1 of 6 | Chapter 9

Sector Two

 

Patricia Griggs loved the early spring sun. It did not burn and did not dry her already very sensitive skin. She was just enjoying the fact that the temperature was just as she liked it. At this time of the year, she always felt as if she was in heaven, and she never missed the chance to be out in the open air for the little spare time that was left to her after studying. Her graduation exams were coming the following month, so she was focusing all her energy on success. In fact, she was doing it at that very moment: absorbing the suns energy, ‘photosynthesizing’ self assuredly.

Meanwhile, she had to babysit her five-year-old nephew, Cole, in a city park. Cole was playing joyously with his playmates in what was known as the tower maze, a part of the play castle. From time to time, he emerged to wave to his aunt. Pat waved back to him. At these moments, she was never able to wipe the smile off her face.

At this season, the fruits of the effort that were invested in the city's parks and gardens became obvious. The fresh, green shoots on the trees, the colorful plants and the heady, fragrant breeze aroused fairy tale feelings. A little further on, the passing morning city traffic could be seen, but here no one could hear their noise. Anyway, in Excolopolis seven cars out of ten were GlideCrafts so there was very little noise pollution. It had almost become an embarrassment to appear with one of the old obsolete cars. They seemed so noisy and dirty.

Jeff Hayes did not place so much value on the change however. He loved his truck, but when his family won a floating ‘marvel’ they decided not to keep the fuel-guzzling monster. Because of that, a week-long feud had descended on the Hayes household. Jeff felt deprived of his rights, felt as if a part of him had been torn out and thrown away, like an old rag. Even his friends couldn't make him see reason. He did not care about how lucky they thought he was. He did not listen to anyone. All he cared about was that he was forced to commute in a ’bubble’ instead of his big strong truck.

He did not change his mind even when he was taking the new car for a test drive, and it roared into life and accelerated at a touch. He disguised his surprise with a couple of discontented grimaces and a few weak remarks.

As it was, he seemed to have problems with the way the car looked. It was partly the fact that it looked the same as everyone else's. No way did that suit his personality.

“What sort of a car is it that even a child can drive?” he moaned continually.

His anti GlideCraft fixation was unbreakable, but still the car stayed.

He had also been finding it difficult to get together with his friends lately, and because of study, they hardly met. Now, however, they managed to hang out at the city park, amongst an army of infants. As far as the eye could see, there were moms and grandmothers with their offspring everywhere, walking in the fresh air. At this time of day, it was only them and a few other students who had taken a break from studying to spend a bit of time off, relaxing.

Patricia was sitting on a bench at the upper end of the giant, violin-shaped lake that stretched almost one kilometer across the park when the two guys finally arrived.

“Hi, Pat!” said Archer. “Hello Cole,” he shouted and waved to Cole who was just about to ‘kill the enemy’ with a spade. Cole had always liked him.

“All right?” asked Jeff.

“Hi, guys. Yeah, I'm fine. You know, it feels like we live at least a thousand miles away from each other. It's getting so difficult to organize get-togethers,” she complained.

“We went back to see the family for a week, visiting,” said Archer.

“Really? Where, to Argentina?”

“Yeah. My old man got a holiday bonus from his company, so we packed up and took off to Mendoza to visit his roots.”

“I'm jealous. And here we were, slaving away back here,” Pat pouted grumpily.

“Yeah, right! You look like you're really suffering.”

“This is my first day off since the break, and I'm always having to looking after this little guy!” She nodded her head towards the playground.

“What do we know about this new university, not far away from here,” Jeff cut in.

“You mean PrEUST?” asked Pat.

“Is that its name?”

“It's an abbreviation, dickhead,” Pat nodded, “real name is the Prime Earth University of Science and Technology. Some Japanese professor's the rector, something like, Hashimoto, if I remember rightly.”

“What do you know about it? What faculties will it have?” asked Arch. He was one of those people who loved to study and bury themselves in books, websites, anything that has to do with new tech and gadgets.

“There's going to be a grand opening, over a few days, where the whole institution will be presented to the public. Also, there'll be presentation about entry exams and stuff for students who want to enroll. There are a whole lot of massive preparations going on at the moment. Lecturers and students are being recruited from all over the world.”

“They're starting the first year in September? So soon?” wondered Jeff.

“Well, as far as I know.”

“That's interesting.”

“I'm interested …” said Arch, “especially in the engineering faculties.”

“You'll get in for sure, a geek like you,” said Jeff rolling his eyes, “I mean … genius,” he added with a grin.

“What's eating you?” Pat asked suspiciously.

Jeff was not in a good mood at all, and at times like that, he always behaved in such a way that he always felt bad afterward. He was not used to apologizing, but if he knew he was wrong he would always do something to be forgiven. Archer was not the touchy type, and he knew his friend pretty well.

“I don't know. Lately, I can't seem to relax. I guess I miss hangin' out with you guys,” he said more kindly.

“Yeah, me too,” agreed Pat.

Cole, having had enough and realizing that the two guys were still here, started vigorously waving, climbed down from the tower and ran towards them shouting loudly.

”Uncle Jeff! Uncle Jeff!” his voice blared across the playground.

“Uncle Jeff, hah?! I love it,” laughed Arch.

“What's up little man? How are you?” Jeff asked as Cole jumped onto him.

“Great … can we eat some ice-cream now?” The boy got down to the point.

“What, an ice-cream? Are you allowed to have ice-cream?” Jeff looked at Pat.

“As long as he doesn't gulp it down too quickly so that he doesn't get a sore throat,” she shrugged.

“Come on, dude, let's find some ice-cream,” said Jeff and took the little boy by the hand.

“I saw an ice cream man from the top of the tower, just over there,” said Cole beaming.

“I was pretty sure you had it all planned out.” Jeff smiled back, and they walked in the direction Cole was pointing.

Pat could hear Cole chattering away in the distance as they walked further and further away with Jeff patiently listening to his adventure stories.

Then she turned to Archer.

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH