by Anya Sczerzenie
The smog was so thick that no one went outside without wearing their Glasses. Otherwise, they couldn’t see anything. The Glasses never lied, everyone knew that. The software was perfect. It knew exactly where all the buildings were, showed them to you the way they were pre-pollution. The Library of Congress (now called the iBrary of Congress), the National Museum of 21stCentury History, the Simulation Inc. Factory with its moving shuttle pods that took visitors up its impossibly high spires. Now that the Washington Monument was gone, you could build higher than the skyscrapers of New York City and no one would care. Of course, an augmented version of the monument existed on what now was an empty, smoking hill.
One day you were walking down the street when you saw a lump of dead pixels in the road. Strange. The software couldn’t identify it, and a red UNIDENTIFIABLE OBJECT flashed across your eyes. It was tiny, and its pixels shuddered over each other like dying coals.
Your curiosity was strong enough for you to reach up and unscrew the winch that kept the glasses on your head. Last time you did this, the smog stung your eyes for days, but now, curiosity wins out over the pain. You crouched down and took off your glasses, which instantly powered down to save energy as they did when you were in your apartment. The smog stung. You pressed your hands against your eyes and grabbed at the object. It felt vegetal, soft, delicate. You opened your eyes to see what it was through the smog.
It was a dandelion.