Friday, 8 July 2011

Concept Story - Part 2 - written by Zack Sparks

The lift was never fast enough. Especially when it knew Gage was late for work.  It was all Gage could do—keep waving over the scanner pad on the wall. The lift knew he was there—it had switched green on the first swipe. All he could hear was the low, soft hum of the lift elsewhere in Caldoria, sliding here and there, echoing its machine-like call through the reverberating, hollow tube behind this door.

Gage's earpiece slid around in front of him and the screen deployed over his right eye. An advertisement for some new furniture came on. Air chairs. Because this is what mattered right now.

“No, thank you,” Gage intoned.

The ad changed, becoming brighter and more interactive. A person appeared on the screen, pleading with the viewer.


The earpiece screen slid back up and collapsed into the device, which retreated back into Gage's ear.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

The lift tone sounded. “Roof access,” a robotic female voice said from the scanner pad's speaker. Gage was one floor down from the roof, so this was a good sign. Another short hum later, and the tone sounded again, louder and fuller. The door slid open, and Gage stepped on. “Lobby,” he said. His body shifted with the movement of the lift.

Gage sighed. And stared.

He had to start getting to bed earlier. Either that, or find another job. Usually, he didn't care, but the message that read on his earpiece this morning was a little morbid. Termination. Maybe his soul would remain. It just sounded so final. They weren't exactly handing out jobs on Caldoria. Especially jobs like this one. Bleary-eyed, he promised himself it wouldn't happen again. Just like he did the week prior.

The lift stopped, and the door slid back. Gage stepped out into the lobby of his apartment building and looked around. The scene was agreeable to everyone. Except Gage, because he saw through the layer of calm that shone from the light pastel furniture and desks. On the wall behind the front counter, the logo of the building was mounted and backlit in some brushed metal; some abstract, sculpted metal that was the brainchild of either a marketing engineer who had been staring at data too long or a bored five-year old.

Blues, purples, and hints of yellow dominated the color patterns on the walls, sweeping up and around the smooth, sliding corners of the walls. Projections were rotating around the center of the lobby, around a sitting area with a few tables and chairs. The lobby was designed by someone who didn't believe in the concept of angles; everything swam into something else smoothly and without interruption.

The information kiosk sat at Gage's right, while the front desk at left was currently not staffed. It was probably too early for staff to man the desk; the information kiosk had all but eliminated most of the typical apartment trappings. There were a few fellow tenants in the lobby. A man was in the corner reading a book, facing Caldoria Gardens. A younger woman was walking to the first floor rooms from the main entrance, while a child (perhaps of the woman's) was catching up. Gage turned the corner to his right and walked to the fixture to the right of the kiosk.

The Global Transporter seemed to glow in the soft, artificial morning light. It stood in stark contrast to the lobby itself. There were many calculated angles defining the structure of the object. It was clearly an object that was designed for efficiency; the only arc on the device appeared to be the circular Global Transport logo featured large and on the front of the device.

There were three primary parts of the transporter. Two equal arms, each a dark bluish-gray in color, bent across the cover of the object. Meanwhile, a double-hinged slab of metal sat, covering the interior of the object itself, bending at neck and knee level. Gage crossed to the object and waved across its scanner pad. A voice greeted him. “Global Transporter, Caldoria Heights Apartments, Sector Three. Searching for transport route now.” A pause. “Route accessed. Upon entering, transport card will be required. Thank you for using Global Transport.” A chime followed the message, rather cheerful and musical, almost like an apology or a statement of gratitude.

Gage sighed again. He felt his earpiece begin to slide around again. He knew the message, this time. There would be that word again—termination.

As Gage stood in front of the device, the blue-gray arms motorized, first moving toward Gage and then opening wide as if they were offering a hug to the user. After they had slid back, the lower hinge of the top folded up, reached its final position, and then lifted up again—this time with the middle section as well, as if it were peeling itself away to reveal a chair that appeared to be made out of some sort of clear metal or lucite material. The chair slid forward, offering itself to Gage. He obliged.

Where to, Gage? Come in the front way, and risk the boss seeing you? Sure, the system would know he was late, but he would at least avoid a lecture. It would take more time to take the maintenance transport, though. The system kept an actual time of Gage's arrival, but the question remained if his boss would find a large difference between 7 minutes late and 9 minutes late. As the top replaced itself over Gage, sitting now in the glowing chair, he decided to enter through the front door. Just to be safe. Those two minutes may save his job. The screen slid open on the underside of the Transporter's top. A thin panel folded down onto Gage's lap with a card reader to the right, a green arrow pulsating gently at it's mouth. Gage put his card into the slot.

Great, more speaking. “Preparing for transport. Recording passenger's organic substratum.” Blah, blah, blah. Gage had the entire speech memorized by now. It was the same one, every single day, for the last four years.

“Prepare for molecular disintegration.” At least it was better than termination.

1 comment:

  1. so glad to see this is still going on! “Prepare for molecular disintegration.” - a more nostalgic sentence has never been written!