T’om’a hunched over as he sat on the bar stool, his bag between his legs, he hugged it with his feet for security. Through the window he watched the flying cars, and the robots as they casually walked along the packed streets. He lent back, trying to straighten his spine, a side effect from sleeping in the cramped cage home – or bedspace apartments as they were officially known.
The empty cup of coffee lay on the bar in front of him. Despite the loud chattering of the customers, he heard the distinctive footsteps of the waitress approaching. His cheeks reddened as he looked down at the empty cup and hoped that she’d walk by, but she stopped beside him.
‘Can I get you anything else?’ she asked with a smile, holding a jug of coffee and bracing herself to fend off people trying to barge passed her.
T’om’a dug into his pocket and emptied the contents on to the bar. He moved coins around counting as he went, then shock his head.
The waitress turned to look at her boss behind the counter, then poured coffee into his cup. He looked up in surprise she winked at him and walked off to the next customer.
He held the warm cup and gazed out at the city once again. He could barely see the ground under the mass of shoes, and cars flew like a plague of locusts. He wondered how the birds survived in the metallic sky, then realised he’d seen none.
The constant drone of existence reverberated off the skyscrapers and permeated the depths of the city. The endless nights of noise and heat had worn him down. Yet he had no money to leave. A reverse conscription would keep him there, locked into the cycle of the city.
Through a gap in the crowd he saw something red and static. It was swallowed up in the throng, then reappeared. Red metal and glass it shone like a beacon; a vestigial piece of technology kept for nostalgia – a phone box.
He quickly drank the coffee and left the café behind. Slowly weaving a way through the crowd, he dropped his bag and stood in front of it. As the menagerie bustled by he reached out and opened the door.
He placed his bag inside and sat down, the door closing behind him. He sighed, as the sound proof glass blocked out the life around him, an empty space filled with silence.
As he lent back against the glass, the phone rang with a shrillness that set his teeth on edge. He lifted the handset and let it drop, closed his eyes and dreamt of home.