18th March 2080, a day of joy-my 80th birthday. I woke up refreshed from a good night’s sleep, had a shave and warmed up my Oxydome at 24˚C.
The night temperature had dropped to 6˚C even inside the dome, ‘it must be freezing outside’- I thought. Even as the dome was warming up- my mind wandered back to my childhood days- the trees and the green fields –the soft breeze that entered me and nourished my soul, the warmth of the morning sun caressing my young cheeks.
Those were the days when we played in the open fields and enjoyed nature’s free air and sunshine.
Then as I grew up, the world population boomed, forest have to downed to make room for human habitations, emissions spiraled out of control, global temperatures rose alarmingly, tidal waves and wind currents ran amok.
The atmosphere became hostile to the invasive human race. Polar ice caps are now a thing of the past. Daytime temperatures reached a maximum of 70˚C and night time temperatures dropped to -30˚C at the place where I used to play with the trees. Some migrated to planet EOX2.
For fifteen years we have been living in small cubical domes supplied with oxygen known as Oxydomes. Large transparent tubes connect these domes which serve as passage apart from the essential oxygen supply.
“Oh, what man have become” I thought –‘trapped in his own design’.
I braced myself up, today is my birthday not a time to ponder upon man’s predicament, but a day to enjoy. I switched on my omnitel network and invited four of my friends by sending synchronized tele image and voice capsules through the network.
I dressed myself up for the occasion and suddenly the door announced an arrival. ‘Who is the early bird’-I thought and opened the door with great expectations only to find two men dressed in black. They flashed their O2 inspection cards.
I had just paid my O2 bills, why are they here?
They told me rather coldly that I had exhausted my card limit. “You had been on a contract for fifteen years and today is your last day. The interplanetary teleportation system is also down and the only option is Lethal-D”.
Lethal-D!! I almost gasped. I tried to argue with them by telling that I had always paid the bills on time and never overheated during night hours, but even as I spoke, my hopelessness took over since they are known to be unbendable.
Oh, I have to die on my birthday! They said they are sorry, ‘the global supply of O2 is at a record low and the young and the productive has to live and phasing out the old is inevitable,’ ‘cold unbeatable logic’- I surmised.
I collected my gasping breath and sat on a chair. “Make it fast”- I shouted in panic. One of them ushered out a Lethal-D injection module and held my left arm and I felt the final prick –I shook and shuddered.
I woke up soaked in sweat – it was my wife pricking my arm. She told me that I had a nightmare and shouted, “Make it fast”. Oh God I am still alive! I drank a glass of water and ran outside the door and embraced the lone tree in my lawn even as my thumping heart whispered a sincere- “Thank you.”
Naosekpam Ajit is a researcher based in Himachal Pradesh. His research interests are Biocontrol and Bioconversion.