Northampton England, Tuesday August 12th 2262
Simon had been home long enough to kick off his shoes, remove his jacket and tie, and grab himself a lager. He now padded down his hallway, lager in hand, and sauntered into the entertainment room. He was going to relax and unwind before calling Spencer to arrange the night out.
The meeting with Chilly Poxy and his colleagues had been draining, and had gone on far too long. The news that this was to be a regular monthly event, had gone down like the surprise teleport arrival of your mother-in-law with a suitcase. It had been the main topic of conversation among his co-workers afterwards.
Simon plonked himself down into the white leatherette arm chair situated in a snug recess in the back wall. The chair blended in well with the white walls, ceiling, and flooring and was the sole piece of furniture in the room.
There was no natural light, the only lighting was subdued and emanated from the point where the ceiling and walls met. The unbroken thin beam continued around the perimeter of the sizeable room.
“Show my entertainment list,” Simon commanded.
A large three dimensional image of an old-fashioned sheet of white paper appeared suspended in the middle of the room. A second later a large blue pencil with a white rubber on the end appeared and started to write creating a scribbling noise. Within a few seconds the pencil had written a list of forty seven things he had purchased or subscribed to.
Simon read through the list which showed the oldest items first.
1, Live performances of Andrea Zuvich
2, Twenty Second Century Cars
3, Brief Encounter III
4, The History of The Northampton Lift Tower
5, Nature and All Her Beauty, episode 15
6, Doctor Who 7 The Revenge of The Master
7, Two Bored Busty Girls Call The Engineer
8, Welcome to The Northampton Museum of Humanity
9, BBC News Today
10, Nature and All Her Beauty, episode 16
Simon skimmed through the rest of the list swiftly before deciding on one of his favourites.
“Select Nature and All Her Beauty, episode fifteen.”
The pencil flipped over and rubbed out the other forty-six items at lightning speed. Underneath the one he had selected a synopsis was quickly scribbled.
It was a fully interactive documentary that explored the last remaining section of the Amazon Rainforest.
The piece of paper screwed itself up with a loud rustle and launched itself into the corner of the room where it promptly disappeared as it hit the flooring. The pencil snapped itself in two with a crack and dropped to the floor with a light clatter. The pieces rolled to the edge of the room and vanished too.
The lighting in the room gradually dimmed down to complete darkness.
An instrumental, stringed piece of music started to play and the room lit up to full daylight.
Simon in his chair was now looking out over the Amazon Rainforest. What had been the ceiling and walls were now a mixture of blue skies and clouds. The floor had given way to treetops. Simon felt like he was flying above it all; like a bird gracefully sweeping left to right as the treetops raced past beneath him. The temperature had increased significantly in the room to mimic that of the climate, the wind billowed against him, tousling his hair and flapping at his shirt. The strings decreased in volume to become background music and the commentary began.
“You are experiencing a bird’s eye view of The Amazon Rainforest. In this documentary we will be exploring the surviving wildlife that inhabits the remains of, what for generations was known as, the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world.
Deforestation by mankind dating back to the mid twentieth century saw the forest shrink at an alarming rate. A timber shortage in 2032 saw the conservation bills drawn up in 2015 torn up, leading to twenty years of the most savage deforestation in the Amazon’s history. Today you are looking down onto what is estimated as the last twenty eight percent. Countless species natural habitats have been wiped out leading to the extinction of some of the Amazon’s oldest inhabitants. Join me, Horatio Attenborough, now as we swoop down into the forest and explore ‘Nature and All Her Beauty’.”
The strings faded up again as the drop into the Amazon started. The distinct smell of the foliage filled the room as it approached rapidly, the wind reduced drastically and the temperature and humidity increased as the descent slowed at canopy height and continued through a slight clearing at a considerably slower pace. The commentary commenced once more.
“Here high up in the branches we have the Black Catalano Macaw, the largest and strongest of the species. Named after the intrepid scientist who first discovered the bird in 2184, the Black Catalano Macaw is about one hundred and twenty centimetres long, you will notice that more than half of its length is the pointed, graduated tail typical of all surviving macaws. The average weight of an adult bird is approximately two kilograms. The plumage is mostly black, but the rump and tail feathers are a vivid gold.”
The bird turned and squawked loudly; making Simon jump. As they moved in closer there was a distinct musty smell coming from it that wafted into his nostrils.
