Contaminated

Why would Jane be covered in Gladwrap, other than it being surprisingly warm?

From the nightmare category…

I await the results of yesterday’s test with intense interest. My medi-bracelet pinged an alarm as I woke up yesterday morning. My temperature and respiration were above normal and my sweat contained chemical indicators of infection. I got up and dressed quickly. It would only be drones coming in, but I still don’t want to appear naked in front of drones. Not to mention, drones can have cameras, and who knows what scanning of camera information is going on. I imagine one of the centre staff setting up an illegal AI screen for funny video feeds, scooping clips off the feeds and then sharing them around the office. Not likely, I know given privacy restrictions, but the creativity of people who want to evade systems knows no bounds.

I put my favourite faded jeans on, and a bright yellow tank top. Tank tops are the best approach when a sample is required, because your whole arm is exposed, so the drone can pick the best sample location for the particular test type. Yellow makes me feel good, and there are a limited number of things that make me feel good these days. It was a bit cool outside, only 5 degrees according to the weather monitor, but I was sure I could manage 5 minutes at 5 degrees and the testing would probably take less.

The incoming alert started to flash green on my medi-bracelet – 10 minutes to arrival. The alert goes through green to orange to red, at which point one has 1 minute to arrival and you should be outside on your property in a location at least 2m from the house, trees and power lines. It’s funny that, although traffic lights are a very rare thing these days thanks to autonomous vehicles, the memory and meaning of traffic lights is still embedded in the human psyche. I put my Crocs on to go outside, then took them off again. Crocs may be useful but they are a multi-decadal fashion fail. I put my white Allbirds on instead. I wouldn’t be far from the house so there would be limited risk of getting them dirty.

As I sat outside, waiting for the drone, I tried not to look at any surrounding properties to see whether other people were in the drone queue nearby. I really didn’t want to know if my suburb had turned into a virus hotspot. Better if it hadn’t, because then the chances of my being infected were smaller. I find meeting people in person quite stressful these days; I spend so little time outside and interacting with others, that I feel rather out of practice.

The medi-bracelet turned red and the drone swooped in and hovered beside me. Medi-drones are white, delivery drones are pink, removal drones are black. Oh, and media drones are bright, iridescent purple, like a huge and beautiful beetle. I stayed still, felt the cold spray of antiseptic, the slight sting of a mini-tissue removal on the back of my arm, and then the heat of the surface-seal application. The drone shot up into the sky and disappeared and I went back to my daily routine.

My routine includes an hour on the treadmill in the morning and an hour on the cycle trainer in the afternoon. I use my VR headset to keep it interesting – I can play scenes from wherever I want to in the world. I haven’t been to anywhere else in the world, so it might be that these scenes are entirely invented. However, they are still entertaining and lead me to hope that, one day, I might win the overseas trip lottery and get to see some myself. In between bouts of exercise I do 8 hours of web-based counselling. I provide trauma therapy over compulink. Some days I wonder why I bother. So many people seem to be experiencing trauma that it is the normal state, and why would we need to talk people out of their normal state? I actually do know why I bother – because counselling is how I get paid, so my power and comms keep running and my groceries turn up regularly.

I didn’t do well with my counselling practice yesterday. I was hugely distracted, counting down the hours until my test result would return. I was never good at maths but I am no slug at counting down from 24 in 1 unit increments. One of my clients even got a little annoyed with me staring beside her face in the feed, rather than focusing directly on her and asked, tartly, “Do you have better things to do than help me today”. I was tempted to say yes, but thought of my groceries instead.

Yesterday was in fact my grocery delivery day. It’s normally an exciting day because I discover what my meal plan for the week will be. I don’t think anyone buys random items of food anymore. I buy a meal package and prefer the surprise option, rather than selecting meal-by-meal. It is always good to have some pleasant, and regular, surprises in your life (that’s what I tell my clients). My house sensors feed through when my cleaning supplies or toilet paper run out, so I don’t need to think about ordering those things. On the outside of the house, a regular drone survey checks maintenance and orders in maintenance drones (they are grey) to touch up paint or clear the gutters.

Because of my pending test result, I wasn’t all that excited about my meal plan. I mechanically cooked Dinner No. 1 and ate it, but I don’t even remember what it was called or what it tasted like. I slept fitfully, but determinedly – if this is a minor bug I have, I need my sleep to counter it (I tell my clients that too). Which brings me back to this morning. I can’t even pretend to be interested in food, or exercise. The result will come in prior to work; if its the wrong result an automated transfer of my clients to other counsellors will take place.

My bracelet is flashing red. I don’t put my favourite clothes on, because I don’t want them to sit on the deck for an unknown period of time and rain is forecast. I put my oldest, most faded sweat pants and top on. There’s no point in underwear, or shoes, might as well sacrifice the khaki Crocs that I have never liked. Flashing orange. Best I shuffle through the door now. Flashing red…incoming…

Ten black drones encircle me. I wouldn’t even think about running – where would I run to? They will stop me if I make a move off my deck. I resignedly strip off my clothes. The wrapping drones spin around me, covering me in biowrap. I stand dumbly, like a living mummy as they place a screen over my head before completing the biowrap. I hear the lifter drones come in, feel them pick me up, feel the speed of the air rushing past, dream of other times, other places; I use the advice I give my clients when they are stressed.

I will imagine I am a beautiful butterfly, still in its chrysalis. The caterpillar me is awaiting its great opportunity to spring forth into the fascinating world. My wings will be yellow with purple dots and they will be gloriously iridescent in the sunlight. There are endless possibilities awaiting me once I can stretch my wings and fly. I think I hear my outer coverings starting to break open….

No human beings were physically injured or harmed in any other way in the process of making this blog

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Published by janecshearer

I'm a self-employed life enthusiast living in Gibbston, New Zealand

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