Monday, 1 November 2010

pulse

inside the backpack
Scrive clicked the new cartridge into place in his forearm and felt the cold rush snaking from his arm to somewhere inside his head.

Next he checked briefly the small plexi inspection window and could see his blood already changing from a bright red back to orange and he knew that within another twenty minutes it would again be the safe yellow colour.

Like everyone, he knew that red blood spelt danger and he had been particularly careless to let his system deplete its supply of the tropus for so long.

He could now feel a pulse and almost a bubbling sensation on the side of his head above the eyeline on the left side. He knew this was his body regaining its equilibrium. He squeezed both his hands into a fist shape they way they were taught and used his two middle fingers to massage the fleshy areas below his thumbs whilst his system adjusted.

Another five minutes and he was walking to the Tube station. He lived less than ten minutes on foot from the nearest stop and his ride to his office was around fifteen minutes. He could feel the cartridge working and his relaxed acceptance of the day’s tasks was already returning.

He looked briefly towards the sky. A jagged spark had flicked across moments before and now there were what looked like gentle vapour trails crawling along behind what had been a brief tear shooting along the path of the River Thames.

Others walked at a similar pace towards the station, although he ducked to the right into a quieter street that also cut a corner and missed some traffic crossings.

He glanced as he prepared to cross the diagonal into the station and glimpsed someone he recognised.

She had a petite almost boyish build, dressed in black, dark hair in a black band. He’d noticed her for three days now, at exactly the same spot, the same pace and the same appearance. He knew she would look up and he’d see the small tattoo by her left eye. At least he assumed it was a tattoo and not a consistently applied daily make-up. As she passed, he thought he could hear her gently humming a tune. Maybe an iPod, but he couldn’t see any signs of her wearing one.

He descended in to the transport system. His new cartridge meant he had a good range on his transceiver again and could access the transport system without overtly waving his arm over the sensor.

Most travellers referred to the sensors as ‘oysters’ although this was a reference to a long defunct technology, much as the Tube itself was merely a reference to the shape of the original tunnels that formed the original wheel-based transport system.

He used the moving floor system to get to the high-speed transit level and stood for a moment waiting for the next transit pulse. He clipped himself into a free TPOD seat and punched in his destination. The system was pretty foolproof. His cartridge provided the main co-ordinates for his routine travel and a short personalized menu of options had appeared on the screen and he’d just tapped his planned destination.

Of course, he could go to other points within his normal routes or pre-authorise other destinations in advance, from the homelink system. Today was regular, though, or at least that was what he needed to suggest, despite what had happened yesterday.

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