Short Story: Barefoot

Evalien Wiersma 7 June, 2019

In the middle of the night, a white sleek train was gliding through the silent darkness of rural areas and loud neon lights of cities. Its tracks covered the whole world, guiding the train through and across overcrowded capitals, sky-high mountains and wild seas. It was driving on sustainable electricity and moving at 700 kilometers an hour, yet its passengers barely felt a thing. Naturally, it was a popular way of travelling.

Although she had managed to get a window seat, Ava did not care for the captivating surroundings rapidly flashing by. Instead, her eyes were fixed on the front of her carriage. Separated from hers by a thick glass partition, there was another compartment. Its passengers were so-called non-mods: civilians who abstain from certain physical and mental modifications to the standard of their chosen community.

Almost all were wearing gas masks, in fear of catching a disease in the outside world

Their compartment was considerately less fancy than Ava’s.  There were not even enough chairs to seat all of them. Their bags full of groceries challenged them to keep their balance in the train even more. But losing an apple or two was not their biggest concern. Almost all were wearing gas masks, in fear of catching a disease in the outside world. For that very same reason, only one child was amongst them.

The girl was holding her father’s hand as she was battling against the g-forces of the fast-moving train. In contrast to Ava, her brown eyes were darting excitingly from window to window as she was telling her parent, and a few curious others, a muffled story from behind her mask. Ava envied the idyllic sight. In the modded world, people rarely had the wish, let alone the time, to sit down and have a chat about something other than professional achievements. To her dismay, Ava could not remember the last time someone asked her how she was doing. Or, even worse: when she had asked someone else.

She was on her way to Grun, a non-mod community that only used technology which benefits the conservation of the Earth

Within just a short matter of time, she would hopefully sit on that side of the train, too. She was on her way to Grun, a non-mod community that only used technology which benefits the conservation of the Earth. Rumor had it that the community was working on a large and mysterious project and that they were accepting anyone with an extensive creative background. For Ava, this was an opportunity of a lifetime: she had been struggling in the modified world for a while. Although she had loved her work as an aspiring architect, she was tired of constantly enhancing her capabilities genetically and technologically to compete with her rivals. Not only did it cost her a fortune, it also took an immense toll on her mental well-being. When the announcement of Grun reached Ava, she promptly quit her job without thinking twice and bought a train ticket. Ava glanced at the non-mod girl once more.

The girl’s clothes were baggy and her hair long, brown and loose. Although such an appearance was not a sight Ava had seen a lot, that wasn’t even the most fascinating thing about the girl. What intrigued Ava the most were her grass stained knees and the dirt on her toes. Ava sniggered. The small girl would have left a sandal-shaped trail on the pristine sidewalks of the city of Adam.

Ava wished she would do too very soon.