By Yara Cloudt
I’m stuck in my den for the next couple of days.
And years, probably.
Decades, perhaps, if all goes well.
I live on Titan, Jupiter’s moon, in a world that you Earthlings might call a Dystopia, but I prefer the term Utopia. It is the nature of my species to be quite withdrawn. Most of us don’t like to be loud, we don’t like bragging, and we definitely don’t like good company. The only company we like is our own, because only alone can we realize our ambition. That is a planetary slogan here. The government made it up to help explain to us why we are so introverted by nature. We, all of us on this planet, prefer to live in isolation. That is the way of our world. Living in social environments, like humans do on Earth, causes nothing but distractions. Having fellow Creatures around you means you have to take everybody else’s feelings into account. We don’t like to do that. It costs too much effort and more often than not the most rational option will be ignored, because now, suddenly, feelings outweigh what is logically the best choice. Social relationships create disagreements, and disagreements cause distractions, and feelings get hurt and that too provides a distraction when really we should all be focused on our tasks in servitude of the government of the planet. Our ambition to serve our government as well as we can is top priority here.
I’m aware things are very different on Earth. I read lots and lots about it. Humans are overly stuffed with emotions; you love entangling yourselves in complicated relationships to other fellow humans, you often ignore the logical options for the sake of consideration, and you rebel against your governments instead of simply listening to them. What a strange world!
We are very different. We don’t go outside like you do. We work from home. We do everything logically and efficiently. Not a single drop of our energy is wasted on silly friendships that won’t stand the test of time anyway. The government has designed our planet this way, and so it will be for as long as our species have the pleasure of living on. And we will live on for a long time because none of this endangers our reproductive process, it only ensures our survival. Reproduction of the species is digitized here. There is no need for sexual intercourse, as living beings have on Earth, which directly eliminates transmission of certain diseases and the possibility of rape and sexual assault, which I have read about a lot in Earth books and find particularly gruesome. Our reproduction is done by a computer programme. Every six months, all of us donate a small container with reproductive cells to the Institution of Life and with those cells, they create new life. This programme is very efficient. It can’t decide the characteristic features of the Creature it births, but it can make sure every single Creature is born healthy and has no complications, and it can abort birthing an unborn creature if they show signs of health complications. This way we can make sure everybody lives a long life without creating an overpopulated planet. We can regulate exactly how many new Creatures we want to be born to make sure the whole society stays balanced, and the newly born Creatures are then raised and nursed in a special center. I don’t know exactly how that happens, I can’t remember, for they give every Creature a selective memory wipe every so often to prevent us from developing any form of psychological problems, and no one really has access to those centers. Except for specific government officials, of course, and the Creatures specialized in reproduction who work for the Institution of Life. All I know is we don’t have parents like you do on Earth. That I can remember.
You might wonder, then, if we ever get lonely, considering you are from Earth, and Earth is full of human beings, and human beings are, according to our books, social creatures. My answer to that would be that, yes, I suppose, we Creatures can get somewhat lonely…
But don’t let this mislead you, because loneliness is a wonderful thing!
We are encouraged by the government to appreciate creativity and art because it makes us feel less alone! If we should ever reach a point of despair at having not seen another Creature’s face in too long, there are plenty of stories out there for us to immerse ourselves in! Those who feel alone need not look further than the pages of a book, where one shall find uncountable stories of comfort, imaginary worlds, and make-believe friends and lovers!
This is another one of the government’s pick-up lines. I quite like it. It captures the heart of our planet. When we get lonely, we have books. When we get bored, we have books. When we have, despite all our knowledge of and programming against its dangers, an urgent need to feel a connection with a fellow Creature, we have stories and fantasy and literature. Our society has successfully eliminated the continuous and torturous ties with fellow Creatures that, in the end, only drain us and come between us and our duties. We don’t have friends, nor do we have lovers. We simply don’t feel the need to seek each other out anymore because make-believe characters in books and fantastical stories are so much better anyway. There is no conflict here, because real Creatures can’t have conflict with imaginary characters, which means we have no wars either.
According to myth, there used to be war on our planet, lots of it, just like on Earth. There is a myth going around that there is an Opposition still, and that they live above the ice, on the surface of Titan, while we live below it. The myth goes that the Opposition was inspired by Earth books about a revolution, and that they want to “free” us, whatever that means. We are safe from harm inside our dens. The government has ensured we can all live long, healthy, and prosperous lives. What more freedom could we need! It’s only a myth of course. I don’t think there really is an Opposition. Creatures must be insane to want to start a conflict!
We have peace now. Distance ensures peace, as the government wisely taught us. You humans could learn from us how to be peaceful. And in return you could teach us creativity. We are Creatures, but not a creative species. But humans are. We love your stories– they are what we live for here. The imaginary worlds we get to escape into are the reason we keep going. It makes the whole system work, otherwise we might actually get as lonely as you do. Our planet’s most loved slogan is this: travel anywhere from your couch. A good book is all you need to cross the universe and feel connected, after all.
