There was a time when the people were driven by machines. The blue lights of their devices controlled their minds and told them when to eat, how to sleep, and what to dream.
The littler people too were drawn towards the lights, the fancy sounds and the endless possibilities in their tiny hands. Their ears stopped working and their square eyes froze as a digital soundtrack and bright colours swallowed them whole.
Over time the machines became more powerful and the humans became weak and dependent. The dreams that created dragons, and fairytales and LEGO masters, became things only heard about in historical audibles. The clouds stopped being lions and mermaids and turtles and instead filled the skies as a solid mass that the people hoped might protect them from the harmful rays of a once worshipped sun.
The animals became history and physical contact became a novelty saved for special occasions. But our fingertips continued to suck up information about everything imaginable. To see the world with just one click. The humans had anything they could possible want available to them from their own living room. And then the virus arrived.
It was silly at first. A virus couldn’t possibly hurt us. We have cures for everything from malaria to a bad mood. We have walls that can keep out rising oceans and a google machine to keep us educated. But as the virus proved us wrong and people were hurt, the humans were locked away. The planes were grounded, the schools were closed, the streets were muted, and the people were sad.
But the people didn’t give up. The more time they spent away from each other the more they began to realize how much each other was what they actually needed. The humans started to use the devices to try a recreate what was taken away from them. The devices became the closest thing they had to touch and their bones began to ache for something more. They learned to drive instead of be driven and still it wasn’t enough. The people learned of their own need to be held and loved and listened to and they began to clutch at every chance to show the world they still existed. They drew rainbows in their windows. They sent digital versions of themselves all around the world for family to wake up to. The greeted strangers at safe distances in the hope of some human connection that once might have drained them. The parents put down their screens and did puzzles with their little people. They read stories and baked bread. They slowed down and they learned to live again.
And in their absence from the outside they began to see the planet heal. The animals returned to the cities and fish to canals long emptied. The clouds turned back into turtles and the oceans began to subside and eventually the virus went away.
Slowly the people came back out too. Humbled but happier. Hurting but hopeful.