We finally stop in a home theater. Seemingly out of nowhere, a young man appears and hands me a frigid bottle of beer.
“For your movie,” the government worker says, by way of explanation.
The lights dim as he says this, as if they were eavesdropping. The servant helps me into a supple leather chair and places a silver bucket beside me, with more beers nestled in the ice. And then they both disappear, reabsorbed into the scenery. The man has chosen a superhero film, and it’s hard not to enjoy it. All of our movies are decades old now, but this doesn’t bother me. They don’t make new movies any more, and so the technology is the same, frozen in time. This movie may as well have been made last week. I open a second beer and recline further, and try to commit every detail of this moment to memory.
It’s so dark and so cold in the theater that I lose myself, just a little. Maybe the problem is I didn’t give it enough thought. I never actually considered what life as an Honorable would be like. The movie is reaching its climax, an elongated sequence full of explosions and rapid gunfire. Something about the loudness of the scene allows me to be honest with myself. It’s too quiet at home, at the grow house. Too easy for others to get at my thoughts. But here, the darkness and the noise provide protection.
Our lives are balanced on a knife’s edge. The food supply is precarious at best, and who is to say it won’t collapse? Or what if the earth becomes so blisteringly hot that we simply can’t live on it? The human body can only withstand so much. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life struggling through one hundred and ten degree days. It seems impossible now, but then again, this all seemed impossible at the start of the century. I follow the action onscreen, watch as the hero easily snaps some nameless bad guy’s neck. It’s the end that worries me the most, that last day as an Honorable. If only I could go as easily as the lackey in the film. And yet, they say the process is utterly painless. Just a pinprick and then you float off into nothing.
I didn’t realize it, but the movie is over. The lights flick on and I am, at once, returned to myself. Who would look after Grace? She needs me. We need each other. Besides, there are blueberries waiting for me tonight. The thought of Grace, painstakingly picking berries by hand so that we can celebrate, fills me with anger. They indulge you until you’re stupid and numb with pleasure, and then they get you to sign your life away. I leave the theater, catching the government worker off-guard. I don’t know where the exit is, and so I pick a hallway at random and storm down it.
“Hang on, friend” he says.
“No, I’m done. You can’t stop me.”
They’ve turned me into a fool, a guilt-ridden fool, and I don’t feel the need to be civil anymore.
He places a hand on my arm, and says, “There’s only one more room. And then you’ll be finished. And you can go in alone. I don’t even have to escort you.”