The Arc

Johnny felt cold. Even though the strange vanilla room was warm, Johnny shivered in his jumpsuit. Why was he barefoot in a smooth gray jumpsuit? He had been wearing Vans and khaki cargo shorts and a buttoned-down business shirt this morning. Steve had given him serious side-eye over Johnny’s idea of business casual, but Johnny didn’t care because Steve was a shit boss and he was never going to kowtow to some corporate stooge. His head tingled. Johnny shook like a wet dog. His thoughts splattered. Johnny didn’t know why but he knew this room was one of many and it was moving.

There were other people sitting in the room, too. All strangers, all fit, all around his age, they all seemed familiar. Maybe it was the jumpsuits. They had the glazed looks of people on an endless Zoom meeting. Nat would call them Zoombies. Looking around, Johnny chuckled. Nat, his Natalie, could always make him laugh. She had been so bitchy lately. They had been so good together, effortless. The last couple of weeks their dance was out of step. Johnny felt she wanted something from him but wanted him to guess. Just this morning they had snipped at each other and it had boiled over into a fight of everything and nothing. She made him late for his train. He remembered running for the Elwyn, turning over his words in his mind. His heart raced and panic rose in his throat. Filling his head, the tingling returned. Calmness settled on his shoulders and wrapped him tightly. Beneath his feet the engines sped.

Johnny rubbed his neck. He was warmer now. A nice lady, also in a grey jumpsuit but with little shoes on, began talking. She was Johnny could understand her individual words, experiment, colonization, genesis. Apparently Johnny was a part of something important like he was a soldier or a pioneer. Or maybe a farmer? He just couldn’t fit everything together and how he fit in it. He tried to concentrate as the nice lady’s words slid around him. A tone sounded. Johnny knew he was missing something, something vital. Without thinking he stood with the others and walked to his pod, heading into tomorrow.

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