Leaves From Tomorrow
When the guy with one eye hands you a ladle filled with a questionable liquid that’d been sitting in a kettle with a giant head floating around, you drink. Then you go home and question the life choices you’ve made as the fever dreams burn your flesh away because the health inspector should have shut down Pop’s Stew and Brew months ago.
From my bed and from my head sprung forth a sapling which grew many branches which contained varied realities of leaves. I couldn’t see them all, but I knew they all grew from the same trunk and in return fed the tree.
On one leaf, I saw a world where everybody still wore masks. Movie theaters and restaurants stayed closed. Dating stayed virtual and wedding preparations required a physical and a fourteen day quarantine before the lucky couple met and tied the knot in a remote and sterilized bed and breakfast, streamed to guests. Not the consummation part, that’s just wrong.
In another leaf, everybody who wore their masks wrong died. So two out of three red bandana wearing people handling traffic at Chick-Fil-A. Dead. The guy with a nice N95 at HEB and his big bushy goatee sticking out the bottom. Sorry dude, crumb catchers make lousy air filters. Dead.
You should have seen the rebellion branch. Hate to get all political, but the guy who lies a lot and contradicts experts also deprived states that didn’t vote for him of supplies and sent excess to his fans states. If you think taxation without representation was a good idea to overthrow your government, imagine a horde of coughing, wheezing sick people taking out his escape chopper with AR-15s and storming the big house and coughing and sneezing on everybody in the ruling class until they died. A leader cares for all the people or as G’Kar once said, “we taught this lesson to them once, we will teach them again.”
Fashion Leaf was funky. I don’t normally care what people wear, but all the designers incorporated face masks. Now everybody’s trying to have the coolest looking mask. Vigilantism became popular again, too. Once masks rendered face recognition technology moot and people realized that cops come to clean up the mess, not prevent it, a few more dots got connected. Initially, assholism increased, but then everybody realized they could be Batman and trees started getting decorated with bedsheet wearing villains.
In less pleasant leaf news, the worshipers of En Sabbah Nur got enough of their cult members into positions of leadership. Their doctrine of “survival of the fittest” disguised in such phrases like “personal responsibility” all meant that anybody who couldn’t survive the plague was weak and unworthy. Only the strong had the mandate of Apocalypse. And by strong, I mean rich. Because as with our world, rich people got healthcare, poor people don’t.
The saddest leaf I saw the people who worked the front lines of this. The Essentials. More doctors and nurses died. Their support personnel like janitors and orderlies also took heavy losses. Same with distribution and grocery store workers. Because they all had to go to work with people who were sick. They got a memorial plaque. Things were hard for a while, but nobody got a pay raise because the lesson of who is valued never makes it to long term memory.
Eventually, the tree grew, crushed my head with its weight and like all things, got old and died. I woke up with a headache. All those alternate realities are gone, but their leaves absorbed the light and sent the energy to the trunk just as the trunk sent water and nutrients up to them. Our reality, today and tomorrow is made of our past and future possibilities. Those futures are here now, as acorns.