Will Work 4 Words

The last dictionary was published in 2138. The last pencil was produced in 2113. The last spiral bound notebook rolled off the assembly line in 2105. Books stopped being published altogether in 2142. Writing without using a computer keyboard fell out of fashion somewhere in the mid-21st century and reading actual paper books went the way of the dinosaur in the latter half of that same century.

Now everything was electronic. A single small computer that was approximately the same size as an old-fashioned paperback book could contain over 5,000 entire books. No one but wealthy collectors even bothered with paper anymore. Libraries closed their physical doors soon after the last book was published. They moved their entire collections onto the internet, where knowledge could be accessed by anyone with a computer – which three-fourths of the world’s entire population now had.

An entire industry fell out of fashion, millions of people lost their jobs and attention spans shrank to approximately five minutes. No one read for pleasure anymore. No one wrote carefully worded missives to the editors of newspapers, mostly because there weren’t any newspapers left. Lovers no longer exchanged heartfelt, hand-written letters. And those few gifted people who had a talent for stringing words together and putting ideas and thoughts into other people’s heads suddenly had to find alternate employment. They usually wound up slinging hash at diners or cleaning office buildings.

The romance and mystery went out of writing. When a writer or a journalist was asked his profession, invariably two answers would be made. Either one lied, or one received looks of sympathy and pity when the truth was offered. Eventually, even universities and colleges stopped offering Writing and Literature as courses and then stopped offering English degrees as well.

The last American writer, an ancient man with the unlikely name of Lincoln Kennedy, died in 2150. He died penniless, destitute, a crazy man who made his home in a box underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Residents of the area knew him as the eloquent, soft-spoken man who stood at the entrance to the bridge, clutching a home-made sign upon which he had scrawled, “Will work 4 words!”