When Randolph saw the old movie wend its way from the list of initial credits and pass into the dark streets of Dublin to arrive at the doorstep of the party and enter he was aghast at a demonstrations of those long accustomed that for the available person that he had come to miss. Each of the party that had de-trained from a short line of carriage touching hands and cheeks most frivolously in a manner that was currently taboo some sixties years later. How strange it seemed to find people so at ease with each other. And to find a table so well set with savories that for a variety of reasons now simply ceased to exist. Even more fantastic were the scenes of archaic nineteenth century dancing where as part of the ritual of that form the entire ensemble exchanged partners with an equal degree of relaxed formality.
Now of course, no one touched nor even risked the possibility of contact. The rule being to space one’s self at lease two meters hence from any other human being. The virus that was now a yearly scourge passing through the masked throng by way of these gaps choosing only an occasional dance partner of its own to perform it remarkably quick step momento mouri. The social life that one enjoyed was part fragment of the memories of one’s age group in consort with an extended text exchange. Who would have ever guessed that such a situation could have ever come to pass even considering what in hindsight was an amazingly linear logical progression of steps by way of what had in that time earlier seemed as mere happenstance. Now it was clear to everyone and all that existence was at the largess of the world global state and one had to watch their step or risk being instantly disinherited from the hegemony that had displaced that nasty notion of a Democratic based Republic. “Roger, Wilko and out!”, for those two hundred plus years of Populist folly!
The minuscule generation that had fragmentarily survived knew. Or at least could draw upon an inky of fragmentary sensations nested somewhere deep in their dreams. The preeminent generation that had pulled through despite massive losses of course being celibate. Their most practical memories being in prophylactis suits of the latest Latex compound that provided some degree of intimate sensation but seemed equally blunted by a lack of that certain tactile intimacy that they had been told about. The sexual fury of the generation one decade their elder was something completely unknown to them. The safety of being cocooned in one way or another from infancy a more familiar state of being.
Randolph’s E-Pal lady friend like almost everyone revealed hr face only to her intimates on Skype. Otherwise in public like everyone else she wore a fifteenth generation M95 and goggles. The entire population of the planet seemed to have more in common to the now extinct species of amphibian known as frogs. How strange that natural selection had played such a pivotal role? That and the conspiracy theory of a genetically managed super virus that some cranks had tried to advance over the government’s research that it has after all been a tainted portion of bat soup in a Asian market. Thank god that social credit control had erased all the fringe with their screwball theories. Now of course, the gold plated standard was to be part of those that had originally been serologically confirmed as having had the virus and therefore had hereditary immunity. They rise to the top positions of society as being the most bullet proof against any of the successive waves of epidemic that each Spring seemed to rise up from nowhere and cull the herd even further. The world population down to three hundred and fifty million from the most desirable figure of half a billion. How odd that the small group of eighties billionaires had had the foresight to plan contingencies envisioning the loss of the other six and a half billion? Clusters of the remnants of bodies were still being discovered in remote areas of the planet.
In a land where nothing seemed amazing anymore as it was quickly explained away by perpetually smiling happy face computer avatars it was impossible to imagine the former sense of perpetual angst that epitomized former existence? Or so such topics were run for the benefit of the few if any that were still interested in the past. The future as everyone knew was simply a continuous replay of the present. So that left only the secure feeling that ones existence was vouchsafed for an ongoing eternity. Oh sure there were always new simulations concocted for the E-Pad, but contrary to any texted intercourse, things were unremittingly dull. It was rare that human voices were heard outside of streamed media of classic situational remakes currently on their twentieth or so generation. The constant isolation of individual cubicle life left most grievously rotund, even though the portions of the standard starchy GMO gruel were daily monitored remotely. The dispenser automatically refilled as needed by robot device.
Some others like Randolph had done his bout in the Community Service Brigade searching out long abandoned rural habitations where the artifacts of the past might be found unsullied. The old I-Phone that he had pried out of the skeletal hand of a suburbanite the year before had contained that dated movie upon its mini-SD chip. This sort of thing was highly frowned upon by the administration but like everything else including the numerous illicit porn channels, a blind eye was cast in the other direction until and excuse was need to accuse and eliminate. One knew silently within that any regional administration official always felt more at was if they were dealing with someone socially corrupted that way. It made their daily tasks a matter of formality rather than one of tiresome sometimes fruitless investigation of an annoying “Goody Two Shoes” that their supervisors upstairs mandated should be got rid of. The best course of action was to keep as low and out of sight within the demographic based habitual behaviors of the greater herd. Keep your own errant thoughts under cover as best one could before sleep and the 7G configured mind plumber’s were set into operation to scan one’s unconscious dreams. The toilet more then all other places seemed the best place to escape detection as the physical strain of daily reliefs still created interference with the based line of one’s previously tracked pattern of daily thoughts. Five minute full rubber-coated sex being the other possible method of obtaining some private space for one’s own individual thoughts, however brief. But that was only aloud once a month an by filing for a coital permit a minimum of at least thirty days previous. One’s behavioral score for the previous work quarter a bug factor in receiving this perk.
The movie had been viewed in sections accompanied by overly dramatic grunts and groans theatrically offered in his own darkened water closet. The elegance of manners and table offered by its display not lost upon him despite the fact of the setting of its viewing. He might have supposed that this illicit pleasure that gave him momentary escape was duly noted from above, but as it appeared to have no discernible effect over his normal behavior in all the other periods of work and play it was, as was previously elaborated, most certainly tolerable.
The virus had by now mutated for so many successive generations that it had developed a capacity to interact as a singular super organism. A magnificent inorganic invention whose extended structure offered mass data storage far beyond any mechanical incarnation as well as an instantaneous precocious intellect that could be tapped to anticipate the concerns of its human host. Those patently invisible to the naked eye the proclivity of the species and the genetically modified path of its evolutionary development towards some degree of sentience suggested to Randolph that this species had over these generations of its own development tapped into those invisible higher echelons of his own phylum and functionally displaced them? Who was running the show at this point one had to wonder considering the main admirable trait that was continually pushed was to be unerringly persistent in ones mediocrity. Something that in a long forgotten former existence could have been likened to an agricultural bovine world of pens and stalls and the tenants of animal husbandry.
The plight of the horses harnessed to the carriages seen at both the beginning and late at it’s the movie’s conclusion remarkably akin in some way to the current social order. A broken record of continuous acquiescence never needing the bite of a buggy whip save for a slight tap now and then to signal the need to commence one’s function?. Dublin was simply a never never land where one found more to relate to in the mere physical appearance of the creatures that supported the strange long taboo practices that now seemed utterly shocking. Better to reorder one’s diversions back to less challenging material and ponder how to dispose of this ancient winged ‘wand of Mercury’ of the past that had brought this forgotten realm to his attention before some imminent purge found its way to his own door. The greater dilemma being how to expeditiously dispose of the device in the most innocuous manner possible without his own actions luring some form of discovery from either virus or man!