Something’s different, I think to myself as I put my waffles into the oven.
I stroll over to my collection of records, take one from the shelf and gently remove it from the sleeve. Holding it up to my nose, I inhale deeply. Vinyl produced to resemble vinyl produced before the ‘70s has a different odour to vinyl produced to resemble vinyl produced before the ‘50s, and I’ve reached a point where I can choose records based on smell alone, something which fills me with great satisfaction.
I have things to do. It’s nearly time to clock on at work. I look over at my desk in the corner of the room. My computer is surrounded by an army of plastic action-figures, moulded into the shapes of some of the characters from the films and television programmes that constantly stream on a loop on the screen mounted into my wall.
It occurs to me that I have absolutely no idea what year it is, which makes me happy. I feel comfortable. Safe.
But something is different.
My pulse quickens. Should I check the news? No. I only check the news once a year, on the same day I do my tax return. I break myself out of my routine once a year. Hell day, I call it.
I check my social meed-feed. Obviously, none of my friends check the news either, but I want to make sure I haven’t missed an alert. In all the time I’ve been alive, there’s never been an alert, but there’s always the vague possibility of one.
Everything is fine.
I’m worried that the day is getting away from me. Minor panic, so I pop some pills on the way to the kitchen. It’s earlier than usual, but I activate the virtual bar and order a pint of stout.
‘Starting early?’ Sam says.
‘Something’s different Sam.’
‘Run a diagnostic then daft lad.’
Good old Sam. As far as virtual service industry staff goes, he’s a top bloke.
I sit at my computer and run a diagnostic. My unit is still perfectly airtight: all power and life support systems ticking along nicely. Network running at full speed, full drone-delivery coverage available. I have everything I need or could want. But the feeling lingers.
I have to be sure.
Instead of logging into work, I pick up my gobblin’ goblin-bin and stuff empty tins of energy drinks into its fanged, gaping mouth. I access my security feed instead. Cueing up the footage from the previous day, I watch myself on the screen as I go through my routine: waffles, vinyl-sniffing, staring at my action-figures in confusion before popping some pills and heading to the kitchen for an early stout.
I fast-forward to the part where I’m sat in front of my computer, putting empty tins of energy drink into the mouth of a goblin and checking the footage from the previous day to see if something is different.
Joe Hakim lives and works in Hull.
He is a writer and spoken word performer, and was a featured poet at the BBC Contains Strong Language spoken word festivals in 2017 and 2018.
His first novel The Community, a sci-fi/horror novel, was published by Wild Pressed Books in 2019. He writes a monthly arts and culture column for The Hull Story and also writes for theatre and radio.
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