A short collaborative piece done by FogCat and I. More an experiment than anything else.
Deitrich rolled his eyes in the general direction of the view-screens as he passed. More news flashed across the enormous screens, something about the threats that the British Prime Minister had received from the Lunarius United Colonies. Shoving his hands in his pockets and snorting in derision, Deitrich shook his head and crossed the dirty street. A humming anti-gravity sled flew by, not a foot above his head, but Deitrich hardly noticed. The driver wouldn’t be able to hear his yells anyway if he spoke-up. Just like the Prime Minister didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the news channels.
The gleaming walls and window-panes of Neo London rose around Deitrich like the flashing of crystal waterfalls, but he ignored them as well. He’d lived in this city all his life, and after you took the time to really look at the skyscrapers you realized that the shine came from oil droplets deposited on the buildings from the grav-sleds. You realized that the city streets were not actually as crowded and interesting to walk on as you’d thought standing in your high-rise apartment thousands of feet above them. And you realized that life was just as it always had been.
Terrible. Deitrich sniffed as his nostrils caught a sudden zip of phosphoric acid where it lay in a pool to his right. The city had long ago ceased to be the haven of glory and wonder that it had once been, and Deitrich wondered if anyone would ever be able to believe it ever HAD been glorious: only stupid tourists, he decided.
The loud blare of illuminated audio displays on the street-shops continued to siege Deitrich’s ears and he ignored them as well. Life was too short, too busy, and too depressing to care about silly things like advertisements for cancer-cures or nonsense about celebrity clones. If he wanted to see the ‘real’ Elvis, he’d visit one of those history sites on the uni-web. If he wanted to smell like exotic carcinogens, he’d go hug a lion at the zoo.
Like every time, Deitrich made sure to stop and spend a moment in silent meditation in front of the monument on West Oxford Street. Pulled from granite was the image of a pair of children running side by side, each an identical copy of the other. At the base of the statue was a sign that read “to all those who gave their jobs, their reputations, and their friends in the pursuit of what they believed to be a noble science: your grandchildren will never forget you”. Deitrich closed his eyes and whispered a tiny prayer to whatever voice might be listening, not in tribute to the cloners: in his mind those scientists had gotten exactly what they deserved during the Genetic Witch Hunts: no, his prayer was in the name of the clones. Those poor beings were forced into an existence as sterile and hopeless as the hospital berths they were formed in. May whatever powers existed see fit to grant them peaceful deaths.
A pair of black grav-sleds buzzed past bearing the emblem of the sword-on-wings, the symbol of the Ops Marines. After the rebellion against the royal family, the new Parliament had ordered the military disbanded and elite groups of soldiers trained as purely defensive forces. Deitrich smiled blandly. Yet another failed attempt at undoing the ‘mistakes’ of the past. Within a year the various organizations had sworn sole allegiance to the thrice-re-elected Prime Minister, till now they had become the single most feared military force in existence. Even the LUC, separated as they were on the moon, knew enough not to declare war while Ops Marines were still loyal to the Prime Minister.
But apparently someone had gotten word to the Democratio of the LUC, that rebellious woman Angela Michaels, and she’d realized that the Prime Minister’s mind had gone with his age. Now the Ops Marines roamed the streets, trying to keep the panic to a minimum but unable to actually respond to Angela’s threat of nuclear bombardment. The news reports indicated that the Social Council had convened to decide whether or not to send a strike team to the moon and go over the Prime Minister’s head, but the council was still debating while the people looked up through cloudy skies to the glow of Stella Luna overhead.
Deitrich was almost home now, and in minutes he was inside, emptying his pockets of keys and receipts onto his kitchen counter. He slid his finger across the heat-sensor on the countertop and a lighted plasma screen beeped to life on the kitchen wall.
If Dietrich had been able to see out the window, he would have seen the sun sinking and realized it was almost time for his sister’s scheduled call, but he couldn’t. Deitrich had given-up trying to keep his apartment in order long ago, once he realized just how screwed-over this planet was. The LUC was the future, and he couldn’t get into it because he didn’t have the money for papers. Most people didn’t. So they did what Deitrich was doing and gave-up on progress and interplanetary politics, content to go out when they needed milk and decay slowly in front of the view-screens in their living rooms.
Deitrich had just finished depositing the milk jug into his fridge which an orange light on his kitchen screen blinked and an exotic female voice whispered in a strangely seductive tone “Deitrich, you have a call coming in. Would you like it now?”
Deitrich rolled his eyes for the third time that day—yes, he had time to keep count, so depressing was the rest of life—and shrugged. “Is it from work, Marianne?”
The computer’s voice came back with the automated response: “The caller is marked in your address book as “my messed-up sister”. Would you like it now?”
Deitrich sighed and nodded. “Sure, put it on speaker-phone.”