Dear Diary: A Dream of the Future

Dear Diary: A Dream of the Future

In her monthly column for V, Liz Nistico, on half of pop duo Holychild, takes us into her world, her mind, and her experiences as an artist in an industry fixated on polished personae. Here, she imagines a sci-fi future.

In her monthly column for V, Liz Nistico, on half of pop duo Holychild, takes us into her world, her mind, and her experiences as an artist in an industry fixated on polished personae. Here, she imagines a sci-fi future.

Text: LIZ NISTICO

Living is trusting your perception.

Annabel could barely make out the face of the man in front of her. He was rambling about astrological biology, very close to spilling his wine with his flamboyant gesticulations, and a hard reminder that meeting someone whose aesthetic you admire on the Internet is likely to be a flaccid experience. She wished it was like an old movie, where a “waitress” would interrupt them asking about water, but all they had were each other, their cups which automatically refilled, and a touch screen menu that would pop the food out of the middle of their white table.

She stopped his speech and recommended soylent duck. He nodded. It appeared. He continued. “What you don’t realize is the magnitude of our galaxy.” His teeth were dark yellow. “And now that Mission 86 has been launched, Great America will become the first nation to not only make contact with the life there, but to reap the benefits of its civilization. Think about it: their oil, their water, their technological knowledge. We will become the largest and most influential nation in our galaxy!” Annabel crossed her eyes hoping it’d help her vision. “Oh I know what you're thinking! What if RussAsia reaches it first?! But I assure you my girl, they will not! Oh no, they won’t!” Annabel opened the menu and selected some classical music from 2090, drowning his words as they stared at each other over the self-cleaning table.

Later that night she found herself at the lab. The TV was going on about the ancient Cold War and how it compared to the present. A man in a black turtleneck with no hair was spewing about Great America and the quest for knowledge and his make-believe background was Earth from afar but she knew he was in New New York or maybe Old LA. It really didn’t matter. She turned off the monitor.

Annabel had been an epidermic researcher at LabCorp for almost two years, studying skin cells after Timothy, her only love, succumbed to the albino girl who worked as the receptionist at his job. It started as an obsession, and it still was, however, the focus had shifted. Annabel no longer wanted the power to change herself, but now she wanted to understand herself. Physically at least. Western medicine still prevailed, especially in Great America, but Annabel held onto her belief that knowing herself corporeally would transform into a spiritual relationship. Or maybe a dependence, it’s hard to say what she wanted more.

With the TV off and the lab quiet, she scraped a sample of her skin into a petri dish. Her eyes functioned much better at this miniature scale and she slid it under the microscope, just like she did every night. “Hello, my babies,” she crooned and exhaled, finally comfortable, finally alone, finally happy.

Every night was similar for a long time. Ride to the lab in the dark, retina scan, a small scrape and then the watching. Sometimes it’d feel like time slowed while her eyes were fixed on mitosis and the little orbs. Over the course of a few months she stopped scraping and would put her arm or her hand or her foot under the microscope. With her body contorted and her eyes more focused than ever, she would speak.

“You’re the only one I love.” “I’ve never needed anything like you.” “I love to watch you dance.” “Thank you for never leaving me.” “Can you believe the weather today?” “Did it hurt you when I tripped?” “Do you feel this like I do?” “You have to, I know it’s there.”

One night in late October, and right before the President of Great America announced the launch of Mission 89, her soft skin whispered back. “Annabel,” the word was drawn out long and slow and every micro cell shook in choreography she had never seen before. “We’re here.”

The important thing to remember is this: we are living on a planet orbiting our sun, our lives are based on perception, and the emotional nature of civilization has not changed for thousands of years.

Annabel’s lips parted and from deep within her body a sound was released, “I always knew we were together.”

Over the next few weeks, Annabel understandably did not leave the lab, and she learned from her babies. They were similar to humans. They lived; they loved; they had sadness. They had structure, their own government led by a benevolent dictator, and their own etiquette (for example, it was extremely offensive to introduce your sibling to the sibling of the one you love). Their main religion Qui Qui was currently being challenged because Emperor Xioan loved Annabel just as she loved it. The cells called themselves the Mura and they reproduced through mitosis—splitting into two when their first life was over, but retaining the memory and experiences of all their ancestors, whom they valued greatly. They made music which was inaudible to the human ear, and they made art dedicated to their triumphs and failures, their loves and losses, their ruler and their gods. It was easier to interact without the sense of sight, and the Mura people relied on sound and touch to communicate with one another. Beauty was an intellectual pursuit and they had no need for outside resources. The Muran courting process was short and the civilization’s only taste of competition. The dominant lover would prevail and the opponents, eventually living without love, would split into their kin who would retain the memory of a loveless life. This, however, was the ultimate Muran learning principle: to have failed in a past life was an esteemed scar.

The Mura did not need outside food or fashion or travel, and they pitied the human race and the urgency to buy. Their lives were shorter, in human days lasting no more than one week, therefore their perception of time was slowed greatly compared to Annabel’s or mine or yours. And to speak English they were required to dramatically slow their natural cadence and join together, all shouting in unison, to be heard by Annabel or me or you.

Annabel learned the Muran language and she and Emperor Xioan spoke from morning until she needed to sleep. He posed many questions to her. Why war? Why the acquisition of objects? Why attachment? Why mourn death? Why resist change? Together they lived peacefully and in love. They watched the television when Mission 96 was launched, and they sympathized for the eight astronauts who would probably never return to Earth again. The launch happened in the middle of Super Super Bowl CCXLIX and President Smith announced that Great America will rule our Earth and our galaxy. Annabel sobbed, Emperor Xioan comforted her, “At least every human has their own Mura clan.”

News of the advanced Mura civilization living as skin cells on every person broke the same day that Mission 93 encountered a solar system with an ice planet. Annabel explained the complexity of the beings on our skin. President Smith announced that three of the eight astronauts froze to death in an accident due to their wrong-doing and not the fault of Great America. Annabel explained their peaceful religion and education system. President Smith announced the potential of oil on the ice planet, which had now been named Greater Great America. Annabel urged people to teach their Mura English so that we can learn from them. President Smith said there’s no use making contact with a culture if they cannot offer tangible resources. Annabel spoke Muran on live television, both in real time and sped up to relative Muran time. The President revealed that Great America is after all the ruling nation in all of our galaxy. Annabel asked why are we searching throughout the universe when we have found what we need living within us. The President chuckled. The news anchor chuckled. A commercial came on for the televised launch of Mission 106, all female astronauts clad in Great American flag bikinis, sirens blasting so loud you couldn’t make out the announcer’s words.

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