By 2090, not speaking was the new normal. The Positivist World Government had ushered in “Give or Take” laws prohibiting human speech. Over the past few decades they’d incentivized city by city around the globe to vote “Yes” in referendums to adopt the laws by offering tax refunds. Adoption meant custom fitting everyone with translation ear buds, ("TEBs") that enabled communication without sound. It also meant being quiet. Eaves dropping drones monitored from the edge of the upper atmosphere. People in fear of capture by jail ships departing for Mars, dared not whisper a single syllable.
The Transbot Corporation won a government contract to manufacture and distribute TEBs. The devices could discern thoughts intended to be verbalized. Those thoughts would be broadcast to the listener. Light years beyond anything that smart phones of 25 years prior could do, they worked flawlessly. There was one major complaint, however. Translations from user to user were code like. Conspiracy theorists claimed that TEBs were a sinister plot to remap the human brain with the code. Nevertheless, childhood development the planet over throttled back, as parts of the human anatomy enabling speech atrophied from lack of use; the supraglottis, vocal chords, glottis, and subglottis.
Sara could not remember ever speaking. She took the stylish red TEBs that had become part of her anatomy in stride. Like everyone else from her generation, she’d lost the ability to make a sound. Large cities across the globe had become an entertaining and ofttimes chaotic pantomime… wordless.