Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
I lowered my huv from the sky and dropped into the garbage-strewn parking lot of Building World.
Parking next to a contractor’s huv-truck I made my way inside and stood there in front of the directory. Behind the digital sign was a sixteen kilometers square super warehouse filled with building and construction supplies of every imaginable type and design.
I spoke to the sign. “I need a gasket for my toilet.”
The sign blinked for a moment, scanning through departments, then an artificial female voice chimed, “Plumbing department, three hundred meters to the northeast. Aisles forty-seven through fifty, section G7.” Then the voice added, “Please feel free to use one of our complimentary personal scooters for a mere five-dollar donation to the Corpamerica 2050 Bailout Extravaganza to take place next month in…”
I cut the machine off mid-spiel, “No thanks I’ll walk.” I passed by the lame row of ill-maintained, beat up looking electric scooters. Then I wove through pale faced wandering souls with their shopping baskets full of paint rollers and light bulbs, every one of them looking unsure of where they were or where they were supposed to be. I had barely made my way one hundred meters when I was nearly run over by a massive rolling automate pulling a train of pallets full of roofing shingles down one of the cavernous aisles. Keeping my head up from then on I plowed ahead.
Finally I reached G7 and made my way over to the aforementioned aisles, only to be greeted by a large section of aluminum siding. Finally I spotted a crooked yellow sign that read, “Plumbing Has Moved To Section J10, Aisles Sixty Through Sixty-three.” I looked around in bewilderment.
An old man in a bathrobe came shuffling by clutching a hose nozzle and a three-pack of 60 grit sandpaper. “Say mister, do you know where one of those scooter stations is?” The curmudgeon only clutched his wares tighter and gave me a wide birth, mumbling something incomprehensible as he passed.
“Geez, does anybody work here?”
I was shocked to hear an answer from behind me. “Work here? Ha! Aint nobody worked here for years Sunny Jim!” Apparently the old fellow wasn’t quite so ready to move on. He gave me a stern look and pointed at me. “Do yourself a favor friend, just get what you came for and get out… if you can.”
I looked around for any excuse to move on, then I spotted a sign, “Personal Scooters This Way”. “Thanks for the tip pops, gotta run!” And with that I made off for the scooters.
After a forty second jog and a couple of left turns I came to the scooter station, with not a scooter in sight. There hanging from a rack, another crooked yellow sign. “Sorry, All Scooters In Use. Next Scooter Station, One Half Kilometer Due North.” The only problem was, there was no arrow saying which way this was.
And half a kilometer? Was I even half a kilometer from the new plumbing section? Come to think of it, I had gotten turned around. Which way was I heading? Mad at myself I started to backtrack. I pushed past more and more lost souls. I was starting to panic. Section F5? How had I suddenly gotten here?
It was then I decided that I would let my toilet leak. I could keep throwing down towels. I had a built in laundry station. But where was the exit? My panic grew. Then suddenly, there was the old man in the bathrobe again. I called out, “Hey mister, wait!
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
Flat and wide like an evil grinning manta ray; the 1966 Pontiac Parisienne two-door hardtop is, in my opinion, the sexiest automobile design to ever grace the streets of our planet.
That was my first car way back when, a present from my dad. Painted coal black, with steamroller tires mounted on Cragar mags, and fat dual exhaust that advertised the horses under her hood by belching out deep harmonious hot rod tunes. It was old even when I was young. Four years older than my old man as a matter of fact. But when I drove that sleek beast to high school, I was the shit!
So when TranspoTech announced that everyone’s personal favorite internal combustion-powered classics were now available with an-grav retrofit kits in all years and models on record, it didn’t take me long to place my order.
Finally the day of delivery, “Here you are sir,” said the salesman. The door slid up and there she was, every bit as sexy as she had been fifty years ago.
Fumbling the keys in my hand I crossed the floor to my beloved 66. Of course this was only a replica, a far superior replica. My original Pontiac had long since rusted away to hot rod heaven. But this new amazing masterpiece looked real… felt real.
I clicked the key fob and the marker lights blinked twice as the door lock knobs popped up. Sliding behind the wheel and slamming the heavy door I just sat there dazed for the moment. The dashboard contained many extra instruments for modern necessities but was as retro and original looking as possible. I ran my hand across its vinyl padded top and smiled.
