Sunday, April 27, 2014

Warehouse Tourista - March 27 2117


I left you on a Southwesterly corner, not too far, but an annoying distance, from my destination.

Chub had been acting like a silly tin can and, perhaps, my sense of curiosity was piqued by my tired exasperation. Standing at the corner, staring at a burnt out old warehouse, a humid breeze encroaching on my nostrils, I decided that this previously unknown, to me, warehouse deserved a visit.

With a cursory glance for roving police-drones (they were mostly used in this day and age to grab and deliver coffee), I slipped through the front gates as they gave way with a rusty groan. Chub hovered in my wake.

The driveway (an ancient term, before zips and hove-cabs, that demarcated the area for terrestrial locomotion) crunched as my feet displaced its gravel, while dandelions mocked my presence and sent their seeds on the breeze of my passing. With a queazy feeling of unease, I turned the knob on the front door. Thinking again of my original task, I bent and opened Chub to reveal his inner trashcan, depositing the silver package for safekeeping; I, then, continued through the front door.

The interior of the warehouse looked exactly as the exterior had indicated: burnt out and decrepit. There was old furniture strewn about the concrete floor: various bits of it separated from it's main body like the battlefield of a furniture war. I stepped and glass crinkled under my feet, at least, I think it was glass as it had been legislated away more than fifty years ago as posing a clear and imminient threat to humanity. A decidedly musty smell creeped in my nostrils, upon the smell a particle of dust, a result of the dust, I sneezed. It boomed and echoed through the empty warehouse.

"He that gives us meaning sends a blessing upon the morsel of dander. Which is to say, bless you."

Quite startled by this audible intrusion, I hopped backward and stumbled over the infernal tin can heretofor indicated as Chub the Very Worst. I fell quite loudly on my bottom and was worried beyond the intrusion of this stranger about the imminent danger of my flesh coming into contact with the dreaded glass: stories of its betrayal of humanity being my only experience with the industrial material.

"I quite apologize for startling you, may I interest you in a tour of my warehouse or perhaps you would enjoy a visit to the gift shop." The intruder opened his prodigious coat to reveal all manner of trinkets, mostly scraps and garbage, sewed into the lining.

Having no experience of a sharp pain, I returned to feet and looked again at the man, his coat opened wide. His hair was thin and black and stringy; he looked unkempt and a patchy beard sprouted randomly from the rounded curves of his face. Beneath his coat, he wore blue overalls over a button-up shirt with a red and green plaid design. His shoes were sturdy and brown and went unlaced, in fact, did not have any laces. His eyes were a piercing blue and sat peacefully in his head which sat comfortably on top of five and a half feet of body.

I said: "Did you say this was your warehouse?"

"This is the warehouse of Professor R. J. Stubble and I am him, and he is me. Thus, this is my warehouse. Would you like a tour?"

"How can you own this giant heap of building materials?" I asked, wondering.

"By a technicality. One that requires that I ask, 'Would you like a tour?' and that I maintain this gift shop." He, again, opened his coat. "Would you like anything from the gift shop?" He asked.

"I'm fine," I said. Another bit of dust swooped on an updraft and hit the signal in my nose; my face crinkled but there was no sneeze.

"Aww...A free bit of dander, how unenjoyablly lucky for you!" Professor R. J. Stubble turned around with that declaration and began walking in the opposite direction.

"Where are you going?" I inquired.

"I'm giving a tour whether you're coming or not!" From somewhere in the gift shop, he plucked a pair of old-fashioned spectacles and placed them upon his aqualine nose. I followed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

To Keep Returning - March 27, 2117


Yesterday, while engrossed in polishing the welding spanners during some downtime at the shop, I was jolted upright by a tap on my shoulder. I turned and found my boss hovering over me. He cleared his throat of an unhealthy wetness.

"That's a sharp lookin' spanner, kid." His voice was gray and gravel; the hum of his hover legs was clinical and soulless. "I need you to run this down to the IP zip. Think you can handle that?"

I took the silver package: "Sure, boss."

