Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sudden Short Story 16

Buster Darkwater, as he called himself, donned his orange flightsuit and looked himself in the mirror. He thought that it complimented his silver streamline moderne helmet well enough. He asked the air, "Is the ship ready yet?"
A response came from all around him: "It is ready and on its way. In the interests of preserving the remaining structures on the surface, the main ship will remain airborne, while the XXXG-01W unit that you specified will land in the pseudoplain behind your house for the rendezvous."
"They used to call it a 'lawn.' Did you remember to clean it of free nanobots?" Buster began to look around the room. "Here, KITTy," he called out. "It was in your specification several times. Do try to keep in mind that our memory is not as fragile as yours."
A black cat with copper eyes entered the room. Buster held open his arms and knelt down, to which the feline responded by bounding into his embrace. He took one last look around his house. The shelves were bare, as Buster had had all of his books and DVDs moved to the storage area of the main vessel when it became ready.
"I just want to be sure," he said. Buster looked out of his kitchen window and saw his fixed-wing craft suspended above his lawn. "Ah, right, better approach," he said to nobody in particular, and made for his upward stairs. At the landing, he opened the window, which put him just above the wing surface. He freed up an arm to help himself out, then closed the window carefully behind him.
"You know, this wouldn't be possible without the significant technological advances and post-scarcity state that have made life what it is today." "Yes, but it wouldn't be necessary, either. You're not going to try to stop me, are you?"
"We may try to convince you, but we may not forcibly stop you. It is interesting, from an anthropological standpoint, that the individualists, especially the Americans, made sure of this, granting you so much freedom, but yet the individualists, especially the Americans, are the most common to leave this place."
"Yeah, I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got places to go."
"We weren't aware that you were keeping an itinerary."
"That's all thanks to this," Buster said, knocking on his helmet. "But actually, that's just a polite way of saying that I'm off." He climbed into the cockpit, letting KITTy sit on his lap. Knowing that the atmosphere was well enough under control, Buster did not anticipate turbulence on the trip to the main vessel, and so felt no need to secure himself. The canopy sealed around him. "Alright, let's have one last sweep."
"Please clarify."
"KITTy and I have been walking about on the surface all this time. I want to make sure that we don't have any live stray nanobots on us."
"Very well," said the voice, at which point a green planar beam came out of the sky, as an indicator of the progress being made by the invisible beams responsible for detection and cleansing. "The vessel is clean, and you are clear for takeoff."
Buster pressed a few buttons, threw a few switches, and, as the craft began to rise, took hold of the joystick to reorient it toward the ship that he could now make out in the distance. "There is one final question to be answered, though," the voice said. "Why are you going to The Opera?"
Buster chuckled and said, "You know, I doubt that I could ever answer that question to your satisfaction."

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