“You are currently in a queue,” said the message for what she reckoned was about the three hundredth time today. It wasn’t the repetition that was annoying her, so much as the redundancy of the message. She could see she was in a queue. It extended for miles in front of her. She’d been in line now for seventy two years.
By her calculation, she would be in line for another ten more.
All she had known was the queue. She’d been born in the line, to a couple who had been waiting, and shuffling forward, for twenty five years. When she was born, she was swaddled up, and taken to the back of the line.
Her parents had been allowed to come back and visit her every now and then, and each time she saw them, she was that much older. One visit she was walking, the next she was talking, the next she was taking her lessons on the tablet, and the next she was telling them about her crush on the girl three up from her in the line.
Then one day, they stopped visiting. You could go backwards in the line, not forwards. She assumed they must have reached the front of the queue.
She kept living out her days, shuffling forward a few steps at a time, watching the endless snake of people unfurl in front of her and disappear over the horizon. She used geographical markers to record her progress. Today she was two days from the large oak tree, and three days past the collapsed stone wall.
Another ten years passed, without much to note, and before she knew what was happening, she woke one morning to find herself three people from the front of the queue.
She barely had time to wake up properly before she shuffled a few steps forward. Those steps were getting harder now. Her joints were seizing up, her back was arched, and her vision was blurred yellow by cataracts.
Within a few moments, she was at the front of the line.
She looked down to see what it was she’d been queuing for all her life. Her feet were on a cliff edge, and a hundred feet below was a giant machine with massive spiked drums that span at speed, and obviously crushed anything that fell between them.
There was no-one here to ask what to do.
She looked back down the line, back the way she had come, seeing an infinite number of people, all patiently waiting to be where she was now. Then she looked back to the violent mincing machine below, shrugged, and jumped.