The sound of grinding woke him up early this morning. Joe finally had a day off and planned to sleep until he was due back to work, but the grinding and tearing were just too much. It would eventually force him out of bed, he thought to himself as he stared at the blank ceiling, so why not just stop fighting and get up.
Joe swung his legs over, his feet landing perfectly into his slippers. He struggled to his feet and slid into the bathroom. Bare white walls, no paintings or art, was all he had to look at. A quick shower and on to the closet, lined with the same shirts and pants fourteen times over. Khaki’s, same label, was all he had. It was all he needed. He quickly dressed and headed down the stairs of his apartment building, making his way to the lobby. Outside the glass doors was a landscape that seemed to be from a post-apocalyptic movie. Dilapidated structures ready to fall down at any moment, provided no shade from the scorching sun. No trees. The only thing that was maintained seemed to be the government signs directing the masses.
He opened the door and made his way down the street. Hundreds of people wandered aimlessly around him, all donning the same apparel. Khaki slacks and shirt for the men, khaki dresses for the women. No one seemed to have a purpose, and if any feeling could be interpreted by their expressions, it could only be misery. Massive beads of sweat dripped from each individual in the streets, including Joe. In less than ten minutes, he was covered from head to toe. Nowhere to escape the suns devastation outside his small, extremely plain, apartment. A living space much like everyone else’s. White walls, no pictures or art, concrete floors, and no decorations. A bed, chair, and table were the only furniture inside.
For a brief moment, Joe thought about not having to walk all the way to work only to sit in a cubicle alone for ten hours mashing buttons and staring at a computer screen, but the sun pushed that thought out quickly.
The grinding sound was getting louder as he walked. Large machinery in the distance chewing something up, and as he continued towards it, he began to feel the Earth below him rumble. The sound was almost unbearable or would have been had his life not been so boring and monotonous. He, like most of the others, didn’t realize what was going on and didn’t have the fight left in them to figure it out.
“It is What it Is” was the sign of choice, and marked every corner and intersection in the city.
As he closed in on his destination, a few others passed him by in a daze. They had gotten what they came for, and were headed back to either work or home.
This had become a world of routine. A world with no friendships, no real family, nothing to fight for. It is what it is was the motto of the government, and people eventually accepted that as truth while everything around them crumbled. Shade, places of enjoyment, parks, gardens, barbecues, kites, happiness. Those were all things of a distant past.
Two lines began to form. People were herded into both, almost like cattle. One by one they made it to the front of the line, the grinding now so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, much less hear a word spoken from anyone around you.
Each person was allowed two drinks a day as a meal supplement. As Joe moved to the front of the line, he could see the large machinery making all the racket and rumbling. Large grinders the size of buses were chewing up trees, pines, and liquifying them into large vats with taps. Two cups of pine and Joe would be on his way, dragging his feet headed back to his apartment. Sweat was now pouring off of him. Those handing over the drinks wore ear protection and had their own special line off to the side for when it was their turn. Oak and Magnolia was the drink of choice for the government and their chosen, while pine was earmarked for the masses. Large fields were dedicated to the growth of trees but were off limits to humans. It was only a food source now.
As he began to make his way back to his apartment, reality flickered in his mind about his surroundings, yet died instantly. He was back on his way, bumping into the countless other drones. This was his life, and the life of the rest. Nothing could change that now.
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