white substance.
“Some rainbow,” he muttered to himself.
He didn’t have much experience with sushi as a child, but remembered eating rice and watching his parents eat different and interesting types of fish when they went to a Japanese restaurant. Here, however, there was no rice or fish to be seen. He looked at the others plates and noticed that theirs looked almost exactly the same as his, with only very slight variations.
Geon grabbed the spork on the side of the table and pushed at the outer white portion of the roll. It bent inward and then sprung back at him, with a gelatinous texture and wiggly movements. Leaning forward, he took a whiff of the roll. It had the same slightly fishy smell as the goop they had for breakfast earlier.
, he thought,
at least a fishy smell is acceptable in a sushi restaurant!
He scooped up his first piece and popped it in his mouth. Instantly, he tasted the same strange flavor that he had for breakfast, minus the sour fruit sauce. The outside was mushy and had a slightly rubbery texture and didn’t seem to be breaking down easily as he chewed it. The inside colored portions of the roll were slightly less mushy in texture, but didn’t seem to have any different flavor profiles of their own.
And there it is again,
That faint hint of something like rotten fish.
Geon swallowed the half chewed piece with a painful gulp and looked to the others with a perplexed expression on his face.
“Uhm. Are you guys
this? I mean, what is it?”
Sabien laughed as Kumuki gobbled his fourth piece down. “Not most of us, G,” he answered. “I know what you’re thinking. Everything tastes the same. Well that’s because it
the same. This fishy white processed stuff is all we eat. It’s in everything. Get used to it. Take my advice and use a little food lube.” With that he put his second piece in his mouth and took a gulp of his drink to help him swallow the food. Allea sat quietly, studying something on her cuff and didn’t look up at her food. She just jabbed each bite with her fork, often missing the food completely, and chewed without any complaint.
“It’s food, Sabe. It’s for nourishment,” she said. “And it’s not that bad, really. G, you’ll get used to it.”
. He had high hopes for this restaurant, but after all the fancy presentation and technology, the food was lackluster at best.
Less than lackluster, really.
He copied Sabien’s technique of using liquid to move the food down as easily as possible. After they were finished eating, Allea did a quick check on her cuff to make sure the flood had subsided and they proceeded home. On the way to the station, they witnessed a civilian consoling another one who was lying, bloodied, in the wet streets. Geon wanted to stop and help but was advised by the others to keep moving.
Is this the world we live in now? People are hurt… dying, and we just go about our lives?
Geon was quiet for most of the ride home, thinking about the events of this first day. The new world was a mystery to him. From his childhood, he remembered feeling the warmth of the sun on his skin and remembered smiling faces everywhere. This world was different to him. It was dark, dangerous, and frightening. As young as they were, his little sister and their new siblings seemed as if they had to always be on guard for new threats.
They have to know how to live and survive on their own and they already had experienced more pain and death around them than anyone should ever have to bear
Deep down, though, Geon felt that there was more to this world than what he had seen so far. Something felt off to him. He could tell Sabien felt similarly by the things that he said. There was also an unknown feeling of excitement. Despite the dangers, Geon had a desire to see and explore this new world. He wondered how he would be able to learn more about the world with CARE regulating so much of what they can and can’t do. Looking around at the other three, he was glad to have them in his lives. Despite the condition of the world, he still was grateful to be given a second chance at his life.
“Next stop. Sector eight.”
As they hopped off and made their way back home, Allea looked at Geon and said with a smile, “You’ll get your own LifeCuff today, Geon. And by the way, tomorrow is your first day of school.”
Geon was brought out of sleep slowly and gently the next morning. The light gradually increased in brightness and hue, the soft sounds of flowing water and exotic bird calls grew louder, and a gentle breeze awakened the hairs on his skin, all from the REMpod around him. Geon opened his eyes and yawned, taking a few moments to think about yesterday. It was so much to process all at once. He needed more time. He was nervous about going to school and meeting other kids. Looking down at his Biolimb, he wondered if they would tease him. He wished he had more time.
But one thought kept pushing forward in his mind. He was
He had a second chance. He didn’t want to waste it.
A rush of excitement hit him about this new day. With another yawn, he stretched his body out, sat up and his pod opened like a hatching egg.
A projection on the wall lit up behind Geon, startling him at first. It was an animation of a female character with a backdrop of the planet Earth behind her, showing clear blue skies and sunshine.
“Good morning, Geon. Today is Monday, April 21, 2031. It’s a beautiful day on Earth. Today’s forecast is mostly sunny with a high temperature of seventy-two degrees and a fifteen percent chance of precipitation. Water level is approximately thirteen feet high and permamist saturation is down one-point-four percent from last week. Have a positive and productive day!”
Does this happen every morning
He looked around him and noticed that two of the pods were already open and empty. Kumuki’s pod, however, was still closed and he could see him lying motionless through the thin, jagged crack. He looked down at his wrist and punched clumsily at his new LifeCuff. It booped and beeped at him and he shook his head in frustration.
