Isaac lived on the inner ring of the tower, so he didn’t have a window. He had a screen though, and despite the status of having a window, he preferred the flexibility of having a screen. A screen could show a view from anywhere in the world, a window just had the outside. Unlike most residents, Isaac had been outside the tower once in his life. Like most people who had left the tower, it had been a vacation trip to Disney. He had gone alone. Disney was nice, fully protected under the dome, the fast rides and the big screens, the mythical characters and the air smelling of citrus spices. The vast heights of the dome and the unending sky, the rows of brightly colored buildings, the space of it all made Isaac feel uncomfortable. When he got back to the tower, he felt safe again, comfortable.
Isaac was trying to lose weight. Everyone was trying to lose weight. He had put himself on the new puff diet where the meals were cut in half but puffed with air so it felt like you were eating more. It wasn’t really working. Puffing made food bland and dry.
Isaac felt a kind of civic pride for his tower. They had things that other towers did not, like a fish pool in the center plaza, and a waterfall that washed all the way from the sixth floor to the first. His network connection was fast, and the last blackout hadn’t been since the service tower went down five years ago. He was constantly linked into work and into the social life on the forums. All the towers merchandise drops were always on time; almost anything that Isaac ordered could be there the next day. It was a good tower in the safe location of an underwater mountain in the middle of the Pacific.
Raqui had burst into his life like a leak. She was his neighbor in the tower, but even then, feet from one another, people seldom introduced themselves. It was more likely to meet your neighbor on the network than in person. Raqui had just walked into his room uninvited. At 5â€™5 and 150 lbs, she was the thinnest woman he had ever met. She was pushy, crude and she made Isaac feel special. He showed her around the tower. She showed him the scars on her neck from the time her surface suit broke. They became lovers. It was a new experience for Isaac, who had never done anything like sex before. He ordered instructional vids. Raqui threw them out.
â€œYou donâ€™t learn from tapes Isaac.â€ she said, and he balked. He told her how much he had learned from vids, nearly all of his higher education. She got sullen, and then suddenly excited.
â€œLets go outside.â€ She said, jumping on the bed. Isaac shook his head. She stopped bouncing and knelt next to him. â€œWhy not?â€™
â€œIt makes me nervous, I donâ€™t know.â€
She put her hands on her hips, a move Isaac found very sexy. â€œYou donâ€™t ever want to leave the tower?â€
â€œI have left the tower, Iâ€™ve been to Disney World.â€
Her eyes narrowed. â€œDisney World is under a dome. It doesnâ€™t count.â€
Isaac tried to compromise. â€œWe could take a vacation inside the tower; three days, watch a few films, spend time in the spa.â€
Raqui put her hands on his elbow. â€œOr we could go outside. I could introduce you to my folks.â€
Isaacsâ€™s mouth dropped. â€œThey live outside?â€
â€œIn suits and mini-domes, yeah, some people still make that work.â€ She shook her head. â€œAre you scared?â€
â€œI just canâ€™t Raqui. Itâ€™s toxic out there, itâ€™s too dangerous.â€ She drew away from him, her face suddenly blank, a void. Isaac felt like he was falling. â€œHey, I could dial up some vids of the outside, would you like that?â€
She nodded, slowly and sadly. â€œYou do what you need to.â€
Isaac thought he would give her a day to cool off about whatever was making her upset and then heâ€™d go see her. When he went to her place the next day she was gone. They said at the front desk that she had shipped out with the drop, back to the outside. In his mail drop there were several vids that he had ordered about the outside – mostly documentaries and slide shows. He had planned to watch them with Raqui, but now there didnâ€™t seem to be a point. There didnâ€™t seem to be any reason at all.