“It is believed that this relatively new stronger bird from the macaw family, alongside mankind over the decades, led to the extinction of the Scarlet macaw and the near virtual extinction of the Hyacinth macaw. The Black Catalano Macaw is one of the most commonly seen birds now in the Amazon; it is rare to see one by itself as they normally congregate in numbers ranging from three to seven. The birds breed…..”
The commentary froze as did the programme playing out in the room. The whole scene started to fade so that the walls, ceiling and floor started to become visible again. In a matter of seconds there was a fifty-fifty split between rainforest and the outline of the room. The temperature and humidity returned to normal and the smells of the forest and the macaw evaporated.
Before Simon had time too really wonder what was going on, Spencer’s voice filled the room.
“Hi ya Si, only me!”
“Hi ya Si onl…”
Simon answered the call before the recording of his friends voice completed the second time.
“Answer call, projection.”
Spencer’s image came into view in front of him; he appeared to be floating alongside the frozen figure of the Black Catalano Macaw, which made Simon smile, Spencer was terrified of most birds and would have run a kilometre from this goliath of one.
“Hi Si!” Spencer screeched enthusiastically. “How’s my bestest bud doin’?” he added, trying to mimic the Mexamerican accent but failing miserably in the process.
“I see someone’s had fun in New York,” Simon replied picking up on his friend’s fervour.”
The rainforest started to dematerialise slowly and Spencer’s office at home started to replace it. There was an odd mix of foliage and loud garish furniture for a few seconds before the office fully replaced the Amazon. Simon wondered for a second what Spencer would be doing in an office that was never used; he decided not to pursue it. The red and black décor and furniture theme was completely out of character with the building and looked like a throwback to the late twentieth century. Spencer was perched on the edge of a red imitation-plastic data-desk.
“Ooh, it’s been fab, Bridge and I have had a riot!” he enthused. “I couldn’t help but treat her to a few bits and pieces; she’s been such a darling to me, I don’t know what I would do without her.”
He continued without drawing breath. “Have you spoken to her yet? I’m sure she will be bursting to fill you in on our day. We found the most gorgeous place for lunch. You know how Bridge and I both like fish? Well, we dined in the most di-vine fish restaurant I’ve ever been to! I had the prawns and Bridge had salmon; both were to die for, I’ve got to take you and Laz there. Have you heard from him? I tried calling him but got no answer.”
Simon got in quick while Spencer paused for breath. “Yes I have heard from him, and no I haven’t spoken to Mum since this morning,” he shifted in his chair. “Look, I want to hear all about your day; but I would rather do it over a lager or two tonight. We will have nothing to talk about if you tell me it all now,” he joked.
“Oh, okay,” Spencer replied, looking and sounding a little crestfallen. “What’s up with Laz then? I’ve tried calling him three times and he’s not answering. Have I done something to upset him?”
“Mate, Laz is so laid back; what could you possibly do to upset him?” Simon asked jovially.
“True Si, it’s just not like him to ignore me; you know how paranoid I can get.”
“Yes, very true, I have a long list of occasions here on a dat-pad somewhere,” Simon joked, looking about the room as if he had put the device down somewhere.
“Ooh, you cow!” Spencer exclaimed flamboyantly. “I’m not that bad.”
They both laughed.
“In answer to your question,” Simon began, “he’s had a bit of a run in with Tulip.”
“Oh, I might have known.” Spencer replied rolling his eyes. “Well it was overdue; it must have been a week or more now since the last one.”
They both chuckled.
“This one is serious though,” Simon said, thinking back to his call earlier with Larry.
He spent the next five minutes filling Spencer in on the conversation.
“I can’t believe Larry would think one of us was capable of making a call like that,” Spencer responded. “I’m quite hurt and offended.”
Simon winced; this wasn’t how he had wanted the news to come across. “I don’t think he really believed either one of us was responsible, apart from knowing us too well we both have alibi’s for the afternoon. You have been with my mum all day and I’ve been in a big staff meeting.”
“Even so to suspect us for one moment…”
Simon cut him off. “He’s had a lot of grief from Tulip about it and his head’s all over the place; don’t take it personally mate.”
“I suppose you’re right Si,” Spencer agreed with a sigh. “I take it he’s not coming out tonight now?”
