Author: Alex Z. Salinas

“I got to know some people.”

Something nobody says anymore. So when a guy behind me at the café whispered that in my ear, I turned around and shushed him. Put my hand over his mouth. I told him we could get killed if somebody heard that.

Nobody says anything anymore.

Back in my capsule after another night of pointless carousing, I’m restless again. Idealess again. The moon is out, but I can’t see the stars.

In this third and final act of civilization I call post-Socialization, we’re cooked. We’ve primed ourselves for a cyber-sunburn, and now we’re toast.

It’s the devices. They’ve changed us. They’ve scrambled us. Through them, something’s been put into us. We have no control. We’re not free.

Literature exists still. I’ve read some of it. But I’m one of the few, I suspect. I’m shocked at how things used to be. Now, I can’t get an idea out of my head.

In recent news, communities of violent humpbacks have sprouted up—people with re-engineered DNA from decades of looking down at their devices. They’re out for blood. They’re coming for them. And they’re coming for us. All of us.

Church is dead. Temple is dead. God is dead. Small business is dead. Land developers have destroyed them. Our religious have turned to webinars. If their servers are discovered, they’re risking everything. It’s only a matter of time. But I pray for them.

From what I understand, only hospitals remain mostly the same. A few months ago, out of curiosity, I snuck into an emergency room. I wandered the hallways until I came across an old man on a stretcher. I walked up to him to get a closer look. I assumed he was unconscious. Suddenly, he grabbed my collar and yanked me close to his face. His eyes were watery and yellow. I could smell something awful in his breath. The smell of death.

“Get out of here!” he shouted. “They’re watching you! Let me meet Allah in peace!”

I ran out of the hospital as fast as I could. I didn’t look back. For weeks, I had nightmares of the dying man.

I’ve been trying to write everything down. Trying to tell the truth. Trying to spark something.

I want to burn this endless prison we’re in to the ground. But I don’t know how. I don’t know how much time is left.

I’m being watched. I know it. I can feel it.

The devices still call out to me. The urge is eating me. I can feel myself ripping apart slowly.

We’re not alive, most of us. We’re not well.

Something needs to happen. Before it’s too late.

A spark.

Somebody’s knocking on my capsule.

I have to see who it is. I don’t have a choice.

There’s only one way in and one way out.