Before the foot revolution, living around the hanging gardens of Andreapolis felt like paradise. Namily used to take long strolls after work, before work, on weekends around the gardens, losing herself in the maze of the green alleys overflowing with a myriad of exotic flowers and wild plants. The gardens were so alive, so oneiric and so clean. Nowadays, strolling on foot along the garden paths was a wet affair at best, but most of the time, it was a mud bath. Some clever non-inclusive official down at town hall decided to change the irrigating system of the gardens, since almost the entire population hovered rather than walked. In truth, it affected very little people, a handful really, but it affected Namily and it made her life miserable. The water constantly flew down the alleys, carrying big clumps of earth and many dead or severed leaves. Namily ruined many good shoes along those dripping wet alleys, and shoes were fast becoming a luxury.
In a society progressively becoming footless, shoe manufacturers either saw it coming and changed their operation in time, or they soldiered on, raging head first towards bankruptcy. The last time Namily purchased a pair of shoes from a manufacturer was two years ago. Since then, she got to buy many shoes, all secondhand from people who surgically removed their feet. At first, it was easy, and cheap. There were shoes everywhere, and people were selling them off for almost nothing. Namily should have stocked up in time. Now she regretted it. The second-hand shoe market became suddenly so big that it saturated and died. It ate itself. It happened what usually happened when there are too many products on the market and not enough buyers. The average selling price fell below the threshold that made it financially interesting for sellers to bother listing their shoes. So instead of selling off their shoes, footless people began to dump them. Millions of shoes were being incinerated each month. And now the world faced a shortage of shoes, and quickly second-hand shoes that were being sold for a dollar became ten dollars, forty, a hundred… a thousand. That was the going price for a decent pair of shoes, barely worn.
It was more money than Namily could afford to spend on her feet. So, after messing up too many semi-decent pairs of shoes just walking back from work through the gardens, Namily made the esthetically painful and nonetheless financially hurtful decision to place the last of her shoe money of a worn-out pair of plastic boots. Their impermeability was intact, but they made a squeaking sound every time Namily took a step. As if Namily didn’t stand out enough by being a foot sticker, she had to make a sound everywhere she walked to attract even more attention on her feet. Even other feet stickers were troubled by it and stared down at her.
“All of this,” she told herself. “Was the footless people’s fault. If they hadn’t cut them off, there’d still be machines making shoes these days, or at least repairing them.” Namily’s anger at the foot revolution grew one inch bigger every day.
Once in a while, the night shift team at Boyal’s office broke early from work to knock a few cerveza and IPAs at the Depot before closing time. It wasn’t a compulsory outing and those who decided to remain at work were not chastised. Boyal had flunked out the last two times, but he was looking forward to enjoy a morning beer with his co-workers. He hadn’t been late for two full weeks, he even showed up forty-five minutes early twice, it was the both times he managed to catch a flybus. The rest of the time, he walked to work, and he got there on time because he left home an hour early every day.
It was an hour of his sleep taken away, and a huge load of worry added to his already troubled mind. He was constantly tired and feeling under pressure, and it really affected his daily life and performance. His job was the same, yet it suddenly became harder. Simple dosage he would have done without thinking twice only a month ago now took him two or three checks. These added amount of simple checks meant he took longer to do his job and had less time for himself. Normally, Boyal would work at a leisurely pace, dragging out his seven hourly checks, one every 8 minutes, giving him a four-minute buffer. But his buffer was long gone, and he wasn’t dragging anymore, he was rushing to complete the seventh adjustment under the hour. Monitoring mineral corruption around Andreapolis wasn’t interesting any longer. It was stressful.
And so, Boyal really could use a drink, he needed to unwind. When the idea was thrown around the office that tonight would be a good one to crash at the Depot before dawn, Boyal jumped in, all enthusiastic and naive. He had gone to the Depot for years with the team. It was a routine well-oiled practice, ‘knock off at five, get to the front of the building, hitch a flybus, travel the twenty-three blocks to the Depot and stay until closing up time at seven’. He didn’t anticipate once in his mind that his late troubles of getting a flybus to get to work would be replicated for his drinking escapade. When the time came, he followed the drinking team out of the building, running lightly on his feet behind the hovering troop, struggling to keep up with their slow pace. He lifted his hand up and hailed a flybus as soon as his foot hit the pavement, but there were no flybus in sight, no red ball loosely flying above ground, waiting to get hired by the handful of feet sticker who would be up and about at five o’clock in the morning.
There would be no flybus to get Boyal to the Depot, and his co-workers weren’t about to miss their occasional get together on account of Boyal’s stubborn decision to live on his own two feet. So they flew off and left Boyal to run after them, still holding his hand up, hoping to catch a flybus as he made his way past the first block towards the Depot. He never found another means of transportation than his own two feet, and not only, when he got there, the Depot was about to close, but there was no flybus around the bar either and now Boyal was twenty-three blocks further away from his home.
That morning, with the fatigue from the running, added to the deception of missing out on a well-deserved round of Cerveza, it took Boyal four and a half hours to get home. Two flybus flew over his head when he was about five blocks from his apartment. He ignored them. The evil was already done. Once at home, he sat on his corridor bench to carefully remove his pair of well-worn dress up shoes. His feet were bleeding, and the inner soles of his left shoe were covered in blood. He didn’t even know if he could wash it off. He wouldn’t even try.