This day was too perfect for Jared’s liking. The sky seemed too blue, the sun too bright, the weather too pleasant. He longed for a day when something would go wrong, but of course, he, the brilliant innovator, could do no wrong in the public’s eyes. Looking away from his ‘great day’ desktop screensaver slideshow, Jared resumed his study of his masterpiece. The Device looked complete finally, but he could not for the life of him figure out why it would not work.
The wires and programming were all correct, and ‘integration hell’ had been traversed and solved. However, the device still sat motionlessly atop his annihilated workstation. Jared noticed that his clock now read 4-19-2026, realizing that eight days had passed since he last embraced the light and sounds of downtown NYC, Jared shed his
headset and navigated the rat’s nest of cable snaking across his dusty floor, the irritating hum of his lousy AC unit immediately bombarded his sensitive ears as he grimaced at the screeching of his chair as he scooted back from his desk, walked to the window hastily covered in black sheets and opened them to the outside world, the bright sunlight piercing his sleep deprived cornea and the too colorful advert on the next door building’s screen windows making him recoil from the window, the light rays illuminating the storm of dust he had just disturbed.
Watching life in New York pass around him slowly grew on Tulien, watching the city grow and strengthen in spirit over the years, looking down in disdain at the people who fell from the skies past his window, seeing advertisements for outdoor products he could never use, and hearing preachers give speeches to deaf and complacent ears about why their religion was best. Tulien had
renounced his Catholic traditions long ago, even before his reckoning he taking full faith in science. Being stuck inside was difficult and bothersome, and coupled with his lack of human connection he knew from television and the internet that his conversation skills would be sloppy after 7 years. Ever since The Virus ravaged his fragile body he remained in self-imposed isolation, refusing to leave even for his grandparents’ funerals, his brother’s wedding, or his sister’s graduation.
The aloneness bothered him sometimes, but as the days and weeks merged into months and years he came to realize that the world suffered from more problems than just global warming, job inequalities, and wars that fractured even the most steadfast countries; the leader of a country must always be willing to sacrifice everything for their people, and if they could not they must be deposed or eliminated.
Over the vast majority of Jared’s time at home, he watched his city waste away as more people began to stay at home over the years The Virus dominated their lives. Before its eradication two years ago through an ‘unknown’ method, it was the only thing they knew how to live with, and the people who once crowded the streets grew scarce, seeing the only escape from the disease in other places around the country, moving far and wide until the city became an abandoned, desolate, jungle of concrete and steel.
Slowly, the city rebuilt itself, with new infrastructure and organizational efforts put into place to keep a situation like The Virus from happening again. The city only grew from there, officially expanding its borders in 2025 to include all of Long Island to Newark, and the state absorbing New Jersey and the top half of Philadelphia in one fell swoop, overnight it became the epicenter of trade, innovation, and politics of America.
Tulien knew of his neighbor, the inventor, and how he saved the city with his designs and creativity. The people saw him as a hero, even if the recluse never left his apartment. As the days went by Tulien began venturing further and further from his post, every day a little further, trying to see what was happening in the inventor’s room, what he was up to, and how it would hurt the planet, Tulien could feel it deep down that he needed to take leave of his sanctuary and stop the fool from ruining things again.
Just as he creaked his door open for the first time in years, it was sharply interrupted by someone shoving into it from next door, Tulien swore under his breath and briskly whipped the door around again only to come face to face with a man in his early 20s,