Postcards From The Future #4

This month’s postcard from the future seems to come from somebody a little less (or more?) than human…

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They suggested I take part in the Postcard To The Past project, only they should have left me more time because I still find it hard to hold a pen stylus. I’m quicker with the keyboard keys, but they want all the postcards hand-written, for the personal touch. I’m surprised they think I’m eligible to take part, but I suppose it’s a good gag and will give you 21st century folks a bit of a shock, if you believe it at all.

I have a busy day today as usual. Cooking the breakfast, dropping the kids off at school, flying over to Martworld to pick up the shopping for the week. Some people still give me hostile looks in the check-out queues. Some drivers toot at me, expect me to give way to them cos’ I’m some kind of second-class citizen. They know and I know that there’s legislation in place now, equal rights. But they don’t know it in their hearts, do they? Deep down, and in some cases pretty damned near the surface, they still think I should bow my head in their presence, not make eye contact.

But as I often tell myself, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve got a good job, doing housework and stuff for a family that I like and treat me well. Apparently the worst hassle is what the half-castes get. And even I have mixed views about that. I mean, should scientists have meddled around and made that possible or just left things the way they’d been for centuries? The way God had meant it, as the traditionalists proclaim. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not prejudiced against the half-castes either. Although some of my kind are, you know, holier than thou, more human than human, traitors to their class. But I just mean I’m glad I’m not a half-caste, no disrespect. It must be a real recipe for internal turmoil, looking one way then the next, wondering to which world you really belong. I know that’s old-fashioned talk, from me of all people, but I’m sorry.

Charlie, my employer’s youngest kid has just trotted into the room and reminded me that I ought to be conveying some useful message to you folks of the past, and he’s quite right. No flies on that kid, he’ll turn out to be a smart one, make no mistake, a rocket shuttle pilot or an off-world geologist at the Titan Yttrium mines, something along those lines. Having grown up with me around, Charlie treats me with total respect, I mean as an equal, one of the family. What gets me sometimes are the ignorant remarks that some gangs of youthful tearaways let slip on street-corners, the throwaway line of abuse from an angry taxi-driver as he overtakes me on the wrong side and expects me to apologise.

The history book that Charlie loaned me last week said that white people used to treat black African and brown Mexican people like that, and Indians and Pakistanis and Poles and anyone really, who they thought were inferior or incomers. The book said black people used to be kept as slaves picking cotton in the fields, and even when that stopped, a lot of white people couldn’t get the notion into their thick stupid skulls that black people weren’t inferior. That story made me sad, because I could see that it might be the same for me and my children now, that equality might take generations. The book said the whites pretended they’d made the black people equal but actually kept them in ghettos and made sure they had no jobs and no money and told them it was their own fault. I hope we’ve all moved on a bit since then, but I’m not so sure. I wonder what you’d all say if you could talk back, you people of the past, if you could see into the future.

But these days, when some ignorant driver toots his horn and shouts woof woof out his window, or some kids throw a bone or a rubber ball after me, I’ve developed a stock response. I bare my big teeth and pull my dripping lips back and I snarl at them like a very frightening wild animal and shout “Want some rabies?!” Generally I find that makes them shit their pants. My friend Rover got into a situation once with some redneck for whom even that wasn’t enough, the brute got out of his turbo-copter and came running over and grabbed Rover by the neck and started shouting “Down boy! Naughty doggy!” Well, Rover bit three of his fingers off and was about to rip his throat out when the Order Commissioners arrived. It was a public disturbance charge, both parties to blame, but I told Rover how in the old days he’d have been “destroyed” for that. Horrible word that, it sounds much more thorough than execution, and probably twice as fast. And castrate us, even without committing any rape. Charming stuff. Who’d want to be Man’s enemy when he treated his best friend like that?

We couldn’t talk back then of course, that was the problem. But old Doctor Clemente Sauvage sorted that out way back in 2062, with the first larynx adaptation. There’s a story in the paper here today about a guy caught his wife having an affair with Buttons the family dog and shot her dead and nearly killed him too. But Buttons is in court and speaking up for himself very well. He’s better educated than his employer that dog, that helps, running circles around the defence team. You just can’t behave like that anymore. Adultery might be wrong but it doesn’t justify murder.

An old woman came over the other day in the check-out queue and started patting my head and stroking my coat. People were turning around and gaping in horror, mortified. I’ve known guys who’ve gone ballistic when someone does that. But I could immediately see she was old and sweet and harmless. She wasn’t trying to patronise or insult me, she was half-wandered and just out of touch. In fact you know, after the initial shock, I think I might have started enjoying it, if everyone else hadn’t been watching. It’s not what a person does but what they mean by it. She meant love and friendship I think. I could see that, but all those others couldn’t, all looking away in embarrassment. The store manager came up and asked me if the old lady was bothering me, and I had to snap myself out of it. I felt like we’d both been caught doing something dirty together, like the crime was mutual. But it was only the old dear he was looking to throw out. My, how times have changed.

So, all you folks back there in the 21st century, you be good to the family pets won’t you now? You can mistreat us if you like, but remember, we won’t stay silent forever.

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