THE RELOCATION BEGINS
Michael J Bell
Copyright © 2013 Michael J Bell All rights reserved
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
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The Water-Way Tube
Michael, a freelance writer in his late twenties from Australia sat patiently in his tour capsule surrounded by a small group of tour members. Although generally cheerful and at ease, in recent times he found himself lost in deep thought. Sitting from his water-tube window seat his crisp green hazel eyes held an Intense gaze. All he could notice were thy blurred images of sea life frozen in time as he pondered his feelings of confusion. A sudden thought came to mind, 'Send a message to Melinda'. This was his sister and perhaps the only one that he felt he could really tell how he really felt about his life.
Michael has entered a chat session with Melinda.
Michael has left the chat.
Melinda has left the chat.
A massive pyramidal structure stood beaming into the upper levels of the atmosphere. An integration process was underway and a group of individuals from around the world had been placed into tour groups to beta-test the World-Plex experience. Tabulated into levels and containing a maze-like array of structures, the Inner-core of the World-Plex was the first of the two-stage build. These were the initial steps taken for the systematic relocation of the Earth’s human population.
Numerous changes had occurred towards the end of the twenty-first century. International air travel had been replaced by an interconnected system of underwater travel capsules referred to as water-way travel. This simple, yet elaborate system, transported small to large groups of passengers via interconnected tubes around the world.
The air was cool, and the surrounding banter was cheerful. Although he enjoyed the calming effect of water travel, he was struck by a host of conflicting emotions. This was a confusing time for Michael. The prospect of being removed from his current predictable life brought feelings of thrill and excitement together with a sense of unease and uncertainty. ‘At least I will be able to see the inside of the World-Plex before relocation’, he reassured himself.
Dream, a woman in her mid-20’s sat in the seat next to Michael. Although often referred to as ‘curvy’ her body was slender, and her features were easily noticeable in her preferred choice of skin-tight clothes. Her long wavy hair was deep red, and her eyes were blue, and, on this occasion, she wore a dark shade of blue one-piece outfit that stopped at her knees. Throughout the trip, Dream had been making eye contact with Michael whenever she caught him looking away from the window. Finally, she had built up the courage to say something and gently placed her hand on his arm, ‘My name is ‘Dream.’
Michael turned slightly to face her direction noticing her red hair and seductive deep brown eyes. He nervously nodded and then turned back to stare at the endless sea life rushing past his water-tube window seat.
Dream was a little shocked by his lack of response but didn’t take it personally. She had guessed that he was nervous about the future.
Michael's mind was travelling, and a feeling of uncertainty grew deep within. He began thinking about the various moments of his life and how everything will suddenly change. ‘How could I spend my life inside a building?’, he thought to himself. At that moment he turned to Dream and spoke, ‘‘We will ever be allowed to go outside?’
Dream stared in confusion, a little surprised that these were his first words to her. She assumed that he must have been suffering from anxiety.
Ejay, a stocky man wearing an orange shirt and silky black pants sat behind them. Staring at the woman almost the whole trip, he was just waiting for an opportunity to introduce himself.
He leaned forward to speak, ‘Dream, would you like a window seat?’
His voice was deep, and his eyes were a crisp bright blue. As he stared, time became frozen.
‘No. I’m fine, but thanks for asking. I’m happy with the view that I have now. With that, she turned and smiled in Michael’s direction.
Ejay was not surprised by the young woman’s reaction nor was he jealous. All he wanted was an acknowledgement and a chance to join their conversation. He leaned back in his seat and began tapping on a console to browse the beverage menu. As soon as he had finished ordering he’d remembered that he needed to do something: contact Sandra.
Michael was lost in his own thoughts but was conscious of the interactions around him. He knew that this young lady wanted his attention, and he was even feeling a little excited about it. Finally, he turned and made eye contact with her and spoke again, ‘My name is Michael’. He then turned to the red-bearded man behind them and acknowledged him with a slight nod. ‘Ejay,’ he nodded back. ‘Coffee?’
‘Sure, why not?’
Ejay found that he was extremely attracted to the young lady sitting beside Michael. He couldn’t help but notice her peculiar lavender fragrance when a sudden thought came to him which made him almost chuckle, ‘This scent seems to almost put me in a dream state’. He grinned with excitement and began tapping on his console once more. Within moments a cup filled with coffee arrived from a chute in each of their consoles. It was at that point that Michael and Dream spun around in their seats and the three of them began to discuss the World-Plex.
Michael spoke: ‘How would it be any different?’. The two stared at him in silence.
