I sighed as I mechanically lowered some nearby dishes into the soapy foam in the kitchen sink of Bobby’s Space-Bar. God knows how many dishes I’d cleaned in my life. The days were starting to blur together in one tedious routine; Go to work, fix the car, take food pills, sleep 3 hours, go to work, fix the car, take food pills, sleep 3 hours, an endless cycle of melancholia and countryside fantasies of having one single glorious day of quiet solitude and no daily government-given schedule to follow.
Or not follow. It was September 6th, 2145, at like 6:45:31 a.m when I officially decided to ditch work. After long contemplation and the persistent longing for silence and comfortable loneliness nagging me in the back of my mind, I did something most people of my generation would never dream of doing. I pressed snooze. As I lay in bed staring down my white ceiling, I finalized my plans. It was time to see what happened when the world couldn’t rely on a 16-year-old janitor to hide in the kitchen and do all their dirty work for them.
I hopped in my newly fixed car and stepped on the reverse pedal. I was always old-fashioned because I preferred the vintage manual cars, as opposed to the standard self-driving vehicles most people drove. Security drones whipped around me like flies as I stepped on the gas pedal till it rested on the floor. Apartments flew past me on all sides in a blur of gray and white. The luminescent street signs beckoned me to drive my usual route which would take me through town to Bobby’s Space-Bar where I would robotically clean dirty dishes and mop floors till midnight.
I rolled down the windows and felt a chilling, brittle wind rush against my skin. As the buildings started thinning out, I relaxed and ignored the speed limit signs on the side of the road. I had a couple more minutes of peace before I heard the familiar sirens and saw red white and blue lights flickering in my rear-view mirror. It’s funny how those colors symbolize freedom until they’re flashing behind you. I pulled over and put on my seatbelt.
A uniformed man walked briskly over to my window clutching a clipboard. “Is your name Peter Crofts?” he asked.
I nodded. “Let me save you the hassle,” I said as I handed the officer my paperwork. “Just give me the ticket and we can both part our separate ways. I’m in a bit of a rush.”
“That’s not why I pulled you over,” the officer replied.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Step out of the vehicle,” he demanded, strain in his voice.
I nearly tripped on the door as I scrambled out of the car. “What’s this about?” I demanded.
“You have been officially convicted with high treason and are sentenced to death,” he said.
I dropped my paperwork.
We drove in silence and soon pulled into an empty parking lot. A tall building covered in mirrors cast a shadow over our car. I didn’t notice the pair of armored security guards until we stopped and the officer tightened my computerized shackles telling me to “Watch myself.”
I got out of the car and was pushed through a pair of double doors. “What’s going on here?” I spat. “Where am I?”
“The end of the road,” the officer replied.
He led me up five different escalators and three endless hallways till we stopped outside a glass door with “Mr. Califord” painted in silver letters across the top.
“We’re here,” he muttered as he rapped on the door. A muffled “Come in,” sounded from the other side.
. . .
“Have you ever really considered what it really means to be alive?” Mr. Califord asked me, shuffling through a pile of neglected documents.
I sat across from the suited man in silence.
“Is it the ability to move, breathe, and eat?” he asked. “Or is it something deeper?”
I cleared my throat. “Well by the looks of it I’ll never know. Thanks for the death sentence by the way.”
Mr. Califord glared. “You- Peter, are the first person to ditch work in a hundred years. Do you know why?”
“No,” I replied.
Mr. Califord stood up from his desk, walked towards me and lowered himself till his eyes bore holes through mine. “Because you thought for yourself.”
His response took me off guard. “Well who else am I gonna think for?” I asked.
He shook his head and paced around my seat while stroking his hair. “In all the years I’ve led this country, I’ve never allowed a single person to make a decision for themselves. Do you know why that is?”
“No,” I replied.
“Because when people make their own decisions it leads to chaos- wars, riots, how do you think these things are started?”
My computerized shackles squeezed my wrists so hard my hands were slowly turning purple. “I like to think that chaos is started by ignorant controlling pricks like you,” I retorted. “It helps me sleep at night- less guilt, you know?”
“I cannot allow one of my citizens be the cause of nationwide turmoil under my jurisdiction,” Mr. Califord answered.
I closed my eyes and a wave of adrenaline surged through me. “I’m curious,” I began. “What’s it like for one to use their entire vocabulary in a single sentence?”
Mr. Califord smiled and the door behind me swung open. A rush of fleeting footsteps echoed around the office and two armored guards forced out of my seat. They grabbed my hair and forced me to my knees.
“Make it snappy,” Mr. Califord said. “I want a nice clean head shot- no bloodstains on my new rug.”
A sick feeling pumped through my stomach and I immediately knew Mr. Califord would have a lot more to clean up than bloodstains.
“Say goodbye,” one of the guards smiled.
“Go to hell,” I replied.Mr. Califord turned his back as the series of bullets met my chest. Some headshot.