FREEDOM IN AMERICA has vanished. The year is 2025. Luna James is alone, contained in her small New York City apartment. She’s half listening to the world news broadcast blaring on the television.
“It has been five years since COVID-19. Cities are at the center of the Pandemic and mostly deserted. And for most of us our worlds have shrunk to the size of our homes.” The female newscaster’s voice is somber.
“Thousands of people now refuse to leave their homes and have developed FOGO, or the fear of going out… Dr. Schaeffer, you are an expert on infectious disease and part of the federal response team to minimize the effect of the virus over the last five years…please explain to our viewers how we got here…”
“Certainly.” A man’s head and shoulders appear on screen. His face is pale and worn. His hair is short and completely white, and he keeps pushing up his glasses that are slowly sliding down his nose.
“Let me explain the evolution of our response as a country. The United States was unprepared and in denial the virus would arrive with such vengeance. We took little precaution. Due to the lack of leadership from the federal government it took us two years for the response to COVID to level off. When the vaccine did arrive, things were better for a short time. That was until the virus kept mutating every six months. So, keeping up with the virus became difficult and unmanageable and the death rate again soared. Now that we have a better handle on testing with the Rapid DNA technology and the centralized database tracking the movements of all Americans, we are in a much better place to deal with COVID-25.”
“So Dr. Schaeffer, are you saying the Pandemic will never go away?” the female newscaster asks fearfully. “How will we live? What should we expect?”
Luna points the remote at the woman’s face and clicks off the television. It’s a warm June evening and she misses going to the gym every day. She pulls on her lilac leggings and struggles into the matching sports bra top. The pastel purple color compliments her brown skin. She picks up her house keys, stopping for a moment to admire herself in the full-length mirror. She knows her body is flawless, her stomach impossibly flat, her cleavage peeking out of her top. Luna lets out a deep sigh, grabs her boombox, slips on her face mask, and pushes open her apartment door.
The roof is on the fourteenth floor, and halfway up the staircase Luna stops for a breath. Once she recovers and is breathing normally, she switches hands and lugs the heavy radio the rest of the way up the steps. Her small Bluetooth speakers had fizzled out, and she could not find them in stock anywhere online. Another symptom of the Pandemic. She put the enormous radio on the ledge. It’s a Bumpboxx Ultra Bluetooth boombox—a gift from her best friend, Santana, one Christmas prior to the Pandemic, when going retro was back in style. Luna loved the stereo’s colorful graffiti design—it was so 90s.