The sunlight on a hot day in any modern city bubble causes water to vapor faster than the osmosis regulators can distribute; and most days in any regular, sun-facing part of the earth ends up as humid as the flesh-decaying breath of a martian zarlon. (The thought of a zarlon caused a reflex search in my eye unit and I found myself staring down the grim maw of an olive green rhinocerous with two jagged nose horns.) This particular day had the texture of a warm sponge and it slapped me clear across the face as soon as the front door slid open with a digital jingle.

"Don't forget ter tell'em I sent ya'!" The boss could make gravel in a vac-unit sound like a melody.

My eye-unit was telling my wrist monitor to cool off but the thing had been bugging out for weeks and I didn't have the creds to fix or upgrade the damn thing. Warm sponges and humid zarlon breath was a regular fixture that summer. Ping: Function Cool, Feed Dat Failure. I dismissed the message permanently: maybe if I just didn't think about it...

I made the corner of the block when I felt something tugging on my pants. I shielded the silver package with my armpit and turned to find a harmless waitbot. It's name was Chub and he was the boss' all-purpose trashcan and directional companion. He sat there hovering above the pavement, his idling light glowing red.

"I don't need directions or company," I said.

"Nearest directions company...3.2 kilometers northeast." It's idling light flashed green and Chub hovered away in a southwesterly direction. He could be a challenging trashcan. And so I chased after him.

"Halt Chub! Cease! Desist! Die you tin can!" I caught up with Chub waiting at a crossing light. His idling light shimmered orange. I bent over the little tin can and switched his mode from autonomous to manual. I stood up and brushed sweat from my brow, breathing in big gulps of thick, hot air. Across the street, a giant manufacturing building sat, decaying.

//////Marle Rigpa

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Return - March 3, 2117


Long time no write. What's with that? I've been busy and I hope your circuits have not been sitting idly for an uncomfortable amount of time. Are you rusty? Relaxed? Is a year a long time to your automated consciousness?

I digress; and soon, I will look to egress. However, I feel I must update your solar-powered interface to reflect the changes in my life, just in case I am crowned a winner of the Williamsburg Prize of Nobel Economics in Physics or some other equally prestigious endeavor; conversely, in case my name goes down in infamy as the prominent member of a gang of cyber-thieves for having perpetrated one of the many thought-crimes as will surely be legislated into existence, in any minute, of any day now. I, thusly, update thee.

When my voice last graced your audio circuitry; and your vocal-recognition and prose-enhancing software recorded and enhanced my most deep and penitent thoughts, I still lived under the neglectful gaze of my mother and her robotic step father. My mother, as you will recall, was on her way to being fully automated, and she has long since crested that zenith; no longer does she need a separate unit to dispense her martinis in moderation for she need only make a request to her moderation-bypassable software version 2.0. (The publisher of the moderation software with bypassability modification assures the moderatation-seeking public that a version 3.0 software will be out with an option to remove the option for bypassibility.) Regardless, my mother now serves her own drinks with a kind of disinterested alacrity and uses the extra downtime to listen to the whirring of the clean-bot units tidying up after she crashes into things.

My Step-Robotic father still maintains the 6-level condone unit despite the dramatic uptick in business since the planetary economy recovered; but, and who but He knows what that man-bot's robotic desires entail, he is rarely to be found anymore by my mother's side when she has made liberal use of her moderation software. Rumor on the thought-boards maintain that he has initiated a new family unit (and, apparently, even has a few live, organic dogs) on the opposite side of the continental transport zip. But, he still pays for my mother's slow descent into total circuitry destruction, so I can't begrudge the robo-fellow.

I moved out of the condone after I accepted a position sharpening maintenance spanners during the busy season at a small shop near the interplanet zip. My humility had been swelling into the temperate, desperate zone ever since I turned down the job repairing server-bots at the diner. Since then, I had maintained a lively night-oriented existence selling thought-forum sound bites at parties for the wealthy class of non-politician adjacents whom "appreciated my proletariat mendacity." That job basically consisted of exchanging faux-wit for tips: a good gig but a little heavy on the sycophant side of things, and difficult for maintaining the regular lifestyle of sunlight absorption.