4th Excerpt from “Edan” By Esau Kessler
Back | “Black Hole”
Sitting in the cool crowded spaceport cantina with servicemen and women on either side, Earl hungrily woofed down a thick slightly blackened steak, fluffy mashed potatoes with rich brown gravy, and a mass of heavily buttered steaming green beans. “You’re chocolate Shake Mr.Nedlander.” a pretty multi use ‘bot came and left the bar table. Earl snorted, squaring his shoulders, this was good old-school grub, fresh out of the replicator, which gave everything a slight maple taste, exactly what Earl grew up on.
While he ate, he stared meanderingly out the large bay windows, pondering the plume of black smoke rising from the town, belaying his impulse to Search.
He barked “Anyone one know what that smoke is from?”
Most of the servicemen glanced up and looked away. The rest ignored him.
Having just completed a Search, the soldier to the right of him quietly and cautiously explained “Some sort of accident in town, likely another juiceboxr.” Earl admired the man’s halosuit resisting the urge to poke his finger into the luminescent video camouflage. “..things are amaz’n..” The Soldier stared strait ahead. The clamor in the cantina/mess hall had died down. Earl scraped the remaining bites of breakfast/lunch into his large mouth, and washed it down with a gulp of milkshake. (Swallowing loudly) “AHhhh…good.”
The next soldier over smirked, leaned forward slightly and offered “Gamer addicts who don’t know aug from reality anymore.”
"That could be most of the Commons, cowboy." Earl sneered.
The first soldier followed up “Yeah everything is about The Box, they don’t pay attention to live vis’, tends to be a detriment to society. Explosions, fires…”
"So these folks are on Fream?" Earl thought he knew the latest crazes, but this was off his radar.
The other soldier continued “..drownings, snake bites, burns, collisions…”
"You name it. Once they plug in, they never return."
"Whole communities of them."
"How do they…survive without cred?"
"Juiceboxr is the name of the application."
"Recently acquired by Submetatech, eh?
Both soldiers chuckled signaling the end of the convo.
A Wave came in on Earl’s wrist. “You’re rental is ready, sir.”
Earl hit his ear com “Yuh- Hullo this is Earl Nedlander with Inway, and I wanna be sure I have the right ‘copta…yes…okay.” (Earl Waited) Scanning the cantina absent mindedly, stopping again on the now grey and black plume of smoke…”That’s kina where my pal lives…”
"Sir it’s a repro of the old Tesla XR3."
"He is married."
"Oh…I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as it doesn’t cost extra.
"The direct benefit is the spouse vehicle will shadow at whatever distance you set, and share your trip objectives."
"Ah..I don’t need that m’am."
"Sorry Sir, it’s all we have in repros."
"Yuh, that’s what I thought you’d say- I guess it could come in handy, no added cost, right?"
The avatar had already hung up.
On the otherside of town, Base fire crews had extinguished the fire, and Med was removing the remains of J.P.’s father who had died for the loose decision of one man, based on a careless decision of his superior. That and an absolute void of compassion, a black hole that threatened to devour even more light.