Chips
Martin Bush

The machines didn't kill me last night. I was quite surprised by this. I fully expected to wake up dead. Or wait, not wake up at all? That’s right. Here I am staring at my chipped plaster ceiling and covered in this tattered, filthy blanket. Don't get confused, the blanket is not the issue here. I love the blanket. It is, in fact, my favorite blanket. And the chip, chip, chip in the ceiling? Well that is my little reminder, my little note-to-self, an admonition not to forget, a hint of something. What does it remind me of? I don't remember. My fingers find the bit of metal behind my ear and worry at it. Pick, pick, pick. Time to eat.
Breakfast is the usual, as usual. There are eggs with buttered toast and two slices of thick, juicy ham. I'm partial to the combination, though sometimes I like some potatoes, fried, with ketchup and a little spicy seasoning. A huge pile of potatoes. I might not like potatoes, I don't know, because I have never had them.
The taste of breakfast is somewhat ruined by the view out of my window. Mrs. Eberly, the widow next door that used to give out apples on Halloween like a crazy person, appears to have died during the night. At least, I assume that she died. Her run-down little house has been replaced by a flat sheet of glass at the bottom of a perfectly square, ten-foot-deep pit. Shame. I can see my other neighbor, on the other side of what used to be Mrs. Eberly's abode, getting into his HAT. He sees me at the window, staring at him, and we share a look. It is the look people share when they see something unpleasant about which they can do nothing and which does not really affect them directly. HAT, by the way, is an acronym for hypervelocity aerial transport. Think flying car but without all the flying. The machines have been very helpful. Also, the machines have been very helpful. Did I say that twice?
I wish I could work today. I've already paid the fees, received the license, gotten the approved permits, and filled out the requisite forms, but there aren't any openings per my Ristmon Pro 42 Z. Medical information, communications device, entertainment gateway and status symbol all in one, the Ristmon Pro 42 Z will make you the envy of all your neighbors. Well, at least the ones that aren't dead. Where was I? Oh right, the job. There are only 500,000 jobs left, you know, and over a billion of us, so it’s not often that I get the chance to work. I've read that people used to avoid working, if they could help it, but that sounds like a crazy myth, like space travel or mowing the lawn or machines that think. Wait, no, some of those are real. Probably.
Opting not to get dressed, I go for a walk down one of the crumbly asphalt paths, ten times wider than needed and marked with completely unnecessary white dashes. Paths run all over the place. This one curves most circuitously. As I walk off breakfast, I sometimes pass a house, sometimes a glass-filled pit, and other times a tree. The tree is my favorite. I wonder who thought them up? An organic, fractally organized self-reproducing organic pillar that produces oxygen: they were invented by a madman, surely, or perhaps a very excitable child.
I am surprised to realize that it is night and the sun is gone. My legs are very sore, and I think there is blood in my shoe. Looking down, I see I must have stepped on a bit of glass, and it worked itself up through the worn-out tread. The shoes are great, the shoes are not the problem, they are, in fact, my favorite shoes. Looking behind me I see a red circle on the asphalt. It is not a perfect circle; it sometimes veers off towards a tree. What an odd thing. My Ristmon Pro 42 Z tells me that it is time to sleep.
I walk back to my house, but pause on my porch so I can make eye contact with my neighbor across Mrs. Eberly's glass-filled pit. He is standing by his HAT, looking ever so confused, but when he sees that I see him, he sees his way back inside his house. I follow his example. My house, not his house. I won’t give them a two-fer. I wonder if they will kill me tonight. If not, then I might get to work tomorrow. Time to sleep. Oh, there’s a chip, remember?