I walked down the bricked path that hundreds–perhaps thousands–travel every day and was lost deep in my thoughts when a shoulder brushed mine, too close but scarcely noticed. In that moment, that glimpse of the stale horror of reality, I saw something odd.
A thin white snake was slithering up the man’s body and into his ears. I followed the line of the snake down–around his neck, down his chest, and into a small rectangular device attached to his palm. His gaze vacant as his sights were plastered firmly on the screen. A single thumb moved across the glass and plastic, perhaps searching for a way to disconnect from the thin white snake that held him. But, no. Upon closer examination, I realized that he seemed placid in his captivity.
He’d soon passed by me, and I considered running after him to try to save him from the thin white snake. But before I could reach out for him, he was swallowed up by the bricked path and the hordes of hulls, once filled with curious brains, that shuffled toward me.
One foot in front of the other, they moved along, narrowly avoiding cars and others who walked, head down, ensnared. White snakes crept up each torso and slithered into each pair of ears. Did they meet inside to drain the mind of all its curiosity? I stood and watched as I pondered the thought. To what creature did these poor souls owe a debt they could never pay? Was it to the glass and plastic monster that released its snakes to drain their thoughts? Or was it to an unseen foe?
“Perhaps I will never know,” I thought to myself as I began to walk again. I slid a hand down into my pocket and ran my thumb across the cool glass rectangle that rested there. I pondered the snakes again and slid the cool machine out of my pocket. A thin white snake coiled in and out around my fingers, and I lifted my hand to my ears.