He was relieved like he always was when he stepped off the ML transport. They had started building them before he was born and now in middle age he had been riding them for a couple of decades. He understood the science and engineering behind them and was comforted in knowing that so far only one accident had occurred. That one had killed over a 1000 people and disrupted the network for months. He just couldn’t get it out of his head that when you got into one it was like stepping into a bullet that was fired down a long barrel about almost supersonic speeds. Since the carriages were elevated by the magnets and propelled by the electrical pull of the that field there was no friction and speeds could be accelerated almost without end. The trip from LA to Denver could be done in not much more than two hours if it wasn’t for the stops. Even though there were slots for each transport he couldn’t help but think that some day there would be another transport going the opposite direction on the same slot as his. That hadn’t happened yet. He always felt better when it ran above ground even though the view was dizzyingly blurry because of the speed at least you could get some perspective of time and distance.
He knew the scanners on the doors of the transport wouldn’t pick up the carefully plastic- wrapped bundle in his waistband but those random searches by TSA personnel made him anxious. Those searches could happen anytime, anywhere in or near the station. The exist was uneventful and he emerged into the sunlight on the main level of the station facing East. In the distance you could see the Nuke Park as it was called where twelve plants were grinding out power steadily. There were ten more parks just like that one spread out from Denver to western Kansas. G had decided that geography dictated that the central location for the plants and transmission lines running like a spider web out to the hinterlands. He went to the minicars lot and inserted his ID card into the receptacle and was issued a start card for car 117. It was going to cost 12 Units a day. He was only allocated 980 Units a month so he would have to be judicious with his use of the car. When he got to 117 he found that the charge was low. Typical. That meant at least another hour or more for the free charge or he could pay 20 Units for the battery exchange. He didn’t have the time, he couldn’t be late for the delivery he had to make and the backup plan made he wait another three days and he couldn’t afford that. If only a Cleanser made more money but his position was considered clerical by G.
He spent hours a day going through old websites and taking them down based on the criteria in his manual. He had been doing it for years now and rarely had to refer to the manual anymore. Sometime he deleted and erased only portions of the site depending on the content. Over the years he had come across most everything and every conceivable subject. At first almost all his work was vetted by his supervisor but as the years went by those audits of his work became rare because he was dependable and had never had more than a couple of mistakes in tens of thousands of deletions. The pornography was the easiest because he could take them down as soon as he saw the nature of the site and that took just one click of a key for total elimination.
In the early days he was so concerned about pleasing his supervisor and collecting his monthly Units that he didn’t focus on the content he was reviewing other than to note it as acceptable or not. Since about 99% was unacceptable it was easy work and what he took down was nothing more than words on the screens without meaning to him. G had insisted that the Web be open, fair, educational and inspiring. The Content Committee had Lord knows how many thousands on its staff to ensure those goals.
It was the new sites that came up that got his attention. It was easy to find them with key words–freedom, revolution, individual, literature, Founding Fathers, personal rights, civil rights, tyranny, corrupt government, and others on his list as warning signals to be investigated. Some of them talked of “libraries” filled with books on history, economics, science, politics (such an antiquated phrase) and religion. He didn’t understand why they made such a big deal of libraries. There were libraries in every town he was told. They had one in LA, you just had to apply for a permit. Someone had told him there were lots of restrictions on using them but he didn’t know because he had never tried.
Slowly and bit by bit he had started reading some of the links and content on the sites he was reviewing. One of the first that got his attention was a biography of Thomas Jefferson. He was intrigued that a man of such wealth and means would be absorbed with political ideas and had such an expansive and curious mind about science. Something about that stuffy and stilted language was beautiful to him. Over a period of time he was now spending as much as an hour a day reading the “forbidden” fruit of the Web. Forbidden to the public but it was his job to discern what was acceptable and what was not and the supervisor couldn’t fault his research on Twain, Churchill, the Bible or histories, lots of histories. He never realized that so much had been recorded about history for millenia. G liked for the public to look no further back than the Transformation Period.
Thankfully, there was no line for the battery replacement and he was out the front gate and headed north in minutes. He knew his ID card would track him constantly but he had a legitimate reason to go to Boulder. He was almost desperate to meet her after so long with clandestine messages and the promise of what she represented.
to be continued…..www.olcranky.wordpress.com