Today was Chloe’s birthday. She had just risen from bed and was finished making it up. After selecting her outfit for the day from her bureau, she proceeded to the bathroom down the hall to wash up and change. She tossed her pajamas into the hamper and donned her birthday dress. She wouldn’t normally get this gussied up on her birthday, but on this one her mom and dad had planned a party for her. That meant cake, ice cream, and who knows what other goodies… ‘yummy!’ she thought. And also all of her friends were invited and would be here, which made her even more excited as she thought about it. She washed her face and looked into the mirror as she dried it. It stared back at her with those large blue eyes, smallish freckled nose, and thick mop of short red hair that always had that darn tuft sticking up on top. She looked the same as yesterday when she was eleven, but today she was twelve years old… and half expecting to see a little more mature version of herself’.
Feeling a little disappointed, she headed downstairs to the kitchen where she heard her mom, a little more noisily than usual, buzzing around. When she rounded the corner, she stopped in the doorway to see what all of the ruckus was about. Her mom clanked the oven door closed after sliding in two cake pans and noticed her standing there when she turned around.
“Good morning Chloe, happy birthday!” her mom said. Chloe replied
“Good morning, is that my birthday cake?”
“Well of course it is, my birthday girl… oh, you look so cute in your dress!”
“Thank you” answered Chloe.
“Oh Chloe, why do I always have to beg you to comb your hair…?”
“Ok… ok, I will later. When does my party start?”
“Not until eleven this morning, we still have three hours until then so don’t get your dress dirty…”
“Ok, I’m going outside for a little while. I promise I’ll be careful.” She heard her mothers’ last instruction just before the door slammed.
“See if you can find your brother!” She stood on the little covered back porch and looked down the lane. Their backyard was behind the low wooden fence to her right, but from here she walked unimpeded down the two steps of the porch and proceeded to the side walk. She was glad that it was a nice and warm sunny day for her party, but of course they knew it would be since it was scheduled that way. The fusion orb of their sun was right on its mark of eight o clock, and the faux blue sky beyond it was a perfectly programmed springtime crisp.
She looked up and down the lane, but Onri was nowhere to be seen. In fact she saw no one. She looked up and saw that traffic was also somewhat light, with only a few levitors in sight. She had an idea where her brother might be and thumbed her Nano Suit. She slightly extended her arms out to her sides for balance as she glided upwards and stopped a couple meters above the eaves of her house. She could see the ocean and the bay with its docks a few blocks beyond the front of her house. They lived in the Eastern Seaboard district of New Massachusetts. Whenever she wanted to find Onri, he could usually be found at the docks feeding the seagulls or sea lions.
She floated off effortlessly in that direction through the fresh, crisp air. A pesky crow that always tailed her on her outings was once again catching up to her from out of nowhere… why wouldn’t it leave her alone?
“Shoo… go away, shoo!” It never worked; it would follow her all the way to the docks she was sure. She circumvented a few other skydestrians along the way, and as she neared the one dock that Onri favored… of course there he was sitting on it with his little ten year old bare feet dangling over the side, and a bucket of bait sitting next to him. The man at the boat shop, Charlie, had a soft spot for Onri and could always be counted on to give him a free bucket of bait.
“Good morning Onri” she said as she sat landed right next to him.
“Morning” he said with little fanfare. He was completely engrossed in tossing anchovies to his favorite mama sea lion and her barking pups in the water. Chloe looked up to her left at the wooden post, saying
“Three… two… one” and boom, the crow landed just where she knew it would. She sighed
“What does that crow want from me… it never leaves me alone!” Onri looked up at it and was about to throw it a meal.
“No! For heavens’ sake, don’t feed it… then I will never get rid of it!”
“Ok, I won’t”
“Do you remember? It’s my birthday today” He looked at her, noticed her dress and replied
“So…” Chloe put her hands on her hips and gave him a menacing stare.
“There will be cake and ice cream, and some of your friends will be at our party!” That got his attention. His eyes perked up and he smiled. “Cool!”
She looked at his disheveled brown hair and his little button nose. He looked just like their dad, Carl. Onri threw the last anchovy, looked in the empty bucket, then looked at her and proceeded to upend the almost empty bucket of stinky fish water in her lap, all over her pristine white birthday dress.
“AAGGHH… You brat! How could you?!” Onri laughed in that bratty little brother way and taunted her with the age old song
“Nya nya nya nya nya nyaaa!” He thumbed his suit and shot like a rocket straight up into the air. The crow cawed and scattered in surprise, along with Chloe in hot stinky pursuit.
