(A continuation of Sifting Tobacco Co
The magnetic fields held the steel beast between the four interlocking bars that wound their way through Inner City. Inside, the transit vehicle emitted a low vibrating hum. The violent rise against gravity had caused Anthony to forget about his friend Sol’s strange behavior at the ground floor bus stop, but now that the ride was calmed he took a moment to ponder what could have been happening.
Recalling the situation, Anthony remembered turning before he stepped into the transit vehicle and seeing Sol hunched over, stumbling slowly towards the bus. He remembered asking if everything was all right and Sol waving for him to go on without him. He wouldn’t have normally done so but something in him told him to let Sol be alone.
However, no matter what you’re thinking about, four fusion engines below you is enough to push anything from your mind.
The rise upwards to the magnetic grid takes roughly five minutes of being pushed down into your seat as the bus defies gravity. Once parallel with the smooth magnetized bars the engines shut down and the only remaining sound is the soothing vibration of the magnetic field surrounding the vehicle.
Looking upwards through the large glass windows atop the vehicle Anthony noted the dull grey of the sky. It was much brighter this far up the mammoth towers, where at least some sunlight was able to gaze in. A child in the seat behind him gasped and after a brief moment of fleeting panic Anthony saw the child was playing with a VR headset. The graphics on those could be quite realistic, even with the current CG restriction laws.
The bus slowed to a stop and took on two new passengers, one an old man with a complexion so light he most certainly stood out, and the other quite the opposite, with dark, dark skin looking almost Anthony’s age. Most dwellers of Inner City were of an olive complexion with light brown eyes. As if in utter defiance both men had blazingly blue eyes.
This intrigued Anthony, especially the dark man, he had never known an African descendant to have blue eyes. The old man took the seat next to Anthony and the black man sat in the adjacent row next to the kid playing his game.
“Forgive me for being curious sir bu—“ he began before the man cut him off.
“My name is Dr. Dais, and my associate here is Mr. Zeal, we are of the Sifting Scholar Corporation, recently arriving from our headquarters on the eastern continent.”
“I see, my name is Anthony Craole, a student at the Coleridge University in—“
“Yes, we are well aware of this Mr. Craole.”
Anthony was quite speechless, he finally managed the first part of “how” when the doctor continued.
“Though the majority of the world has fused together into the inescapable final race, we are among the few left of the Originals. Benefits of our purity include small psychic abilities rarely found in today’s world.”
“How is it that the two of you—“
“My eyes,” interjected the black man from behind, “are not quite as unique as one would guess. All races in purity began with blue eyes.”
Anthony didn’t quite believe that. And he felt uneasy about people reading his mind, he, for one, liked to finish his questions before they were—
“Verbal communication is imprecise and relies too heavily on tones and body language. Mental communication produces quicker results.” The doctor explained.
Anthony remembered reading about psychics. An interesting idea came to his mind and he decided to experiment with it.
“A brick wall...” the doctor scratched the white stubs from his unshaven chin.
“Interesting,” added the other.
Attempting to hold the image of the wall in his mind Anthony asked, “So, what business brings you gentlemen to Inner City?”
“We are new professors for your Collage,” Dr. Dais intoned. “It seems the education being given is not up to standards with the world's market.”
“Sifting Scholar Corporation mass produces professors then?” asked Anthony, perhaps hinting at something, perhaps not.
“We are not products of Genetic engineering Mr. Craole.” Anthony had let his image collapse momentarily, and he was just beginning to enjoy the briefly equal ground.
The vehicle again came to a stop but not to pick up passengers this time, it was preparing to rise to the main city level. The engines again kicked in and the current cargo of people were pressed into their seats. All except for Mr. Zeal and Dr. Dais, who were seemingly still conversing telepathically with simple nods and facial changes.
The lighting increased ever so slightly as they were brought up to the thriving population of people shooting along magnetic side walks just below the transit field. The engines were once again shut off and their roar was replaced again with the soft hum of the magnetic field. Anthony watched the people pass below as the bus continued along.
