Author : Jedd Cole
There are a million people in this city, and none of them speak the same language. They are passing through to distant parts, nodding their heads to the immigration officers and their berets. They are carrying their passports in the numb fingers of their right hands. They are dragging their bags across the sterile floor with their left hands. They are sagging under the weight of bags on their shoulders and broken backs.
It is cold on the platform. Outer space tends to make everything cold. It’s the perfect condition for the fever.
There are a million venders in this city, one for every man, woman, child. They use their machines, machines with lips and beautiful faces and smooth skin to speak honeyed things to these little polyglots. It is not coercion–everyone accedes to vendors’ programs. Come earn a living working for [mining conglomerate] on Mars. Realize the [“career goal” entry from mandatory survey] you’ve always dreamed of at [mining conglomerate] in the Tau Asteroid Station. Visit your [“closest deceased relative” entry from mandatory survey] in the holographic gardens on Titan. The machines love these people and kiss them in careful ways.
There is only one answer. It’s the social pathogen, the Yes Fever. And it’s catching. There are a million slaves in this station-city, headed for parts unknown that they think they know because the machines have told them all about it–the successes awaiting their eager labor in the side of unassuming red rocks–the opportunities for visiting masked holograms of dead relatives during lunch break before returning to the off-planet call center–the chance to make it big working for a new man every night, their faces bidding on you in a dark room downstairs.
It’s got to be a fever–it’s cold on this platform, but they’re all sweating.
There are a million seats on the ships at the edge of this city. They are empty and full and boarding but never unloading. There are a million one-way tickets being given to the nodding infirmed, headed to distant parts and new lives just like this one. They’ll never lose the fever, though. They say it’s terminal.