PARTY LIKE IT'S 2035
A story by
“Holy shit! Where'd you get it?”
“Can't tell you.”
“What'd you trade for it?”
“You don't want to know.”
“Shh! I think I hear a patrol in the hall.”
They listened, ears against the door, and heard multiple hard-soled boots moving quickly, purposefully.
Patrols by human beings (really, government thugs) rather than drones were not frequent outside, but lately there were more and more of them checking apartments. Mostly just the lobby, the basement, the custodial closets, places like that. But once in a while they pounded on doors on entire floors.
Not tonight, fortunately. The thuds of boots grew fainter as they moved down the hall toward the elevator.
“Are you sure this is worth it?”
“Are you shittin' me? It's his 80th birthday. What should I get him, a hang glider? A skateboard?”
“Is this ersatz crap, or the real BFP, 2Kteens thing?”
“You think I'd give him fake? He'd know the difference in a second. I want him to be happy. We all do. And this will help him relive a memory from back in the day, back when he could do whatever the hell he felt like.”
“Back when everybody could.”
“Anyway, on the bottom, you can see that it has the official BFP logo.”
The package was more or less tablet-sized, a couple inches thick, the contents sealed in colorful cellophane (something also from an earlier era, before such things were banned). He flipped it over. In bright red letters: Before Food Police. The words “Food Police” were printed over top of a cartoon of a guy mooning a Patroller in full riot gear. Rebellion comes in many forms, and the BFP logo said, “Kiss my ass, you pudmuckers,” to the authorities.
Anything with the BFP label on it was considered contraband, and getting caught a first time meant a few hours in custody, a formal screaming-at by some mid-level flunky, and then you were forever on the government watch list. Getting caught more than once? Not something you'd want to do.
But the young man so admired the about-to-be-octogenarian for his refusal to accept the status quo like others of his generation, and felt such warmth for him, that he'd decided to take a chance. A big one. He'd spent weeks in one of the mind-numbing, federally-run re-education camps last year (on his own birthday, in fact—his 18th). It wasn't an experience he'd care to repeat. But sometimes you just had to do the right thing, personal safety be damned.
It was time for someone to do something to acknowledge the elder's contributions to the underground Free Society. How else would young people know what life was like way back in the Free Times if not for older people who had the nerve to tell their stories? Not that eighty was old these days—fripes, it was practically middle-aged. But the elder's wistful longing for the old times seemed to have become something much more than that lately. That spark in him, the twinkle in his eye, his wise-ass humor, had faded away. On too many days now, he sat by a sunny window alternately stroking that neat, snow-white goatee of his and his fat old bulldog Percy. He didn't just miss the old, free days. He had a crushing need for them. Yet, those times were gone. With the amount of surveillance—electronic, DNA-sniffers, patrols, spies, every move you made online—aimed at virtually everyone, there were only pockets of resistance here and there. There was little chance of widespread organizing, to spread the word about what life was like in the past, in the hope of bringing back some of that freedom.
But this, they could do now.
The package was blue and bright pink, sealed at each end. Through a small triangle of transparency, they could see a bit of the contents. They had not yet been born, back in the days before the FP, so they couldn't really imagine the physical sensations involved in feasting on this sort of thing. Enjoyment of this kind was rarely experienced by anyone, except a few rich folks at high-risk parties where anything goes.
The huge lettering seemed to pop out at them, mesmerize them:
Double Stuf OREO.
The stuff (pardon the pun) of legends.
Frozen for decades, the cookies might not be as fresh as the day they were baked, but as with all BFP products, they were guaranteed to be pretty damn close.
Sometime after midnight, the two young men and their fellow revolutionists would meet; at least, those who managed to zigzag their way through side streets, avoiding the eagle-eyed drones flying along just above the rooftops (some rebels had such an admirable knack for it that they'd become known simply as zaggers) or through a less desirable but slightly safer route in the sewers. And in a small bedroom with boarded-up windows, they would party. Sure, they would have to whisper. And there would be no music, lest the sound attract attention. But their mentor would bathe his taste buds in memories and sweetness. Knowing his generosity, he would surely also create new memories by sharing with the rest of them.
For a while, this man who meant so much to them, who kept their generation from slipping away, kept them from completely losing a past they could never truly picture on their own, would have a bit of joy.
And who knows, in the near future the young friend who'd ingeniously scrounged up this chocolatey delight might manage to get his hands on a certain bottle of Dr. Pepper rumored to be floating about on the black market, if it wasn't just an urban myth.
Copyright ©2013 Nik Barnabee. All Rights Reserved.