Short Story –
MINDLESSNESS written by Elisabeth ZgutaSurrounded by a dry dusty horizon, I drag myself towards the shelter. This desolate place is beginning to take its toll on my spirit. Although I myself desired this solitude, there are moments I yearn companionship. Sometimes I dream of conversations with society face to face, looking into the others eyes, to see the truth resting there. Instead of the manipulated, color portrayed face on the screen, the only communication available to me now, in this wasteland.
Entering the shelter, and unwrapping my cloak made of the lightest yet strongest material, I wonder about this synthetic , it’s composure, a miracle to science years ago. In gratitude, I take the moment to remember this simple design which has saved me a number of times while traveling in the sandy surroundings of my area.
I remember my first duty of survival is to quench my thirst. Staying hydrated is the number one directive. I gladly swallow the cool water, letting it run through my mouth and glide down my throat in a wonderful soothing sensation. Feeling refreshed I move on to my next chore, only to be interrupted by the communication panel alarm. The buzzing goes off, filling the space with a blaring mechanical noise designed to irritate. I rush to the panel just to stop the annoying sound.
The panel is lit up with a wide screen image of my captain.
“There are hostiles moving your way” he says. “They are coming from the southern direction, and the west. Please intercept and destroy them before they can meet. You must intercept. This is a level one danger.”
My mind reverts back to the training received for number one level. The vivid image of the demonstration returns to my thoughts instantly, and raises my adrenalin to the appropriate levels for this situation. “Understood, Captain. I will commence intercept mode.”Rushing back to the door I had just entered, I cover myself with my uniform used in my military duties. This is not as desirable as the cape I wear of my choosing, but it is equipped with all the gear I need to handle the situation. Placing the helmet over my head, I grab my weapons from the closet and place them in my pockets, then leave. The band on my wrist hums and I look at the coordinates that were just relayed to my device. I sprint towards the nearest location. I know a boost is needed, pushing myself to the highest level possible. Concentrating on the location I run. Run with momentum, pushing myself forward in body and in mind, trying to attain position in the next minute and twenty two seconds.
I arrive. Laying low behind a boulder, I can see the figure’s outline in the distance. I take a weapon out of the main pocket of the uniform, and carefully take aim. As the figure moves closer, gaining at an incredible speed, I lock in on the invader. With a push of a button the weapon releases and in seconds the threat is illuminated. Time is still precious.I take another glance at the band on my now sweaty wrist. I secure the next coordinates into my mind, and again go into travel mode. My calculation of arrival time is two minutes three seconds. That’s too long. I may not be able to intercept in time. Quickly I recollect training, looking for an alternative solution for this situation. Nothing surfaces in my pool of knowledge, so I am destined to go with the first model. Locking the coordinates into my mind once again I am off. I push myself to the ultimate limit. My body is moving as fast as possible in this heat. Luck strikes. I realize I am moving with the tunnel winds which are improving my speed. This also means the target is moving against the tide with the opposite effect. I may have found the edge needed to pull this mission off.
The identified area is reached. The target is arriving simultaneously. We both are searching our pockets to pull out the weapon. We both draw as we face each other.Stopped face to face, we look into each other’s eyes, through the tempered plastic shroud that protects our true form. This is the first human appearance I have seen in years, right here up close and touchable. The last time I physically saw a human was when I was a child. The last touch I ever felt was my mother, with her last hug for me. Then they took me away to training and I have been at my assigned area ever since. Now, right in front of me, is a real live breathing, sweating, heart beating human. My mind becomes elusive, as I try to gather thoughts of strategy. Nothing is flowing to my brain. I cannot access the strategy plans burned into my memory by hours of repetitive demos. Is this what was referred to years ago as mindless?
Mindlessness. That was what they called the disease that quarantined so many of us humans years ago. The scientists and doctors all said it was fatal, destroying our communities and our world. This threat to our brains, our minds, was spreading so rapidly. There was no time to find a cure. Our survival depended on finding time, so they could solve. The immediate solution was solitude, quarantine. We were all assigned posts. This is how we survived as a people. We each have our own area to man, our own space. For years we have been communicating only by intercom and video chat. Anytime someone crosses their area and strays into another’s, it is considered a direct threat. Any means is acceptable to eliminate the threat.
But now, here I am face to face with a real person. I don’t want to kill this human. I don’t think this body is a threat. One fleeting second more, my thoughts are “is this mindlessness? Am I infected?”
With that last rational thought leaving my mind, more swiftly than it entered, I lower my weapon and place it back into my pocket. The person looking back into my face is doing the same.Taking off my helmet, my hair flows in the dry wind, free to dance in the air whimsically. The other person slowly reveals his face. His glorious eyes are peering so intently into mine. I can feel the power they have, taking over my psyche. His face is strong; his eyes are glowing with an emotion that I cannot place. His very presence is giving me sensations I never dreamt were possible. I am mindless. I am lost in this experience. Then he does the unthinkable. He kisses me. I kiss him back.
|Picture taken by Kasandra Zguta|