He led her on a chase further away along the docks towards the end of the bay, laughing and taunting all the way. Chloe’s infuriation rapidly gave way to giddy glee as she giggled. She didn’t really give a hoot about her dress, as she hated wearing them anyway. She preferred pants with colorful suspenders… boy’s clothes… to her mother Clara’s unending distain. Her dad thought it was cute and could always be counted on to defend her clothing choices.
Darn that crow, it was just getting in the way now as they rounded the curvature of the bay. She loved flying over this area; it was just so beautiful with all the docked boats, sparkling ocean, and the fresh salty air. ‘Oh, he thinks he can shake me by going that way does he?’ she thought as he made a hard right turn towards old man Taylors decrepit property with the overgrown spruce trees. He should know better, she was a better flyer than he was. She was closing her distance from him as he deftly shot between the thickly foliaged boughs. Old dusty pinecones pelted her head when he purposefully collided with them as he went through. She screamed
“Ow… you’ll pay for that!” Onri knew that when she said that, she really meant it. He decided it was time to make it to the house before her, for Dads’ protection. Another hard right brought him out of Taylors as he sped up and torpedoed home. He loved his new suit; it was much faster than the old one with the governed speed. His training wheels were off, so to speak. It never ceased to feel like some kind of magic as the nano particles interwoven into the thin tight fabric, magnetically interacted with the grid, which was forever and mysteriously hidden behind the faux sky and the ever undiscernible far walls of their only known world, Sanctum.
Chloe knew what Onri was up to when they neared the house. She saw that Dad was out back working shirtless in the warmth of the morning sun, raking leaves to tidy up for her party. He looked up just in time to brace for the impact… “Ahhh!” he managed before Onri buffeted him to the ground. They rolled a few feet in a shower of leaves, all a tangle of arms and legs. When they came to a stop, dad was all about wrestling and tickling. Chloe, laughing uncontrolledly, also landed on top of them. Mom opened the back door to see what the heck had happened. She laughed at the sight which was almost undiscernible at first glance… it looked like some hairy, multi headed, armed, and legged beast was emerging into this world through some leafy secret entrance. She yelled
“Chloe… your dress… I told you!” They were all still a mess of exertions and tickles. Chloe loved playing with and hugging her pops, his chest was furry like a big teddy bear. He gave them both a last group bear hug; then got up. As he brushed the leaves off of himself, he sniffed “Pew… what is that smell!?” Chloe answered
“Onri dumped fish juice on me, tell mom… I’m not the one who ruined my dress!”
Mom could hear and shouted “Onri, you’re in big trouble… both of you please come in and get cleaned up!” she slammed the door. Dad said
“Ha ha, I think both of you are in trouble” Chloe lightly smacked the back of Onri’s head as they made their way inside.
Their mom was standing in the kitchen, facing their direction at the center island counter while busily frosting Chloe’s cake. They walked over to admire it. Chloe saw that her mom was making it to please her by crafting striations of multicolored frosting. There were also little containers of sparkly sprinkles and such on the counter. Chloe said
“Ooh fun… can I help!?”
“Sure…” Her mom stopped midsentence and sniffed the air.
“Oh pew… not like that you aren’t, please go clean up first. I’ll wait to finish this for when you come back down” Chloe replied excitedly
“Yay!” and ran upstairs. Her mom had to go open the back door to air out the offending odor.
Chloe buried the stinky dress on the bottom of the clothes hamper. She didn’t need to take off her Nano Suit, as it was self-cleaning. She was glad the dress was soiled so she could wear what she really liked, and slipped into her favorite multi colored striped overalls with the elastic red suspenders which she fished out of her bureau. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without her matching red canvas sneakers. And as she promised, after she washed up she dragged a brush through her wild hair. Back in the kitchen, she found that her cake was unattended but still unfinished as promised. Her mom must be upstairs getting ready. She wasted no time in applying the rest of the colored frostings, the sparkly colored sprinkles, and some candied letters that spelled out ‘Happy Birthday Chloe’.
Just as she finished it, Onri came clomping up next to her.
“That’s a dorky looking cake, it looks ready for the circus… can I put on the candles?” Chloe loved their sibling relationship. It mainly revolved around who could come up with the best progressive ‘put-down’. She handed him the little box of candles.
“Sure, do you know how to count to twelve?” He snatched them out of her hand. As he opened the box, she decided to go see how their dad was doing with the decorating of their back yard. Before she turned away from Onri, she gave him an extra wet and sloppy peck of a kiss on his cheek. He exclaimed
“YUK… DISGUSTING!” He gave her an incredulous look as he wiped off the slobber with the back of his sleeve.
“I Won!” said Chloe as she turned and went out back.
Her dad had just finished stringing the last of the streamers above their heads, across the yard between the branches of two trees. He also had set up a large table for the placing of the paper plates, utensils, cake, and any gifts that were brought. There were already some gifts there which were obviously from her family. She poked her fingers inquisitively at them.
