Folks, until I figure out how to make a separate Prose page on this blog, I’ll post here. This is Part II of a futuristic story I’ve been working on. No zombies, no vampires, no mutants eating people’s brains, although there has been a breakdown of infrastructure because of what they call The Big Thing. This is simply a story of one girl who’s trying to resist the temptations of a new society controlled by The WiRE, which resembles the Net, all your downloads, YouTube, and IGlasses, all in one neat operation – if you’re willing to have it implanted in your frontal lobe. She’s called a Throwback for a reason. She’s a survivor and an archivist of the Before. See Part I HERE.
The Throwback (story of a girl in the Someday) Part II
The Way Back When Café was in the Former district, the back-alley streets filled with secondtwelfthhand shops, coffeehouses, bars that served a semblance of what was once known as beer, and other places frequented by Throwbacks. “Ah,” murmured Jordan to herself, “the place the WiRE forgot.”
She was the last of her Circle to arrive. Bethinal waved and Jordan pointed to the counter – “Beloved bean first!” Grabbing a hot cup of brew, she joined the gathering in back. Comfortable chairs, sofas, the golden light of an antique lamp, jazz on the Box… all they could ask for in a meeting place.
“Jay,” motioned Cinda, “sit.” The two hugged and she wedged in between Cinda and Zack.
“So did you hear who flipped?” said Newt, resident keeper of all random gossip. “Zander Benton.”
“Zander?” shrieked Bethinal. “I was almost there with him. He was coming ‘round, said he was gonna check out our Circle and maybe join us.”
“Nope. He’s not only installed the WiRE, he’s Feed XR2.3 now. Games, illusions, sextation, even.” He saw Bethinal flinch and said, “Sorry, Betha. I didn’t know you were on for him. I begged him not to give in, but his parents wanted Zander in the Agency, and you ‘need to read the Feed’ for that.”
Two Feeders were outside, checking the café out. One of the joys of being WiRED was to “thump Throwbacks.” They entered, in that synched bop peculiar to the Plugged – they were obviously on the same input canal. The tall one with blue hair worked his lower jaw to turn down the volume within his head. “So, this a Nola nook?”
Jordan raised her mug. “Sure is. Care to unplug and share some actual conversation? Oh, wait,” she grimaced, hitting her forehead. “I forgot. You can’t unplug and the volume only turns down so much.”
“Why’d we wanna waste time when there’s so much more up here,” he sneered, pointing to his forehead.
Smug little surfer, thought Jordan. “All that’s ‘up there’ is what the Agency gives you. It’s like ultra-refined brain sugar. I’ll bet you haven’t had an original thought in months.”
Tall Blue’s face darkened, and Short GreenHead assumed the “Yeah, what he says,” pose. “You GranolaHeads think you’re big rebels. Truth is, you are living in the past – so far back you could never catch up to us.” He suddenly twitched his shoulder and said to Rust, “Get that?”
“Thanks for the bump, Stone. Stomp on Friday, at the Dome. Should be maze.” He turned to Jordan’s Circle and said, “See what you’re missing? You don’t get news flashes. You’re nowhere, you’ve got nothing to offer.”
“Oh yeah?” Jordan popped open the snaps on her shirt and bared her breasts. “I got a helluva a lot more to offer than you’ll ever get. Have fun offing with your imaginary friends at the Sextation in your cranium!”
Blue Hair stepped back and tapped his friend’s shoulder. “Let’s flow. Fist off, Nolas!” he shouted, slamming the door behind him.
“Another Circle, another interruption,” sighed Jordan, slowly snapping up her shirt, giving her friends something to ponder. Peace made dreaming possible, and she knew most of them would have sweet dreams that night.
They talked for an hour or so, then joined hands as Jingles lowered the music out of respect for the ritual. “Creator, thank you for our combined will to resist forces that would enslave our minds and erase the precious past. Let each of us be mindful, do good, and stayclear.” Jordan then joined them in a group LetGoFirstDareYa, the hug of all hugs. “Keep Peace,” they all murmured before scattering down the alleyway.
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
The WiRE Part I
Here on Roo’s Island, beneath the rot-rusted trolley bridge (unstable, but no one had actually plunged to their death in years); here at the calm elbow bend of turned benches in Rock Park, Jordan could bear life as it was, in the Now.
Her Agency shift just finished; sorting the castoff crapfeed of the rich, separating Styrofoam from oily bits of foiling and whathaveyous. This place was her reward, her retreat, her parkit.
Although The Big Thing had laid waste to millions of people and many species of wild animals, plus many rabbles of butterflies – the heartbreak of that lay heavy – they thanked the Creator for honeybees whose hives still functioned, for bats that survived. There was still the shabblestone lane, a hazard… once smooth red brick, now jagged, tearing at her tragictrashed sneaks. Her shoes were sturdy and loyal, but they were also more duct tape than canvas.
Jordan could bear it here, imagine a bluebird perched on the blind light pole, part of the lost heaven her Gram described for her daily, like a multi-faceted mantra. “Oh, the meadow,” Tilly would sigh, her delicate parchment hands navigating tea from pot to cup. “It was all so green, until the Powers got fractious and on a flashnight, there was a lion’s roar… but what do you know of lions?” Tears in her eyes.
“Jordan,” she continued, “you are the keeper of those days. Are you making accounts?” The granddaughter nodded. “Good. This – how do you always say it – this ‘crassdoggish’ world will need to know how things were before the Agency, before the quadrants, and most of all, before the WiRE. Promise me you’ll never tap into it, Jaybird.”
“Tilly, you’re my grandma, and you raised me well. I’ll be a Throwback ‘til I die. I’ll stay freeclear and keep peace.” Her grandmother poured more tea in a silent prayer of thanks.
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
I have been toying with the idea of this story for a long while, as I ponder our dangerous future and watch kids all but implant cell phones into their brains. The loss of peace has been weighing on me. Then Brenda’s Sunday Whirl Wordle gave me bits and pieces that seemed to string together with a common rhythm to give me that hardest part – an actual beginning. Thanks, Brenda, for the feast of words!
This also appears “in the margins” at Poets United and at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads’ Open Link Monday, where I am the second-newest toad in the whole danged place. Congrats to LaTonya for joining us; Mary had to bid us adieu because she has so much to accomplish. Mary will be missed, and we will look forward to what LaTonya is up to! Peace, Amy