The alarm rings. 6:40. You shut it off. You rise. You shower. You dress. You leave. The morning goes by in a blur. You can’t remember what you had for breakfast, but it was probably a blueberry muffin and a caramel machiatto, the same thing you order every morning on your way to work. Someone paid for your order this morning, and for a brief moment you pondered why someone would do such a thing. But you put it in the back of your mind as there were more important things to think about, like the Johnson-Maxwell merger you’ve been working on for the past month. You put this at the forefront of your mind and go about your way to work.
The walk is lonely. The city is empty, devoid of what used to be called civil society. After a massive technological revolution, a global genocide took place. Human life was almost completely wiped out at this point, shortly replaced by robots and zombies. Big corporations dominate the world, controlling the robots and zombies that fill the streets, clad in Armani suits and Google glasses, communicating only via small, handheld metal boxes. They were everywhere, mindlessly making their way to their own destinations without cognizance or concern for the beings around them. You push past them and they do the same, keeping the city in a constant state of flux. Such is the flow of the new age.
In such a barren city, few groups of humans remain, scattered far and wide. You walk past a small community of them, just under an overpass on the way to work. They are deemed outcasts, freaks for their backward thinking, as they have shunned the religion that is technology. Instead they go about their lives preaching minimalism and patience, words typically spoken in a hushed tone if only to avoid association with such primitive beings. As you hurry along your way, one of the women calls out to you, asking why you rush past them every day without so much as to acknowledge their existence. I’m late for work, you say, only to be met by her spewing some nonsense about stopping to smell roses, as if anyone has the time to do such a pointless and trivial thing.
The day goes by and you find yourself back at your desk, studying the profit and loss margins from last quarter. Time drags by as you listen to the constant ticking of the clock on the wall behind you, a glaring contrast to the feverish clicking of the mouse and keyboard, instruments of monotony you’re forced to listen to at work every day for hours on end. You begin to wonder what you’re really doing there, why you continue to show up and whether or not you really have it better than that vermin under the overpass. You have to, right? Of course you do. But then again… You think about the zombies that flood the streets, how they’re really not that different from you at all. You all have the same routine, every day, every week, every year until you die. You begin to wonder how things have come to be this way, so monotonous, so repetitive. How did this become the norm, an acceptable way to live? The definition of insanity itself is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results. You start to contemplate what it must be like to live without technology, without the electrical chains that bind you. Wherever you go, no matter where you are, you must have access to a wall outlet and free wifi. You think about the freedom that comes with not having to worry about any of that. It must be nice. But that’s nonsense. How would you be able to survive otherwise, right? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, they say. But what if the hand that feeds and the hand that strangles are one in the same?
You decide not to give it any more thought, as that kind of thinking is heresy around here. Instead you decide to speculate on why someone would pay for another person’s order and why anyone would stop what they were doing just to smell roses, but that’s when it clicks. The woman that called out to you under the overpass is the same woman that was in front of you in line to get breakfast this morning. But why would she do such an absurd thing? Doesn’t she need the money, especially given her social status? You question why anyone could possibly be so.. so.. altruistic. The very word itself feels ancient to you, as if no one has ever had any reason to use the word in years. But now you’re intrigued. You’re honestly curious about it, so you decide that after work today, you’re going to find out why someone would act so foolishly. You’re going to go back to the overpass and find her so you can ask her yourse-
"Smith! Snap out of it and get back to work!"
Suddenly your supervisor is standing over your shoulder, yelling in your ear.
"Yes sir! I’m sorry, I must have zoned out for a second there," you say as he shakes his head and walks away.
The problem is, now you can’t remember why you zoned out in the first place. You vaguely remember that it was something strange and unique, but you can’t remember how or why. Oh well, you think to yourself. If I can’t even remember what it was, it couldn’t have been that important, right?
Right. You have work to do anyway.