Like every morning, I get dressed up. I wear my starched white doctor’s coat.
My Medal of Honor catches the morning light and shines like the memory of my glory days. For outstanding service to Earth during the Great Epidemic of 2152.
Coffee in hand, I wait for work to show up, but an unbearable ennui arrives instead.
I’d like to say we cured Disease. The many good doctors and nurses who jumped head first into work during that nightmarish year. Recognition came promptly after. Days of jubilation and then nothing. For a long time since then, no one has come to see us.
Freddy, my neighbor walks by. I can tell he has a sprain in his right ankle just by the way he’s walking. It’s very likely that he tripped while mounting his air scooter. Such a common problem! I can help him, but he won’t come to me. To any doctor, for that matter. Person-less healing pods are on every street corner. They’re faster and precise. They’re machines.
There is no disease. After the epidemic, we insulated Earth. Every city is a giant aseptic globule on the face of a polka-dotted Earth. We humans mimic it. Self-quarantined inside infinitesimal worlds of our own.
But a child’s laughter is unfailingly sweet. Sophie is walking her dog. She looks up at me and waves. Her pigtails bob as she skips ahead of her mother. Her shoes are a size too big for her. Just as that thought crosses my mind, she trips. Her lower lip is bleeding. Her mother tries to get her up. She looks at the healing pod a few steps away and then right at me, also a few steps away. She chooses me. A tiny leap for humanity.