My personal favorites are the somewhat more complicated ones, although they shouldn’t be so complicated that it takes me too long to read, because then I can’t finish them in time. I don’t want to become too distracted and not fulfill my duty to the government. That is, of course, a danger when my mind is preoccupied with wishing to know how the story ends.
To be very honest, I also very much enjoy those books that detail the journey of two lovers. “Romances,” I believe you call them. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to have a lover. The only Creatures that do have lovers on our planet are the ones who do the hardest work. If you have reached significant achievements, and have earned a higher pay, and you have shown the government that you are a good Creature who is committed to the system and who can fulfill their duty, even if you have some distractions around, then you get a special pass. Something like a medal. If you have that, you can enter secluded halls. I don’t know what is inside those halls, I have never been into one (I never really leave my den anymore!), but other Creatures say it is where you meet your One True Match. Your One True Match is kind of similar to what you humans call a soulmate, although it seems that humans always doubt whether soulmates are real, whereas here, a One True Match is official, and when you are assigned your One True Match, you know it can’t possibly be wrong because it was based on all the data the government has collected about you since you were formed. All your actions, thoughts, experiences, and emotions are collected and stored digitally, and based on those things, a computer calculates your One True Match. Through this process, they can also decide whether or not you are suitable to have a lover. If you are too emotional, you can never receive your One True Match, because the government knows that such powerful emotions will cause disruptions. They will distract you from your duties. A lover is only in the cards for you, to use human idioms, if you have proven complete allegiance to the government first.
If you can keep a secret, I shall tell you one, Earthling. I suppose if anyone is to understand, it is a human being. I will never say this out loud, because it’s a risky business to enter and a very hard thing to achieve, but I wish to receive a medal too. Oh, I do! Once, I went onto an online forum on my personal computer. I looked up if there are other Creatures who feel the same way, if more of us wish they could have a medal and receive our One True Match. There was one chat I found… Creatures were very emotional… They were quoting Romance books from Earth, only I can’t remember… I only looked at it for a short moment, then I closed the page. It scared me. I never went back. Sometimes, still, I think about it, and I am convinced all of us secretly wish we had a medal, but that can’t be right. The system works perfectly, for all Creatures. I don’t question the system. I just… Wonder, sometimes.
I don’t get as lonely as the humans in the books do, but it haunts me a little, the thought of what it feels like to simply be touched by another Creature. What must it be like to share your life with someone? To not avoid being too close to another Creature’s body? Physical touch must be such a wonderful thing.
Since we work from home here, on this planet, nobody really leaves their den. Everything is done digitally and from a safe distance. We have delivery hoovers that zoom through every neighborhood once every two days and bring you the supplies you need for daily life, such as food, drinks, soap, and other hygiene products. All of this is done without physical interaction. The government has decided it is safest that way, because there are all kinds of viruses in this galaxy, and we wish to avoid contamination as much as possible. We try to keep our planet as clean as we can. This is another reason we all work from home, or avoid any form of contact with fellow Creatures; if there is no contact between carriers of a disease, then the disease can’t ever spread. So hoover deliveries are done through the air: the deliverer halts their hoover vehicle above our dens, and drops our supplies down a pipeline that immediately cleans and disinfects everything that comes through it, after which the package of supplies is, in a regulated manner, allowed to slide down the rest of the pipe into our living space.
It’s funny for me when I read human books. Your planet does everything so inefficiently. All of you have to leave your houses, as you call them, and go to a mall or supermarket, which can sometimes be a solid twenty-minute drive away, which is all a huge loss of time. On top of it, these supermarkets are filled with fellow humans, and therefore filled with disease, and you all repeatedly contaminate each other, which leads to sickness and absence from work, which of course then disrupts your duties to the state. Earth is such a strange and funny planet!
But then again, you are able to talk to one another. You guys can form real connections… I haven’t talked to a fellow Creature in so long I have forgotten what the sound of my voice is like. I read about those lovers in your romance books, and I do long for something like that. A connection so deep you can call each other’s names backwards and know the other will understand anyway. A casualness in your unity to such an extent that you can put your hand in the other human’s hand and not fear you are endangering your health or your duties. How incredible that must be… To love, to touch, to not be alone…
What a thought!
But like I said, we don’t have that here. We Creatures don’t connect with fellow Creatures, we only connect with imaginary and idealized characters, and it’s better this way. The only company we like is our own, because only alone can we fulfill our duties. Work from home, travel anywhere from your couch. A good book is all you need to cross the universe and feel connected. That is our way. So if all goes well, I will not leave my den in the coming decade. No distractions, no disease, no commotions. I can focus all my ambition on my duties to the government.
Our Utopia costs a lot to maintain and is much too precious to live in. But it is a Utopia, and may Titan bless the government for creating it!
Yara Cloudt is a BA student of English Language and Culture at Utrecht University with a passion for writing; she devotes most of her time outside of her studies to writing creative works of fiction and poetry. At age 19, she self-published a poetry book titled Pink Skies detailing her journey through high school. Her interests span across almost the entire literary field: from dystopias to romance and Virginia Woolf’s modernist novels.