“I’m afraid not; he’s as gutted as us about that I suspect.”
“Hmmm,” Spencer mumbled.
“Where are we going then mate, your choice?” Simon asked trying to steer the conversation towards a more cheerful topic. “How about somewhere in New York; I’ve not been there for months. It sounds like you and my mum know the place inside out.”
Spencer grinned. “Well, we have been there all day. There was this one bar I noticed today; I didn’t take Bridge in there though; it didn’t seem to be the sort of bar you would take your mum; or someone else’s mum to for that matter.”
“Whereabouts was it then?” Simon enquired.
“Just on the edge of Liberty State Park. There are several round there, including a new wine bar near the middle of it, that one looked a bit too posh for the likes of us; the sort of place that would throw you out for asking for a large lager.”
“We will steer clear of the stuffy wine bar then and stick to the other one. What’s it called?”
“Zara’s. There were plenty of pretty girls and boys to look at,” Spencer said with a cheeky grin.
“The place has a bit of a reputation for being able to ‘get lucky’. Sadly the girls do outnumber the boys somewhat.”
“I can’t wait!” Simon answered enthusiastically.
“A shame Laz won’t be with us though,” Spencer said remorsefully with another big sigh.
“Cheer up mate,” Simon said more cheerfully than he felt himself. “If it’s that good you can take him tomorrow night when I’m working my nuts off at the museum all evening.”
“But then you won’t be there.”
“It’s only every other week Spendy, next Wednesday we will be back to normal.”
“I suppose so,” Spencer said, looking down at the black retro carpeting in his office.
“Send me the port details mate; I’ve not been home long and I’ve got to eat and shower yet. You probably have more time than me.”
“Ok Si, will do. See you later.”
“See you later mate…. Oh Spendy?”
“Thanks for taking my mum out today.”
“My pleasure; she’s like a mum to me too you know.”
“I know, and you’re like a second son to her also.”
They both grinned.
“See you mate.”
As the call ended the Amazon scene in the room materialised back to the fifty-fifty split between the forest and the outline of the room.
“End programme.” Simon ordered. The Amazon disappeared and the room went back to its usual form.
Simon had just realised exactly how hungry he was. He got up from the chair and took a long swig from his lager. As he headed back to the kitchen it dawned on him that there would be no evening meal from his mum tonight, she had been out all day. He stopped in his tracks in the hall to think. Could he be bothered to prepare something himself? Did he even have the stuff in to make anything? The answer to both of these questions was no. Time for a take-in then. He fancied a full roast dinner; and he knew just the place to order from. He continued to the kitchen and checked his food teleporter was empty - it was. He had accounts with a lot of different restaurants and take-in places and had got to know which one was best for what meal.
“Order full Sunday roast beef dinner,” he ordered into his strap. “Delay delivery by thirty minutes.”
This would give him time to shower and apply his cosmetics for the night out.
“Please specify an establishment,” his strap requested.
“Idiot,” Simon said aloud.
“Meals Like Ma Used To Make,” he confirmed. This was one of his favourite take-in places in Bristol.
Simon wandered to his bedroom undressing as he went. By the time he reached the bed his meal order had been confirmed and would be delivered when he had requested.
Anonymous audio diary 201
Discovered in 2087during the extension of the Moscow Kalininskaya metro line
The worst has happened. The new plan A failed…
I failed… I fell apart emotionally and ruined everything… all I had to do was hold it together for a few minutes... once again I had to abandon the plan for fear of apprehension by the authorities.
In the hours that followed, in a frantic and desperate measure to rectify things; and against the advice of T… I ’m embarrassed to admit that I took hasty action on an idea we dismissed as feckless and unlikely to achieve anything… that also failed and has caused untold grief for all those involved.
All I can do is sit back now and let time unravel as it was destined. Who knows what twists will be incorporated now with my interventions and failures. Maybe time can’t be changed; perhaps a route once entrenched in history is set for good… everything has failed with the exception of altering T’s future. Why is it that part of the plan went without fault? What changed after that? Did changing her fortunes for the better inadvertently affect everything else afterwards? It’s unlikely but who knows for definite; who can say for sure that altering her path didn’t just change the world ever so slightly for everyone else?
I have to remain positive as I move on. I have to think that I changed things once before and that I can change things with Plan B too. The long term consequences of complete and utter failure are unimaginable.