Life Arts

Short Story: "Bait"

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He'd just copied down the details when an insistent banging erupted from his door. "Hey Quince!" a voice yelled. "You in there?"

Alphon glanced out the window -- the street was still dry, and sprinted to open the door.

It was his neighbor, Bob. "Didn't you hear the alert? We're about to get deep sixed."

"I heard it. But there's something wrong--."

"Yeah, there's something wrong, idiot. You haven't left yet. Do what you want. I'm out of here."

He spun and glanced frantically around the apartment. What's most important? What do I take? In a perplexing moment of calm, he raised his hand and stared at the sticky note. It was: the location of that missing file.

*   *   *

Alphon gazed at the vacant pod station across from him for a moment before answering. After two days of being crammed into an ancient Amtrak coach seat during the train trip to Chicago, even the Spartan waiting area of a HyperLoop station was comfortable. He'd had a few hours to kill after the HL whisked him to Memphis before the pod for the final leg of his trip arrived, and so he fell into idle chitchat with another traveller.

"Not really," he said. "I study infrastructure failures in my job, so I've seen what sorts of fallbacks these things have. If one of the evac fans fails, for example, and the air pressure in the tube rises a bit, the pod just slows down to compensate."

"Well, yeah. But what if they all failed. I read that these pods need low pressure for the air cushion to work."

"You've seen them roll through the station here?"

A shrug. "Sure. Why?"

"Same thing. After all, when a pod's at speed, it's really just flying through the tubes on a cushion of air. As it slows, the pod's compressors slow down, so it gets lower, until it's riding the wheels. It's not dangerous. Trust me."

"Yeah, well," the traveler said, chuckling. "But then they also said the San Francisco sea wall was solid."

Alphon grimaced at the thought of everything he'd left behind. "Don't remind me."

"So anyway, that's why I'm headed out into the hinterlands. I want to be as far away as possible from stuff that could fail and kill me."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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Our immediate problems keep us all so busy that we... by Philip Zack on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:08:56 AM
What an appropriate story for our time. Ed Snowdon... by Paul Repstock on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:06:20 PM
Thanks. I'd introduced the idea of there being peo... by Philip Zack on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:33:54 PM