TOA Chapter 2: The Bungalow

Calgary, Alberta CANADA | Tuesday April 1, 2070 | 8:15 pm MDT

Newton stood in his front entryway and looked around, just to make sure everything was the way he had left it when he went to work in the morning.  To his right was his kitchen and small eating area.  to his left was a slightly sunken living room where he had a few chairs, and a recessed television in the wall which also acted as his computer monitor.  After all, you’ve got to save space when you live in a small house.  A small hallway leading off of the living room lead him to his washroom, a guest room and his own small bedroom.

What about the basement? you may ask.  A narrow staircase led down along the far wall of the living room toward a steel door.  Behind that steel door was the office and living quarters of Newton’s landlord.

Yes, $15,000 a month in rent did not afford Newton very much space, but it was the best deal he could find in the city, and it was not too far away from work.  Over the last 50 years real estate prices had skyrocketed.  If a person was lucky enough to own some extra property, he could make a lot of money off of a tenant.  Newton was happy to be able to find this place.  It certainly beat living homeless on the streets where a person could easily be abused by local police or minions of Mayor Fyfe’s personal army.

Newton proceeded towards his room, only a few quick steps away.  He had a bed big enough for two, but he was the only one who ever used it.  He stared at the full length mirror and did not like what he saw.  Newton was far from those playboys that the women seemed to endlessly swoon.  At 48 years of age, Newton sat there and saw himself as nothing but a salt and pepper, short, fat, undesirable geek.  When Newton was in High School he used to be a skinny geek, but the girls didn’t seem to like that either.  Aside from the occasional conversation at work, Newton spent his entire life alone.

It was no matter though, at least he was making money, though living in Calgary in this day and age, it didn’t always feel like it.  There was always some tax being imposed by the municipal dictatorship.

Newton decided to go make himself a large plate of nachos and drown himself in whatever happened to be on TV.  Newton quickly found a CFL game.  The match was between the Calgary Stamps and the BC Lions.  He then pressed the “HOLO” button on his remote control, and instead of just watching the game on the screen it suddenly became as though the game was being played around him in all directions.  He was literally right in the middle of the action!  Newton thought about the ancient 3D televisions his father used to watch. back in the late “Tricky Tens.”   Those machines were a far cry from this!

Newton wondered what his father was doing right now.  It had been two years since he’d seen him.  The last he’d heard from any of his older brothers was that their father had gone back East to a small city called Halifax, so that he could be taken care of by one of Newtons oldest nephews.  “Being taken care of by one of your own is always better than getting thrown in a home.” he had always said.  Newton never forgot that.  Newton had never been to Halifax himself, but he remembered his father would often speak of how great it was, even though it was smaller than Calgary.  Newton had very little contact with any of his brothers, as they had moved to several different parts of the country.  Some lived as far away as Phoenix, while others lived in Miami.  Over the past 20 years Mayor Fyfe’s army had been making independent inroads into the United States and taking over territory from time to time.  At this point the only states to remain part of the Union were Alaska, Hawaii, New York, California and the District of Colombia.  At the beginning of that campaign, nobody thought the United States would become so disconnected.  They are still a nation, albeit a much smaller one now, and with all this new order Imperialism, Alberta was now undisputed as the largest province in Canada.   With the additional income from Oil sands in former Texas, Canada’s Gross Domestic Product was greatly strengthened.  Yet another possible reason for Parliament to turn a blind eye to mayor Fyfe’s aggressive, dictatorial,  self-serving tendencies.

Newton turned off the football game since he was very aware that he was not paying attention at all.  Calgary always won their games these days, he didn’t need to stick around to the end.  Newton had more important things on his mind.  After all Newton had just been reminded yet again of how desperately lonely he was.

Newton logged into the UtopiaNet, the successor to the aged Internet.  It was the same information, just with HOLO capabilities.  Powerful servers had to be built to maintain this technological advancement, so in the end, service providers changed the name altogether.

Newton logged into one of his favourite online dating apps, unet.seesparks.uca.  Yes, he was that bored.  Normally Newton would just look at the pictures but be too scared to actually talk to any of the beautiful women who also used the site.  Tonight was going to be different though.  Newton in the grid of faces someone who attracted him immensely.  Her HOLO-name was JennyS777  He clicked on her image and sent her a HOLO invitation.  To his surprise she accepted almost immediately!  Usually women would decline and send him a text message with some sort of excuse ranging from “You’re too ugly.” to “I’m washing my hair.”

Now JennyS777 was standing right in front of him.   Newton thought she was gorgeous!  Jenny, or Jennifer, as she preferred to be called professionally, was the same height as he and had curly brown hair which extended past her shoulders.  She was thin, but not in that sort of anorexic way.

“You can close your mouth if you want to.” she said.

Newton had not realized his body was functioning in this way.  Embarrassed he closed his trap.

“It’s OK,” she said, “I noticed you’ve never had any HOLO replies before.”

“That’s true,” said Newton sheepishly.  He was still amazed at her beauty, not to mention the fact that so far their conversation had lasted longer than 20 seconds.  A new record.

“Jennifer, would you like some nachos?” asked Newton.  She agreed happily and they shared Newton’s pan of Nachos.

“That’s certainly not something you could have done over the old Internet.” quipped Newton,  and they shared another hearty laugh.

“You have a cozy place here!” remarked Jennifer.

“Thanks!” enthused Newton.

They talked about a great many things, getting to know each other as the night progressed.  Newton revealed that he was a hardware engineer, and Jennifer actually thought that was cool!

Before they knew it 11:00pm rolled around and Newton informed Jennifer that he had to get to bed if he wanted to be able to get a good start on the next day.

“That’s quite alright!’  she said “I should do the same.  Can we talk tomorrow?”

“Yes please!” said Newton enthusiastically.

“Excellent!” she said,  “It’s a date!”

They both said good-bye and signed off of See Sparks.

Newton brushed his teeth and got ready for bed.  This so far had been the happiest day of his life!  His little bit of extra weight didn’t bother her and she wanted to talk to him again tomorrow night!  Newton was used to women scorning him and not bothering to get to know him.  Tonight was different though.

Newton went to bed happier than he could ever remember being.  How nice it was to have a pleasant conversation.

Newton knew the next one he had at work probably wouldn’t be as pleasant.  For now he could enjoy sleep, where his coworkers wouldn’t bother him, assuming they didn’t make their way into his dreams.

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