by Thorsten Nesch
If you stare into the abyss long enough,
the abyss stares back into you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche -
Lethbridge 2112 – 01. – Population 17,509,338
Trotting home from the gym through the city staying close to the walls, I was dodging the rain. The forecast of drizzle turned out to be wrong, instead the rain seemed to wash the grey and white lights off the gigantic flat screens and let them collect in the puddles and streams in the streets. Letters, pictures and videos dissolved on the nervous surface sputtered by the raindrops and crushed by the soles of the people’s rubber boots.
At the end of the block the pedestrian light switched to Stop right in front of me. Under the canopy of the traffic light the displayed statistics, public service announcements, opinion polls results, news and knowledge blocks melted into each other, without getting bombarded by the rain, still barely readable, jittery and mirrored, a riddle waiting to be deciphered while waiting for the pedestrian light change. It let the time go by faster. The surrounding people did the same, I saw them squinting, tilting their heads, and one woman waved briefly her hand back at a man who yelled “Hi” to her while flowing by in the crowd that crossed 13th Ave North on 7th Street.
The population counter read ‘17,509,338’, underneath ‘Do You make Sense? Not!? Then come talk to us!’, then ‘Let’s celebrate the 50th Birthday of our majesty Mike, King of Lethbridge’, and in an odd angle ‘Order the new Bawler Screambag in the next 13 minutes and collect 1,000 energy points’.
On our Go light we plowed through the water. My boots were old, standard plastic-recycle-grey, but still pretty good. They fit the best with thick socks between autumn and spring. Now they sat a little loose. This year’s July was somewhat less wet, merely two downpours so far, including the one right now.
A woman passed me by, dressed well, wearing the newest see-thru rubber boots, it seemed like her feet didn’t touch the ground. She held up the latest e-umbrella stick, slightly curved and shiny anthracite; the water ran over an invisible shield around her to the ground. A thin curtain of rain surrounding her.
I bowed my head a little more and walked on until I got distracted by a laser ad of a new tattoo parlor zigzagging over the pavement.
Heavy water drops exploded on my hoodie. My device vibrated in my pocket with the sound of an incoming message: the automatic reminder from my advisor-account for my optional tattoo. Although only open for an hour, my device found the parlor already in the system.
Why not? Maybe the downpour would end by the time I was done. I shrugged and weaved my way through the people to the entrance door.