Sinj hoisted his only travel bag to his thin shoulder. The flock of nicely distanced cameras, Go Pros, and even a drone or two bothered him not at all. He was so used to them, and their operators- that you might as well ask him to count his heart beats or number of breaths he took over the last five minutes. Why?
Heartbeats and breaths are involuntary and only alarming when they stop. Sinj was in the same situation with Cameras of all types, video, and followers- for Sinj, they only become alarming when they stop.
For Sinj is the rarest of rare birds since the Winter of 2020 - a Traveler. A Tourist. A Messenger. A Nomad. He was one of only a handful of ImmunoNC’s known to the Human Race. He couldn’t catch the Virus, he didn’t carry the Virus. He was immune AND unable to be a carrier.
Sinj, was, in a word: SAFE.
Sinj- and the few others like him- were the only people that strangers could actually talk to, touch, or sit next to without a hint of fear, paranoia, or risk. Thank all the Gods that ever existed that Sinj was an extrovert. His smile was quick, warm, welcoming.
For many, he was the first person they had hugged outside their immediate family in decades. Every hug was recorded by the folks following him on any of the close to three billion channels that featured at least an update segment on his whereabouts - and whom he may be talking to, sitting with, or holding.
The tears on the faces of folks as high up as the Planet Governor (who broke down in sobs when Sinj held her without any sense of trepidation at all) or al “low” as the twin five year olds that sat on his lap as he read the entire “Cat in the Hat” book to them.
The picture of little five year old Ellie falling asleep leaning onto Sinj’s shoulder was the Picture of the year that year… many folks keep a copy of it next to their family photos on their mantels. It is a rare glimpse of what life was like way back in the early 2000’s.
Even infants have to spend their first year in the so called “wraps” that are common wear among family members. Allowing you the normal range of interaction without actually touching. To see a child without a wrap (or an adult for that matter) sitting on a lap to listen to story time…well…no wonder they put that on their mantel piece at home.
Sinj was often asked what it was like to Fly?
He would laugh.
Of course it is. Planes flew by wire now. No pilots at all. The technology was there before the Virus changed things, but it wasn’t mandatory. It is now. Only ImmunoNC’s like Sinj, his friend Becky, and the Russian Eugenia - could fly anywhere.
Planes still took packages and supplies around the world, but nobody touched the planes, or packages. The planes pulled into the “hard vacuum” hangars before they were unloaded to be decontaminated. Sinj, of course, just stripped off all his clothes, threw them in the biohazard bin, and stepped unselfish consciously into the next room to get his new clothes. And yes, that was filmed too.
Not for any prurient, pornographic, or photographic reasons, simply because nobody else in the world could do that- except for the other ImmunoNC’s. Even in that select group, few chose to travel. They couldn’t take the attention, the almost worship like stares, and the scrutiny. Sinj could.
He had promised the Premier Distance Learning University that on this trip he would take a boat around Paris, tour the Louvre- IN PERSON- and climb up to show the final touch ups to Notre Dame. He would be able to stand face to face with the Artisans who were restoring the stone work.
He could hold their hammer and chisel a bit of stone (under their watchful eyes) and gasps would escape from the viewers as the Craftsman took Sinj’s hands in his own to show him how to hold the hammer correctly. Sinj wasn’t worried at all, and it showed. Those were the moments the rest of us waited for. "Pure Touch" they called it.
No precautions at all. Skin to Skin. Bareback. An almost primal reaction to seeing a handshake; without gloves, without masks, without a wrap- horror and fascination fighting with “I wonder what that is like” to be the dominant emotion.
When Sinj Kissed both Becky and Eugenia when all three met up at the World Governors Conference. They were there to carry private notes and sensitive negotiations between parties for the Big Wigs. Three of the handful of known ImmunoNC”s in one place at one time. Kissing.
Well, it was Becky’s idea. She was only Nineteen, filled with a bit two many Romance Novels and Jane Eyre like fits of fancy. She thought it would be nostalgic to kiss in Public like back in the PV 2000’s (Pre-Virus).
Eugenia was thirty, Sinj 26…so they all agreed. Sinj kissed Becky first. Becky said later it was like eating strawberries with heavy cream. (Which, by the way, became thee treat of the year!) Then Sinj kissed Eugenia. That kiss lasted a bit longer…and had a follow up.
The world was watching closely. The gossip channels almost burned up from the heat of that kiss. Would Sinj and Eugenia mate? Like Panda’s shyly and in the Public Eye. Everyone, including Becky wanted it to happen.
Imagine that, a Baby born the old fashioned way…in your body and not an Artificial Womb. Where the man and woman…frolicked in passion (if that is what they do…who knew anymore?) and the result was a baby. A baby carried full term in a body.
The Scientist wanted it to see if the child would also be an ImmunoNC. The Public wanted it…just because. Sinj and Eugenia…well, to put it bluntly, they were just horny.
Nobody knows yet. Becky does call once a month to check on Eugenia’s condition. A “girls only” talk as old as the Human Race itself. If Eugenia “catches”…well that would be the story of the Century…literally.
Sinj waited on the boat bobbing gently against the fenders fending off the old walls of the South Bank. Eugenia was going to join him, as the World decided that a couple holding hands (bare hands!) would lift everyone’s spirits even more than watching Sinj unabashedly shaking hands with strangers.
They were right.
When Eugenia pulled Sinj close near the Venus DeMilo, giving him a not so quick, not so chaste, and not unwanted smooch …well, Twitter Crashed four times in as many minutes as the 30 second video was replayed some three billion times.
Becky sent a “thumbs up” emoji and her text made both Sinj and Eugenia bend double with laughter. It simply said:
“My turn next. And I don’t care which one of you kisses me!”
Sinj and Eugenia linked hands to walk over to the stairs to check out the “Wings of Victory” statue. Behind them, and not being filmed, the area around the Venus De Milo was being disinfected. Not because it needed it, they were both ImmunoNC’s after all. Neither of them carried the Virus, or could catch, or give it to anyone.
But old habits die hard. Especially for the rest of us.
But the Janitor was smiling. He had seen two people laugh without masks…in person. And how many people alive today could say that.