New Boy: Android Tails Chase Elderly Men (A fragment)
A fragment of New Boy, Part II. Read the entire chapter on MacroMicroCosm "Dimensions"
The milk-yellow light faded to dusk like coffee poured in a glass of cream. Neon city lights flickered one by one, tempered by the glow of the biodome. The network of structural supports in the cloud-based city hummed to a kaleidoscopic twilight.
“No such thing as a black and starry night no more. Not up here.” an Old Man said, clinging to his canvas grocery bag, cringing at his limp. Did it make him an easier target, that limp? Was it the beginning of the endless begetting death did part? It reminded him of his niggling heart and the exercise he should have gotten in his forties. His fifties. Seventies were too late. A pack of youths sporting LED clothing laughed as they crowded behind him. Their ring leader chuckled over his fallen grades and the skirts that fluttered on his bedroom floor.
The old man grumbled and soldiered on, as none soldiered anymore. The glorious android mother Lieben stole war from the masses. Took and bottled it beside the endangered species of flora and fauna she kept in vats on space stations surrounding the moon. He felt like the last Templar in an age of Huguenots and Protestants roaming toward less oppressive lands. Maybe he was a selfish bastard. It didn’t seem right that the youths passing him by would never grow up like he did: with a gun in his hand and the screams of his fellows rushing his ears. A sleek android walked behind him. The tendrils of optic cables and wires curled on the android’s head like cornrows spilling down its neck and shoulders. The NEON kept its hands folded before its data-port navel in respect to the human condition or despite it.
“Why is it? Why ain’t we allowed our starry nights?”
“The Atmospheric City of Abha is a haven for people of all creeds, colours, religions and time zones. The freedom to choose hours of productivity has led to an increase in advancement. Would you like me to disrupt the illumination flow when we arrive at our destination - home?” Patterns of coined conversation were enough sometimes, the man thought, to stop believing the damned android was a person. Glorified computer. Nurse-slut to the modern age. Made a real splash at the Legion, when he showed up crouch-backed and hating the word ‘sciatica’ to drink over old stories and pass the time since retirement. At least it was easier to push a NEON in a closet and leave it there for a while, couldn’t do that with any annoying human. Someone might shove his ass in a prayer circle or healing den.
Healing den. His father was on a rotisserie spit in his grave. Had to be. Not enough remained of the good old days, where humans bickered with nuclear armaments and bad gender dynamics. Was it equality when it was a mandate? Did it matter if he’d lived a hundred years to die with a machine for a companion? The old man pulled the grocery bag into his other hand, worked sore red-printed muscles. He clenched and unclenched his fist.
“Least I’m alive.”
“Would you like me to disrupt the illumination flow when we arrive at our destination - home?”
“Yes! Disrupt the illumination. God. It’s called turning off the lights you bitch.”
“Would you like me to respond when you call me ‘Bitch’?”
“Yes. Respond with, ‘I’m sorry your Highness.’”
“Response programmed. You have thirteen thousand, six hundred thirty six more programmable functions available to program into my memory banks. Would you like to upgrade?”
“I’m sorry your Highness.”
“Heh heh heeeeh.” The man walked on and I caught in the throng of voices. Their constant chatter billowed into my telepathic mind from where I crouch on the north wall of a parking garage. A host of scooters and micro cars rested in the lot. None of them parked with any desire for straightening up and flying right. I hopped down and followed him for another five minutes before a familiar sensation coated the back of my neck.