The Strange Feeling: a dystopian short story

Note: I wrote this story in July but decided not to post it on the blog. Considering how things have developed since then, I’m posting it now, in unedited form. Is it fiction… or a prediction of the near future?

I woke up with a strange feeling today. A sort of restless buzzing in my head and limbs. It felt wrong. As I watched the sun’s rays peeking through the blinds, I tried to push the feeling away, focusing instead on my plans for the day. Work meetings, social meetings. An exercise class. The usual stuff. Plenty to keep me occupied here. No reason to deviate from the usual.

After breakfast, I settled myself on the sofa. Updates, notifications and reels flashed before my eyes. There was a news headline about someone arrested for saying that the government are fascists but it didn’t interest me. I laughed at a funny dog video, shared it with my friends, fired off some emojis in response to comments on my feeds. But it seemed hollow, somehow. That strange feeling was still there.

My fingers trailed off the keypad. I turned my gaze to the window, considered the brightness which seemed to be calling me. Slipping off the sofa, I approached timidly. Taking a deep breath, I pulled the cord and opened the blinds, just enough to see through. Relief flooded through me as I took in the empty street outside. The soldiers, the police and the cleaners had done their jobs thoroughly. No evidence remained of yesterday’s disturbance. Now, instead of hordes of the non-vaxxed – homeless, angry and mistaken in the belief that they had any rights left – there were pristine paving stones without even a hint of blood. I smiled and thought that today might be the day. My next meeting was in an hour’s time. Instead of pushing the strange feeling away, perhaps – and this was a daring idea, I knew – perhaps I should give in to it?

Excited and a little frightened, I fetched my shoes and blew the dust off them. After much rifling through the wardrobe, I found some clothes which didn’t look like pyjamas. Carefully, I dressed myself, pulled on a mask and a pair of disposable gloves and stood in the hallway, ready to go. My heart was pounding, my palms starting to sweat. With trembling fingers, I unlocked the front door. I felt so nervous now that hours seemed to pass before I summoned the courage to twist the handle.

I cowered against the door frame as sunlight and fresh air assaulted my senses. After a few minutes, I became accustomed to it. Looking ahead, I saw the empty street and knew that at the end of it was the checkpoint. A whirring above me signalled the drone that patrolled the area. In one gloved hand, I held the pass that would get me through the barriers and legally to anywhere I wanted to go. Would I visit one of the few remaining pubs? Maybe I could go to the local supermarket and see if there was anything on the shelves. If I’d had more time, and the necessary permissions of course, I could even catch a train to the next city. There were no live concerts and theatre shows any more, no cinemas either, but surely there’d be something to do. A museum, perhaps, with exhibits from the olden days before surveillance technology and mandatory medical procedures gave us our freedom back.

Slowly, I took a step outside, then another. Despite the warm weather, a chill ran down my spine. Shivering, I glanced back longingly at my home. I thought of the new TV series I wanted to watch, the new flavours of snacks I had in the kitchen cupboard, the new posts popping up all over my feeds. I was becoming tired and hungry already. Besides, I wouldn’t get far before it was time to come home for my next meeting. With satisfaction, I noted that the strange feeling, that restless buzzing in my head and limbs, had gone.

I lifted my face to the sun once more, then turned around and went back inside.

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