An e-novel, Science Fiction/Love Story, by R.A. Knowlton
(The year is 3814, the location is Earth)
The City of Evanham floated gracefully above the plane of Himum, where the Caspian Sea met the continent of New Asia.
The weather control platform that was one kilometer to the north was holding the temperature at a comfortable 295 kelvin, with a southerly breeze blowing in at 4.8 kilometers per hour. The day was as pleasant as the one before it and the one before that and the one before that for the past one hundred and twelve years.
Milin sat on her balcony looking towards the east. She had spent every morning of those past one hundred and twelve years in this same location. It was refreshing for her to be able to escape the activity of the city and have this private space to retreat to.
Evanham was a farming enclave and its residence numbered four thousand.
The farm platforms met at six center points at the edges of the city and extended 1/3 of a kilometer away from the center. Each platform was 91 meters wide and there where ten floors for each wing.
The food produced at this one station was enough to feed 30% of the population of New Asia.
The government of New Earth, a multinational cooperative conglomerate known as Tri-Uni-Corp, had commissioned and funded the construction of Evenham and twenty five other farming enclaves of the same design.
When anti-grav units became stable they were added to these large cities to float them above the surface of the ground at a distance of 95 meters. This was to keep the people, many who were starving, from raiding the granaries. Yes, for all it beauty Evenham had a dark side.
Thirty two gun turrets were mounted on the underside of the city to repel attacks from the many factions that roamed the land.
Milin heard the sound of the whistle which marked the start the morning shift. She walked to the balcony and peered over the edge. Three floors below her was a platform where the worker, slaves, were moving from their meager quarters out into the fields.
Milin moved to a computer terminal that was built into a pedestal overlooking the farming operation. She began to work the controls and automatic watering units began to turn on. Once one floor of the platform was prepared for the day, she raised the platform to the next floor. She did this for each of the ten floors of each of the six wings of the farm.
A message came through in simple binary code. A shipment was due in city X00342.
Milin prepared the order by remote control. She was an efficient worker. Even at her age of one hundred and sixty four years, she was as vital and full of energy as she was when she was young.
One after another the transport vessels left the docking platforms, eight in all. It was a busy day. The sound of the engines coming to life caused the foundation of the steel structure to tremble. The transports moved quickly out of view as they assented to the Earth as fast as possible in an effort to avoid the tracking beacons that were in a constant search for the food bearing vehicles.
Milin retracted the platforms and locked them into place. It had been eleven hours since she rested. She sounded the evening whistle and watched as the workers returned to their quarters. She was feeling generous this day so she opened the main courtyard and allowed the slave to congregate and enjoy the evening in the garden area under the stars.
“Two hours. Two hours relaxation time.” The words sounded canned. In fact they were. A recording of a human voice from long ago, now the voice of the mainframe computer of the city.
Milin stepped down from the pedestal and walked away from the balcony. A productive day. She thought.
She adjusted the weather settings to 289 kelvin. The plants grew faster with the tempter set lower at night.
She went back to her balcony and sat down to watch the sunset. The clouds in the distance began to glow red and orange as the sun fell into the sea. She was once told that if she listened closely she could hear the hissing as the sun boiled the sea. She leaned forward and listed closely but there was no hissing sound. She sat back and looked at the moon now coming into view on the horizon. These were the only things in her world that were not controlled by the corporation.
She glanced at an empty chair that sat at the table next to her and sadness filled her eyes.
He had expired eleven years, five months and twenty nine days ago. She could even recall the hour. Since that day she had been alone with no one to talk to, no touch of another hand. Tears formed in her eyes but she shook the feeling off.
It was the same every night. Loneliness, sadness.
She left the balcony and returned to her living quarters. It was time to prepare a meal. The corporation had made things simple for her, she had only to open the can and warm the ingredients.
Bland. She though as she consumed the pasty substance. With all the fresh food so close, she had never tasted one bite of it. She looked at the grey- black color. Not too appetizing. Nevertheless it contained everything she needed to live. So much so that her life had been sustained far beyond all expectations.