Suddenly there was a tap at the window. I looked to see the grinning salesman. He gestured toward the launch tube and said, “Go right ahead sir. She’s all yours!”
Without hesitation I slid the key into the ignition and turned it. There was a soft green glow from the dash as the deep muffled purr of a sleeping lion came to life all around me. The sound was of course artificial as the silent antigravity engines raised the big car off the ground and into hover mode. I reached down to the replica Hurst shifter and dropped her into low. Swinging the wheel over and maneuvering the Pontiac into the launch tube I pushed the pedal to the floor, and the faux dual exhaust sang out the same way it did so many years ago when my old gas-powered V8 did the thundering.
The next moment I was out under the bright stars and veering smoothly into a traffic lane. Most of the other hover cars were of the boring modern-day boxy non-descript version. But the skyways were already lightly peppered with other TranspoTech retro machines. A 67 Mustang pilot gave me a big Detroit honk and a thumbs-up as he passed by. Then as I merged onto the main artery, a family of four cruised beside me for a while in a 55 Dodge Sedan. The father and I kept pace door handle to door handle for a time, grinning back and forth as the artificial sound of a General Motors small block harmonized beautifully with that of a Chrysler 392 Hemi.
As I peeled away from the Dodge and headed toward the Starlight Diner I punched the accelerator and hit the afterburners, remembered an old T-shirt my dad used to wear. I’ll never forget the saying emblazoned on the front in bubbly cartoon letters… “Old Cars Never Die, They Just Go Faster.”
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
For a person thrust into such bleak and hopeless beginnings David had done well for himself.
His parents, murdered by a slum gang when he was but a boy of five, and he himself taken into slavery, he had spent over a decade in their chains, toiling under their whips.
But remaining subservient he had persevered, secretly teaching himself to read at night by starlight, in the crumbling ruined library that served as both stable and slave quarters. Sometimes his eyes would tire and he would climb the east wall, right to the end of his neck chain, and from there stare up at the stars, and beneath them the distant blaze of lights that was the city of the privileged. There he dreamt of a life where children were educated about the wonders of the universe, and people achieved many great things.
It had taken him more than ten years of careful watching, before one night under the cover of cloud he finally managed to slip his chains and steal away. The walk to the city had taken longer than he had expected, as he slithered along alleyways and crept through shadows, but eventually he had found his way.
Then after scaling the high wall avoiding spotlights all the while, and landing feet first on a bustling sidewalk, it had not taken him long to find sympathetic ears amongst the citizenry and so quickly he was taken in, cleaned up, and fed well by the educated and technologically advanced people.
* * *
After eventual cyberintegration and a full two-year acclimatization and education program, he was given his own spacious apartment with all the latest amenities, and placed where he wanted to be most, the scientific workforce. He received employment as an intern at Starcorp’s interstellar exploration program where he assisted developers in the creation of, of all things, a new revolutionary spacesuit.
Apparently astronauts would now be able to float through vacuum, bask in deadly radiation; collide with meteors even, naked as jaybirds if they wished. Protected by the fractalchip-generated warp bubble and fed life support via tiny wormhole tendrils, it was believed that one might even dive beneath the surface of a star unscathed, although admittedly this had yet to be tested.
All of the workers in David’s division were extremely proud of their technological wonder that would certainly soon greatly advance manned space exploration. So no one, except perhaps the yet to be discovered missing new intern of humble beginnings, could understand why or how the prototype had been stolen from the lab that night.
* * *
As the morning sun rose over the heart of the slum the slave keeper, en route to inspect his herd, was greeted by two of his guards, dead with their skulls smashed in. He barely heard a whisper as David dropped on him from the top of the east wall, his old stargazing perch.
The slaver tried to fight back but it was of no use. Suddenly he looked into the face of the strange intruder with the shimmering colorful skin, and he remembered the escaped teen of years gone by. “You…” he managed as a shimmering fist came down and shattered his face. As his vision wavered he saw another one of his guards run up behind the escaped slave wielding an axe. Without hesitation the weapon swung down and there was a flash at the back of the interloper’s head accompanied by the sound of the blade chipping.
David laughed and turned on his new assailant. There would be much blood spilled today, much blood indeed.
