joanne burns – footloose

you’d done everything in your power to ensure an optimum return. you’d planned this for ages. it’s not something you’d have ever rushed into. to combat inflation you’d invested most of your capital in viable real estate and arranged for it to be looked after by one of the city’s most honourable property outfits, in operation for over one hundred and fifty years. not one of those fly-by-nighters. an establishment with a good track record. one that was solid enough to be around for quite a wuile. you convinced three of your most compatible close friends to go with you. to experience the real thing. not endless speculation about tomorrow. take the pragmatic approach. what did you have to lose. so jaded with your lifestyle. repetition, sameness, predictability. why not drop out for a century or so. you called yourselves the winkle quartet. you could afford it. footloose middle aged baby boomers with plenty of spare change to jangle. been to most places on the globe worth going to at least once. occasionally tetchy livers, cholesterol creep. weary of jogging, bicycling, bushwalks, slightly anxious of health levels slipping. sliding into old age. alzheimers. why not take a chance then. an adventure. ‘let it rip’ was your shibboleth in the months it took you to get yourselves there.

it must be at least twenty years ago now. you’re not sure of the exact time you’ve been lying here in this capsule but the voice of the freezing chamber custodian seems to have aged. you can recognise this faintly as if from far away. on the whole you’ve felt fine. just like nothing. a beautiful emptiness. but lately you’re beginning to feel a little wobbly. a little anxious. and you shouldn’t be. they’d said your consciousness levels, patterns would be automatically monitored. phased out. then why are you worrying about the future. you should be having a hassle free one hundred years of quietude.

in your past life you were never a worrier. you were the one who always charged forwards. your curious nose leading you into places others merely sniffed at. and now you’re cracking. what if you wake up to find all your property has been reclaimed by the state, now run by a fascist dictator. though they probably wouldn’t call it that. maybe a dictapreneur. what if your estranged family had considered you dead and demanded your property be disposed of. you’d be penniless, or chipless, or whatever. and what if people weren’t people any more. or they spoke a different language. maybe with their eyes. and you couldn’t understand anything. what if you’ve suffered brain damage in the capsule. and just say your feet won’t move properly. if you could only move like a limp puppet. and when your friends woke up. what if you couldn’t remember each other. you’d have no one in the world who cared about you, validated your existence. what if you were victims of an experiment. to be turned into polar bears. what could you do.

you know about astral travelling. but you are scared to try it now. to check out what is going on outside your cap. to wander round the other chambers, to check on your friends, and maybe the world outside, just a little. for you are terrified. the silver cord connecting your spirit back to your body might snap. you would be lost in space. an invisible waif. your body a stiff. never to have a funeral, an obituary, a wreath of roses.

hey. what are those sounds. there’s someone speaking in a language you don’t understand. twingling sounds. still your thought waves. quickly. surely you can remember how to play dead.

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