the waiting room
It’s quiet. Everyone in the room is contemplating their existence; their reasons to live, their regrets and their absolutions at this very second. Their minds are turning clogs so fast that the metal is making sparks, thoughts jumping from one memory to another- shattered fragments, never complete. The room itself has no windows, no cracks, no shadows. Only bleak white walls, polished floors and strong fluorescent lighting beaming from the ceiling.
Through the closed carbonadium door there are muffled voices, one low and confident and another high, speculative and questioning. They speak for a period of time, stop, and begin again, each time lasting for a length longer than before. At last the door opens and a Consolidator walks out.
The Consolidators, for lack of a better term, repair those that still have a few years remaining. Arms, legs, stomachs and even vital organs can be issued through them, although most of the time when your vital organs don’t work they don’t bother to repair you.
“Jackson Eight Charlie, Jordan Four Victor, please proceed to consolidation room 23F,” the room announces automatically.
I stand in the corner, like I have for the past half a century, watching. After a while it’s so easy to tell who’s going to make it and who ends up in a trash pile, unconsolidated. Figuratively, of course. There isn’t really a pile, it’s actually neatly organised body parts in frozen boxes.
Sometimes they struggle, but mostly they just go quietly because they know that when the end has been predetermined there’s no use in fighting. When you listen closely, the screaming is what concerns those in this room, but it’s really the silence you need to worry about. Silence means there’s no coming back.
I’m sick too. Like almost half of the people that pass through here the Consolidators don’t know how fix me. Not that they didn’t try, just that when the maximum human age is set to 35 and few generations pass the people start forgetting.
They moved me here from the concert hall in the summer of 2116 because I could no longer withstand weekly recitals. It was also the year The Dome had been completed so you could no longer tell it was summer, but when the performances were over I’d be wheeled into a corner by a window. The sea levels were rising, and there were blizzards and scorching heat all in the same day. From the window I could see how lucky I was to be inside The Dome, away from nature’s elements.
Jordan Four Victor doesn’t come back. The door slides open to allow another couple through as Charlie exits. She walks across the smooth tiled floor to the transport tubes without looking back once.
Construction of The Dome started in 2080, when it became evident the polar ice caps were melting at an increasingly alarming rate. At the time the weather was manageable in all countries but the northern and southern extremities, so mass migration occurred from Greenland, Denmark, Iceland and parts of Canada and Norway. Naturally, the most desirable countries were America and Australia whom afforded space, wealth and relatively stable weather patterns. The Northern Europeans shifted down to central Europe and the Russians broke the former USSR borders. When they stopped taking immigrants the remainder of the population started flooding into South America and Africa. Each continent now has their own Dome and self governing enterprise, all of which have the idea to expand to another planet sooner or later. In 1996 NASA announced there was evidence of fossilised life on Mars, in 2006 that organisms could live and grow with water, and in 2015 they determined it would be possible for humanity to survive there.
They began to limit things; technology that used too much gas and oil, products that weren’t recyclable, the amount of space per metres squared one family could live in, and eventually lifespan.
I was oblivious to it all until the audience gradually began to disappear. In the old days thousands of people would gather in the concert hall and the pianist and I would entertain and exhilarate them, showing them such beauty in music that they had never seen before. They would applaud and walk away in wonder, and I would feel fulfilled even as I was once again wheeled into my corner. Yet out of everything, I miss seeing the sun the most, and would happily wither away as I bask in its warmth.
Today the Consolidators are moving me. I no longer belong in the waiting room with the fixable or discardible patients as I once did. My sleek black paint has been chipping for half a century and my keys have loosened and fallen as the children play with me, attempting to unlock the forgotten beauty of music. They finally deemed me irreparable.
In the end you realise there’s not much you could have done. Over the past few generations they’ve only recorded what was deemed important, and it’s difficult to fit everything into what the humans believe should be inclusive in their “history”. They’ve remembered their progress, from the development of the all encompassing Dome to the conquest of a separate living space on Mars.
But they’ve also lost so much. They’ve lost the ability to twist the copper wires and steel so they vibrate just right, how to shape the wood as if it were something beautiful. And how to use such instruments not only for progress in science and technology, but for music and art. If such things were to be considered then yes, they would be stronger as a race, but weaker in humanity.
My wheels roll across the seamless floor, never hitting a single bump all the way to my destination. There they leave me, on the wastelands bordering the outside, next to the edge of the Dome where everything unrecyclable comes to be destroyed.
I look at the blazing sun, unable to feel its warmth through barricading elements and controlled temperatures inside the Dome, but I concentrate on imagining the feeling. And await my destruction.