“I am sorry, but I had to.” She says laughing. I stand there confused, but I want to kiss her again. She tastes like coffee. “Who said that? Who says we can’t do anything?”
“Society.” I say. I hate my voice. I feel like I am reciting lines written by somebody else.
“But we are Society. OK, let’s change the rules now. May I kiss you again?”
“Yeah, sure.” I answer. It’s like returning to a dream and we don’t stop kissing until we do.
“Let’s go.” She says taking my hand. Her hand is warm and her grip is firm.
“Where are we going?” I ask. “I have a class to attend.”
She stops. I see doubt in her eyes.
“You would rather go to class instead of coming with me. Even after that kiss?”
“No.” I say. “I don’t even want to go to class. It just felt right to protest. Look, I am starting to feel like I am ruining the most interesting thing to happen to me in a while. Please tell me your name.”
“OK, Mihlali. I’m Lutho. Where are we going?”
“I don’t know yet, but it’s set to be something.”
Mihlahli takes us to a pavement that separates two car lanes. We turn to face the direction we came from. We are standing next to a street corner and cars make the curve of the street before our eyes. Beyond them is the entrance to the Gardens.
I look for what Mihlali wants me to see.
“Follow the path with your eyes.” She says.
My eyes follow the path until it looks like it’s leading up to the sky. I blink. The entrance to the Gardens looks like a picture. The only normal is the cars.
“You see it, don’t you?” Mihlali asks. “I was told to go find a Prince. That’s why I kissed you.”
“Yes.” She answers. She takes out a small black book with golden writing on the cover. The book is called “How To Find The Creases In Reality”. Annoyed she adds. “I had to wait because you are the key.”
“The key?” I ask. My voice is calm, but my insides feel like the first time I took a roller coaster ride and realised I made a mistake.
I close my eyes and clench my fists. I fight the urge to throw up. I open my eyes again and the other side looks like glass instead of a picture. Then it begins to fade and I panic. It disappears and the path to the Gardens is back to normal.
“It’s gone.” I say to Mihlali and my eyes begin to sting.
“It will come back.” She says.
The glass returns, but this time there is writing on the glass and it says Follow the path.
Mihlali lets out a happy yelp and drags me across the road. A car honks and then drives through us. I black out.
I open my eyes, we are standing in the middle of the Gardens.
“Are we inside the picture?” I ask Mihlali. I feel like I just woke up from a dream, but usually that feeling is accompanied by regret and longing. This time Mihlali is holding my hand.
“I think so.” She answers.
We follow the path and I can sense my school on the left. I’m certain if I look, all this will disappear and I will be stuck in class. I rub the top of Mihlali’s hand with my thumb and she squeezes. We walk in silence until we are near the end of the path.
I blink again and it’s night time.
We are standing at the edge of the path.
“We made it.” Mihlali says and she lets go of my hand. “We’ve made it Lutho. We are in another reality.” I look around and the world looks the same, but when I look behind us I see a metropolis made exclusively out of skyscrapers. The buildings are not sleek, but have the complicated architecture of cathedrals.
“Almost like an ant-hill.” I say.
A car drives by on the road. It does not have a driver or wheels but glides through the air without a sound. There is a woman with silver and blue braiding, wearing a black dress inside. She is reading a book and there is a cable connected to her left arm. Mihlali and I watch the car until it’s stopped by a red streetlight. It disappears around the corner.
“I want one of those.” Mihlali says just as another car pulls up. It’s glowing and constantly changing colour from red to blue. It stops and then settles on the road like it was held by God. Two police women step out. One is black and bald. The other is a white blonde.
“Come with us.” The blonde says. Mihlali and I enter the car. Being on a flying car feels like we are sitting on a couch in the living room. The only sign that we’ve begun moving is the blur in the window.
The two policewomen look friendly, but I can tell they are capable of using brute force when it’s necessary.
“Welcome to Heaven.” The black cop says.
“Heaven?” Mihlali asks.” Are we dead?”
“You are not dead. You’ve just jumped forward to the year 2044. We renamed the planet Heaven.”
“Why Heaven?” I ask. The two women look at each other and share a smile. It seems off and planned.
“With immortality achieved, the narrative had to change. In your time, life’s biggest question is what happens after death? In our time death does not exist. This is heaven.”
I close my eyes and when I open them the two women are still before me.
“Where are we going?” Mihlali asks.
“Well, you guys are Jumpers and we are taking you to be signed in.” She smiles. “You will have to go through some test before you are allowed to join our perfect society.”
“OK,” I say. I am starting to get a headache and I just want to sleep. I look up at the roof of the car and I take hold of Mihali’s hand. The car roof becomes invisible and I can see the stars and the moon.
Mihlali falls asleep first. I wake up with a start and look outside and we are driving past a vast and a beautiful landscape. There is not much to do, but I get tired of the two women. They are too professional and I realise it’s hard to have a real conversation with them.
We’ve been travelling for two days when the car spirals out of control. I assume it’s playing and twisting in the air like a fighter jet. But the police women react. The bald one kicks the door and it flies across the field.
The blonde reaps Mihlali from her seat and gives her to the other woman like she is holding a doll. She jumps out. I don’t have time to react before the blonde does the same with me. She lands on her feet.
The two women seem more alert, but it’s fascinating how their movements contradict the smiles on their faces. We are surrounded by floating bikes. These old machines are loud and mean. A man wearing a white suit gets off his motorcycle. The suit offers an interesting contrast to his dark skin, but his most fascinating feature is the scar across his face.
“You are human.” He says looking at Mihlali. The way she is looking back at him hurts. He turns to me and smiles. “You are human too.”
His right arm takes out a gun and shoots the blonde in the face. The blonde has a hole in her cheek, but she is still smiling. There is nothing human about her.
“What’s going on?” Mihlali asks. I look at the bald woman, but she is not moving.
“A Robot is not allowed to harm a human.” I say remembering one of the Robot laws. The blonde is still smiling and not moving.
“Come with us.” The two women say in unison. “The world we created is perfect. We need you in order to develop technology that will allow you to be immortal like us.”
The man in the suit laughs. “We made you. One day we come to all your cities and unplug your perfect society. You can’t keep us out forever.”
He looks at me. “Who’s side are you on?”
I take Mihlali’s hand. “Humanity.” We answer.