Imagine a world where you are confined to a living pod. You’re wearing a VR headset 24 hours a day.
The audio-visual input would be intense, overwhelming. Entertaining, terrifying.
If you wanted a different future for your child, how would you escape?
When I was a kid, we didn’t need all this blasted technology. If we wanted a day out, my mum and I headed down to our secret beach. Cornwall was great for that, even back in the mid 2030s, before the UV radiation grew more dangerous. It sounds crazy now, but we jumped in the car and drove for an hour just to get to our favourite spot.
I keep my eyes shut, blocking out the garish colours and jarring images that pop up in the view through my headset, uninvited. My podmate, Paolo, taught me how to do this. ‘Close your eyes,’ he’d whisper in my ear. ‘Listen to your heart.’
I think of the Cove, and memories bubble up. Sunlight shining on a pure blue sea. Pink thrift flowers swaying on the clifftops.
Mum and I scrambling down a rocky path and throwing off our shoes, racing headlong across the sand to the sea.
Our secret beach was only uncovered at low tide. We lay flat on the rocks risking the sun’s rays warming our faces. When the sea rose, we left. A lump forms in my throat, thinking of my mum and the culling. Keep your memories, we were told, your parents are giving their lives for you. With fewer people, the Earth’s resources will last longer.
I swallow, remembering.’