I used to be good with technology and now I’m like a caveman
. After a few seconds, he gave up and headed out the door and across the hall to the bathroom.
“Morning, G!” Sabien said as he leaned over the sink while swishing something around his mouth. “Sleep good? Bet you had some crazy dreams after yesterday’s adventure. I know I did,” he said without looking away from the mirror. “I had a dream that I was running away from the water, but then as the water hit me, I realized I could run
on the water
. I was literally walking—running, rather—
Geon laughed to himself and walked up to Sabien. “Soooo, how does all this work??”
“Pretty easy, really, G,” Sabien replied as he leaned forward to spit a light greenish fluid from his mouth. “We use oralgel instead of that primitive waterjet you remember. Toilets haven’t changed much, well, one thing has,” he said with a wry smile. “No more of that antiquated paper. It’s just blasts of water and air. Aside from those, the only things
different from what you remember are the Excelerator and the steamjet.”
“Well, you know that CARE mandates everything. And with so few of us left to survive, it’s important to keep in tip-top shape, especially if we have to make another sprint like we did yesterday. The Excelerator is an exercise device that keeps us in shape. We’re required to log a certain amount of time on it each week. I’m one of the best at it, but let’s save it for another day. Baby steps, right bro?” he said with a smile and a pat on Geon’s shoulder. “As for the steamjet, it’s basically like the showers you remember, except much more efficient. It’s fast and it’s timed and you aren’t supposed to extend it, although Kuki does it a lot. He can’t seem to grasp the concept of wash quick and get out,” he said with a laugh as he opened the door to the steamjet and turned it on. There was a beep and the loud sounds of water and steam gushing out of the ceiling and walls.
“EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO CLEAN YOURSELF COMES RIGHT OUT OF THE ORB IN THE CEILING! AND YOUR CLOTHES ARE ALL IN THE COMPARTMENTS IN THE WALL THERE,” Sabien yelled, over the sounds of the steamjet. “YOURS IS BOTTOM LEFT. ONCE YOU’RE CLEAN JUST PUSH THE BUTTON AND IT WILL SLIDE OUT. THE COMPARTMENTS ARE SELF CLEANING SO YOUR CLOTHES ARE ALWAYS SANITIZED.”
Geon walked over to his compartment and pushed a small button on the bottom right. A drawer slid out quickly as he jumped out of the way. An array of black, white, and grey shirts, pants, and underwear were neatly folded within.
, Geon thought to himself. Another different beep came from the steamjet.
“Sabe, why is everything so…
“AHHHHHHHHHH, GOOD QUESTION, MY BOY!” he yelled once again. “SOME PEOPLE SAY IT’S BECAUSE THE CHEMICALS TO MAKE DYES AREN’T READILY AVAILABLE ANYMORE. BUT I KNOW THAT IT’S JUST ANOTHER WAY FOR CARE TO CONTROL US. THEY THINK THAT IF WE WEAR COLOR, IT WILL MAKE US MORE EMOTIONAL AND THEN WE WON’T FOLLOW THEIR ORDERS! PLUS, I’VE HEARD THAT A LOT OF CARE MEMBERS ARE ACTUALLY ALIENS, AND EVERYONE KNOWS THAT ALIENS ARE PROBABLY COLOR-BLIND! ACTUALLY I’M NOT SURE ABOUT THAT LAST PART BUT I’M WORKING ON SOME OTHER THEORIES!”
Geon shook his head in amazement and thought about what Sabien said.
Could CARE go so far to try to control the masses of people by regulating something as simple as color? It seems highly improbable… ridiculous even.
Geon wondered about what other crazy ideas Sabien had about CARE.
The steamjet began a quick set of rapid beeps and the water quickly turned off. Instantly, the air dryers activated within the steamjet. Seconds later they turned off.
“Avert your eyes, G! We don’t use towels anymore… just hot air for a quick dry. So I’m coming out and I’m coming fast!”
Geon smiled uncomfortably and stared down as Sabien jumped out of the box in a naked dash and grabbed his underwear and clothes from his drawer.
“All right, hurry up, brother. I’ll see you at breakfast.”
Geon clumsily went through the motions in the bathroom, and with only one slight mistake of shooting water up onto himself from the toilet while trying to urinate, he managed to figure most everything out.
, he thought, as he swished the oralgel around his mouth.
Can’t they flavor it like something that doesn’t taste like fish
It’s one thing to only eat fishy food but quite another to clean your mouth with it.
He peered at his shiny white teeth in the mirror and then cautiously stepped into the steamjet. He looked down at his left hand and stretched and closed his fingers a few times. There was a tiny seam where the prosthetic hand met his real forearm.
It really does look real
, he thought. Still, he was aware of it and it made him feel uncomfortable to look at it. After a quick wash with water and a couple cycles of strange fluids coming out of a sphere in the ceiling, he finished up and dried off. He laughed thinking about Kumuki extending his steamjet time, imagining him falling asleep while standing in there. After putting on his clothes he joined the rest of the family in the main room.