In Arc 1.3: adolescence lasts for ever in a startling new story by David Gullen

5 Oct

Some people say David Gullen self-assembled from information provided by both his parents, others, that he was just this kid. Later, he trained as a plant biologist, inevitably leading to his first job, operating a water-cooled, valve-driven, 6-bit computer. Continuing this logical career path, he worked as van driver, armourer, Kelly-Girl, costume-maker, and IT contractor.  These days David divides his time between writing, computing, and growing tree ferns.

His story All Your Futures, while set in the far future, has a lot to say about today’s fad for kidulthood. Here’s an extract to whet your appetite.

I went out into the foyer, across the plaza to a pavement café. I tapped in an order for a moccachino and almond croissant on the table, then patched my Sleeve through to the space arrays and sent a tightbeam message to Tennyson:

“The boarding ship has been recalled.”

There was no reply. I gave it another minute then sent, “What do you want to do?”

Despite her threats, I felt sorry for the Mesopotamia’s captain, frightened and alone in a universe that had stopped making sense.

Tennyson’s throaty voice came over the band, “What’s your name?”

“Apple Riquez. I’m a cultural anthropologist specialising in first contact.”

“Who’s in charge down there, Riquez?”

“I am.”

“You represent the government?”

Her mindset was so primitive, her assumptions so backward. How could we understand each other’s worlds? I wondered if we’d ever be able to really communicate, a true meeting of minds.

“I’m working alone,” I said.

Tennyson said nothing. I’d begun to worry she’d broken contact, when she said, “I want to come down.”

My heart was in my mouth. “Of course.”

“Tell me where to land.”

“If I do that, everyone will know you’re here.”

Again, that pause. “This is still a secret?”

“You are, yes.”

“Who else is aware?”

“Um…”

“Nobody?”

“A couple of people. We’re liberal techno-anarchists, decentralised and devolved, we—”

“You don’t have a government,” Tennyson was incredulous. “Nobody is in charge.”

The waiter brought me my coffee. “One moment,” I said to Tennyson, impressed by her leap of reasoning.

“What’s wrong?” Tennyson said. “Who was that?”

“Just the waiter, I…”

“Where are you?” Tennyson demanded.

“Captain, I’m sending a shuttle to collect you. We’ll meet at the base of the skyhook in a few hours.”

“Look, Riquez, I’m not the real captain.”

This was great, it was vital we established mutual trust. “Thank you for your honesty. Can I speak with her?”

“No, you can’t. He killed himself.”

Read more in Arc 1.3, a digital quarterly about the future, made for e-readers, tablets, phones and computer screens; also available in a collectible print edition. Visit http://www.arcfinity.org for details.

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