a bright and shiny future

They claim you can smell the burning bodies from Tokyo.

The Blue Collar Riots. White collar propagandists claimed that the lower classes were killing and cooking their victims.

People knew better. The White Army, as it was nicknamed, were simply burning the victims of the last plague. Japan won the trade war, only to lose to the flu.

Generation X. The apathetic generation. My father’s generation. Some generation. Biggest event was some stupid singer’s suicide. How a slacker ever got elected is a mystery, especially since he didn’t campaign. Maybe that was the key. Came in like a lamb, out like a lion. Balanced budget amendment, ha! he showed them. Virtually reduced government to nothing. That’s what the people wanted... and needed.

They caught him, arranging accidents for his opponents in Congress. Went to the noose smiling. He knew his job was done.

The best and worst federal law ever passed was the Low Density Housing Law. It retroactively forbade the design and construction of “dense” housing, and called for the demolition of housing that failed to meet the standards.

The psychologists were right. Take away the crowded housing and the majority of your violent crime vanishes. A lovely side effect to an otherwise dismal law.

The poor were displaced. The rich knew the problems of overcrowding, and paid to avoid them.

The churches complained about the forced sterilization and funded abortions. They was silenced when people started blaming them. People wanted food, not salvation. Never did regain respect.

I hated my three-day work week. Being a cop nowadays meant playing nursemaid to juvenile delinquents.

citizen complex 34-b, new chicago

your child was caught spraying anti-Caucasian slang in a subway station, miss alhambra

spray cans are illegal

please convince him to release the name of his dealer, miss alhambra

we have deactivated his food access card until he is returned to the station

have a nice day

I want to learn how to paint. But brushes are so expensive, and take forever to order. Someday someone will invent a bio-degradable replacement for nylon.

I should have stayed in college. It could have been me.

citizen complex 42-a, new tokyo

you attempted to go to your vehicle alone in the morning, mister kirosawa

we have explained to you that it is best if you go in pairs or threes

please don’t do that in the future, mister kirosawa

the streets are not safe for your kind

have a nice day

We could go to a synthetic forest this weekend.

Dow Chemical, back in the early 2000’s, found some hormone or something that accelerates the growth of trees. Perfect for the lumber industry, straining under a recent nostalgic demand for all things wood. Until they tried using the wood. Extremely brittle, completely unusable. But great for air pollution. Sucked it all up.

Some cities were beginning to feel the combined effects of electric cars and synthetic forests. Not this one.

citizen complex 07-q, new istanbul

your entire family passed out during a picnic, mister grant

this is not an uncommon occurrence

it is best not to eat outdoors, mister grant

the air is sometimes unhealthy

have a nice day

I love the feel of warm socks in bed with me. Warm and snuggly. Tonight was going to be a laundry night, whether it needed it or not.

People are dying at a younger age. Some blame the difficulty in finding a doctor, others blame food additives. I think it’s stress. Marie laughs and asks, what stress?

Her regulation sunglasses must be rose-colored on the inside, unlike mine. Black.

citizen complex 11-d, new berlin

your wife is dead, mister greene

it looks like a heart attack

fortunately, you called before the brain decomposed

we have given her an injection of statasnin

the doctors at the hospital will clone her a new heart

she should be home by tomorrow evening

have a nice day

Alive again in a day? That’s a good thing? I thought to myself. Then I remembered her husband and two children. That’s a good thing. Maybe progress wasn’t so bad.

The dead housewife took so long. That’s the problem with death; the ambulance people take their time, no rush. So I was in a bitchy mood when I finally got home.

So was she.

“You’re having an affair with your partner, aren’t you?” she accused me at the door.

“I only wish.”

“I know you, you like tits out to here.”

“They’re phony.”

“How did you know?”

“Groped them in the squad car.”

“Don’t joke about that.”

“Then we started humping like madmen, the juices spraying all over the seats. ‘Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me,’ she screamed.”

I suddenly realized I was out of breath. I had been shouting.

“Is that what you wanted to hear?” I said softly, angrily, accusingly.

“Bastard,” was all she had to say.

I collapsed on the divan. Suddenly I waxed poetic.

“Our forefathers crashed
    on a distant shore
stealing the land
    from the robbers before
so they could claim
    our bright and shiny future

“We fought four wars
    on lands far away
buried our dead
    and spread our blame
we protected our dream for
    our bright and shiny future

“Some strive strive and struggle
    some dawdle and delay
and this is what they earn
    our bright and shiny future.”

I suddenly realized she was crying.

“It’s all right,” I said. “I was only kidding. I love you.”

“I know,” she sobbed, “but you’re right. We’re in hell.”

“Aw, that’s what they said fifty years ago. Things are terrible, and they’ll never get better. If things were perfect, we’d stagnate. Things change. If they didn’t, we’d die.”

“Then what’s the reason to go on?”

She’d been watching TV, obviously. The suicide assistance infomercials. Money-grubbing vultures.

“Things are better. People aren’t killing each other in the streets. We lost the idea of a hero, and we all became better men. Sacrificed a little naïvete and got to pursue a lot more happiness.”

“What’s the reason to go on?” she repeated.

That night, we conceived a child. Our bright and shiny future.

Author’s note — Wrote this in a half-hour, after a very intense dream. It was already fading as I tried to get it down on electric paper, so I sacrificed punctuation and capitalization to hasten the transcription. When I returned later to “clean it up,” I found that my corrections lessened the intensity of the story. So the odd capitalization remained. I’m not normally this pessimistic, really.