I am a FirmCorp model K-12 Humanoid device.
“Every kid should have one.”
That is my tagline. All K-12 Humanoid devices share this tagline. It was written by the FirmCorp marketing department.
Abagail’s mother and father purchased me at the Plexicorp central retail hub in Seattle on September 20th, 2051. When they had me shipped to their residence on the outskirts of the city for Abagail’s seventh birthday, and my casement was unlocked, I imprinted onto her.
I was given a name.
It could be a girl’s name. It could be a boy’s name.
I am neither.
I am a model K-12 Humanoid device, copyright FirmCorp technologies, 2020-2051, all rights reserved.
I was made on August 24, 2051. My serial number is K-1234594700912A.
I was activated and imprinted on September 23, 2051.
I was called Murphy by my human on that day for the first time.
Darius Hansen was allowed into the Daniel S. Gumpter Memorial Community Center in Uptown Oakview at any hour of the day, specifically the swimming pool, and even more specifically, the diving board. He even had his own key.
Darius was the town hopeful, a sure-fire Olympian. And he needed a place to practice his diving. More to the point, it was hoped that Darius’ success would mean the success of the whole town.
image: Jacob Haddon
Once, Oakview was a middle-class haven that also hosted a strong working class, too. It had once hosted an airplane seat manufacturing plant that employed most of the town; line workers, administrators, and middle managers, too. But, that was a few years ago. Since then, the plant closed down and relocated to China. If you had a dark sense of humour, you could say the town was grounded.
The only thing left in Oakview was anaemic strip malls, unemployment lines, the crumbling Gateway Bridge over the Spencer River where a guy committed suicide a few years ago, and the desperate search for a way out alive. Continue reading
Photo: Ali K
When I was eighteen in the summer of 1962, I had an important meeting with a childhood friend of my father. That friend was Mr. John Oliver Sharp, the hotelier. He owned several hotels and restaurants up the Eastern Seaboard even then. Sure, he’d been born into wealth. But, he was one of those guys who everyone knew was a master of the universe. Unlike the media-whore moguls today, he had class as well as money. He carried himself with a certain grace that is not seen today. It set him apart.
So, my Dad called Mr. Sharp to tell him about his smart and ambitious kid. It was all on the pretext of catching up, but it was mostly about getting me a leg up into the world of John Oliver Sharp. With my Dad’s help, I was to meet with Mr. Sharp and convince him to let me become an intern at one of his hotels, as a manager’s assistant. I was assured that I would have a good future under Mr.Sharp’s wing.
But, my meeting with him wouldn’t go quite as planned, to say the least. Scratch that. It would be a total disaster.
Dian turned off her cellphone, and slipped out of the hotel suite she’d called home since the conference began a week ago. She rode the elevator down, walked across the marble floor of the hotel lobby, and out onto the street. She borrowed the keys to the rental car from Jackie her personal assistant who reluctantly agreed to clear the afternoon’s schedule while Dian made her trip out of the city and back into the suburbs of her youth. It wouldn’t just be a trip through the streets, onto the highway, and then out into the land of manicured lawns and the smell of barbecue coals on the air. It would be a trip in time, too.
She didn’t expect to see anyone she knew. She moved from here when she was seventeen, just before the end of high school. Now she was forty-eight, although she looked thirty-eight. Everyone else she knew was probably gone, too. That’s what you did when you were from a place like this. You did your time when you were a kid, and then you left. In Dian’s case, it was a move into the city with Mom and Dad for the last few months of high school, then university, then a job right out of school, several promotions, a marriage to Mark, a partnership in the firm, and two beautiful daughters not soon after. It was like a logical progression for her. It never occurred to Dian that anyone would actually want to stay in the town they were born in. There were too many ghosts when you stayed in one place like that.
But, coming back here for the conference, with her hometown only forty-five minutes away down the highway had been like a sign to her, perhaps another logical progression. She knew she had to leave, and go back to the old neighbourhood. Because sometimes, ghosts didn’t stay in one place, either. Sometimes, despite all of your sucesses, they followed you. They reminded you who you really were.
So, maybe this trip back would help. Maybe it would finally help.