“Ok, no fair handling them or you will figure out what they are.” Her dad said.
“Ok, no problem.”
“Well, I’m finally finished back here, time to go shower up.” As he went into the house Chloe thanked him.
“Thank you daddy, it looks great, I love you!” Before he closed the door, he smiled his handsome face at her and blew her a kiss.
Chloe loved her charmed life. She loved her mom, dad, and even her brat of a brother. In fact, she was sure everyone that she knew felt comparatively the same as her. It really was a product of the world in which they all lived. For the last eight hundred years, Sanctum provided human kind an unbridled wealth of technological comforts. There literally was not any facet of daily life and its conditions that were not enhanced to the point of bliss by living in this completely controlled environment. After having moved under the ground shortly before the coming of the present ice age, which unfortunately had been the result of their ancestors careless mistreatment of the planets’ atmosphere, man-kinds’ pace of technological advancement increased exponentially due to the necessity of having to survive in this new environment.
Sanctum was an immense cave, so large in fact, that there were different districts of populations which were spread out very far from one another. Whole cultures were preserved in this way, as they even retained their native languages. And the technology of Sanctum could afford anyone instantaneous travel at any given moment to any district they chose to go. If say you were in the mood to visit the absolute perfect recreations of the entire city and canals of Venice Italy, you would only have to thumb your nano suit to activate the Quantum Duplicator of the Grid. Ones’ entire genome would ride the probability wave to that destination, although the term ‘riding’, which seemed to refer to an actual form of linear physical movement, was nothing of the sort. Rather, ones’ subatomic makeup would be copied and instantaneously reproduced at the desired location by way of theoretical ‘spooky action’ as the original was destroyed. It was literally faster than the speed of light.
And long gone was the archaic method of burning fuels for energy. Once man had discovered that there was energy to be had from even the most mundane of substances, his life had been completely transformed. He had always used the force of movement to generate power; first it was the movement of water in a river that turned a turbine to generate electricity, then it was the burning of fossil or nuclear fissile fuels to sustain the running of an engine to accomplish the same thing. But with the realization that these methods were destroying the planet, he was forced to expedite discovering a new method for clean energy generation, hence, nano particle technology.
It was realized that when looking at sub atomic particles, the movement needed to generate energy was already all around us… in everything. Anything that has mass… has atoms. And any atom has movement within it in the form of electrons which continually orbit around its nucleus. So, very small manufactured particles… nano particles… could be used for very specific purposes, such as amplifying the tiny movements in atoms to a point where it was usable on a large scale. Chloe understood much of the scientific methods by which all of their lives comfortably revolved, probably quite a bit more than her peers, as she was naturally drawn to it by her own curiosity, and secondly due to her awareness of her families’ historical significance in their modern world. Why, her and her brother were even named after their two ancestors who helped save their race from impending ruin, and who helped usher in this new existence.
An hour later found Chloe and her family awaiting the start of her party in the back yard. Chloe was fussing over the perfect placement of her cake on the table as Onri was poking at her elbow in an attempt at causing her to mar it.
“Stop it… mom!” Chloe pleaded, her mom retorted
“Onri, that’s enough already” Then, as if someone had pulled a switch, many of their guests were arriving simultaneously from all directions as they descended from above.
“Happy birthday Chloe!” and other greetings could be heard as they landed with their gifts for her. Chloe was so excited to see all of her friends that she didn’t normally get to see outside of school. Onri also jumped for joy at the arrival of some of his pals as well. Needless to say, the afternoon was spent in merrymaking, games, the opening of gifts, and the consumption of numerous goodies.
When the day came to an end and all of their guests had departed, Chloe and her family were still outside, spending the last few minutes of her party together. Her dad looked around the yard and said
“Would you look at this mess, I think I know what I’ll be busy doing tomorrow morning.” Onri added
“Don’t worry pops, we’ll help you.” Mom got up from her chair and said
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m exhausted. I’m going up stairs for a long bath. If I don’t come out in an hour, call the paramedics” Their dad laughed and replied
“Ok honey, I’ll check in on you in a few minutes…” followed by a wink. Chloe rolled her eyes, saying
“I know you... you just want to go kiss her!” Onri covered his ears
“EWWW…!” Their dad pleadingly shrugged his shoulders
“Hey, that’s my job!” Their mom countered as she smiled and closed the door behind her
“Yeah, and he is good at it too…” This time both Chloe and Onri covered their ears
That night as Chloe drifted off to sleep, she truly felt overwhelmed by her feelings of contentedness in this life that was hers. She had wonderful loving parents, a somewhat cool little brother that she tolerated, great friends, a nice and warm comfy bed that she was just loving right now, and of course she had the heaven that was Sanctum.