Amoeba’s Lorica: The Great Indoors

Somewhere, USA; September 2023

Boy, age 10: “Dad?”

His father: “Yes, son?”

Son: “I want to go outside.”

Father: “You what?!?”

Son: “I want to go outside!”

Father:No! Are you nuts? Whatever do you want to do that for? Is there something wrong with the graphics at your information station? Is there something amiss with the VR gear in your exercise room? And if there is, why haven’t you told me about it? We can get a cloud tech to fix things, or get Amazon Robo to deliver upgraded hardware.”

Son:Dammit, dad, I’m tired of being cooped up in here all day long, every day! I’m tired of sitting at this computer, tired of trudging to the exercise room because the calendar beep tells me to. I’m tired of seeing kids and not being able to wrestle with them!”

Father: Yeesh!! No touching!”

Son: “Yeah right. Tell me you spent your entire life 13 feet away from everybody. Did you win your letter jacket playing fantasy football?”

Father: “Um …”

Son:Did you cook me up in a test tube?!?”

Father: “That was then. Before the virus. This is now. We’re safe in quarantine and that’s where we’re going to stay.”

Son: “You can take your quarantine and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. I want to go run down the street and feel the sun and wind on my face, not just look at it. I want to bounce off kids, not just watch them all be nice in their little virtual rooms during school. I want to jump in the lake, feel the water, and even the slime, on my back. I want to smell the flowers!”

Father: “Happy hay fever, son.”

Son: “I want to pet a cat!”

Father:No cats! Ever! They’re all diseased! The authorities can’t exterminate them fast enough! The dogs, too! And the bats, and the raccoons, all  the wildlife! They’re dangerous! The whole outdoors is dangerous! Away with it! All of it! I don’t want you out there. I don’t want you exposed to the virus. I don’t want you associating with the criminals and lowlifes who are living and dying with the virus because they’re too stupid, and too much not like us, to do anything else with their miserable lives.”

Son: Except grow our food?”

Father: “Just until the agbots are finally ready to take over farming. The companies have taken long enough to get this done. Promises. Bah.”

Son: “So what are you promising me? That robots will run what’s left of my life? And I’m supposed to like this?”

Father: This is what I’m promising you, mister. Twenty laps. And maybe twenty more after that. However much it takes for you to get this stupidity out of your head, and keep a civil tongue in your head when you tell me about any other sick ideas you might have. ‘Outside’ is a no. Permanently! Exercise room. Move!”

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