[WP] 99.99% of humanity was assimilated into a hivemind 3 months ago. Surprisingly nothing really changed, and no one noticed. However that 00.01% is slowly putting the pieces together.
My eyes fluttered open, revealing the start to another day. I instinctively moved to stretch, but my limbs pressed up against the walls of my coffin sized apartment. A low groan buzzed through my lips. It echoed back at me, bounced off of the insufferably small space. Another day in paradise. I wiggled out of the apartment and stepped onto the elevator.
“Mornin!”, one of my overly cheerful neighbors waved in greeting. I choked back a sarcastic burn. There were cameras everywhere, and I had met the men who watched them.
“Eddy! It’s great to see you, buddy!”, I beamed, summoning all of my pre-pollen acting skills. You could never be too happy in 2021. It was as if all the misery in the world had supposedly been used up in 2020. Now we were going to live in eternal ecstasy. Stupidly tiny apartments and invasive spy cameras were the future and everyone had better love every minute of it … or else.
Eddy gushed at the attention. “Isn’t it great that we don’t have to wear masks anymore? I still can’t believe pollen was the cure for COVID-19 this whole time! Who would have thought?”
“Who would have thought?”, I parroted back. masking my completely inauthentic enthusiasm by energetically nodding. Maybe we didn’t wear physical masks in the Golden Age, but our new masks had been programmed into our very beings by the pollen.
The Golden Age had started a month before the final vaccine was released. While the rest of the world was in lockdown, a group of health nuts had found out that honey from somewhere in South America kept them all from getting infected. Science got involved and traced the source of their immunity back to an endangered local flower’s pollen.
They couldn’t synthesize the compound in labs. It became a global effort to save the plant. Humanity loved that plant so much that they made it Earth’s official flower. COVID-19 had started the movement towards a global society, and the little purple flower was the finishing touch.
The vaccine had unique side effects. Within hours of the inhaler, the inoculated became increasingly considerate toward one another, empathizing with the needs of those around them. The 1% disappeared overnight as they liquidated all of their assets to save the purple flower and each other.
In a matter of weeks, everyone had given up their individual wealth to the cause. One by one, we signed away our earthly possessions as we left the vaccination centers in packed buses. The electric fleet had been donated by Elon Musk, one of the first to move into the pollination towers.
It just made sense to move into the towers. They were at the center of the flower fields; we could all get to work by just taking the elevator to the ground floor. As the need to harvest pollen for vaccines lessened, portions of the surrounding land was converted to agriculture. Where we had previously navigated concrete jungles in order to one up each other, we now toiled side by side to provide each other with just the basics, and nothing more. Though COVID-19 was completely wiped out, the beloved purple flower still lined every pathway and filled every flowerbox.
In those early days, everything made sense and happened without conflict. I had been swept up by the movement and hadn’t needed to fake enthusiasm. Once the pollen saved my life, I realized the value of its gift and wanted to work day and night to pay it forward to everyone else around me.
Inevitably, however, I started to view the utopian ideals as nonsensical and oppressive. I remembered the first morning I woke up and realized that I couldn’t fully stretch out. The Golden Age had lost its luster. I tried to leave the pollination center. That’s when I discovered the cameras, and the men who watched them.
I had been stopped at the compound entrance by a team of men in black with bright yellow jackets.
“Are you lost, friend?” their leader asked, motioning his team to block off my path.
“Uh, no? I was just..”, my voice faltered as I searched their faces for any clues of their intentions. They all wore the same concerned mask. They were genuinely worried about me.
“…going for a walk.”, I finished and hoped that I sounded convincingly O.K.. Nothing to see here, fellas, just a guy who woke up in a freaky pollen cult and wants to go home.
The leader nodded to one of the other yellow jackets. I started to get scared. Two others moved up behind me and pinned my arms between them. He walked forward and retrieved an inhaler from an inner pocket.
“Looks like you might need another dose of vaccine.”, he explained, while positioning the device towards my flared nostril. I tried to shake my head no, but the men behind me quickly moved to hold me still. I couldn’t stop the pollen from shooting through my sinuses and numbing my resolve.
I woke up in my apartment the next morning. I didn’t even realize that I had missed a day until weeks later. Everyone had lost track of days of the week during quarantine. The Golden Age’s communal lifestyle made the days run together. Society never picked the calendar back up.
After my second dose of the vaccine started to wear off, my memory of the event returned. I began to notice the yellow jackets as they casually wove through our daily activities and retrieved any lost soul that tried to go the wrong way.
There weren’t many people that the yellow jackets had to redirect. For the most part, everyone else remained satisfied with their new existence. I began to live for the chance that I might see a takedown. By watching their targets, I was able to start the resistance.
The elevator door opened and I politely motioned for Eddy to exit first. As his head filled the camera’s lens, I stealthily rose my hand and slashed its power cord with my multitool. Eddy continued out into the dining hall, oblivious that I had remained behind. A few seconds later, a shadowy figure slipped through the still open door. She pushed one of the elevator buttons to the side and I palmed a small golden key from my pocket to the keyhole. I twisted it and the elevator doors closed. We were alone and unwatched.
The elevator continued downward, before coming to a stop and opening once again. An unmanned maintenance level stretched out in front of us. I stepped out of the elevator and stretched. My compatriot moved up alongside me and cocked her eyebrow in amusement. “Never get tired of that, eh, Stretch?” I laughed.
Over the next few hours, the elevator door opened dozens of times as my fellow resistance members were able to pull away from their assigned posts and join us. Each newcomer made their way to a ceiling tile and took down their hidden tools. Some of them had microscopes, others had various colored liquids in vials.
I weaved amongst them, offering my assistance as it was required.
“I think I have something here!”, an excited brunette exclaimed in a hoarse, but projected, whisper. We all carefully set down what we were doing and rushed over to check her workstation.
She held it up so we could all see the shriveled, dead plant. Its purple flowers were completely wilted, an odorous black slime leaking from them.
I felt hope catch in my throat.