She lifts the Phask™ to her face, holds it nearer and nearer her skin until it connects with her Tempts®, and then exits her apartment. As she heads for the elevator, she tells her quarters to lock up before also hailing a DrUber©.
While riding down the elevator, she dictates a few messages to her friends, confirms the weather, and watches a cat video her sister sent. It’s hilarious.
Her building is an older one, practically historic by the city’s standards, and it hasn’t yet been outfitted with exterior ports. Keeps the rent down, but definitely an inconvenience to actually have to ride an elevator.
After exiting her building, she finds her DrUber© waiting at the curb. She climbs in and takes the only empty seat available. It’s at the front, on the left. There are five other people.
DrUber© flashes a message across her visual welcoming her and then prompting her to confirm the destination. She does so, and it next merges seamlessly into the city’s ever-flowing traffic.
A call pushes through. She sees it’s Alejandra and quickly answers.
“Hey, Alejandra!” she greets.
“Hey, Zee! Just wondered when you’re going to arrive?”
“Hold on, let me check …” Zee asks for an ETA. Her DrUber© messages that it will be three and a half more minutes—they have to drop off one more passenger first. “Just a few,” Zee informs.
“Cloo,” Alejandra says. “That’s about the same for me, too.”
“I’m so excited,” Zee says.
“How many people do you think will be there?” Zee asks.
“Well, fourteen confirmed, so let’s hope we have at least that many, right?”
“I never dreamed we’d get enough people together to start a Jill Thompson fan club!”
“I know! I loved looking at my dad’s copies of her graphic novels when I was a kid, especially Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. She’s such an amazing artist. This is going to be so much fun!”
Zee’s nose suddenly tickles. “I’ll see you there, Alejandra. I gotta go—I think I’m going to sneeze!”
“Get your Phask™ off! You’ll gross it!” Alejandra cries.
Zee disconnects her Phask™ just in time to hold her finger up to her nose and belay the sneeze. “Whew!” she says. “That was close.”
Before replacing her Phask™, Zee waits to see if another sneeze threatens. She relaxes while enjoying the slight hum of the vehicle. The three remaining people surrounding her—two men and a woman—all wear Phasks™ and, judging by their hand motions, seem to be carrying on fairly animated conversations. That, or they could be gaming. Maybe both.
Now alone in the front seat, Zee slides to the right side of the vehicle so she can look out the window at the few people walking. It always amuses her to see all of the adults wearing their Phasks™—No Two Ever Alike—and their children walking alongside them, barefaced. Kids are too little for Tempts®, so they have to make do with handheld devices. She remembers when her doctors said she could finally get a Phask™—it was the best day of her life.
One pedestrian catches her attention. He wears no Phask™, has no device in his hand, doesn’t seem connected at all to anything or anyone. In fact, Zee thinks he looks a little horrified.
Confident her sneeze has completely abated, she puts her Phask™ back on and G-Scans the guy.
No matches. Weird. She can’t remember a single time that’s ever happened.
The DrUber© reaches her destination, attaches to a lift, and then ascends. Even though she’s received thirty-two messages during her sneeze dilemma, she pauses all the activity on her visual and marvels at the parked cars sliding to and fro in order to make way for her DrUber© as it climbs the building. It reminds her of the ant farm she loved as a kid.
“Hey, it’s me again,” she says to Alejandra. “You there?”
“Yeah,” Alejandra replies. “Did you sneeze?”
“You know it!” Zee giggles.
“Hold on,” Alejandra says. “I’m talking to Eve. She says Jill Thompson might drop by!”
“No way! That would be fantastic. Makes sense; she does live in Chicago and all …”
“Give me two secs,” Alejandro says before cutting out.
The DrUber© docks at the 201st floor, unloads an occupant, then travels to the 218th. After docking again, the DrUber© alerts its occupants that they can safely exit the vehicle.
Zee double checks her evite to verify the apartment number when Alejandra breaks back in by saying, “Hey, I’m here!”
“Me, too!” Zee responds.
“At the party?”
Zee answers, “No, I’m in the hall, walking to the apartment.”
Zee abruptly feels a tap on the back of her shoulder. She spins around to see one of her fellow passengers standing behind her, removing her Phask™.
“Zee?” the person asks.
Flinging off her own Phask™, Zee questions, “Alejandra?”
The two women hug while laughing hysterically.
“Oemgee!” Zee shouts. “Did you just get out of that DrUber©?”
“Yes! We’re such itzes! We’ve been together the whole time!”
“Ha! My dad would have a field day with this!”
Alejandra agrees, saying, “Oh, man, don’t even.”
“Well,” Zee continues, “it’s nice to meet you, Alejandra.”
“Yeah, like, in person and for real,” Alejandra says with a grin.
The two women resume walking, side by side, with their Phasks™ by their sides.
“So,” Zee begins, “is Jill Thompson actually coming?”
They reach the apartment.
“This is it,” Zee says. “Let me put on my Phask™ and I’ll let them know we’re here …”
“Girl!” Alejandra chides. “Just knock!”
Zee raps against the door a few times, then repeats, “So? Is she here or what?”
Alejandra smiles brightly at Zee as the door opens. She says, “Just you wait, Zee. I think you’re going to like what the future holds.”
Copyright © 2017 by Scott William Foley
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.