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by John King

15 April 2115. I am 100 years old.

The birthday text from the President was functional. Present yourself to Eternity Unit to select options.

1 GONA, Go Now Age. 2 NETA, Near to Eternity Age.

The biomechanic assessed for option two — an offer of a thousand years. Two downsides.

“Downsides!”

“We are working on perfection. The Authority briefing is on the screen, it explains the process onto your retina reader.”

The Eternity process replaces the oxygen based blood system with nitrogen. The abbreviation is NAP — Nitrogen Age Postponer. You are reactivated 1,000 years hence. You can stop at that time, or opt for another 1,000 years forward, never back.

“And the other downside?”

“You won’t be able to cry. The nitrogen will close the tear ducts. Forever.”

As the nitrogen took effect I remembered the sound of the moor stream I knew seasons ago. A torrent in winter, a trickle in summer, the point in spring and autumn when the sound meant the level was the same.

***

“Happy New Millennia, welcome to 3115.”

The biomechanics were gathered round the NAP capsule like a flock of white birds.

“What season is it?” I asked, to their bemusement.

One said, “Take your documents chip and explore the facility.”

I recognised her from 1,000 years ago.

I waved the chip in front of the screen.

The computer began: “Welcome to year 3115, township LDS1, in the state of AFTA, the Americas Free Trade Authority.”

I selected Background on the screen.

“The politics of the 21st century was characterized by referenda, the state formerly known as the UK fragmented into micro states, Scotland joining the European Free Trade Authority, EFTA, England AFTA. Following Water War Three, the water rich republic of Yorkshire became a semi-autonomous region within AFTA.”

I asked the biomechanic if I was free to leave. Fresh air.

She almost smiled: “You mean The Outside? We must issue you with one of these.”

It was a respirator mask, a modified version of one I’d seen on the news tube of 20th century wars.

Outside it was difficult to get my bearings. It seemed logical to believe the moor, AKA purple zone, must be uphill.

No humans, no birds, a black peace.

I pressed the info bar on my wrist map. The display in the mask eye visor read: “In the 22nd century the purple zone was developed in line with regional policy: HDH, LMS, FU.”

I clicked on abbreviations. I could see abbreviations were the in-thing these days. HDH: High Density Housing, LMS: Leeds Manchester Space Port, FU: Fracking Units.

In the endless concrete only one crack of colour, a flower, purple. It must have been all that could live out there a thousand years on.

I flung my mask into the line of the old stream. The atmosphere bit my eyes. I waited for the tears to come.


John King writes flash fiction and reviews and listens to radio drama. He leads a creative writing workshop as a volunteer within the NHS. http://www.johnkinginternational.eu/

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