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
I descend deeper into the heart of semi-quadrant 26F, my maneuvasuit’s floodlights guiding me all the way. Massive gears and cogs riding on giant turbine shafts dwarf me, rotating silently on their bearings as layers of viscosium, barely a dozen molecules thick, keep everything at a cool 190 degrees or less. Yet on I monitor. Firing my vertical jets I drift into a side shaft, which will guide me through the lower ion exhaust plenum and straight into the grand hydro-valve gallery of this particular sub-engine portion of my overall keep.
Like my father and his father before, I am a proud and loyal maintainer of the machine. Pausing at a calibration platform I take a moment to measure the erosion on the nearby upper beta crankshaft’s friction journals using my helmet’s laser guided micrometer. As I suspected, the extra stress placed on the shaft’s aft third of its length, by the rerouted spring scissor and its eighty-ton ballast, installed almost a century ago by my own ancestors and their kinsmen, is finally starting to take its toll.
If left unattended for another year, give or take a few weeks, the bearing surfaces of the crankshaft’s rear section will eventually overheat and start to pollute the sub-machine’s viscosium lubrication system. The resulting extra friction caused by microscopic metallic debris will most certainly end with catastrophic failure to at least the local sub-structure. And nobody wants to have to deal with that type of engineering nightmare. Luckily for the people on the surface I was born into this job. I know what needs to be done.
Without hesitation I transmit my findings via comlink to semi-quadrant headquarters, requesting a platoon-crew containing at least six senior apprentices, a gantry crane, and some two hundred hours of access to any one of the local B-class machine shops and their stores.
Within minutes the work orders have been logged into the motherboard of the main quadrant, my eager young engineers deployed in their fully charged maneuvasuits, heading quickly in my direction, and to top it off I have been granted carte blanche at machine shop sub-terra 39X, an old personal favorite. Hector knows how I like my parts manufactured, practical and without the frills. I always tell him, “It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work.”
It’ll take us less than a month to build a replacement upper beta crankshaft, so we can then lift the old eroding one from its journals and re-bearing the entire lower valley at our leisure.
And once we’re done, will we disassemble and discard our strategically placed temporary unit? Of course not, we will daisy chain them together via a constant velocity coupler and allow them to work as one. If there was one thing my father always taught me, it was, “Overbuild son. We’ve got endless resources coming down from the surface people. Why not use them?”
And he was right. The folks up there will never stop providing us with what we need to keep the machine running. It is their first priority above anything else.
I myself have never been to the surface, and as a loyal maintainer of the machine I know I never will. And that’s just fine by me. I will continue to micro-measure every gap, to spec every tolerance, to replace every corroded power terminal, to hone and re-sleeve every worn cylinder, until the end of my days. My place in life is well laid out before me. And like my father and his father before, I have a job to do.
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
The one-hundred-and -eleven year old man stood at the transit stop listening to an antique MP3 player. His electric blue faux hawk practically glowed in the afternoon sun.
Suddenly an eighty-eight year old man came strolling up, twirling a neon yellow cane and said, “What’s with the delay Daddyay? I’ve been walkin’ up this street for a while, and what I see holds back my smile.”
The older man grunted in disapproval of the stupid punk’s needless rhyming.
The man with the yellow cane continued… “The transit runs every two minutes on the clock, and all I see here is an empty block. But don’t get the blues, I’ll check the news.”
The super centenarian continued to stand with his defiant look of disgust.
No sooner had the younger man tapped his temple with a forefinger than he quickly came back with a report. “Ah here we go. Here’s why the traffic’s slow.”
The older man snapped back, “Stop with your ridiculous rhyming you punk. There’s been an accident on East 15th Street. Everything’s backed up. I got the news off my iPod four minutes ago. The transit’ll be along when it gets here.”
“iPod? Say daddio, you still listen to a wooden raddio?”
“Don’t get cute. I was reading news offa iPods when you were still ten cc’s of spunk in your old man’s sack.”
Just then a spry fifty year old walked up to the transit stop. His silver foil clothing glinted brightly in the sunlight. “Beep boop beep beep boop boop boop beep boop boop beep?” He inquired.
The eighty-eight year old turned to the one-hundred-and-eleven year old and said under his breath, “Damn these kids and their binary talk. I wish he’d stand on some other block.”
Suddenly the speech of the rhyme-talking punk didn’t bother him so much anymore. “Fucking right brother… someone should have killed his mother.”