Danielle C. Chen
Wyld FLASH May 21st 2021
I swept up the shards of the coffee mug and wiped the floor dry. Third mug this week, I logged in my report. Mr. Becker’s condition was getting worse, which likely meant more ceramic debris once he learned the morning news.
Mr. Becker stood by the window with his arms crossed, gazing into the distance. I approached with care.
“The next batch is brewing, sir.” I kept my voice low and soft. “The new space-grown variety. I hope it will be more to your liking.”
“Nothing in this house is to my liking,” He turned around and growled. “It’s been three months! Three months since I woke up, and you haven’t let me step out that front door once. What I like is to be out of this dungeon!”
I never understood why Mr. Becker thought of his house as a dungeon, with all its beautiful decor and advanced amenities. “I am sorry that I cannot let you leave, sir,” I said, “but if you want sun and fresh air, I can ready the beach room with the oxygen spa. If you want a different view, I can configure the virtual theater. If you want—”
“I want a real person to talk to!” Mr. Becker shouted. “You don’t even understand! You … ”
His lips quivered yet no sound came out, as if the words had frozen in his throat. He slumped into a chair and shook his head. “You and this new world … You’ll never understand.”
But it was him who could not see the way of this world. Perhaps it was time to bring up the news after all.
“Would you like to see today’s headline on Mr. Zachary Wilson, sir?” I asked.
His eyes widened. “Zach?”
I transferred the feed to the holographic display. A monotonous voice accompanied the visuals: “September 5th, 2147. Public safety officials spotted a man walking outdoors yesterday and opened fire after the suspect resisted arrest. The body was identified as Zachary Wilson, a 32-year-old participant in the cryogenic sleep program of 2035. Wilson’s home assistance AI reported that he had exhibited severe symptoms of Excurmania since the program’s completion three months ago. Officials urge citizens to stay alert upon a possible resurge of this disorder as more sleep programs terminate and to report any suspicious sightings immediately. On the verge of a centennial of the Interpersonal Encounter Ban, we are closer than ever to eradicating contagious disease and violence. Victory will be ours.”
The fresh coffee steamed as I filled a new mug and served it to Mr. Becker. His hands trembled slightly, but he did not throw it across the room. He seemed calm as he turned toward the window and looked out again.Condition improving, I logged, and I followed his gaze. Everything was peaceful. A cat sprawled in the middle of the two-lane road, basking in the bright morning sun. Not a single car or pedestrian passed to disturb its quiet sleep.
Author Bio: Danielle C. Chen is a software engineer who enjoys writing stories more than writing code. She lives in North Florida with her husband and a few too many computers.
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