‘It was the year 2525...’
“Like hell it was,” Olivia muttered, pushing the book back onto the shelf. Bookstores sorted books so inappropriately, putting such books in the science fiction category when they clearly belonged with the fantasy books. Humanity wasn’t going to make it to the year 2525: it was going to advance amazingly over the next 150 years, and then the environmental problems would cause the ozone to explode and Earth would roast. Everybody knew that. Even the protestors, who said the environment was fine and the president lied in his great speech of 2086 surely knew deep down that this was so. Olivia had been 8 when the president gave his great speech, and she hung on to every word. She still did, and it was more than a childhood fancy. After all, she was 12 years old, far past the time for fantasies. The environment was dying and she wanted to save it, but really there was nothing she could do but be glad she wouldn’t be around in 150 years. Space production was using up all of the tax money; engineers believed that by the time of that fated 2230 year space ships could be advanced enough to carry mankind away to a planet where they could survive. Why not? Mankind had advanced steadily since the golden 100 years of industrial boom — the 1900s — and it was possible a planet could be found. Now it was the year 2090, and Olivia thought it sucked. Humans were so pathetic, lasting a second compared to the dinosaurs. They couldn’t make it even a million years. Olivia snorted at some more of the books, then gave up and left the shop. The sooner everybody believed the 2086 speech, the better. When the president first gave it, only about 5% of the world’s population believed, according to government surveys. Now the number was closer to 24%, and rising. People were already convinced the environment sucked, it was only one step further to believe it would destroy them all in just 150 years. Nowadays the inclination to believe that was pretty high. ‘Maybe because they know they won’t be around anyway,’ a little voice in her head said. Of course not! They believed because they knew it was true. Olivia pulled off her gloves and stuffed them in her pockets. Global warming wasn’t such a factor now, but she could believe it. Sweating profusely, she moved into a little bookstore with air conditioning. This mall was pretty pathetic. Bookstore, clothing store, bookstore, clothing store, goods market, bookstore... and so on. She liked to read, but nowadays it was too annoying to browse a book shop. Cooled now, she looked around her. This bookstore was a little different. It wasn’t sorted at all. Books were stuffed onto shelves and piled on tables. There weren’t any new books either, she saw, surveying the smelly old hardbacks. She picked one up, wrinkling her nose. ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ the front said in tiny, worn, gold lettering. She opened the cover to find the author. ‘Ayn Rand.’ ‘Weirdo shop,’ she thought in annoyance, dropping the book back on the table, ‘stocking books about maps.’ A smaller book farther down the table caught her attention, it was so worn she couldn’t read the title. As she picked it up and opened it she felt it was so delicate it might fall apart in her hands. Her eyes rolled down the page, until she realized what she was looking at. “Nursery rhymes?” she exclaimed in disgust, and snapped the book shut. The spine jingled, and she looked around guiltily before setting the book carefully back on the table. After a brief look at another table she left with her nose in the air, not bothering to respond to the tentative “Hello,” from the shopkeeper. Olivia was so piqued at not finding a book that she left the mall in a huff and trudged home through the inch of snow.