I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.
The stairs creaked underfoot, and the conversation in the kitchen abruptly stopped. Kenza came down rested and fresh-faced, wearing her powder blue pajamas, her milk chocolate complexion framed in long braids. “Only three more days till I go off to college!”
A big high school senior, Mom mused as she stared out the kitchen window into the smog. Kenza was still so young and full of expectation. Couldn’t they prolong her childhood a while longer? A turbine engine sliced across the view with a sky-shredding roar. They all waited for the airplane to barely clear the house and thunder off into the abyss shooting its white stream of weather-regulating chemicals as it tore the sky in half.
Kenza stood next to Mom at the sink and followed Mom’s gaze into the smog. “What is it?”
Mom hugged Kenza in a long embrace. Kenza would always be mommy’s baby. They rocked back and forth like always. “Mommy’s precious.”
The two women stood there holding hands. Porter peeked at them over his newspaper. As could be expected of a clone, Kenza looked exactly the way her mother had when he had first met her. Although, Porter hadn’t expected it. His wife was the one who looked different now, because of her age and because of the dye she put in her hair to achieve that purple tint she thought he liked.
The electronic kettle emitted a recorded whistle. The women skirted around each other making coffee and toast. “I’m worried about you moving so far away from home,” Mom said. “Universities aren’t like they used to be.”
“Oh, Mom.” Kenza spread jam on both sides of her bread and put it in the toaster.
Her father folded and flipped his newspaper, using the origami skills he’d learned on crowded trains. He didn’t have to work anymore, what with all the credits Mom was earning selling electricity from her solar rooftop panels back to the Grid, but he couldn’t break his commuting habit, probably also why none of their friends had solar farms decorating their rooftops. He folded a quarter of his paper. “Another merger. The Times is taking over the Enquirer.”
“The Emperor’s punishment for the Enquirer news leak.”
“What news leak?”
“About how much airplanes really pollute.”
He wasn’t even listening. “One passenger on a round trip flight to London creates a warming effect equivalent to three tons of carbon dioxide,” Mom said. “As much as heating a house for a whole year.”
Porter might not have heard that a six-hour plane ride polluted as much as heating a house for a whole year, but at the tone of Mom’s voice, he took on a mousy aspect, accentuated by his big ears. “Uh huh,” came his non-response, mouse ears sticking out of his newspaper. “It’s good for growth.”
“Growth! We have airplanes landing on our house and you want growth! Where do you expect them to grow? Are we supposed to shrink?”
“Growth is good.”
“Growth is bad.” Mom went on. “Most people don’t wake up until their local newspaper staff gets hunted down. By then, they’ve been manipulated into obesity and indebtedness to the status quo.”
Porter adjusted his stiff posture. He gazed at Mom and shifted the insipid newspaper to cover his paunch. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
“That’s what corporations would like you to believe. They want people to be afraid of doing anything that might threaten their busywork jobs. People are so busy polluting, they hardly notice their freedoms disappearing.”
“Indeed,” Porter surmised. “Corporations have taken control.”
“If they can do it, we can, too!” Mom said.
Porter wondered when his wife had become so hard. It must have something to do with aging. “Don’t you think that’s a little paranoid?” he ventured.
“Paranoid? There’s no news in there. When banksters buy up all the newspapers and bundle them into one corporation, all you get is propaganda. How can you read that profanity? You’re helping banks and oil companies become sacred as they rip families and churches apart!”
“Stop it, you two!” Kenza covered her ears.
“OK, I’ll stop,” Mom said.
Kenza uncovered her ears. “You make it sound like no job is good. What kind of work am I gonna do? You’re disillusioning me.”
“Oh,” Mom said. “I’m disillusioning you. All those Christmases for nothing. I’m sorry.” Mom put the dishes in the sink. “Maybe there is a Santa Claus.”
“There probably is,” Kenza said.
When a smart-mouthed teen wonders why the work that needs to be done pays nothing compared to the busywork glorified on holovision news, the search for answers takes him on the wildest journey of anyone’s lifetime. Their planet is choked with pollution. They can’t do anything about it . . . or can they? With the girl of his dreams, he inadvertently invents living computers. Just as the human race allows corporations to pollute Earth into total desolation, institute martial law and enslave humanity, the two teens set out to save civilization. Can they thwart polluters of Earth and other fertile planets? The heroes come into their own in different kinds of relationships in this diverse, multi-cultural romance. Along the way, they enlist the help of female droid Any Gynoid, who uncovers cutting-edge scientific mysteries. Their quest takes them through the Big Bang and back. Will Starliament tear them from the project and unleash ‘intelligent’ life’s habitual pollution, or will youth lead the way to a new way of coexisting with Nature? –HSE