Adam follows Rachel from the doctor’s office and catches up. “I want to see the city.”
“I know… There’s a shuttle from here that does a loop through the shopping and social sector. You saw the houses and apartments on the way in and the other side is all boring old factories and warehouses.”
“So, what sort of social stuff is there? Restaurants and clubs?”
“Yep. There’s a huge virtual reality centre for the kids and men who never grow up. Would you like that kind of thing?”
“What sort of virtual reality?”
“Flight simulation with jets and space ships or car or boat racing and that, and sky-diving and zero-gravity things. Or weird adventure games where you become a character and walk through all sorts of animated scenery and fight things or whatever. I don’t know. It all just gives me motion sickness. You can try it all if you like. I can go window shopping.”
“Well, what else is there? What do you like to do?”
“For fun, I like dancing.”
“Dancing? Like, nightclub—pumping music?”
“Sometimes… Or my girlfriends and I usually go to the Friday night ball. We get to wear nice gowns, and the men wear fine cut suits and smell really good. And they take hold of you and sweep you into the music.”
“Oh… I’m not much of a dancer.”
Rachel tosses a smile back over her shoulder as she walks aboard a shuttle. “Too bad, history guy.”
“I mean, it’s probably all changed now. I used to know how to do a couple of basic dances.”
“I don’t think they ever change. It’s really old fashioned.”
The shuttle has 12 seats, 3 of them occupied by normal looking people. Adam doesn’t know what he expects people to look like, but so far there hasn’t been any weird fashion or anything—nothing that would have surprised in the 2020s.
The seats are in doubles either side of an aisle. Rachel sits by the window and he looking across her as the shuttle glides off along a single rail. The movement is smooth and silent, rain spattering the tinted glass, the air clean and warm as it blows from above.
Adam’s shirt is almost dry, as is Rachel’s blouse by the look of it. She looks younger than Adam at 34. He figures she’s probably mid-twenties. The body Adam is in could be late twenties or early thirties, he estimates. He’s stealing glances at Rachel’s womanly curves as the shuttle moves through a city park and enters a street of shops and restaurants. It stops, and the three other passengers disembark while others board and take seats.
“The cinema is in there,” Rachel says, pointing out a broad glassed building with a couple of groups of teenagers sitting on the steps. “I like movies on the big screen—especially the old ones.”
“It would all be 3D now?” Adam asks. He’s looking along the street ahead where there are alfresco cafés and people everywhere.
“Most of the old movies are still in original format,” Rachel tells him. “Do you like movies?”
“Yeah sure. I like any true stories. Don’t mind an action flick on the big screen.”
“Cool.” Rachel glances with a smile but quickly averts her gaze.
“What’s that?” Adam asks about a huge dome shaped building they’re passing as the shuttle does an arc around it.
“Sports centre… Swimming, squash, gymnasiums… There are playing fields over there for all the kids’ sports.”
The shuttle has dropped off and picked up other passengers and is heading back towards the big city park, along another street with lots of people strolling and shops and eateries lining both sides. It reaches the park and stops in front of a large stone building with tall pillars shrouding the entry.
“This is us,” Rachel says and pushes Adam to get up. She slips past and leads him from the shuttle. “Are you hungry again yet?”
“Yeah, I could eat.”
“Do you like Asian?”
“Sure. Satay anything is good. Or a curry.”
Rachel leads past the stone building that appears to be a Town Hall. Across the street is alfresco dining under cover from the rain. “That was where we have our Friday night ball but it’s not for a few hours yet.”
“At the Town Hall?”
“Yep. Do you want to go later? There’s lots of slow dancing music as well as the ballroom stuff.”
“Yes, I want to go. There was a nice dark suit back in the wardrobe.”
“I know… I saw,” Rachel tosses over her shoulder with a smile.
Adam’s chest is warm with tingles of euphoria. The idea of seeing this woman in any kind of ball gown has his imagination sparking. Right now she looks good in business day slacks and sensible shoes. She has their table. He sits opposite. Her brows rise. “Does Cooper have any credit? I’m so broke this week.”
“Credit?” Adam chuckles. “How can I find out?”
“Ask your device.”
Adam addresses the device on his wrist. “Do I have any credit?” The number 3,756 appears.
Rachel is rubber-necking to have a look. “Yes! Can we spend some?”
“I don’t know. Is that a lot?”
“We only get 200 a week. 3000 would pay for our whole America trip easily.”
“What do you mean, we get 200? All of us?”
Rachel nods. “Yep. That’s the basic wage for us adults. Kids get less.”
“What, for all adults?”
“Yes. It’s standard. If you do more than your 20 hours or have a business or some sort of sports or artistic talent you can make more. Or if you just work overtime or have a second job… But I don’t. So, I’m always broke. Plus I’m wasting credit on this stupid apartment, but that’s a long story.”
“Okay. So, that’s all way interesting,” Adam responds curiously.
“Really? No…” Rachel turns around a menu. “That’s a good curry… Your shout, right?”
Adam chuckles. “Cooper’s shout.”
Rachel’s smile lights up and she waves over a young waiter. “We’ll have the curry times two, a white wine and..?”
“Beer?” Adam asks.
“A beer,” Rachel tells the waiter. “And some more bread rolls, please? These won’t do.” She hands one of the two bread rolls to Adam. “Try that.”
“Well, what did you mean by kids getting less, at least? Do kids get paid?”
Rachel swallows her bite of bread roll. “Pocket money credit starts at age 10 and goes up each year until 21. Commitment is 20 hours of school or work until age 60, and optional after that. If you run a business or are a talented sportsperson or actor or something you can do that instead…” She ends with a shrug. “It’s pretty simple. If you don’t like it you can go live off the grid in one of the old cities or whatever. People do, but usually not for long.”
Adam is nodding, taking in the information and imagining it. “Okay… That makes sense… The grid? Everything’s connected?”
“Yep. Government is in Switzerland. We could probably stop there on our way back. It’s a nice trip through Europe and across to China. I’ve only ever been once when I was really young.”
“Government? Like the government? One government?”
Rachel takes a big breath and huffs. “Ask Dad. He’ll talk your head off about all that boring stuff.”
Adam chuckles. “Yeah, but I won’t even be here when I wake up tomorrow, don’t forget.”
“Hmm. Good point.” Rachel grabs Adam’s wrist and turns it to show his device. “Say record message to self.”
“Now repeat after me… Hi. I’m Adam O’Malley living in this body.”
Adam complies again. “Hi. I’m Adam O’Malley living in this body.”
“And this is my cool new friend, Rachel.” Rachel leans forward to look at the screen and smiles.
Adam chuckles. “And this is my cool new friend, Rachel.”
She goes on, “And in case I remember none of this tomorrow, believe everything she says.”
Adam’s laughing now. He controls that. “And in case I remember none of this tomorrow, don’t believe a word she says.”
“Hey you!” She addresses the screen again. “Believe everything, because I’m honest…” She smiles. “See? I’m a teacher. You can trust me.”
They both have a laugh, eyes connecting. Adam’s feeling intense attraction now. He senses it in Rachel too……..
Memory Span is a scifi novella with a light romance and a trip around the future world on bullet trains. This fast-paced little story is an original take on the future and time travel. You might be surprised!