I spent the day inside, nibbling at things I needed to do, annoyed by still being sick. I dawdled and cleaned, and picked at notes, and watched the sun go down.

Sometime after dark, I went for cough medicine. My cough had gone from productive to just a dry hacking so went the six blocks to the still open CVS. After taking a moment to see if my anger at the large homeopathic remedy section would trigger dormant pyrokinesis, I grabbed a bottle of cough medicine and I went to check out. Went to self check-out. Scanned. Warning pops up “Age verification required”. Oh? I waited and scanned the store. People were popping in and out, making purchased via self check-out and returning into the night. I looked around, checked the aisles for anyone with a CVS shirt on, nothing. There was a contract security person and I was left to ask him “does….. anyone work here?” He replied “Someone will be here” but in that way of it being aspirational rather than knowing. There was a genuine moment of “am I in the clean but barren future where the only people in the store are the security and the customer?”. We stared at each other for a moment and a CVS person with a coat on came in. She seemed harried and was wrapped in clothing like she’d been brought in for a special occasion. She entered some command on the console and my purchase completed without issue. She muttered “last thing I thought I’d have to do age verification for”.

She hurried back out and I wondered if she was returning to the CVS Personnel Central Distribution Hub to wait the next event requiring human attention. I crested the door and my post-human tomorrow shattered. She had been taking a smoke break with the other cashier. From tyranny to freedom.