2043

Thirty years doesn’t seem that long ago. We thought we had problems then. Bailouts and bankers made our blood boil. Our hearts were broken but our eyes were still sheltered.

Most people still hadn’t seen a body. Not in the flesh anyway. TV and the Internet offered glimpses, but it never seemed real. It was never… us.

One health token – for life. Tony used it for a broken leg. Now he’s got pains in his stomach that won’t go away.

What was he supposed to do?

If you can’t walk, you’re as good as dead anyway. Districts are too spaced out and I haven’t seen a vehicle that’s moved in months now, not a civilian one anyway.

That fucking word. We used it in the military. We were soldiers. The rest were ‘civvies’.

That was the beginning.

We were all citizens, we knew that. It was a linguistic shortcut – an easy way to differentiate between them and us.

Then the government starting using it. We all became ‘citizens’.

At nighttime things look more normal. I always loved the sky at night. It gave me something. Looking up at the sky on a clear night, my insignificance was reassuring.

Me not mattering made me feel better about myself. So what if I wasn’t achieving everything I had wanted to. I was a dot. A speck that didn’t matter.

The skyline has changed, however. It flickers – the fires a more erratic light-bulb than the skyline from old, or should that be young?

When you’re beyond the reach of the smell, the only way to tell the ones that have the bodies on them is by how high the flames reach into the sky before dropping again. A barbaric fuel for a once modern age.

It’s still a beautiful sight. I never want those fires to go out. The light still means something, even if it is fuelled by our own destruction.

But the tokens. You probably have no idea when I’m talking about. There’s so much that has changed. So much that we never saw coming.

You don’t expect society to regress, technologies to break for no apparent reason, unable to be fixed by the world’s greatest minds.

Radios, batteries, lights, transport, TVs – gone.

Electricity GONE.

Health had to be preserved. We had no idea what was happening, but our ideals were still intact.

They said they were.

Medical cards were the first to go. Since everyone was now affected, everyone was priority one. It made sense at the time.

They made sense at the time.

Their ‘sense’ marked the beginning of what still seems like the end.

Making everyone the same meant fewer got seen, and even fewer of those that were seen were the ones in most need.

Making us all the same, in that split second, made none of us matter. Really matter.

You can’t prioritise everyone. It’s a misnomer. A clever word to describe a travesty. We were prioritised alright – more dead than the famine, and counting.

The fires now burn in the daytime as well…

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