It is the Current Year.

You live in a three-bedroom apartment with five other thirty-year-old programmers, provided to you by your generous employer, Alphabet.

You awake at 6:00 Saturday morning, glad that tomorrow is the weekend, quickly dress yourself with clothing rented from Amazon Closet (free with your Prime subscription), and take the company bikeshare to the local Googleplex. You carry your Chromebook (courtesy of Alphabet) in your rented backpack.

You are at work by 6:30, where you quickly take a shower (while watching advertisements to pay for the water) and hurry to find a space in the 100,000 square-foot open office. You sit at a long table with twenty other guys, none of whom speak English. You get to work on your project. You aren’t sure what it is; some sub-sub-system for the vast Google Ecosystem. You are on a team with thirty other programmers. You are the only one who knows what you are doing. You spend the morning fixing what everyone else did yesterday.

At 12:00, you get up with everyone else for your thirty-minute break. You spend twenty minutes waiting in line in the food court for your company-provided meal (you choose McDonalds, an Alphabet Company) and scarf down a burger (made from insects) and fries. You are forty pounds overweight and never have much energy. You’re not sure why.

You go back to your spot to keep working on your project, but someone else has taken it. You spend ten minutes looking for an empty seat before sitting next to a Honduran guy. He is dressed exactly like you. You try to get back to work, but are interrupted by a Facebook message from your Team Manager for Creativity and Inclusiveness: she needs to meet with you immediately.

Her office is large, with white walls covered in motivational posters. You look at them as she talks to you. They make you feel okay. She tells you that a complaint has been filed by a female coworker, alleging harassment. She can’t tell you who it was. You haven’t been on a date in four years.

She has you record an apology which she will show to the offended party; you are profuse and sincere. She then docks your pay for the day and schedules a mandatory five-hour workshop on sexual assault and toxic masculinity for you to attend tomorrow afternoon. Looks like you won’t get the day off after all.

You go back to your seat. It’s taken. You squeeze in between a skinny, prey-eyed, harried-looking Asian guy typing furiously on his Chromebook and a 210-pound woman scrolling through Tumblr.

You work until 7:00 and get up to leave with everyone else. On the way out, you grab one of the free Soylent drinks for dinner and take the bikeshare back home.

At home, you sit on your bed with your laptop and open up Huluflix, hoping to relax for a few hours while you drink your dinner, but since your pay was docked, you can’t pay for today’s subscription. You switch to Google Streaming, which is free for employees, and watch ABCNNBC. You are told that yours is the wealthiest, smartest, and most progressive generation ever. This makes you feel better.

While browsing Reddit, you see a story about Republicans. You hate Republicans. They live in forests and kill people with guns. The post talks about how stupid they are because they don’t even have Internet. You chuckle. You have Internet. Briefly, you wonder where these forests are and what they look like, but then you see a clip from Jimmy Fallon and forget.

At 8:30, you decide to go to sleep. You want to jerk off first—you normally do—and you get excited when you see the latest video on YouPorn: “BBC Pounds Tiny Blonde While Crying Husband Bleeds Out In The Corner ROUGH BLACKED CUCKOLD.” But when you pull it up, you can’t seem to get an erection, so you just watch the porn for a few minutes before falling asleep.

You sleep for 9.5 hours. You should have gone to bed earlier; Scientists recommend at least ten hours per day. You know the Scientists are correct. You consider yourself to be a Scientific person.

You wake up in the middle of the night; you need to urinate. This happens most nights. You quietly feel your way to the apartment’s bathroom, careful not to wake up your roommates. You don’t want to make them mad. Jamal got mad at you once, and he hit you.

You try to turn on the bathroom light, but it doesn’t work. The power is out. You shrug; this happens sometimes. It’s probably to help with the Climate. You watched a video about it once; the Climate needs help. You go back to bed. You do not dream.

***

It is Tuesday. Today is Election Day, so you have the morning off. You walk to a local community center to Vote. You are excited to Vote; you know that it is important to participate in our Democracy. Our Democracy is under attack, and every vote counts towards preserving freedom. You heard on the news last night that this is the most important Election Day in history, more important even than the Great Election, when Hitler was Voted out of office. You smile as you think back to your community college days; you remember the joy you and your classmates felt when you saw the videos of Hitler and his family bleeding out on the floor of the Oval Office, surrounded by masked figures wearing tactical vests with “FBI” emblazoned on the back. Those American heroes saved our Democracy, but the threat of the Republicans was back.

You stand in line for five hours at the community center, waiting to see the ballot. There are hundreds of people there. It makes you glad that you can’t understand any of them; that means your neighborhood is diverse: it has strength. Finally, you are at the front of the line. You step up to a little booth, which consists of a small touch screen. You think for a moment how amazing technology is: you can vote with a single tap! You read the ballot:

  • Democrat
  • Republican

You chuckle. The choice is clear. You select “Democrat” and the screen flashes a message: Thank you for participating in our Democracy! You feel good as you walk to work.

On your way to the Googleplex, you pass a middle school. You can’t see over the high brick wall, but you hear excited screaming in Spanish and Arabic and some other language you don’t recognize. Then three loud staccatos, like something snapping: crack crack crack. The screaming intensifies, mixed with laughter. You try to pick up your pace, but it hurts, so you slow down.

***

It is foggy. No, not just foggy; misty, there’s a tangible vapor permeating the woodland around you. Woodland? Trees! You see trees, endless trees, deep green, old. A voice in your head: the woods are old, and they harbor old things. You move through the forest, you feel the mist on your face, cool and wet. It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt; the harsh spray of the warm shower, highly pressurized to increase efficiency, can’t compare. It’s so dense: little rivulets of accumulated vapor are streaming down your face. Or are those tears? Yes, they’re warm, and you notice that you are sad. Not sad like at the ends of movies, or when your favorite characters are sad in Huluflix shows. Really, truly, despairingly sad, like you haven’t felt since you were a child, like a gaping void in your soul. Something tugs at your memory…you remember bright, flashing green eyes, and then it’s gone. Something in your mind shuts it out.

You come upon a great heap of rocks; boulders, piled on the side of a big hill. No, not a hill, bigger…you can’t remember the word. Then you see a cave. It stares at you. Then a man in the cave, sitting on a rock, like no man you’ve ever seen: huge in every sense of the word, not just tall or muscled like Jamal, but really, truly big. He takes up space; it’s as if he commands the air around him. He wears only a loincloth; in his left hand he holds a small book, handwritten, clearly ancient; in his right is some kind of rocket launcher. His face is clean-shaven, and around his neck is a necklace of human teeth. He stares right through you with furious blue eyes, and he speaks, and the words pierce the deepest recesses of your mind and, for a moment, shatter your very soul, though you do not comprehend them: “The Way of Empedocles is open!”

You awake screaming.