by Nathaniel Fincham
part 1 of 2
The subway train shot beneath the city like a shiny, elongated bullet, rubbing and vibrating against the thin metal rails. It sped twisting and turning throughout New York’s underbelly, the old decaying tunnels beneath the flourishing capital of the world.
Markus Salinger often wondered about the subway system. New York City seemed to be advancing at such a swift rate that everything was always newer and shinier every day, yet the subway tunnels looked as if they were about to crumble down around him. Why didn’t they get an upgrade? With the sudden and unexpected popularity of monorails, why do subways even still exist? Maybe some old ideas simply refused to die.
The text of a science book, Angels and Atoms, filled a small computer screen, which extended from the arm of Markus’ wheelchair. With his head tilted down toward the words, Markus read, trying to avoid any eye contact from other riders. However, a voice sung out from above, making him peek.
The word Evol, in light blue, flowed through the flat television mounted above the nearby exit. The word also filled the other screens throughout the subway car.
As the word faded, a woman with dark brown hair, curls falling to her shoulders, appeared on the screen wearing an all-blue jumpsuit. Her frame was petite and her buttermilk colored skin was flawless, as if fake. She spoke: “The next step in humanity has arrived. Immortality is no longer myth or legend, but as real as your own mind.”
Suddenly, the jumpsuit faded and the woman was left naked. Her skin reminded Markus of smooth rubber. “On July 4th, join us here at Evol and let us take that next step together.” Slowly her skin faded, leaving a metallic android. “And skin will no longer hold us in. And death will no longer hold sway. It is time to shed our dying and live forever.” The woman disappeared, leaving only the word Evol, and then that was also gone.
Markus lowered his eyes again, but listened to the murmurs among some of the other passengers. He heard someone snicker and curse. He heard someone begin to pray to their God. Both of which was growing abundant these days.
Then Markus heard something that he had not experienced much of these days. Two seats down from Markus’ personal chair an elderly gentleman turned to his companion and whispered, “God bless them.”
“Amen,” the lady replied.
“I only wish that all of this had come sooner,” the man said. “I would be first in line, be damned. Would not that be nice, dear? Living together forever?” She simply nodded. “Today could be the day, you know. I hope so. Our time is almost up.”
Markus’ identification badge felt heavy in his shirt pocket. He would hurry, he thought to himself. Markus would hurry as if the Lord himself had kicked him in the ass. He would succeed too, not only for himself, but also for good people like the old gentleman and his lady.
The old man reminded Markus of someone. His own grandfather.
The birds leapt and pecked at the falling breadcrumbs, and George Salinger giggled at the flapping feathers. “Aren’t they beautiful, Markus?” George turned to his grandson and handed him a full piece of bread. “Break it up nice and small so that one bird won’t hog the whole thing.”
Copyright © 2009 by Nathaniel Fincham