Welcome to your future.

Spaceships. Jet packs. Laser guns. 

No. 

Fifty years from now, the future will still be shaped by the mundane, the stupid, and the petty, living side by side with the Big Ideas. Dirty, shining, poor, glorious, filthy, and wonderful. 50.YFN is where we tell our future's story, hangover and all.

In its short life,
50.YFN has already become a very sharply defined setting, with unique language and history. Because of the ongoing storylines and broad geographical setting, we strongly recommend using the archives and category tags before throwing yourself in the deep end. Read the guidelines, take a look around. There's a truly talented pool of creators breathing life into our world Fifty Years From Now.

You are welcome to be a part of it.

And remember:

This is not a land-grab. There's no turf.  If you're a new writer, you have the same access to Brooklyn as I do, and as much an opportunity to leave your imprint on it. Don't be intimidated. Leave your brand on the future alongside everyone else. It's your world too. 

8.14.2007

The Princess, pt. 1

by Michael Collett, State College, PA, USA

I pulled the vanity mirror down and watched her, visor obscuring my view of the road. My face took up the majority of the pane, and I smoothed my beard, any excuse to let my eyes roam. Driver's side window down, my fixer/driver -- known only to me as Handler Willy -- puffed a joint. Smoke trailed behind him towards her, following the bangs that cut across her forehead, alighted by the breeze coming through the car. She caught me, acknowledging my not-so-sly spy game with a wink and held her left eye closed long enough to give the flippant expression a little more emotion. Something brilliant in her gray-green eye fought its way from under the unnatural blue of her LiveContacts.

We had met a few hours before, as I trawled Old Sacramento looking for something for my editor, who had lodged in my ass about deadlines the minute I landed in Oakland. I had strayed into the Cease-Fire Zone looking for a cross-street to meet a contact. Apparently the river relocation project of 2030 had changed what neighborhoods were east or west of the American.

Been a while since I've been home.

The Cease-Fire Zone--essentially what was left of Old Sac, downtown and midtown--was held together by a multi-lateral agreement made a few years back by the ruling Golden Bear Party, with as many insurgent commanders as the UN could get to sit together at the old Lake Merrit Hotel down in Oakland. The agreement pushed any remaining civilians outside the perimeter of the Capitol City MegaFreeway.

Like most of the cease-fires in NoCal since the Little Big One, it had accomplished its exact opposite intent, leaving the once beautiful downtown and state capitol a bullet-riddled no-mans land. Golden Bear paramilitaries, guerrilla forces and the ubiquitous Shock Police (whose presence was no longer shocking) battled incessantly for control of center city and access to the elevated roads. Bodies stacked higher every day, no side able to control any stretch of the still pristine MegaFreeway for more than a few days.

Ducked into an abandoned Motel 6 off Stockton Boulevard, out of the middle of an escalating firefight between pro-Pivens factions. Despite their ideological alignment, minor disagreements tended to escalate quickly. Could hear sirens: the Shock was coming, they would only make this worse.

Took the stairs two by two, kicked in the door of a room facing the fighting, and set up my tripod in a blown out window, intent on making the best of my time waiting the skirmish out. When the Shocks' 'BadNews' ordinance started dropping, I was already photographing. Figuring strays might hit the building, I folded up quick, and made for the ground floor.

Bounded into the lobby and saw her. She was toting an antique AR-15, firing at a straggler who had spotted her. She nearly shot me when I took her picture, but heard the ominous whistle of an incoming drone mortar, and decided to run. Hot on her heels, I raced out of the hotel, clearing the faux-Victorian façade just as it came crashing down, landing on her. We held each other wordlessly in the aftermath, our mutual distrust overcome by the simple realization of survival.

She joined us in the gray Toyota hybrid SUV, almost as dilapidated as Sacramento itself, clutching her rifle to her chest. Handler Willy piloted us out of the Zone towards Roseville. I grabbed my camera off the floorboard and snapped her picture again, capturing the haunting face in that vanity mirror.

She had mastered a hodge-podge style of dress, typical of many guerillas I had run into since covering the West Coast. In spite of this, her garments had an unmistakably regal nature that she had perhaps been born into, only to have lost in the violence. She was certainly on her own now, but still wore on her lapel a silver variation Jolly Roger, typical of the now defunct buccaneer syndicates from Oregon and Washington; she paired it with what appeared to be a rose, made of ballistic shell casings.

Physically, she was a sight to behold; in her boots, she nearly looked me in the eyes, making her at least 6 feet tall. A few well placed scars -- including one snaking out of the back of her shirt to behind her left ear -- showed she was no stranger to a firefight.

We made it past the MegaFreeways, eastern foothills rolling out ahead of us, sun setting at our backs as we climbed into the smog belt, avoiding the roadblocks, bandits and generally bad drivers on the main roads. Me, Handler Willy and my ticket to a Pulitzer Prize in the back seat.

From the hills, you could almost forget the central valley was on the brink of civil war. As the sun finally bid its goodbye and the golden-grey of the city night took over, Sacramento's visage felt particularly 20th century: downtown's high-rises, the arresting image of capitol dome cracked open like an easter egg, and the endless fields of lights, pockmarked with dark spots where insurgents had cut power. Lovely, just don't mind the sporadic tracer bullet fire crisscrossing the city like so many crimson lightning bugs.

Had Handler Willy drop us at a darkened café at the edge of an exterior suburb where I had a contact. It was the only structure left standing in what looked to have been a grotesquely decorated south-western motif strip mall.

Hopped out of the passenger seat and reached back behind it to unlatch it for her. Quicker than I, she reached the seat handle, swung her legs over my outstretched arm, landed feet-first behind me, reached around to the passenger side floorboard and grabbed my camera bag from me. She, apparently, was less concerned with the moment we'd shared -- or my Pulitzer -- than with how much she could sell my equipment for.

To be continued.

3 comments:

Frank Abagnale Jr said...

that was a great, i could see it all.

JamesPeach said...

I haven't read every entry, but this is the best-written one I've seen.

selva said...

i stayed in Alpine Peaks restaurant with my parents , i feel l am living something in my life while am this restaurant.i surely ask my father to go back there in the next holiday