Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Looking back, I have lived a long and abundant life with few regrets – of course I have them (regrets) everyone does but I try not to dwell on them. The only one that really bothers me about my life is it shouldn’t have turned out this way. As a world we went through too much over the millions of years of evolution to have something this horrible happen to me and everyone else … and the worst part is … we should have seen it coming.
I was born Naomi Lyn Medford, July 31st. 2047 two days after the first international manned voyage to Mars launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. I was one of the last natural-womb births carried to full term in the emerging PRC (People’s Republic of California) and therefore was given no Genetic Modifications at that time. Cloverdale was one of the final cities in the Republic to be absorbed into the Global Electric Slot System, the elevated transportation rails were still under construction and my father actually drove my mother to a primitive health care complex on the grounds surface in an ancient internal combustion vehicle … no doubt operating the primitive weapon manually and swerving to avoid solar arrays and hydroponic farm clusters. It’s a wonder we all didn’t explode in a huge ball of fire or die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Three months before my fifth birthday my mother received a grant from the International Culture Committee (16,000 units of pulse energy) and she used the credits to have my genes coded for patience, good health and longevity. At that time there were only three configurations available for non-military personnel. Mother had enough credits left over to have a Master of Sub-Atomics Degree implanted in my cerebral cortex and bought a new 3D household printer.
My father operated 4.7 acres of ground that he inherited from his grandfather and although he utilized every inch of available space outside our elemental procurement structure our family barely made 65,000 credits of pulse energy a year from the fields of aging and inefficient solar panels. At age six I went to work at Gravitron West as a System’s Monitor third grade just to help make ends meet.
I was shy and awkward around my co-workers, most of them had at least one attractiveness modification to their genetic makeup for mating purposes, and I felt like a lingering black hole that reflected no social light at all. I was that way for many years.
I met my husband Rod Jennings at a company picnic. The management of Gravitron transported all full time employees to one of the oceanic domes orbiting the moon and we all had fun swimming naked in zero gravity and eating tiny Zonko fish that wandered into our nutrition tubes. He followed me to a beach area and lay beside me on the sand. I ask him if he would like to have sex and he said he’d tried me out on a Sensations 500 in the dressing room and enjoyed it very much but now he was exhausted. I was sad but kind of glad … those encounter simulators always make you appear much more skillful than you really are. I felt fine but my medical bracelet was ordering all my food prepared with three hundred fewer calories and 500 mg of citric acid because of an iron deficiency.
I was surprised to learn that Rod was also a womb baby and was also delivered in an ancient care facility in Missoula. He was six years older than me and actually remembered riding in a liquid propellant vehicle. We spent almost an hour talking about our past in Montana before it joined the Republic of California and the large eastern portion along with both Dakotas that the Sioux Indian Confederation once again took ownership of in 2053.
Rod’s A BETTER YOU medical hand-cuff sensed his skin was getting too hot from the artificial sunlight and so it started to rain in our portion of the sphere. I was flushed and pink all over but it wasn’t from the heat. We both ran to a tropical island shelter built to resemble a Polynesian dwelling from the twentieth century and that’s when he kissed me for the first time, right on the lips and no lingering endorphin discharge and static buildup from a simulator. I felt like some kind of lusty animal. Rod’s bracelet sounded an alarm and said there was a biological error in data transmission. Mine was flashing as we laughed. We both decided we liked the old ways … and from then on we were inseparable.
It was June 2nd. 2078 at 11:58 AM just before lunch. We were in the company cafeteria and I had just pulled steaming hot exotic-mushroom Lasagna from the company’s Instant Chef (actually like all food in the latter 21st. century the lasagna was just soybeans and water with artificial color, texture and flavor). I had a medical attachment encoded in my credit scan and I could still taste the reduction in calories and added vitamins even though the manufacturer of the top of the line food assembler insisted that was impossible. I guess I was born a few years too early to have my brain completely washed clean and remade by a machine. Someone had opened a hologram on one of the tables showing a news channel and we all watched with gaping mouths as a half dozen bio-metallic? looking spheres up to a mile in diameter floated from the sky and settled gently on the city of Pittsburg. In minutes the ensuing panic spread from The U.S. rustbelt areas to the Republic of California … and then to all parts of the world.
Pittsburg and most of Pennsylvania were evacuated twenty four hours later and the world watched in awe as for ten days American F419 (Zero Radiance) Nuclear Bombers blasted away at the invading globes, or Sfärers as the official international FREE NEWS in Stockholm was calling them, with no effect what-so-ever. They didn’t even get hot.
Scientists from as far away as Tasmania and the former British territory of Australia recently deeded to China as the providence of Dàishǔ came to examine the strange intersteller travelers and hopefully find out what they were. After six months of close examination and every available test known to science one thing became clear. The Sfärers posed no immediate threat, radiation or otherwise to the general population. They were just there.
The only damage to the area came from the U.S. highly selective nuclear strike force and of course any buildings or humans that happened to occupy the space before the impossibly large things landed. What was there where they are now was gone, vanished without carnage. A massive Red Maple which had shaded Davi Avenue for almost a century was found to be still growing, thriving even, with half its trunk and most of the branches on one side disappearing forever into the curved surface of the glowing metallic? orb. There was no apparent danger.
