His paces echoed through the tunnel. It was dark in there and he could barely see , but he needn’t worry about anything. Violence and thievery had long been a problem in this world, and even in complete obscurity citizens were expected not to have any fear. He knew the way in the dark, so he walked on.
But in his chest, something was amiss – or had been born anew. He was not sure if he felt too empty or too full, but he was walking fast, nervously clutching his hands, darting his eyes to one side then another. Acting so nervous and on edge in public could get you sectioned nowadays, so he was glad that at least he was walking down the scary tunnel all alone. Scary?, he thought. Why am I using this word?
Nothing had ever been scary before. In fact, the word ‘scary’ was at the most scholarly, only showing up in historical records – and to those who did not study history, completely absent from their daily lives. It was not a valid or real feeling for him, or most anybody. It was a word he read when studying the old disasters of the past, a word the people who had lived in those times muttered and historians wrote down, hoping to illustrate how it felt to be in a world without peace, without fulfillment, without happiness. In a world where the phrase “times are hard” transcended time itself, and all generations could claim they had a hard time during their lifetime. It was a world fascinating to John, but lately he had been carrying more than curiosity inside his heart. That feeling, that thing in his chest, it was nothing short of unheard of for at least a couple of decades.
In times before his, people were scared, terrified. But no longer, for a while ago a man in power picked up a copy of “Brave New World” and whilst mothers, fathers and natural births were still reality, with no egg babies being planned for the forseeable future, everyone’s life path was already traced from the maternity ward. The Ministry of Futures made sure of that, and people were given the jobs they were best for, depending on early disposition. Capacity is happiness.
So there was John, a historian, researching the times of fear. Times reported as the dark ages of war, violence, irrationality. By all accounts everyone was unhappy back then, and now people were happy as can be. No obstacles, just straightforward guidelines on how to live life, what steps to take, how to reach the major goals. Although goals were probably not the right word for it – disappointment wasn’t around anymore and John had studied extensively that it came from a lack of achieving goals. Achievement, that was gone too, along with fulfillment, gratification and self-realization. They were all one in worldly success, unique in their way, but the same in most. He sometimes wondered how they found his disposition to study the past – how they knew he sometimes wished he had been in that past.
He walked and feared, but he wasn’t sure what exactly he was afraid of. Since he had been reading accounts of the past he had been prone to steal feelings that weren’t quite his own. Once, when speaking to his significant other a kind of despair rushed over him, a despair of being alone, without that person. That, of course, was not quite possible as the Ministry of Futures paired people together for life based on interest and personality. Even if somehow he was left behind, there would be another pairing to be made and no one was ever alone for more than a week. Simply because no one wanted to be alone, and future pairings were always a possibility.
But from reading the impossible love stories of the past, where people were left behind because of career, death and many, many other reasons, John had started to despair about the crazy idea of being left behind. No one was ever left behind now. It was all one straight forward line of life, but his heart still felt empty and full all at the same time. He strangely started to wonder what was the meaning of life – what was it? Why was he here? And too late into this thought he remembered that is what he was reading about earlier.
Arriving home, closing the door behind him, he felt much better. There was not much to think about anymore and he would not mention any of it to his partner.
If he was going crazy, he’d much rather do it on his own.
To be continued.
Photo by BigPilou / Flickr Creative Commons License.