In a future dictated by the virus, human contact is reserved for nostalgia, children of the future don’t know the warmth of a stranger's hand, the connections formed by touch alone. The only remnants of the before times are the stories kept alive by the elders, passed on to the next generation. The most fundamental functions of humanity are prisoners in these memories, reproduction is a purely logical procedure, sperm & eggs are owned by the state, matches are decided by an artificial intelligence that analyses all aspects of a person. From their shoe size to their ability to spin plates, everything is quantified, reduced to numbers and complex mathematical equations are the conceivers of life. Once babies are born, they are matched with the ideal care givers and raised in the perfect way for their chosen role in society. In this age there are no flaws, perfection runs through the veins of culture. A person’s name reflects their assigned job.

 

Glue holds things together, he is stuck to these stories of the past. Often, he daydreams about embracing other humans. He is a child of the future; an awkward, isolated, secretly creative rebel. He wears clothes of the old times, a 3rd generation black and white suit. He believes he was born in the wrong era; he listens to old music through old technology and watches old movies. Maybe he was born a hundred years too late? It’s 2070 but he dreams of the 1970s.

 

In 2070 people generally live alone, interaction is reduced to necessity, shopping is online except for a few novelty shops selling artefacts from the “before times”. Glue loves visiting these places and imagining what life must have been like before the virus. In an old novelty shop tucked down a backstreet, the shelves were filled with magic. Old, worn out, rusty magic. Trinkets of a time erased from the history books, it’s not like any of these things are illegal, more like people didn’t really care anymore. Life was now so perfect, why should we remember our flawed, animalistic past? History books were reserved for scientific and political breakthroughs, the magnificent human achievements that laid the foundations for this flawless society. Glue fantasised over these flaws, browsing physical manifestations of an imperfect past. He felt that without these, life was perfectly dull. Pristinely vanilla. It was the flaws that gave context. He filled his life with these broken things as they helped him to appreciate everything else. 

 

The shop was old, dark and overcrowded. Everything was a shade of brown. All the once brightly coloured toys now blended into the rest of the shop like fallen leaves from a great oak. There was no sign of a shopkeeper, rarely did you see another human inside these shops. Most of the transactions were automated, using touch screens and cameras. Glue had a look around, turning 360 degrees to scan the items in the shop. Toy Cars, Books, Pens, Paper, Old Brooms, CD players, Satellites, Lighters, Old Hats, Notes, Coins. In the corner hidden beneath old magazines something caught his eye, it was a small wooden box, delicately carved with Kechian symbols. He wiped away the dust and picked it up. Inside were a pair of old rubber goggles, he had no idea what they were for, none of the books or stories had ever described these goggles, though he was drawn towards them, like it was an old friend from a previous life. Were they magic? 

 

Though on the outside his emotions appeared neutral and unchanged, inside a rush of excitement grew from deep within his stomach. A tiny tremble beneath his skin urged him to lift the goggles and place them around his head. The closer they got to covering his eyes the more he felt something amazing was happening. When he finally had them on this rush of excitement dissipated immediately as the familiar feeling of disappointment took over: they weren’t magic. They were ordinary rubber goggles. Though he did like the look of them. He began to imagine what they might have been used for as he maintained eye contact with himself in the reflection in an old mirror. Although his imagination was wild, on the outside he mostly appeared dull & emotionless. This was especially apparent in 2070, as the lack of physical human connection has been compensated by overt human emotions. Facial expressions, body language and communication had become sickeningly obvious. In Glue’s opinion anyway, really, he was the odd one out

 

The bell rang as the door opened and a petite, brunette, female entered the shop. She was wearing a shoulder-less sequinned dress and a very peculiar white canvas mask that resembled a before times robot. He wasn’t used to seeing other humans inside novelty shops and there definitely wasn’t enough space to maintain the correct distance. Nevertheless, she presumed to walk directly towards him and stopped less than a metre in front. Everything else melted away. There was an indescribable feeling, like what you might feel if you heard the song your caregiver used to hum when you were a baby, a hot  chocopot and kingsley crumbles kind of feeling. 

 

“Who are you?” his mind said as his lips struggled to open. The toy cars and old hats were replaced by an emptiness. She said nothing in response, instead she reached out her hand and touched him. Either through fear or something else this experience became so overwhelming that Glue passed out. Total darkness.

 

When he came to, he was walking through a field with his keyboard in one hand and his other interlinked with hers. There was no space for thoughts, only pure emotion, the flow took over and they were submissive to it, no longer were they in control. They floated down the stream of life together. Not a single word was spoken but he felt he knew her more than anyone he’d ever known. He had touched her. He was still touching her. For the first time in his life he was touching another human. The virus, the law, everything else was forgotten, it was a primal connection and every particle in his body vibrated to the exact same frequency as hers. The exact same frequency as the song his caregiver would hum when he was a baby. Hmmmmm… It was somewhere between a C major and an E minor, or maybe a combination of the two. It wasn’t pure bliss and nor was it overwhelming fear, it was a kind of grey. The space between Yin and Yang, an illogical balance.

 

The vibration was so loud that he could no longer hear his fears, he was both numb and hypersensitive. They ran through fields, up hills and through trees. It was the early afternoon with the long grass dancing beneath a thick soup of pollen and insects. All life moved in unison with nobody stepping a foot wrong. Glue wanted to do all the things he’d heard about in the before times, all the mundane activities two people might do together. They stopped next to a lake where some chairs and tables were positioned in a way that Glue recognised as a before times Coffee Shop. Coffee Shops had pretty much become extinct in the new world, this didn’t make sense but he didn’t stop to question it. They sat and Glue poured them both a coffee & took a sip from his, she didn’t touch hers and they sat in silence. There was nobody else around, they were completely alone and yet this was the least alone he’d ever felt. 

 

Glue wondered sometimes who she was? Why did she wear this helmet? Would he ever see her face? But he didn’t want to dwell in thought, his logical mind might tell him he was dreaming. This was too real to be a dream.

 

The sun was low in the sky and a warm orange glow began to silhouette them against the horizon. They stood together at the precipice of eternity, their figures side by side. Glue had achieved so many of his dreams in one day, he began to wonder if they might do what they did in the old movies and kiss. Almost as if she’d heard his thoughts, she leaned towards him. He’d almost completely forgotten about the goggles until he felt them vibrate. In front of him appeared 3 large white Kechian symbols and a lightning bolt. "Out of battery".