Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Chapter 3: What’s Easily Found is Easily Lost

On his first day as a Martian citizen, Mack decided to begin exploring the domed city that he would be calling home for at least the next ten years. Emigrating to Mars from Earth required the signing of a contract in which all rights to travel outside Mars were revoked for a full decade, and the condition that all immigrants must work on Mars for at least eight of those ten years. This was supposed to keep the number of immigrants at a low level, but once Mack had left his quarters, he could see that there were a lot more people milling around than even he expected. The main public area was designed much like a gigantic mall or shopping centre, with already countless shops, stalls, bars and eateries being run selling all the necessities of life, and countless more empty spaces Mack could imagine many more competing, luxury and niche stores opening in the coming months and years. As he strolled along the balcony part of the mall looking down on the hundreds, if not thousands of people buying all the things they could not bring with them through the wormhole, his eyes landed on a girl whose beauty he had never seen or imagined in his life. Mack watched her for a few seconds and her gaze rose to meet his, he smiled, hoping she could see him clearly from that distance, and she smiled back, and in that split second Mack fell in love. He darted to the nearest escalator hoping to get down and have a chance of meeting her, but once he had made it to the ground floor again, Mack had lost her in the sea of people. He jumped up to stand on the nearest bench, hoping to peer over the masses to find her again, but to no avail, he slumped down onto the bench, sighed, and said to himself, “what’s easily found is easily lost I guess”
Mack returned to his apartment a few hours later with enough ready meals to feed a small army, and he had sorted out a data access licence for his spinplant. It was strange to have to use money instead of having entitlements, normal currency having been phased out when Mack was only three. He had had a small collection on old coins and bank notes when he was a small boy, but as he grew up he forgot about them, put them away in a cupboard or something, they were probably still in storage back at his families apartment on Earth… on Earth. For the first time since he had arrived on Mars, Mack felt a little homesick, but he knew it would pass. He had chosen his destiny now, or at least unchosen it, back on Earth he knew he would end up working with the Hive Queen as a liaison, or programmer but whatever it would be he knew it wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to actually achieve something, and where else better to achieve something than on a planet where very little has been achieved so far, a place with endless possibilities, a place where he could shake off the shackles of his oppressive family and the Hive Queen whose dominance of Earth has bought humanity into a new golden age. A golden age? Or the beginnings of a stagnant society?
To get his mind off his thoughts of Earth he decided to try out his new data access, there were plenty of third person serials or total immersion movies he could access, but he decided to read a novel out of the Martian database’s extensive literature collection, Mack fell asleep reading from his Tactile Access Pad.
That night Mack dreamed about the girl he saw in the mall, why could he not get her out of his head?
* * * * * * * * * *
Mack left his apartment after a morning of filling in his forms and brushing up on the induction booklet to the location of his induction meeting, conference room 6. The only way to get around Mars city was by foot, or using electronic buggy taxis, which Mack guessed would be expensive and not particularly punctual due to the fact the majority of the Mars city complex was pedestrianised and in the most popular or important parts of the domed city, quite bustling. A handful of people had even blown probably quite a large chunk of their initial credit allowance on gyroscopic scooters. Mack had decided only to spend what he has to until he gets some sort of employment, with the first wave of immigrants being much larger than expected, Mack realized there would probably not be enough jobs to go around for a little while, he could live on an essentials only basis for a while if he has too.
Arriving at the induction only just on time, Mack was the last person to sit down; the only seat free was one at the far right on the back row. He took the wad of forms and papers out of his back pocket and put them down on the desk in front of him whilst setting his spinplant for an AV record of the lecture.
The presenter of the meeting was a tall slim man with distinguished grey hair, and an authoritative voice, he wore a dark blue jump suit with a Martian colony ship badge on the left of the chest
”Hello, my name is Doctor Neil Carter. I was the medical officer on the Verne colony ship to Mars, and I am the head physician and a member of the city council here on Mars,” He cleared his throat, “if you read the induction booklet there’s probably not much information you will gain from this meeting, but for the benefit of those who did not, please save any questions for the end. First, I will tell you about the colony ships and about how we have set up the colony here on Mars. There were five colony ships, all converted in the early 2070’s from the original terraforming ships built between 2035 and 2042. They were named, Verne, Wells, Clarke, Robinson, and Hamilton”
Mack sighed, having been taught about the Martian terraforming at primary school. He bought up the games menu on his spinplant, and kept the recording of the meeting running in the background, if there was any useful information divulged during the meeting he could watch it later, but in the mean time Mack set about playing a fantasy RPG.
As the meeting was ending, Mack saved and quit his game of swords, sorcerers and slaying dragons, so as to take part in the questions at the end. Mack had a question all ready about the repercussions of the larger than expected initial immigration group, but before he could get a chance to ask it, a girl near the front of the room had stood up, and asked the very question Mack had considered. To his surprise, it was the girl he had seen in the mall the day before, Mack quickly put his hand down, no longer having anything to ask, and started thinking of a new query, but his mind was pulling a blank. There was something fascinating, mesmerising, hypnotic, about this girl, her voice, the way she looked, her attitude, he failed to pinpoint it, he just knew he had to know her.

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