Word Count 500
The Future is Now
By Sam McManus
“The future is now!” read the rolling mega-screens around the Omni Convention Center. The digital signs blinked every few seconds, a singular trap for epileptics trapped on the massive floor of the cavernous space. It was impossible to avoid the mega-screens, though, if you wanted to remain in the Center itself.
The Omni had been renovated just a year prior to the 2079 exposition and fair, its façade completely redone to resemble the Colosseum in Rome, its innards expanded to seat more than 100,000, a feat of epic proportions, but one that went unnoticed by those who didn’t matter. To the more than 20,000 on the floor that afternoon, though, it was an ode to advanced architecture that stood up there next to the Quad Towers of Georgia in both scope and functionality.
“The future is now!” rang out across the breadth of the arena, through gargantuan speakers made to resemble banners, the same banners that could be seen flying over buildings across the expanse of the Capitol. Each one was a symbol of one great house or another, every single one immensely detailed if you chose to look closely.
Gliding tables moved across the floor at regular intervals, their mechanisms completely silent as if on unseen oiled hinges built into the floor. If there did indeed exist any forms of magic, then it was certainly the culprit within the Omni, to great effect. On those gliding tables were sweeping cloths full of various delicacies, from norry pudding, to rice pilaf, to shepherd’s pie, always kept at the right temperature no matter how long they had graced those tables. In this way one could stand in one spot all afternoon and still eat every single dish.
It would have been ingenious were it not for the slaves who were the center of attention.
“The future is now!” they chanted in unison from the upper balcony, where they were herded like sheep with no chance for escape save an untimely swan dive into the audience below. Which would have been unbecoming. Everyone was concerned with image, even the slaves. Especially the slaves.
Everyone on the floor had paid more than mere money to be involved in the spectacle, a yearly occurrence that moved around from province to province, but there was something spectacular about the once every five year revival, when it made its way back to the Capitol. There a wealth of meaning ascribed to the ceremonial ritual that went beyond each house, beyond the banners themselves. The slaves understood this, and were forgiven their base natures that wanted to escape. As the clock wound down to zero hour, the natives grew restless in the balcony, and the tables stopped replenishing food, knowing a deeper repast was on its way.
“The future is now,” whispered the bearded, balding, bespectacled man from the dais at the far end of the arena, but every head turned his way. There was absolute silence. Predatory silence.
“Let us begin,” he said. And they did.