‘Well, I mean, it’s just meant to be the same, right? The same as living indoors in the real world?’
‘What do you mean by ‘real world?’’, asked Ejay.
Michael who was now leaning sideways in his chair took a moment before responding, ‘The World-Plex is mostly indoors. We have a key to the outside world. In the World-Plex we won’t have this key.’
The three of them sat in silence as they felt the reality of that statement. ‘Is it really true that we won’t be able to leave?’, Dream asked?
Ejay nodded in agreement, ‘It’s true.’
‘I’m not concerned about that’, Dream said waving her hand in front of her.
‘What are you concerned about, dear?’ Ejay asked.
‘How will the shopping experience change? Will it be the same or better?’
The three of them chuckled.
Ejay realised that Dream must not have read enough about the World-Plex to know that traditional shopping would be still available.
‘Shopping will be the same and better’, Ejay informed.
Dream leaned back a little in surprise, ‘Really? How so?’.
‘Shopping does, in fact, exist in the World-Plex but there will also be another option for purchasing goods.’
Dream glanced over at Michael who nodded in agreeance.
‘You see’, Michael began, ‘goods will be delivered to people’s homes directly via a kind of automated suction tube and these goods will be free. Yet at the same time, you will be able to go out and shop as usual.’
‘Yes, everyone will be given credits’, Michael answered.
‘And where will all these free goods come from?’
‘Underground machines, my dear’, Ejay explained. ‘The outside world’s resources will be sought and processed by machines that source and produce goods without the need for human labour’.
Dream momentarily pondered these ideas while another thought came to her, ‘Michael, are you married?’
Michael chuckled instantly.
‘What are you laughing at?’ Dream demanded with an eyebrow raised.
‘Here I am sitting alone on my way to the inner-core of the World-Plex,’ Michael said with a nervous grin.
‘So, you’re not….’ a smile came to her lips.
‘She certainly isn’t shy but why is this extremely attractive young woman showing interest in me?’ Michael thought to himself.
He angled his head towards the window and gazed directly into the deep waters rushing past. The haze of water and sea life whizzed past and not a single detail could be identified. Michael felt a sudden moment of calm when suddenly a loud message came on the console giving him a burst of anxiety: ‘Arrival time is near. Please prepare for departure’. The mood on the tube was one of excitement and wonder as passengers began to shuffle around.
Ejay watched Dream pay close attention to Michael’s every movement. He could read the situation well. ‘Dream, how about giving young Michael here your contact number? After all, it would be a shame to lose contact.’
Michael turned and saw Ejay grinning.
‘Sure. Why not?’ She reached inside a small red handbag which was placed on her lap and pulled out a card. ‘All my details are here’ she said and handed it to Michael. Instantly, he began to examine it closely.
The text ‘Find Your Dream’ was printed on the card and overlayed with a sprawling entanglement of vines.
‘Dating agency?’ Michael queried.
Without responding, Dream, once again reached into her bag and produced another card and handed it to Ejay.
‘Dear, how would you like to swap seats with me. Give Michael and me a chance to acquaint ourselves. If so, we’d better act quick before our belts are automatically locked.’
Dream nodded and stood up with her red bag hung over her shoulder, ‘Be sure to stay in contact if Michael feels too shy.’
Ejay stood up, and the two crossed past each other. Dream was staring directly at him as she squeezed past his bulky exterior while Ejay deliberately held her hip on his way past her. As he did so, she quickly brushed her fingers across his stomach until crossing over. Dream sat in the bulky man’s warm seat and began to quietly tune herself into the wireless entertainment system provided by the tube.
‘What was all that about?’ Michael asked as the big man sat down next to him.
‘Just being friendly, Michael’.
Ejay held the card in his hand looking at it curiously.
‘She has her World-Plex chat name here,’ Michael commented.
‘Ah, yes. The World-Plex chatting tool,’ Ejay noted.
‘It’s a convenient way to join communities across the World-Plex. Apparently, we all have a default username given to us. We just have to access it. What’s yours?’
‘I haven’t accessed it yet. How exactly do I do that?’
‘Just visit www.world-plex.com and follow the step.’
‘I see….’ Ejay leaned forward into Micheal. ‘Hey, why not just contact her? It could be interesting.’
Michael took a deep breath, nodded, and smiled. ‘I might just do that.’
‘You seem tense, Michael.’
Although Ejay was a stranger, he felt that he needed to make friends with him. There was something about his mannerisms and openness that drew Michael to him. He turned slightly to Dream directly behind them, ‘Too good to be true huh?’
