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Turn Back Time
“Nineteen, what do you think you’re doing?” Thirtyfive asked me, her eyes wide.
“I’m opting out. Turning back time. Re-living the glory days.”
“Yeah but why? You’re Nineteen, you have been for 70 years, and you will continue to be forever after. Why bother reminiscing?” She argued.
“Because I miss being Makenzie.”
“Don’t you dare use that name,” she snapped at me. “You haven’t been Makenzie since the dark ages.”
“Since the glory days… when I was young and beautiful. Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
“No you don’t. Are you stupid? Do you want to die?”
“I won’t be dying, I’ll be turning back time.”
“But to us you’ll be dead.”
“Then you can Turn Back Time too. Remember when you were Joyce and I was Makenzie, and the world still existed in relative insanity.”
“Keyword insanity. Why would I want to go back to that?”
“Because we were free.” And Thirtyfive didn’t contradict me. “I’m buying a spot at a TBT machine tomorrow and you can’t stop me."
Thirtyfive sighed. “If TB time is all in your mind, why?”
“Because it will feel like reality. I can be free and young and beautiful, and Twenty and I will be in love again—but he’ll be Mark and I’ll be Makenzie. Because I’ll get to go back to before the Regime existed, and I can re-live treasured memories and make new ones. It’ll all be in my mind, but so what? How do I know this now isn’t in my mind and my real real body isn’t hooked up to some machine, making me think I’m here and now when I’m really not? This is my life and my life alone, and I chose to waste it as I wish.”
Thirtyfive didn’t say anything.
The next day I went to the TBT building and requested a machine.
The man behind the counter, whose numbertag identified him as Fourtytwoeightysix, asked, “are you sure you want to enter TB time? There’s no undoing it. You won’t remember who you really are and won’t realize you are in a world completely comprised of your memories. Are you sure you want to?” I stared at his flawless face and sighed. God, they were making the workers younger and younger. What must it be like to be so young and alive, and watch all these people retire to TB time? All us too old or too bored or too nostalgic to keep on living, instead preferring to hook up to machines and live in our fantasy world. And to be the one, day in and day out, watching all of us surrender to the machine. What must that do to one’s soul?
I read recently that the number of TBT recipients was increasing dramatically, and at the time remarked to Thirtyfive how it was a sign for how the Regime was losing control. And it was true. Everywhere you turned, another hopeless law was imposed. One day soon the whole thing would collapse, and I didn’t want to be around to see it.
“Yes. I’m sure.”
Fourtytwoeightysix asked a few other standard questions, about my age, health, mental health, and the like, to get a basis for what machine would be appropriate. Then he asked what time period in my memories I wanted to go back to, and I proudly told him my teenage years, when I was Makenzie. Relatively quickly the formalities were covered and he guided me to an open machine. My heart sped up… this was a momentous decision I had made. No undoing it.
Fourtytwoeightysix sat me down and strapped me up. He entered a drip into my arm-“for nourishment”, he informed me-and wires all over my body, all the while explaining what he was doing.
All too soon he slipped the nozzle over my nose. It was filled with a sleeping gas to make me unconscious as he attached the wires to my brain. As I slipped to sleep, my eyelids fluttered for the last time and I remarked sleepily how the rubber mask pinched.
Joyce and Mark, here I come…