C U R B S I D E
Drip, drip…drip. The sound came again. Illogical fear came as a reflex and just as soon was gone. The polycarbonate wall was 3 feet thick and over a mile long, it was solid. The City committed to feeding her residents by growing food in a submerged Ocean Farm off Manhattan, plenty of water with zero footprint. The sensors were silent. Glancing upwards at ceiling monitors, someone’s sense of humor, seeing what’s above by literally looking over your head. Nothing unexplained, just the Atlantic rolling into the eastern seaboard. On one screen a cargo ship carried Fire Slabs that would bring much needed warmth as the super-heated crystals cooled. Soon Fire Slabs would swap with Ice Slabs full of subzero crystals made in Alaska, not by fairy princess magic as some were eager to believe.
Putting down USA Today, he stepped onto the platform to continue the search. Close by he could hear children playing, playing sports to be precise. Most instruction was immersive gamification with drills, VR and AI, putting his degree to shame. Wondering what his kids would say if they realized the “super-cool” space ship they drove to virtual class, was actually an Air Force simulation program for jet pilots. Or the “so-sweet” robot they programmed at home used high level coding and advanced calculus. Or the treasure hunt through history was teaching them ten languages. Glad they had some fun time, even if their wrist Life Band tracked every step, analyzed every action and simultaneously adjusted sleep, fitness and diet needs to maximize greatness. It also controlled access to tech, devices, vehicles and homes, even new electronic gun triggers. Issues were rare, still he felt a sigh of relief since Ocean Farms were all guarded by Marines. The drip culprit – an old school coffee pot signaled his shift ending.
Gears turned below as the shuttle was unlocked in the chute. Comfortably he leaned back gazing up from the Digital Joy console displaying all his preferences, watching the water rush in behind him building pressure. Then as it was released the shuttle jumped forward anxious now on its journey.
Gazing beyond the clear tube of the chute, a Patient Partner rolled by delicately scooping debris and waste that made its way into the waterway. After years of constant suction, the ocean was mostly clean, still waste found in the land or sea went into being reclaimed for infrastructure projects. These Bio Reclaimers were everywhere now, even home sized. His Uncle had one installed in a large hole dug into the floor of the garage.
The console beamed to life, displaying in vibrancy the activity across the city. The App Universe ablaze with the wondrous adventures across multiple sources. One app to rule them all was the joke. He selected the Global Calendar, event after event correlated in real time across the globe.
The shuttle continued, unnoticed to the sea life outside happily munching on the water dissolving Bio Get food containers made entirely of bio feed and fish food. Once it stopped, he went up the stairs in a well-rehearsed flash. Sliding apart to officially welcome him into the city, the Trek Security doors slid closed again grabbing its waterproof, fireproof, hammer proof, bullet proof seal.
A few steps found a waiting, electric Carriage Cart that began its automated route once the cover closed as he sat down with a thud. Its wheels larger than standard ensured travel over any terrain, though studiously following the line in the street precluded any real off-roading. The line also emitted a small current leaving the Carts perpetually available and charged.
Again, the Digital Joy console buzzed alive struggling to maintain its happiness, its screen identical to where he left off on the shuttle. No sooner had he looked down then the familiar white lights flashed on the screen, indicating a medical vehicle was passing by. Thankfully not red for fire, nor blue for a threat nor the rapid pulse of an emergency, but long steady flashes. Instinctively he glanced skyward when it passed glimpsing one of the Shadow Drones that paced all service vehicles. Judging by its size this drone was for recording and reporting not nearly large enough to carry medical supplies or spray foam.
No sooner had they passed when the Freedom Eagles came into view. Perched on top of the low wall nearly circling the city. The collection box handing out very generous gift cards for anonymously surrendered weapons made relinquishing them attractive. Once a large batch was collected the wood was pressed to a plaque dedicated to one of the many fallen victims, while the rest was melted and dropped in a mold to form a Freedom Eagle.
Calculating the number of arms to make one Eagle, times the number of Eagles already atop the wall – totally explained why all service vehicles and service uniforms became bullet proof… along with fire, water, puncture and heat resistant. Thankfully someone made the decision to trade uniforms for functional streetwear, adding comfort and flexibility to a high level of safety.