‘No. It’s not’ Ejay shook his head slightly. ‘It’s not every day that someone extends themselves. You should extend your curiosity.’
‘That’s a strange expression’, Michael noted.
‘And these are strange times.’
Michael began to think about Ejay’s advice. No woman had ever talked to him like that. He had always had very little luck with the opposite sex. Often, he would have daydreams of the perfect relationship but was never able to build up the confidence to show his interest: It always became too awkward and being a friend was the safest option.
Ejay was observing Michael’s almost paralysed state as was lost in thought. Ejay spoke, ‘A new world. A new lady to bring you excitement. Could things get any better? Just relax and enjoy what life brings you.’
These words momentarily made Michael feel slightly awkward but then quickly put him at ease. Suddenly, his mood had brightened up.
‘I think you’re right Ejay’ Michael said smiling. Ejay reached out his hand and Michael shook it.
Michael and Ejay had just become friends.
‘Hey, when you access your World-Plex username you chat to me there in case we part ways somehow.’
‘I’ll do that after I get to my room.’
Michael began to search for Dream on the World-Plex chatting tool via his screen.
Mobile phones were now referred to as ‘screens’. They had become more advanced: paper thin, expandable motions in front of the screen from a distance was all that required to operate it rather touch.
An electronic automated voice came over the speakers.
Docking in approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
Belts will automatically attach shortly.
Automatically, belts slid around each of the passenger’s waists and found their way into their connecting locks mounted on the side of each seat.
Within minutes the tube had docked onto the World-Plex 1 Docking Station tunnel in a smooth transition. The belts unlocked, fell back into place and the passengers began to arrange their possessions above their seats.
A message appeared on the passengers’ consoles telling them to check under their seats for a World-Plex gift. To their surprise, the passengers discovered a small black wrap-around gift bag. Each contained a pair of thick square-like sunglasses with wide handles and the words ‘World-Plex’ printed on each side.
‘These are quite strange, aren’t they?
Dream smiled ‘I like them. You look hunky in them’.
Michael grinned under his World-Plex Glasses, ‘I have to admit. I've never been called ‘hunky’ before’.
‘That’s a new one. I must admit,’ Ejay noted.
A woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker.
Please make your way to the exits and proceed to the tunnel platform.
Follow the guiding arrows towards the ground lift.
Your tour guides will meet you upon entering the ground level.
Enjoy your time.
People began shuffling out of their seats.
‘Dream, Michael, will you join me on this trip?’, Ejay asked as they stood up. The three glanced at each other with a smile and nodded.
The tour group made their way out of the tube and on an enormous underground platform. Yellow guiding arrows marked on the floor of the platform directed the group to a circular elevator room that could hold up to three hundred individuals. The small tour group looked around in awe at the sheer size of the space surrounding them.
A voice message came over a loudspeaker from above.
Prepare to be transported to the ground level. The entrance will close and lock.
The floor beneath them began to vibrate and within moments the group had been transported to the first level of the World-Plex. The entrance opened and the group was led into a see-through glass-walled enclosed walkway. Within their view on the outside, a multitude of outer wall rings towered endlessly into the sky. Each level contained various scenes of world-like activity and structures. On one level exotic life could be seen roaming in and around green everglades and tall forests. On another, concrete highways and modern skyscrapers void of human life were scattered in and around picture-perfect parks and public monuments.
The glass enclosed walkway was air-conditioned and had a cool breeze drift over the heads of the tour group members. Ejay was turning around on the spot paying attention to his surrounding. ‘This walkway is a very convenient way to shield us from the elements, isn’t it?’
‘I imagine it would be the same inside,’ Michael noted.
An eerie feeling crept into Michael’s veins and felt a temperature growing in his forehead. Sensing his growing anxiety, Dream held his hand. ‘Relax, Michael, it will be alright. I’m sure of it.’ Michael could feel his hand sweating inside hers and at that moment Ejay turned to Michael and spoke, ‘Yes, Michael, trust us. It will be ok’. Michael briefly exchanged a smile with both of them and his fears began to dissipate. Moments later, the floor belt beneath them group began to slowly move, transporting them towards a dome-shaped entrance far off in the distance.
Topics for Discussion
1. What comes to mind when you imagine what the World-Plex will be like?
2. Would you look forward to relocating to the world-plex?
3. If you had to leave everything that you have ever known behind and move to a massive structure for the rest of your life how would you feel?
4. Which of the characters presented in the Chapter 1 sample do you find the most interesting and why?