Joe stands by the window of his apartment. It’s only 7 in the morning, but beads of sweat start to emerge on his forehead. At the next block, a crowd carrying containers rush towards a large water tanker guarded by armed men. A scuffle follows. He hears gunshots and screams. At a distance, sirens wail.
All around him is a concrete jungle. Nowhere is a bird or beast to be seen. It has been years since he saw dogs rummaging in the dumpster. He sighs.
“How I wish I was anywhere but here!” he mumbles looking up at the sky. He wishes to be far away from all the violence and chaos around him. He hopes he could wake up to the song of birds and walk with the frolicking beasts.
On the TV, an ad streams. He has seen it many times.
‘Between your NOW and your FUTURE, there’s only FuturTech. Be part of this ground-breaking technology. 100% guaranteed. Sign up now!’
FuturTech enables people, called Swappers, to swap their present life with the future. Swappers are put to sleep only to be awakened at their chosen time anywhere from 100 to 500 years later.
Staring blankly at the TV screen, Joe says, “It’s worth all my savings. I will enroll tomorrow.”
Next day, Joe lies in a big glass box; a number of tubes are attached to his whole body. Monitors beep on the sides; a timer starts. The countdown to Joe’s cryo-sleep has begun.
Joe wakes up. A voice in the background greets him.
‘Welcome back, Swapper! Thank you for choosing FuturTech. Have a wonderful future.’
Joe smiles. He is happy to have put 500 years behind him.
Outside FuturTech, skyscrapers tower into the blue skies. Every now and then flying cars pass by. There are hardly people on the streets.
“So we finally solved the overpopulation problem!” Joe rubs his hands and grins in satisfaction.
A huge TV billboard catches his attention. Images of various animals appear one after the other. A mellow voice announces, ‘Remember the good old days when there were so many to choose from? Don’t fret. We got you covered. Have a sumptuous dine with us.’
His stomach grumbles. He can’t wait to taste real food after 500 years of sleep.
He sits at a corner of the cafeteria. He opens the menu, looks at the pictures of the various dishes and finds them all appetizing. Reading their ingredients, Joe almost falls from his chair. He rubs his eyes to check if he isn’t dreaming. He isn’t. He flips the next page of the menu. All the dishes have one thing in common. Joe panics as he runs his gaze through the delicacies.
‘Spanish FleshSteak, grilled Hispanic middle-aged woman marinated in tamari and black pepper.’
‘English ceviche, delicate raw infant flesh cooked in vinegar and seasoned with onions and chillies.’
Joe gets up and bolts out of the cafeteria; his heart racing; his legs shaking; his shirt soaked in sweat.
* * *
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