It took six years but the rusty city slowly returned. People can adjust to almost anything when there is no other place to go. The New Century Insurance building was cut a third of the way through the thirteenth through forty-seventh floors by the curved surface of one of the smaller spheres; interior decorators found creative ways of dealing with the impossible-to-remove obstacles and worked around them. The metallic half of one large office area was used to provide mood lighting in a reception area and provided a mega-challenging racket-ball surface in another. A decade later, the Sfärers were as much a part of the city as the Botanical Gardens and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
It was our first real vacation in years. Rod leased a new slot-car from the reorganized Ford Motor Company and the performance indicator on the holographic dash promised merging into a select spot on the super highway system in less than two seconds without any annoying G forces or motion sickness. I was nervous. I’d never traveled privately since highway speeds exceeded the sound barrier but Rod punched in our destination and a few moments later we were flying west on a knotted tinsel two-inch diameter thread above the city at 857 MPH.
My life partner obviously wanted to give me a thrill so he vanished our view of the car’s exterior and interior and we were suddenly hurtling through the sky like seated human projectiles. I felt like a witch flying with an invisible broomstick.
The view of the Midwest was spectacular. Most of the land was covered with solar collectors, people still have to make a living, but there were still hundreds of acres of wheat and corn set aside by preservation societies so that our past would not be forgotten. We saw some real pigs … I have the holograms.
The parking area at Yellowstone National Park was huge, over sixty thousand slot cars in one massive spiral facility. We couldn’t get close enough to see Old Faithful with our naked eyes, but we watched from a platform built on the shore edge. The famous geyser that had erupted every hour or so for thousands of years was now a continuous fountain throwing boiling liquid minerals three-hundred feet into the air and creating an ever-widening lake of hot water.
Native species were leading people around the park. Some opportunistic park ranger had the animals gene-coded for language adaptation and we watched as a highly vocal grizzly and another herbivore led a group of tourists through the park both of them speaking Japanese and fluent Mandarin Chinese. I offered the grizzly a marshmallow as the group went past but he shook his head and pointed to a Do Not Feed sign. I guess my mother was wrong … she told me the bears in the park loved the sugary treats.
It was the summer of 2112 when we decided to have a child. Rod wanted to have a natural birth but I figured at sixty-five years of age I was at the edge of my prime. The technology and facilities were also vanishing. If it wasn’t for that damn medical bracelet that kept me on a perpetual diet (it claimed I was still 6.3 lbs. overweight) I would have felt wonderful.
We’d been saving energy credits for years and opted for a Crystal Tube female conception with Rod’s nose and my ears, with a slow and careful three-month incubation and gene-coded for theatrical comedy and drama. We both loved William Shakespeare’s words; some things are timeless. “ … despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.”
Juliet was delivered to our apartment rooftop on September 11th. 2113 by a chattering drone that was vinyl form-fitted to look like the legendary stork.
Our beautiful daughter started school at three years old and two weeks later emerged from the learning center with a master’s degree in singing and dance. It took every credit we had but it was worth it. Our beautiful daughter could emulate seventeen musical instruments with her voice and made Fred Astaire look like a blundering ox.
We were in the living area of our Pittsburg Apartment after eating … Juliet and I … May 11th. 2137. My daughter had Beef Wellington and I slowly gnawed on a combination Pizza, from the Home Chef next to the disposal, that tasted like old cardboard. No matter how many times I submerged my medical bracelet in scolding hot bath water it still decided how my food at home or in a restaurant was to be created and how many calories to subtract. Rod was on business out west and we both missed him. Juliet was entertaining me with an ear-splitting rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s classic masterpiece Purple Haze using only her mouth and her fingernails on a decorative concrete wall that made the titanium implants in my left leg do some kind of crazy African dance.
Of course we felt the trembling. It was the worst earthquake I’d ever felt or have ever felt since. We both thought it was close perhaps somewhere on the east coast … New Jersey? We were shocked when we found out it was Yellowstone in the far west … exploding from beneath the Earth’s surface in one of the largest natural catastrophes in history. The Sioux nation lands and most of the Republic of California were instantly vaporized. They never found Rod’s body. Along with eight million other souls, he’d been wiped from the face of this planet. We stayed in the apartment for weeks … ate little and cried.
Three years later Juliet decided to move in with her boyfriend who lived in London. It was as if my greatest fears had come true … I was alone. I couldn’t show her how I felt … she needed her own life. I watched as she boarded the trans-Atlantic slot lines in Boston. Her and Mitch crossed the ocean at seven times the speed of sound and were home in his apartment in less than an hour.
I spent the next seven years feeding ducks at the local zoo. I had names for all my favorites … Donald, Daffy and Dudley. My hometown and everything I remembered was gone. The world had moved on. Most nights I visited with Juliet via a hologram but it wasn’t the same … you can’t hug a beam of light.
The loaf of cracked wheat bread cost 27 credits (everything real is very expensive) but I know Daffy enjoyed it. I could see the largest of the Sfärers looming over the city skyline like a huge beach ball glowing in the morning light. I thought the sound was lightning at first (there wasn’t a cloud in the sky) … then hundreds of slot car horns began to honk. Somewhere emergency sirens began to blast. Instead of stopping the noise expanded. I covered my ears but couldn’t look away. The huge cracks in the sides of the glowing alien spheres were un-mistakable … military aircraft filled the skies.
The Sfärers were hatching …
TO BE CONTINUED …