A boy sits near me in the park, waiting for the airbus. Above us in the nano-haze, an advertisement appears, blocking out the sun. It’s a trailer for “Star Wars XII: Infinity Gauntlet Cross-Over edition.”
“Star Wars is so stupid.” The kid says.
“You have to understand,” I say. “It used to be really cool.” Then I look around at what has become of the city. “But cool doesn’t matter in the long run.”
The kid looks at me funny. “The word “cool” isn’t even cool,” he replies, then goes back to his ZooZoo-Room. (Oh, ZooZoo-Room. It’s pretty much the only thing kids care about. Facebook? It went out as fast as it came in. The only things left from the old days are Tumblr and GeoCities.)
I tap the kid with my finger to get his attention. “Hey, I’m trying to tell you something.”
Instantly, I regret the decision. The automated voice of a hovering drone warns me not to touch the child, and a video post of the incident is sent and now attached to my social security number forever. (The drones, they’re everywhere, keeping us safe from terrorists, safe from criminals, safe from ourselves. The upside is that it’s so expensive and legally treacherous to have children that many girls tie their tubes when they get their first period, and the country’s population is actually shrinking.)
Anyway, Star Wars. Sorry, I get sidetracked a lot these days. Having gotten the boy’s attention at the cost of my already teetering social credit score, I continue. “What I mean is, long ago, in a cultural zeitgeist far far away, there was a movie, a movie that became a saga…”
“Don’t do that,” the kid says.
“Do what?” I ask.
“Say ‘Saga’. You can’t use it, you’re too old.”
I’m confused until my sputtering brain remembers some article about how “Epic” is out, and “Saga” is in, as in, “That drone-kill was so saga!” or “Your ZooZoo-Room is the sagaest!”
“No, listen. It was an actual saga, like in length and scope. It began on a small desert farm and stretched across a galaxy.”
“Right,” the kid says. “with Luke and Mickey, and then they meet Iron Man and some old wizard and take on the terrorist rebels.”
“No, that’s from the third re-make of the 4th film. In the original, they were the rebels… and they didn’t add any of the Avengers or Mickey, it was a story of self discovery and freedom, not cross-over cash-ins. But it was also a lie…”
The kid shrugs, then goes back to his ZooZoo-Room. I can see he’s ‘thought-ing’ something about me to his friends. I grab him again, but this time it’s more than a tap, as I spin him around and bore into his soul with a desperate glare.
“PHYSICAL OFFENSE”, the drone warns.
“You’re not listening! One day your precious ZooZoo-Room will be bought out and remolded, and while you whine and pine over its changes, the force will shift, BUT IT WILL BE TOO LATE, SON!
“I’M NOT YOUR SON!” He cries back, frightened. “Just leave me and my ZooZoo alone!!
The drone is close now.
“That’s what I mean,” I mutter, my cause lost. “While you fret over the trifles of apps and entertainment, everything that matters will be re-written beneath you, and the real empire will have already won…”
And that’s it. My social credit meter drops into the red and the drone approaches, its taser claws crackling.
“‘DIE, REBEL SCUM!'”