Today’s the day for The Weekly Fix. Every Thursday, I’ll add a new scene or chapter of a free story, until the whole thing is here on the blog – and then I’ll add it to its own page on the site. It’s a great way for you to test drive my writing, for free!
Here’s the second scene from my second story – a four-part short story I wrote about a man who wakes up in s strange place. It’s called “Re-Life”. Hope you like it!
He palmed the elevator icon, and the wall opened up before him. He stepped inside, and the wall closed without a sound. The space he was in started to move, and he was pulled along, sideways and upwards.
The elevator was eerily silent. David would have gotten a kick out of this whole thing – he had been the sci fi buff of the two of them. If only he could have been here to see this day. He hadn’t believed in the whole Futurists thing. Eric wondered what had become of him – it was strange to think he had long ago gone to dust.
When the motion stopped, the wall opened up, and he found himself in another white box. “Please verify your identity,” a sexless voice said as he entered the room.
He placed his hand on the wall where indicated. “I’m Eric Smi-”
“Identity confirmed,” the voice said. It sounded almost snippy. The whole room blurred, and things rose from the floor to become a chair, a table, a bed, and a strange misshapen thing he had learned was a toilet.
“Would you like wallpaper?” the voice asked.
“Yes, city scene please.” He’d had a version of this in the last week of his rehab. The walls and ceiling dissolved, and he was standing on a white square in the midst of the city, with lights flashing and vehicles flying to and fro all around him. He stumbled back onto the bed, overwhelmed. “Forest scene, please.”
All at once it was quiet, peaceful as the wind rushed through the redwood branches overhead. He could hear the sound of a tranquil stream, and somewhere in the distance, a bird called out.
“Thank you. Um, do you have a name?”
He laughed. Well, he’d asked. “I think I’ll call you Simon.”
“Simon is fine,” the voice said, and he thought it almost sounded pleased.
Enough playing around. It was time to get out and explore Safris a bit. “Simon, hold down the fort?”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” the voice said, sounding slightly peeved.
Eric grinned – he liked screwing with the AIs. “I’m going out.” He located the elevator with his AR and palmed it open, stepping inside into the elevator. “Welcome, Citizen Smith. Destination?”
“All the way to the ground, please.” He looked around at the blank white box in dismay. “Is it possible to see outside?”
“Of course.” The elevator began its descent, and one side cleared to give him a view of the city of Safris.
He stood at the glass or plas or whatever the hell they called it, and looked out at the city spread out before him. It was a glorious mass of tall spires that looked like colored crystal or glass, many of them easily two hundred stories tall. Safris was new to him, and he was determined to explore it. If it doesn’t kill me first.
There was a frenetic energy in the air outside of the elevator window – heavy cargo haulers rumbled by in front of him, seeming to narrowly miss the building, each other, and the personal flitters and taxis that whipped up past his window from landing pads below. At last, the elevator reached the ground floor. The doors opened, and he stepped out into the new world.
It was a strange place, nothing like the early 21st century world he had left behind. There were no streets – instead, walkways stretched between the ground and higher floors, wrapping around the buildings that made up the city. Some ended at landing pads for the city’s fleet of flying fleet – there were no cars or ground traffic.
He thought he’d take a short walk to get a feel for the city. As he climbed and descended the city’s many walkways, he passed all kinds of people. His AR flagged residents and non-residents – he was a provisional resident, but had to find gainful employment within 30 days to keep his status and his access to city benefits.
The clinic counselor had been clear – non-residents who couldn’t afford their upkeep were escorted to the city gates to find a life outside. They said outside like he might have said vagina.
About half of them fell into the spectrum of humanity he’d known in his first life, five hundred and some years before, although most had a similar, beautiful cinnamon skin tone that made it hard to match them to the races he had once known. The product of centuries of interracial interbreeding, he guessed. He missed the diversity of his own time, what he couldn’t help but think of as the normal diversity.
The air was fresh and crisp – there was an ocean not far away, he’d been told, though he hadn’t been there yet.
As he walked through the city, he saw many others who were still recognizably human, but who had features unlike anything from his day. These included some with strange skin colors – a uniform deep blue, a couple in matching but reversed color blocks of green and yellow, and even one woman in a plaid that would have made a Scottish clan proud. Eric had to stifle a laugh at some of them, walking around as if it was perfectly normal to be orange and green.
There it was again. Normal. He’d have to readjust his definition of the word.
Then there were the odd body parts – enlarged ears, elfin ears, giant glassy anime eyes, even a woman with one large breast.
Eeew. He didn’t like seeing two of them, but somehow, one was even worse.
They had one thing in common, at least as far as he was able to tell. They all looked young.
But some of them were unlike anything even remotely human. They’d warned him during his orientation not to stare, but damn it, it was hard. One of these was a fuzzy pink wheel with eyes that rolled past him, intent on some unknown destination. Another was something like a yellow elephant on two legs with thick, leathery skin.
When the elephant noticed him looking, he/she stomped up to him and poked him hard in the shoulder, knocking Eric backwards. “Whaturyoo looking at?” he/she said through his/her trunk.
“N… nothing,” he stuttered, blushing. He had been staring.
“Damn re-lifers,” he/she said, storming off.
From then on, he stared at the ground.
As he walked, he wondered if he was now functionally immortal. He’d had a hell of a time wrapping his mind around that idea, even if it was just that hope which had led to his physical suspension and re-lifing in the first place.
In his old life, he had been a popular writer, his works of literary prowess well-known in the gay community and beyond. He’d lived his normal life in a normal world that mostly made sense. Here he was a nobody, thrust into the middle of a strange new world – exciting and diverse, but still strange.
He decided eventually that he’d had enough of 26th century oddities for one day, and made his way hurriedly back to the hostel.