Brody is turning the big five-oh today. They’re excited for him. A few of them are preparing a cake to say goodbye to him, or you could view it as a congratulations. Either way, everyone is looking forward to the party. They’ve heard mention of a caterer, but no one is sure where that news came from so it could be false.
This is the second congratulatory goodbye party they’re throwing in two months. Jessie was so sad to go, but she managed to keep a smile on her face the entire time, even as she cut the cake. It’s a happy time, so even though most people shed a couple tears, they’re all excited for the next step of their lives.
The bus’s arrival signals the end of the party. They give Brody a big hug. They remember when they were eighteen and finally moved on to the second phase. That was also a joyous time, but also one of finality, because finally they’re not children and can be treated like adults. The bus back then was full of the hopes and dreams of reaching the adult world. Everything was prepared for them so that they would be happy in their new adult lives, as long as they worked hard. Everything will be prepared for Brody, and the other fifty-year-olds in their senior lives as the bus takes them to the third phase.
They shout good luck and farewells as Brody is led to the bus. They stand in two rows and applaud him on making it to fifty. What will it be like, they wonder, to see other fifty-plus people? They remember wondering the same thing when they were seventeen, about to turn eighteen, and wondering what adults were like. Soon Brody will know. Jessie already knows. Eventually they will all know.
The doors close and they watch Brody’s face in the window curve away from them, his eyes large and possibly trembling with tears. They watch as far as the end of the driveway. Some of them even go out to the street, but most of them go back in the building. There’s still work to be done.
The bus exits the gates of the adult world and takes Brody through a long road that winds, but really just curves around a large city. Brody remembers seeing something similar when he was first brought to the second phase as a young eighteen-year-old. He had been so innocent and blank then, without any idea what the adult world was like. He’d been content. He’d produced to the best of his ability. He’d grown tired. Recently he became tired a lot faster than he had when he was in his twenties. He is looking forward to the third phase.
Everything outside the bus becomes black, so dark that he can’t see any sign of life. Have they entered a tunnel? He hasn’t noticed in his reverie. The darkness of the outside, and the minimal lights in the bus on the inside, lull him into a stupor. The cake had been delicious. Everyone had been so nice. He feels his eyes closing. There is a small pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. Brody wonders when they will reach their destination. In that short span of wondering, he closes his eyes and falls asleep.
You watch all of these scenes unfold in your memory disc. The human, Brody, sits prone on a metal slab. The memories are uploaded into the Electrosphere and then filed away in a folder marked “Brody 37.” You hit the green button and the metal slab jerks into motion. It moves along the conveyor belt and joins the other human bodies on slabs heading toward the Decontamination Chamber, where the bodies will be wiped of any excess germs and notable grime from the outside world. You leave your station and roll to the upper deck and you watch the bodies enter the Chamber. From the Chamber you see the pink bodies continue toward the Recycling Plant. One day you will be promoted and be a part of the Plant. You will be able to decompose the bodies into their respective parts: skin, blood, bones, miscellaneous. When you become proficient at decomposing them, you’ll finally be promoted to Creator and then you’ll be able to reassemble and create “Brody 38.”
But these are future dreams, which hinge upon the future creation of humans. You wonder how long that will last as your kind’s technology advances. For now, you join the queue to your sleeping pod, feel the wires connect, and begin to hum the sweet dreams of sleep.
Katherine Yeh is a current MFA candidate at Emerson College. Follow her on Twitter @kathissimo.