Written after watching a Scandinavian film trailer
A little old lady sits at a table, sweet and innocent despite her age. She’s not the hero though, she never would be. The hero is someone who has all of the attributes that you need to be heroic: brave and strong and courageous. There’s something else though, that the little old lady would be lacking.
THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
they call it, out there in the world. As if it is some kind of magical potion created by magicians or superheroes in order to trick people into living in a way they would otherwise not quite have been brave enough to do.
She was too old to have all that, born before the 2054 vaccinations and all of the trouble that had caused. Turns out superheroes are made not born, and she was far too old to be a superhero.
“What was it like, back then?” someone asked, as she sat there sipping tea from a thumbsize cup.
“It wasn’t like it is now, that’s for sure,” she replied begrudgingly, focused entirely on her tea ration. It was alright for these young whippersnappers, they didn’t have a care in the world. The
ELIXIR OF LIFE
had taken care of that. They were completely contented with whatever they could have and that was all they expected. The opportunity to enjoy something, anything they could. Be it stopping burglars from ripping holo screens from the wall or taking one of the hybrid animals out for walks to see if it was possible to rehabilitate escaped experiments like that poor cat-pig she’d seen wandering the streets a few days earlier.
“What does that mean?”
She narrowed her eyes and tapped her fingers against the small china cup, hoping they’d get the message. The tea was the thing, nothing else mattered.
“It means that you’ll never get it. Not really.”
The constant questioning was getting to her. All from the same kid as well. It was as if his superpower was to be a complete insufferable brat.
“Everything is different now. But that’s alright, you don’t know what it was like before.”
They hadn’t seen the sun and all of those things out on the Surface, way above their tunnel dwellings. They didn’t understand what it was like when all of the food was locked away and rationed out; when all of those alive then were told it was dangerous, that it would make their children sick for them to see the world.
She looked down again. There was a tiny sliver of liquid in the bottom of the cup. Barely enough for another mouthful. It wasn’t really fair. She was one of the old ones, she hadn’t been granted the chances these children had for a magical life and yet she was still only given a mouthful of tea. That didn’t really feel as if it was
In fact, it felt quite the opposite. As if the life was being pumped out of her very bones as she sat there drinking the tea. She knew that wasn’t the case, she had taken tea from those in charge before, but there was something different about this day. There was something cruel and unusual about the idea of her sitting there having what could be her final sip of tea and the children would never know how wonderful it tasted.
They simply weren’t allowed. She squirmed in her seat, thinking about how different things were from when her precious Marcy was born. Now, that was a long time ago.
“Do they tell you about the sun?” she asked them, not really caring what the answer was. She needed to make sure that they gave her a chance to enjoy the tea before it entirely cooled and a not-quite-forbidden question was the perfect way to do that.
“What’s a Sun?” the same child asked before one of the others tapped him and made sure he stayed silent.
“Fine. I get it, you’re not allowed to know. Fine. I’ll just have to do something else then.”
She hesitated, staring down at the tiny droplet of tea that was left behind in the bottom of the cup. She looked at it, then at the children, then back again. Ah, screw it, they weren’t going to let someone like her continue to use up resources for much longer.
She threw the cup of tea against the hard floor, watching as the china splintered with tiny pieces filling the gap in the floor between her and the children. They stared at it, reaching out with their tiny grabbing hands.
But they couldn’t quite reach, not with the wires plugging them into the mainframe completely steadfast.
Even when they came to take the little old lady away, the little grabbing children were still completely stuck. In their underground world, in the
that they had to call their own.