“We understand you’re majoring in—really that wall is not necessary—particle physics exploration. Indeed a great choice of career, Mr. Zeal here will be the new instructor of Quantum Field Polarity.”
Before Anthony could ask what the hell was wrong with the old professor the glass roof shattered as two bodies fell through, one atop the other, ending with the indistinguishable sound of crushed bones. All on the bus stood up in shock, a few women letting out small piercing screams, all accept the boy in the VR game.
A small pool of blood trickled down the aisle from the bottom corpse. The bus driver began to pull into the nearest stop, calling on the emergency frequencies for assistance. None stood to see if any of the bodies were ok, so Anthony began to stand.
“The one on top is alive.” Said the dark skinned professor. Anthony stepped over Dr. Dais and began down the aisle nonetheless. Both the bodies were clothed in black jumpsuits from neck to foot. The one on top was definitely a man, a crew cut of dark hair atop his head, eyes closed but he was breathing. However, the features of the one under him were completely distorted as they were covered in blood and crushed almost completely.
The man on top began to cough, blood seeping from his nose, ears, and mouth. A large medic car rushed up beside bus and two medics suddenly appeared next to the bodies.
“Excuse us sir,” they said brushing Anthony aside. As they did so the man’s eyes opened wide and he sat up, wincing in pain. “Hold still!” said the medic, trying to keep him down, but the man was obviously much stronger.
“You ain’t puttin’ me on that damn boat!” the man shouted angrily throwing the medic to the back of the bus. The man’s eyes scanned Anthony as if analyzing a threat and then looked back suddenly and directly into the eyes of the old white man. “Dr. Dais...” said the man in a tone of wonder and perhaps a touch of suspicion. With a wild smile the man touched his right hand to left palm and vanished.
The second medic was glaring at Anthony, “Next time stay out of the way!” And with that both the medics and the dead corpse vanished. Anthony was suddenly reminded of the reason he chose not to live on the main city level.
By the time he arrived back at his house it was nearly ten o’clock, though the sun was down the light was only a slightly darker shade than during the daytime. Anthony could still tell the difference. He was surprised to find the door to his apartment was still locked, assuming that Sol would have been home by now. “Wonder what he’s up to, probably took that coffee shop gal up on her offer.”
Closing the door behind him Anthony threw his keys into the key holding dish and stopped a moment in memory. The “dish” was really a melted crystal wine glass, a memento he kept from the fire when he was a child. He laughed remembering how his father had ran straight into the burning building, past Anthony coughing in his bedroom, and down into the cellar to save his prize wine. When the firemen found him he had apparently died from asphyxiation from the smoke, but he held clutched in his hand a 1999 bottle of some expensive Zinfandel. Instead of hating his father for it Anthony just laughed. He understood. He kept the melted glass to remind him...
Asleep now he dreamt of hands woven together as threads of a cloth, and the cloth wrapped around the world. The hands were so tight that he could hardly distinguish them from each other, and as his view of the world expanded he saw that they were truly one organism feeding off the knowledge it shared as a whole. He saw that some hands would grow dim and fade away, but instead of a gap appearing the links would just become more tightly interlocked. Looking closer he saw that the hand did not simply vanish but rather it dispersed into the rest of the interlocking hands and arms, making them all brighter. He also saw that the web of hands was growing faster than tightening, as new arms were born and woven into the whole.
The earth began to spin blindingly fast so that it became a blur and took on a metallic form. And then it was that he noticed he was standing atop the mists of an ancient looking forest, and the once interlocking arms were now interlocking steel bars, holding together plates of glass. It was now a dome rising from the mist. He heard a faint banging noise and, looking closer, he saw there was a giant bearded man about his age inside the dome, hunched over like a chic in its egg or a baby in the womb, and he was pounding on the glass. The mist prevented him from seeing the man clearly but he felt sick from looking at the man. Inside the dome the man faded away and was replaced by a burning light that expanded encompassing all.
Anthony awoke with the sun beating heavily on his face. But no, the room was dark, there was no sunlight in Inner City. It was 5 a.m.
(Continued with Sifting Electronics)