After the meal she went to her relaxation chamber and found her favorite chair. The conspicuous empty space in the corner where another chair once sat once again reminded her of the loss that was still so fresh and bitter upon her heart.
She placed a set of headphones on her head and found her favorite melody. One that took her thoughts to another place. After a short while she heard a distant sound. “Ten minutes, Ten minutes remaining.” She gave an irritated look. She was not ready to end this relaxation.
“Relaxation period extended. One hour, one hour.” She spoke in her own voice, soft, pleasant as she set he override.
“That is the third time this week. She is getting old.” The worker gave a concerned glance towards the tower the set in the middle of the complex.
“Are you complaining Meric?” The voice arose from behind him.
“Not complaining, just an observation with some concern.
“ Milin has been a fair tasker for as long as I have been here. I worry that because of her advanced age the corporation may replace her. That could bring about many changes for us.
“This is the best of the farms in the cooperative. Some of the others are downright dangerous.”
“You worry too much. The very reason the corporation will not replace her is because she is responsible for producing more food than any two farms combined. And that with feeding us too.” The man stood and walked away.
Meric returned his gaze to the tower. He had seen her only one time and he was in awe of her beauty. His thoughts returned to that day. Over one hundred years old, it is just not possible.
Milin went to her bedroom and dressed for bed. The silk on her skin was a pleasant feeling, one of the few things that made her feel truly like a women. She stood before the mirror and marveled at her form. Still size five. A smile came to her youthful face.
She opened a window and looked down into the courtyard three floors below. The night was still and the breeze was pleasant.
As she stood peering down she saw movement. Startled she called out with her soft voice. “Who is there?”
A voice returned. “Meric, I am Meric. You have not called us in and I enjoy the quiet of the night.”
Her thoughts raced. How could I forget to call the workers in? The corporation will learn of this.
Meric could see the agitation in her movements and sensed her concerns. “Don’t fret my lady. I will return and I will make sure the others are in there quarters. Actually, they have all left but me. There is no need to sound the whistle and alert the corporation. I will close the gate as I leave.”
It was the first words she had heard spoken in over eleven years. Her emotion overcame her better judgment. “No, please….. Please stay and speak with me for a time.”
Meric nodded respectfully. “I will stay, however I should secure the doors on the workers quarters so that no disturbance can arises that would call the attention of the corporation.”
Meric disappeared into a corridor at the far end of the court yard.
Milin felt a sudden empty feeling grip her. Loss, Emptiness.
She watched the corridor in anticipation. The court yard was a large garden with every type of flowering plant and tree that was desirable to the eyes and yet none held her attention.
In a few moments Meric returned. This time he walked closer. “I found some trustworthy men to walk through the hallways and secure the doors. Most are already secured so it will not take long.” And sensing her feeling he finished by saying. “There is no need to fear.”
Fear? The word had no meaning for her. Worry. She had come to know that word and the accompanying feeling. His response though had forced her to confront the feeling she was dealing with. “Fear. Yes…It seems that this is what it has come to. Fear of being replaced.
“I fear that I am slipping away and yet each day as I look in the mirror I do not change. It is my mind that I cannot control. This is the feeling of fear. I have had it but did not know what to call it.”
Milin did not know how to respond. It had been so long since he spoke with a woman. “What would make you happy?”
Happy? It was an empty word. “There is no meaning to that word. I am neither happy nor unhappy.” She spoke sincerely.
“Happiness is something that must be experienced. It has been a long time since I experienced happiness.” He paused and then smiled. “Until tonight, speaking with you.”
Her eyes widened as she recalled the feeling when she first heard him speak. “Yes happiness, I know do know it and I will not forget.” Her eyes glanced at the moon now high overhead. “You must return to your quarters, it is late.”
The abruptness of the change in the tone of her voice and the coolness with which she spoke took him by surprise. “I will go.” He turned to walk away and then stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “Can we talk again?”
Happiness! The feeling returned and with it the softness of her voice. “Yes. We will speak again.” And then the coolness returned. “On another night.”