Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Apple, Part 1: Second Draft

A Sci-Fi Story by John L. Sokol

The city streets hummed with a silent efficiency that seemed foreign, even though I'd spent countless years walking on them. People called it "The Big Apple," an old moniker that, despite my long life, I never really grasped.

This new role I'd taken on felt out of time, a throwback. My uniform, an orange jumpsuit with fluorescent reflectors, felt reminiscent of a bygone era that most had only seen in history holograms. As did my truck, which creaked and groaned as it lumbered alongside nimble automated vehicles.

Parking, I was surrounded by sleek roads peppered with electric grids, a stark reminder of the progress humanity had made in energy. These 600-volt rails zigzagged the city, powering cars that moved with a grace pedestrians no longer had to witness. The streets, once a cacophony of footsteps and chatter, were now eerily quiet.

A sudden realization hit me, one that always seems to strike at the most inopportune moments. I had forgotten to visit the restroom. The vast building complex I'd left, which now stretched to heights that would've been unimaginable in my youth, was my only option.

Stepping out, I was caught off guard by the absence of familiar scents and sounds. The city's pulse had changed. Autonomous vehicles glided silently, their passengers lost in their own worlds, oblivious to old-timers like me.

A familiar orange hue in the distance caught my attention. "Taking a stroll?" The jest came from a fellow worker, Eddy, comfortably nestled in his state-of-the-art vehicle.

“Nature calls,” I responded, rushing to the building. My brief absence was just enough to disrupt the intricate ballet of traffic. On my return, an orchestrated chaos met my gaze. The displeasure of the machines was palpable.

Eddy, always the mediator, intervened. "First day on this route, folks. Let's keep moving."

Grateful nods and suppressed chuckles followed as I resumed my journey. The onboard system, a gentle guiding voice, hinted at paths and turns, subtly reminding me of how much had changed since I'd last taken the wheel. The sprawling streets, once familiar, now felt like a maze from a dream—somewhat recognizable but eerily different.

I was in a world built on the bones of the old, bridging memories of the past with a future that was still, even after all these years, hard to grasp.