A Short Imaginary History of the Year 2013
It was the year 2013 and the world did end. It was the end of joy, of laughter, of songs, of all the beautiful things in the world. And what’s the use of a world entirely devoid of beauty?
In the beginning, at the December of 2012, people were uneasy since it came to be known that the world would end at the chime of the New Year. We were all uncomfortable about the idea of everything ending so abruptly, without even the chance to give last hugs and kisses to loved ones or even to say good bye to new acquaintances so humans behaved as they usually do at times of crises, we overcompensated. An act of sheer bravado scoured the internet, the media, the free market. People laughed it off, made movies about how it would all end— gaudy things about meteors and zombies and gigantic tidal waves. People bought and sold, went to work and over time, drunk at night until it was time to work again; they continued their daily lives in an exponential degree. People wanted to live, and live hard. But through all this, it was crawling under everyone’s skin, that uncomfortable idea of the last blink, the last breath. Death was never so much the elephant in the room as it was during the year 2012 since it was the only time in human history that the entire race publicly shared the fear of the grave. It wasn’t just the sick, or the sentenced. Not just the Negroes or the Jews. Not just one country. It was the entire world who faced the great abyss together. And so as we counted it down on December 31, 2012 there was a silence, an earnest plasticity to the crowds of the world in Tokyo, in Times Square, in private family abodes watching the New Year’s specials around the globe. Three. Two. One. And through all those smiles, all those kisses, all those clinking of glasses, the entire world, for a fraction of a second, held its breath.
And, gave out a communal sigh.
The gears continued to turn. People, at first could not believe it. They pushed their kissing partners, dropped their glasses. The fireworks stopped. And they touched their faces, grasped at their hands, made exaggerated inhalations and exhalations. I am alive! And people all over the world shared awkward glances and laughed, for some perhaps the only honest laugh in their lives. We survived!
It was the people at home, those who did not have the finances to travel to the bigger celebration destinations or just wanted to share the end with their families and people they know rather than squeeze through New Year partiers, who saw it first. It was them who saw that ad which ran below pictures of people dancing, jumping up and down, some just smiling inanely into space. It ran in small text between messages of congratulations of hopes and dreams, where the smaller news items would usually be placed. It was spelled in bold black letters.
It’s 2013!!! America decides to stop war. BUY NOW. THE JOY MACHINE. We survived! Happy New Year!
As it goes with advertising, some people saw it, some people did not. Some people bought it. Some people didn’t. It was out of place. Why was it there? Who placed it there? It’s so small. Why can’t they just make a TV commercial about it? But consumers rarely ask those questions. And so out of the three million people around the world who saw the ad, only 200 people actually went out the next afternoon and bought the machine.
It was a strange device barely the size of a finger. Most products come in different shapes or colours to show off its owner’s personality but the company who created and was selling the Joy Machine didn’t need creativity. They had substance. It was a machine whose body shaped like a sphere. From the body a needle sticks out. It basically looked like a black tennis ball that has a needle protruding from it. One was supposed to stick the needle in any part of the human body and twist the ball. The promise was the body part struck by the needle would experience euphoria. No, not pleasure. Euphoria. A man who stuck it to his wrist would experience what a basketball star’s hand must feel when he wins the game for his team with a slam dunk. A prisoner who stuck it into his feet would feel the gentle comings and goings of the shore spreading slowly across his legs, and once again, at least, his feet would be free. A woman would feel her first embrace. An orphan, her mother. A mother, holding a baby in her hand after the happy agony of delivery. And the promise was always fulfilled. It did not run on electricity. It did not have to be refilled with chemicals. In fact no one actually knew how the device worked, some people tried to break the ball open to see what made it tick but could not. But people knew it worked. And the word got around. It did not take long for people to line up at every major department store of the world for the Joy Machine. It was affordable, and supplies did not drop. Before January was over every man, woman and child in the world was a happy owner.
At first, everything went well. Crime rates dropped. Red light districts closed down. Bars and drug traffickers ceased to have business. No one went hungry or thirsty; a shot of the device to the stomach would instantly fill you up. Peace around the world. It seemed the 2012 prophecy had it all wrong. We did not merely survive. We prospered. All thanks to a device advertised once in small text during January 1 2013, 12:00 AM.
Little did we know, we were wrong.
Couples stopped making love. Why would they? Business came to a halt. No one needed money anymore, everyone was already happy. Everyone was satisfied. It wasn’t strange to someone on the streets with a thousand black balls hanging to his body but it wouldn’t have mattered since you would have not noticed him at all. No one wanted to move, to pursue, to be pursued, to do anything. No one sang. No one laughed. Joy has been destroyed by euphoria. No one needed any real human connection anymore. Humanity had come to a standstill.
The entire world stopped on its tracks, the globe no longer revolved.