Halfway to his destination passing Truke alley, as so indicated with a large gold (his favorite color) arrow. Trukes, basically converted 18 wheelers, set up with services to assist the homeless…oops less fortunate since everyone had homes now. Only a few visitors today going through the dedicated ballet of wellness checks, wash, clean and food, then skills to use and get paid for quick tasks.
Opportunities increased all around. Unemployment became jobs with a ratio of compensation to performance. The Family First program guaranteeing day care, medical care and well being care for each child accelerated forward progress. Though the Sure Implants were voluntary they all but eradicated unexpected births.
Still deep thought as the grocery came into view, without indication the console screen dimmed and the Cart slowed to a stop directly in front. The Life Band, already monitoring his destination, was also synced to his cerebrum disk that logged the food desire and automated the response.
As he walked briskly through the doors his eyes scanned the rows of organic Farm to Chef ultra healthy food. Choosing a ready-made batch, selecting Assist Dinner so once home he would manually prepare and cook the food. Slightly more engaged than Auto Dinner taking over completely.
Missing the friendly Whiskers normally patrolling the floor in kind spirits, was informed she’s at the Petnasium. A marvelous gymnasium, or Catnasium for cats and Dognasium for dogs, that raises several hundred from the same litters together for lifetime social bonding, activity and well-being. He nodded, remembering one trip featuring a particularly frustrated child when her cat simply refused to leave this wonderful feline house with all her friends.
Selecting carried (out) instead of carry (out), activated a Lizard Box. As the food was deposited it began its journey under the sidewalks, over the rails, to the lift installed next to the elevator and up to his floor. Convenient, he admitted. Though couldn’t quite find the words for the ultra-luxury ones that traveled in tunnels, water taxis, helicopters all directly into homes of the rich and famous.
Feeling especially cosmopolitan he decided to walk, causing the Carriage Cart anticipating his departure, to queue for another passenger once the cerebrum disk registered the decision with his Life Band. Stepping proudly and firmly as was recommended the Patch Panels under his feet translated his steps to energy, earning a few coins along the way. Energetic more still was the hive of activity one level down under the sidewalk as the Lizard Boxes flew along their routes carrying products to impatient, rushed and hungry customers.
Instinctively he moved closer to the center of the sidewalk to ensure clearance around the Corner Disc. This particular Disc, unlike the adjacent corner with a security platform attached, perpendicular corner with decorative lamp attached, this one sat solemn in its inactivity. As the weekend approached no doubt a dance floor, canopy, string of lights, viewing station or other attachment to support whatever tourist spectacle was unfolding that weekend. Otherwise, the Disc would be fully submerged and flat against the ground.
Being extra careful decided to take an elevator upstairs to the Bio Fields spread across the building rooftops. Trotting over the planks he smiled at the rows of Carbo Berries glistening in the failing light. A true New Yorker, he knew better than to look around to verify the Urban Legend that a sniper watches over the berries that selflessly suck massive amounts of carbon monoxide out of the air. Many tourists were clearly searching. Others sat atop exercise machines that collected their energy, were vigorously straining to reach daily targets and gain bonuses before the sunlight faded signaling the day’s end.
Further on the moon lights started to glow offering assisted illumination to the Multi-Sports Fields littered along the paths on the largest rooftops. With limited space the city just combined the sports together. So came two-sided goals, basketball hoops on net posts, golf cups along fields, etc. Frustration happened, but gameplay often created new sports, several listed on the App Universe. He appreciated most the Living Life series that provided valuable perspective and endorsed diversity. Through this real understanding came to disabilities, races, ethnicities, cultures, military sacrifice, differences and likenesses.
Living Life was known for acknowledging significant accomplishments with the equitable Recognition Awards. Then altering EGOT to use an “A” creating the new classification: G.R.E.A.T (Grammy, Recognition, Emmy, Academy Award and Tony – awards) designation. Chadwick Boseman posthumously honored as the first to earn all five.
Arriving at his building he paused not yet ready to be indoors. He sat on the blanket patiently awaiting his attention and slowly reclined. This close he could feel the heat from the Fire Slabs. Just a few moments now. The sun joined the horizon in a familiar embrace to disappear until its roundtrip again completed.
Darkness was almost sudden. Slowly then with sparkled brilliance it came into view. As the City began to sleep, high above the Orion Space Platform came alive spinning with activity. One could practically see pilots readying for flights, vehicles being built, others being launched, commands given, activity ablaze.
He smiled and thought, “Had I chosen Auto Dinner, I’d already be enjoying it”!
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