“Oh, that was a long time ago,” I said, looking at the old photograph on the battered tablet, hoping to demur. Rows and rows of men bearing one of the earliest visor headsets. “That was a long time ago.”
“Were you there?” Huxley asked. Her big eyes—we used eyes again, by then, at least some of the time—were blood-red from her most recent Treatment; in fact, her treatment visor was still perched on the top of her head. I pointed to a brown blur at the top of the photo near where I had sat that day, on a narrow, upholstered chair that barely contained my wide body.
“We had no choice, then,” I started to explain, but already I was lying. We had always had a choice, but it had become thinner with the passing months and years, like the air thins as you ascend a mountaintop. You press on because the summit seems closer than the base camp. Because you can’t even remember the base camp, anymore. Because you deserve to summit.
But we sure felt powerless, our bulbous white bodies filling the uniforms we had been issued: the dark jeans, the blue button-downs, the black T-shirts, the cotton blazers. Choices only felt like choices once you pondered their alternatives. But the whole junket had seemed like an onerous imposition. Even getting there. Forced through body scanners, our property ransacked before being imprisoned inside airship tubes and plied with bland steaks before being encased in thick duvets. Slipper-clad, sipping at small-batch White Man’s Bourbon.