Sulagna Misra’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.
2018, the Year of the Quiet Home
Homes will have all kinds of shields to prevent nature from creeping in. No more bugs walking across the floor in the middle of the night, when you should be asleep, preventing you from ever sleeping again. In fact, windows are retired as a concept for the much more effective light sensors, set to light up when you need to be woken and dim when you go to sleep. No more rain on windowpanes, no more snow pelting the screens – the house is sealed, and no kind of obtrusive light or noise can get in. Apartments are also made with reinforced doors to prevent untoward sounds, and special screens and sealants are sold to protect older buildings. Not only that, but houses and apartments will be “corrected” to prevent odd noises. Thus, every shift in light or creaking sound or shift in wind is definitely an intruder. Even WiFi and Cable are adjusted so certain elements – like work – can only be accessed at work itself or public places. Homes are completely quiet barring the noises of your family, visitors, pets, televisions, phones, and the like. The outside world disappears beyond your doors.
2025, the Year of the Home Setting
You only live in one place. You never move from there, if you can help it. Oh, you’re heard stories about people needing to go to work in cars in the past, or if they don’t have enough money or industrialization. Instead, your home has different “settings” that change the four walls and placement of furniture depending on what you set it to. Set it to “Work,” and the desks will rearrange accordingly, with the holograms of your colleagues and their furniture appearing next to them. Set it to “School” in your child’s room, and they will sit with their hologram classmates alongside their hologram teacher (whose own home is set to “work,” of course). Set it to “Movie,” find the movie you wish to see, and have your living room rearrange itself to accommodate your movie-watching, which can be set to “audience,” so that other people also watching at the same time will be included. You don’t think much about the amount of resources and energy this takes, because you live in the future, so why should you?
2035, the Year of the Hearth and Home
“Home is where the heart is.” That’s what they say now. Houses? Apartments? What are those? The children always ask us, wide-eyed. We don’t know what to say. Cars and tents and trains, that’s what they know, so how do you describe a home that doesn’t move, that was never made to, and rooted deep into the ground, like trees. The children laugh at this: trees are trees, not homes. Trees can’t leave a place after the animals have found it. They can’t shove off on a place when it’s been Infected. They can’t alight when dangerous elements come upon them. Even worse is when you try to go into stores, buildings, schools, work, cafés. Oh crap, remember cafés? You can’t describe a café to a child – they don’t understand why anyone would stay in one place for so long, much less while drinking a drugged beverage surrounded by strangers, in front of an eye-suckingly bright screen, instead of wildlife whispers.
2053, the Year of the Natural Home
The children grow up, and are no longer restless. Resources were being sent to NASA for a while, before we realized that any possible colonies wouldn’t be enough for us and we needed a solution for now, at least for a few decades. So we convinced our plants to accommodate us, to grow in ways to surround us in their embrace rather than overcrowd us. A tree, properly engineered and grown, can become a shelter in a thunderstorm; a cave lined with soft flowers becomes a pleasant place to sleep; bushes can be coaxed to bear different fruits, when needed. Housing and land become both easier and harder to find, and people who get patents for their superior plants find their work being stolen, or possessed by the government for the good of mankind. But even then, the plantlife houses are unregulated. The UN wants more cooperation but some countries insist it makes sense for each country to develop their own methods while other countries point out the lack of resources and common sense to this plan, considering that biomes can overlap several countries at once. If one country patents the moss biohomes of frozen tundra, are other countries supposed to freeze while looking for a whole new solution or paying out of their ears for that one?
2080, the Year of the Home Base
After the political turmoil and drone wars, people don’t live in countries anymore. Home bases are created from the plants growing together in tightly packed communities. Families live inside the home bases, whole communities, now much smaller than before. People sometimes leave for other home bases, or to create new ones, but each base coexists under communist governments, each family selecting a representative or two to speak for them. Colonies spring up across the globe. Several bases gather together resources to build rocket ships built from hollowed out trees and the right kinds of moss and ancient plastic artifacts. Science hasn’t paused: they’re looking to put home bases across the universe. They wonder, briefly, if this has all happened already before they get on with it.
2154, the Year of the Walk Home
Did you know the expression “Lucy, I’m home!” still exists after all these years? It’s what she says when she gets home, home being whatever building she comes back to and sleeps in after scavenging that day. The whole planet is her home, she says to herself sometimes. No one around to see her walk out and forget her pants. No one to talk to about the state of affairs. No one to pay when she steals – is it stealing, she wonders – food from old bases and camps. And every night, she says the same phrase, hoping for an answer. When she sits down to eat dinner, she always pauses to hear for a knock at the door. One day she hears it.
Sulagna Misra writes about the weird things that pop into her head when she's not paying attention. She's on Twitter so she can not pay attention more effectively.