News from the future
“Apple, ” says Alan Chen, gesturing with his finger.
“Apple,” agrees Terry Fulton, who points to the card between them. “Good.”
I am sitting down at a table, observing this session and taking notes. Terry Fulton, 28, was a UC Davis student during the Great Coronavirus Outbreak of the early 2020s. This was when Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his famous shelter-in-place order. Terry has been in his apartment for about six years now.
Alan Chen, 25, is a volunteer with UC Davis Medical Center’s Social Re-Entry Initiative. Alan works with Terry on weekdays, until he can recognize the outside world again. Today, their topic is fruits.
“It’s hard work,” Chen said. “But it’s good work.” Behind him, Terry begins eating the “apple” card.
The room we are in is filled with former students and members of the UC Davis community. Each is trying to relearn basic outside-the-home objects after their quarantine. Dummy trees have been installed inside the room to re-acclimate patients to nature. They also come equipped with Kevlar armor in case patients mistake the trees for apex predators and attack them.
Alan shuffles a deck of cards with images of daily life on them: a dog playing in the grass; two children flying a kite; a graph that shows his tuition going up. All things that a college student would recognize. He shows them to Terry one by one.
Terry’s life and the lives of millions of Americans changed with the COVID-19 outbreak. Prior to his rescue by law enforcement earlier this month, Terry was in dire straits. He finally upgraded his Hulu account from the student plan, “just to check it out.” Sources close to the story believe that he may even have started delving into that Netflix backlog he’s been talking about.
“I was about to start ‘Friends,’” he admitted in a separate interview. “That’s like, nine seasons, man.” He buried his head in his hands and sobbed. “I was out of control.”
Last Wednesday, local law enforcement responded to reports of “loud complaints about season three of “Cake Boss” at Terry’s F St. Apartment. At approximately 3:32 p.m., a rescue team broke down Terry Fulton’s door and carried him out of his apartment.
Eyewitnesses report him clutching a bag of Fritos and screaming about the show “Lost,” saying “The ending was never really resolved and could have been expanded on much more!” before he was placed into an ambulance and made to look at pictures of nature and potted plants for three hours.
Terry is currently being housed at the UC Davis Medical Center. Aside from one aggravated assault on a potted plant in the recovery wing, he seems to be readjusting well.
“Okay, I think I’ve got it figured out,” Terry said, after their third session of the day. “This,” he points to the half-chewed card, “is an apple.”
“Yes,” Chen said. Terry takes another card from the deck.
“This,” he says, “is an orange.”
“Yes!” Chen said. He leans forward in his seat. Terry wears a triumphant smile.
“And you,” he shouts, “are a pear!”
Chen’s mouth is hanging open. He sighs and reshuffles the cards. “Let’s try this again.”
Written by: Matthew Simons — firstname.lastname@example.org
(This article is humor and/or satire, and its content is purely fictional. The story and the names of “sources” are fictionalized.)