Red shift

You know the expression, “I wouldn’t do x if you were the last man/woman on earth”? Well, for some time now I have been haunted by the image of that last woman. The lighting is abundant, and not particularly flattering. Minicams in every corner of the apartment record her as she dictates her thoughts into her audio blog, takes snapshots for her photo blog, writes about her feelings for her poetry blog. Everything is on the record. The only sad part is that nobody’s watching but me; everybody else is too busy doing the same thing.

Her name, I think, is Morn, though she goes by Dust Angel. Her trademark costume is a rather plain, sleeveless red shift. She believes fervently that the unexamined life is not worth living, though she admits that over-analysis makes her uncomfortable. Her favorite color is green. She is a Libra.

What else? Well, she appears to have a lover, a hulking tech support guy without any speaking parts. You might spot him occasionally looming over the mousepad or fiddling with the minicams for better angles – or for poorer in the event of sex, which is somewhat downplayed. Nudity is definitely part of the routine, though it verges on mere nakedness, an attribute of such existential acts as changing clothes, exercising or sunbathing on the floor. Morn does this every afternoon, curling up like a cat on a broadloom rug encircled by snaky electric cables and watched over by an odd assortment of mannequins and dressmaker’s dummies, vintage apparel draped on timeless hip.

The future has arrived, and it is boring. Where now is the vibrating ether so cherished by pre-war pulp science fiction authors? Ancient cover girls in skin-tight space suits now crumble at the touch, tragic victims of an acid overdose. Those child-women must’ve foreseen some such fate: their lips spelled unvarying o‘s of horror regardless of the threat, even from aliens as unlikely as the two pug dogs that live with Dust Angel. The poor things can’t even bark, are too dumb to hump a leg. They were bred to evoke the quintessentially feminine Japanese squeal ka-wa-eeee, which connotes approximately equal measures of lovability and infantility.

And which, in a way, describes the appeal of this particular eventuality, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, here we have all loose ends of the ballyhooed future at last tied up – or rather, cross-stitched. One veil for bride and widow alike, one screen for all media, like Alice’s looking-glass. It’s not like that movie the Truman Show where the guy is an unwitting star of the soap opera of his life, because in the first place there’s no drama per se, and in the second, the “star” is fully aware and in control of everything. She is like a god, really, a child who has the run of the nursery and will never grow up.

The ether alone knows how such harmony plays out among the spheres, whether it can even reach the ever-receding, ever-more-isolated celestial bodies that once made us grasp for something like an outer space, a red planet. At the speed of light, thinking becomes impossible. Time is a terrible gift to do without.

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