I’m relaunching The Weekly Fix, with a twist. For now, instead of a serial tale or a short story, I’m sharing excerpts from the stories in the forthcoming Fix the World anthology. This is a fantastic collection of twelve hopeful stories from sci-fi writers on how to fix some of the greatest problems we face as a world.
J. Scott Coatsworth
Cinzia grasped Kendra’s hand, pulling the child away from the edge of the traghetto, which floated in midair fifty meters above the waters of the lagoon. They’d have one of the best views of the Rise. Being old has its advantages.
Her granddaughter was a little chiacchierona today, chattering up a storm, unaware of the monumental undertaking finally coming to fruition below.
Solar-powered buzz drones zipped through the crowd, beaming images to the news corps and the huge tri-dee sky board hovering above the lagoon in front of them. Around her the crowd murmured, sharing a communal sense of awe.
Satisfied that Kendra wouldn’t get too close to the edge of the airship, Cinzia let her go to pull out the golden ticket from her pocket. She stared at it, still amazed that she’d been chosen as one of the first hundred to enter the lost city. Along with one guest.
For Italians, it was a moment of fierce national pride, a reclaiming of the spirito nazionale that traced its heritage back through greats like Da Vinci, Galileo, Mazzini, Dante, and Beneficio. To the gathered masses from the rest of the world, real and virtual, it was a spectacle of the likes of which they’d never seen. A symbol of hope in a world starved of it for far too long.
Cinzia put away the ticket and knelt next to her granddaughter, her old back protesting. She brushed the little girl’s kinky hair from the tawny skin of her forehead, her own spotted olive skin reminding her of the seventy years that stretched behind her. “Calmati, bambina,” she said through the thin, clear rebreathing mask that pulled compressed oxygen from the air. “This is a great moment, one you will remember when you’re as old as I am.”
The little girl frowned, reaching up to touch her face. “How old are you?”
Cinzia cackled. “Old enough to know when to be quiet. Come here. I’ll lift you up so you can see.”
Though Kendra was only five, she was a handful, and Cinzia’s aching back protested as she lifted the girl onto her hip.
Lucia, where did you go? Cinzia wished her daughter were still there. She’d run off with that scamp Hassan, the girl’s father, chasing happiness. Or whatever her menthe-addled mind thought of as happiness now. Apparently, it didn’t include family, home or a steady job.
The sky board cleared, and the young Prime Minister Enzo Speranza filled the sky. They looked sharp today, in a silver Italian suit sparkling like sunlight off water. “Welcome to the day of the Rise. We have worked long and hard for this. As a nation, we survived the Dark Decade of the twenties and the rise of the Mediterranean Sea. We weathered Hurricanes Diego and Lorenzo, and the flows of refugees from Africa and the Middle East that transformed our identity and culture.”
Cinzia snorted. And not always for the better. She squeezed Kendra’s hand. It’s not all bad. If only Lucia were here to see this.
“Today, we reclaim our history. Our pride. Our Nation.” Speranza raised their arms. “Viva l’Italia!”