Good Old Fashioned

Entry by: Alex Fleet

17th June 2016
Good Old Fashioned Future

George ambled over to his Hurley and swept his leg over the low wide saddle, settling himself in comfortably. He and the saddle had known each other for years; the old saddle was as much a part of him as his body sitting on it. As he gripped the handlebars the system recognised his palm print and the familiar status lights glowed, ready for him to start up. With a gentle twist of the throttle, the engine sprung into life and with a familiar rumble settled down to a powerful throb, it's vibrations gently massaging the frame of the machine.

George checked around, indicated, opened the throttle and the machine leapt forward, clearing the edge of the roof and sweeping high across his back garden, to swoop upwards to a couple of hundred feet above the trees. Another double check around and above him gave George a quick summary of who else was out on their airbikes and with a clear sky in front of him the machine bucked beneath him and the rumble became a scream as he wound the throttle to ascend quickly to a couple of thousand feet to join the other airbikes heading eastward out of town.

Around him, streams of other traffic filled the skies in orderly lines, following designated routes, co-ordinating and co-operating as thousands of people made their journeys across the city and beyond.

George was on his way to a restaurant up in the nearby hills, above his home town of Shrewsbury. His son Jim had been in Australia for a month or so and they had scarcely spoken during that time, so George was pleased that Jim had contacted him to suggest they meet up for Father’s Day, as he had a taken the night off working his busy contract.

Soon the suburbs gave way to countryside and the hills began to take on form. George guided his craft towards one particular landmark as he peeled off the line of vehicles sliding across the sky. Although his machine could auto-pilot to any destination, he far preferred to handle it manually, feeling the life of the machine literally through the seat of his pants as it hit the highs and lows of the atmosphere, bubbles of warm air lifting him, then dropping him as he passed beyond them to hit a colder patch.

Finally the restaurant came into view and he manoeuvred the craft down into the car park. It was dry and dusty but was scarcely disturbed by his arrival: just his foot touching down as he jumped off raised a small cloud of the fine sand. The heat rippled off the black shiny sides of the Hurley as the now-silent engine ticked and clicked as it cooled.

The interior of the restaurant was cool. George ambled over to the bar and ordered coffee: took it across to the panoramic window and sat staring into space.

“You there yet?” came Jim’s voice.

George jumped, as usual. He’d forgotten to turn up the volume on the incoming call alarm. “Yep, just sitting here admiring the view. Never tire of looking at it.”

“I won’t be long, I’m on my way. Just stepping in now. Did you come on the Hurley?”

“Yeah, sure did, son.”

“Thought you might! You really should try the transmoleculer, it’s a lot easier!”

“It might be, but I don’t want my molecules spread out across the skies over Africa if something happens to go wrong.”

“More chance of that happening to you on your Hurley, Dad. It’s just so dangerous! And that maglev stuff, it’s so ancient now. I’m surprised you’re allowed to fly that thing. It’s archaic!”

“It’s a classic, thank you son.”

“What is there to eat? They got steak?”

“Nah, I checked. No-one does meat any more, which suits me fine. I’ve never really eaten it, as you know. When I was a kid, it was the odd Sunday treat but now there’s nowhere you can get it. Plenty of substitutes though, they do me just fine if I might fancy it. But the idea of eating something that even just pretends to be pieces of a dismembered dead animal just doesn’t appeal.”

“What sort of animal things might they have had when you first went there. It was a bit of a specialist place, wasn’t it?”

“Oh, anything really. Legs, thighs, breasts, that sort of stuff. Internal bits too – liver, kidney as well as tongue and cheeks. Eyeballs too, I guess”

“Gross. Look I’m just cutting off for couple of minutes, see you soon Dad.”

George smiled and turned back to the view. Behind him, over in the corner, the lights on a small cubicle lit up.

It was strange how real life usually turned out to be not quite as romantic as in the stories. In old science fiction movies there had been scenes where space travellers were beamed up to their ships, appearing with sparkling molecules and a weird sound. In reality he knew that in about three minutes, Jim would step out of the cubicle like he’d just stepped out the bathroom.

There was a ting from the cubicle and as George turned towards it Jim indeed did open the door and step out, looking like he’d just had a shower. His hair was still damp and he was wearing loud Bermuda shorts with a t-shirt and flip flops. George looked at him and laughed. “So how is it down at Bondi?”

Jim looked down at himself. “Sorry, I always forget to dress for the trip! I know you prefer long slacks when you’re in a restaurant.”

“Don’t worry son, it’s just nice to see you. You know I’m just old fashioned. I like my magnetic levitation machines and I like to fly myself, even though I know just about everyone else is kicking back letting the autopilot do it for them. The odd random renegade keeps their systems on their toes!”

Jim smiled. “Yeah, good to see you too, Dad. Happy Father’s Day, you good old fashioned guy.”