In A Future Far, Far Away
“I thought New York City was run down,” her grandmother exclaimed in a heavy German accented Mandarin from the other end of the room as Laura Osborne, called Lau (or Lo- whichever spelling one preferred) for short, unpacked the various suitcases out of which she had been living for the past three years.
“It is,” she told her in the same tongue- though her accent was fluent as far as Mandarin went as she, unlike her grandmother, had studied it as a first language in school. She turned her head to face the hologram for a second before resuming her work. “But the UN’s adamant on rebuilding it and establishing it as a centre of trade once more.”
Her mother rolled her eyes at that and no, Lau needn’t see her to know that she did because, well, her grandmother always did that. Sara Abraham, like many European refugees who had to leave their lives to settle in Asia, did not trust the once powerful organisation particularly since it failed to stop the Third and Fourth World Wars- or the Second Great War, as many historians (who categorised the First and Second World Wars to be the First Great War) called it- from occurring.
“I don’t understand why you have to work for them,” she said bitterly. “I’m sure you’d have gotten a better station like India or Korea if you just asked for it you know. Why’d you have to leave?”
“I hadn’t any choice gran,” Lau explained to her for the thousandth time, “Beijing asked me to represent it at the United Nations, I had to.”
Her mother once more rolled her eyes and this time, Laura did in fact see her do it.
“They could have sent someone else,” she muttered and she sighed.
“I’m afraid that’s not how it works, grandmother,” she said. “I’m a civil servant; I have to do what they say.”
“Precisely,” her mother agreed, “which is why they should have sent a Foreign Ambassador or someone. Not you.”
“We’ve got all our missionaries tied down in Greater Israel, gran,” she informed her robotically as she set up her DIPA and connected it- well her- to the main server of the telecommunications line. Being the old house that it was, the old WiFi system it catered for some reason (and Lau made a mental note to tell her DIPA once she was set to send someone to replace it with LiFi) was taking forever to connect to the DIPA Corporation’s master server. “You know what’s happening there. Iran’s declared a war again and we’re the super power.”
“I remember when America was the super power,” her grandmother began her reverie and Lau stopped what she was doing to listen to her grandmother.
She had endured a lot.
At the age of five, Sara had to leave her parents to travel to China with her elder brother, Lucas, to escape the war going on there. She was German, one of the last of the once great nation scattered like refugees in China.
Germany did not exist in the twenty second century- as did many European countries.
The year 2048 was harsh for many Europeans. IS had finally lived through its threat of bombing the West and in the effort had blown up the entire Europe into a mess of black ash, destroyed countries and strict no go zone due to high radioactivity.
They’d dropped a nuclear warhead.
America fell soon after but not before putting up a hell of a fight, weakening the ISIL forces enough so that when North Korea (led by Gomez Jong- un’s son who believed in the unification of Korea and spread of culture) finally merged with the South and decided to help the remaining bit of civilisation, it was able to crush IS once and for all.
More than a hundred years later, civilisation was recovering from the effects of that war and the other, which took place a few decades ago when an underground extremist group’s leader tried to assassinate the Dai Lama when he was visiting Nigeria.
Her grandmother had seen both wars and the better years before it. At ninety two years of age, a retired professor of history at Hong Kong University, Sara Abraham was a woman who had seen well beyond her years.
“I remember Times Square,” she told her granddaughter. “Does New York still have Times Sqaure?”
“I don’t know,” Lau replied. “I’ll have to see.”
“Where are you living?” her grandmother asked.
“221 Broome Street,” she answered.
“Hmmm,” the old woman thought, “I don’t quite remember... it sounds familiar though. Did anyone famous live there?”
Laura frowned. “I don’t know, I got it cheap,” she said, “and it’s near work. As the Representative of the Chinese Federation, I need to be somewhere close. Especially since I’ll be working late.”
“Be careful,” her grandmother told her, “New York is not what it used to be in my day. There’s quite the robber there.”
“That I’ve been told,” she agreed. “Talk to you later gran?”
She nodded and by the flicking of Lau’s hand- the holographer was able to pick up the signal to make the illusion of her grandmother go away.
Lau stood up, finally giving up on the DIPA and went to the kitchen. Her new apartment was already furnished, courtesy to the United Nations. Tomorrow was going to be an exciting day, she reckoned walking towards the floor length window of her dining and kitchen combo and pressing the button to open the curtains.
The curtains gave way to the deserted street at the bottom. Despite the United Nations’ best efforts, New York- a mega city not a hundred years ago- had an official population of around nine thousand, made up of only diplomats, politicians (running what remained of the United States as half of it was a no go zone) and their families. A bigger part of the city was home to many Americans- Red Racoons, as many called them- who had stayed in America after its fall and had resorted to crime due to the lack of employment in other, unaffected parts of the fallen country (or was it even that? Texas was a country; Alaska, a part of Russia) or because of their disabilities, a result of continued breeding in areas with high radioactivity. Even they were not more than twenty thousand or so, experts had estimated but they did not like the idea of restoring America and were often violent in expressing their displeasure, making New York the world’s most dangerous city.
Still, Laura decided as she continued to stare at the vast deserted land in front of her. They would try to recreate, rebuild the country, that part she had not told her grandmother. A shiver ran down her spine as she imagined the staggering amount of history she was surrounded by and suddenly, just like that she felt the air around her drop to a cold, almost chilling temperature.
Lau wrapped her arms around herself as she continued to look out. A feeling of nostalgia, of regret overtook her as she thought about what the world had become. Her grandmother talked of theatre, movies and the celebrity spotlight and melting pot of culture that made up the once great city. Resources were so scarce now that movies and the glamour that came with it were few and rare. Most movies were documentaries as education was the number one priority of the world at the moment.
“Tomorrow will be a great day,” she whispered aloud for no particular reason other than to reassure herself, “Tomorrow, the United Nations will begin operating in America again for the first time in seventy years and we’ll get this country back to its feet.”