Skip to main content

Remember When



When Jack arrived at the nursing home with his family, the director quickly and quietly took him aside and explained to him today's visit might be "difficult."
Jack, his wife Anne, and their twin daughters now both 10 followed an orderly through a windowless hallway paved with blue carpet that promoted one of the girls to ask if grandma "lives in a hotel?"
Her room was on the far end of the hallway. For Jack, the walk always felt a little bit longer. When they stopped at her door, the growing sense of dread had turned to nausea. Every time he saw her, she seemed further away, and not just mentally. Her thinning hair would be whiter her flesh more shriveled.
Her decaying mind kept her obscured behind a veil of memories. The past was more real to her than the present.
 When the orderly opened the door, Jack saw his mom sitting up in her bed wearing a VR helmet with a rare but pleasant smile on her face.
"I have to warn you she can get pretty mad when we take the helmet," The orderly warned.
Jack nodded.
The young orderly cautiously approached the old woman and gently tapped her on the shoulder.
"Mrs. Chambers,"
Jack watched his mother's wide smile collapse into a grimace.
"What is it?!" she snarled.
"Your son is here to visit your Mrs. Chambers, and he brought your granddaughters."
"What granddaughters? And I told you my name is Brittany!" she answered acidly. "And you can tell them to leave. I'm busy!"
"Maybe just see them for a few minutes?" The orderly suggested sweetly. "They're really excited to see you."
"Fine whatever," Brittany said. "I gotta go for a bit, but I'll hit you guys up later," the old woman said to the digital aberrations only visible to herself.
She took off the VR helmet and set it down on the bed.
"Hi, mom," said Jack.
"Hey, Jack, what's up?"
"I thought you might want to see the girls today. They just had their birth-'
"Is that my phone?" Brittany interrupted.
"No, mom, I didn't hear anything," Jack said in a tone of subdued frustration.
"I think I hear it," Brittany said, reaching for an old smartphone lying on her nightstand.
Her wrinkled fingers trembled as she tapped on the blank screen "Sorry I've been on this Twitter fight all day," she said
"What's Twitter?" asked one of the girls.
"Mom, the girls had their birthday yesterday. They're both ten now!"
Brittany didn't respond to the news. "Ugh, why isn't this thing working?!" Brittany tapped her bony finger against the blank surface.
She picked up the VR helmet and put it back over her head then picked up the dead phone again.
"Now, it's working."  Brittany's liver-spotted hands curled around the broken phone. "This bitch only has 12 followers," she muttered.
Jack signed in resignation.
Without any acknowledgment of her granddaughters, Brittany put back on the VR helmet to retreat back into the simulation. A simulation built from her most precious remaining memories. Memories that had all been thoroughly documented over a lifetime of social media use. All the posts and daily pictures made her timeline a flipbook of decay.
It was an existence where life had remained static and where she could at least believe she was safe from the corrosive effects of time. The machine resurrected the people and places her heart most yearned for from the days of her life she most treasured, and her son and his family were not included.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On the Eve of Extinction

The river was like a massive indigo snake coiling in the shadow of the canyons its eternal flow cut out of the very earth. Somewhere along the watery corridor, settled human life grew out of the muddy banks. The tribe sustained itself on the arterial river, steadily expanding and contracting with the rhythm of its flow like a beating heart. As far as anyone in the tribe knew no other arrangement had ever existed. The river had birthed them, molding sand and clay into flesh, and infusing the husks with its life-giving waters. Life under the desert’s smooth turquoise sky seemed safely stagnant. There was no inkling, no deciphered omens, absolutely no hunch of the approaching cataclysm lurking just out of sight obscured by the landscape’s jagged ridges. Not far from the isolated patchwork of green and brown earth settled by this tribe, the scion of ancient god well into his twilight years was on the cusp of fulfilling his divine purpose. Harmakar was sitting in the dust staring into t

In the Blink of an Eye

 Until now, the gears of history had ground at such a slow pace our perception of it was like a puzzle. The constantly shifting pieces created an eternally changing picture inhabited and shaped by generations. Progress made it possible for the change to arrive in the form of a flash just a millionth of a second long with a blinding light and the pain of flesh-searing fire that burned away the world I knew as if it were covered in lighter fluid. For us, there were no blue skies. Daytime was just when the sun was shining bright enough to penetrate through the acrid black clouds that had consumed the sky and mingled with the distant glow of the burning horizon, painting the atmosphere with blood. For an indeterminate number of hours, maybe as long as a day, it was the only thing I saw. The constant screams became white noise; as I spiraled into death, my perceptions continued to dim until there was nothing left but fear and pain. Every hour the world became dimmer, and I saw everything t

The end is nigh!

The air raid sirens wail, but the tv says everything is fine. No one may be left to tell the entire story of how it all went down, but fragments of armageddon are here. A benefit concert is held at Soldier Field in Chicago as refugees surge against the city's blast walls as the starts debate about handing out guns or birth control. On the west coast, a sustainable city must covert its solar-powered food delivery drones into flying bombs. In DC, the company that developed an AI that launched a military coup via Twitter wants the Pentagon to pay up before fleeing the country. These stories and more about what you might expect when the clock strikes midnight...  Click here to get the Kindle edition!