A Universal Expression (CRE2017)
Evan's feet pounded out a steady beat on the pavement. The recently resurfaced bike path was smooth and curved gently to the right. Two-story
condominiums rose above the tops of the young aspen trees to his left, spaced at precise intervals in the lush, thick grass of the development's lawn.
He passed a generator humming with electricity and could feel the fields it generated. It almost interfered with his pace, but he pushed through and
it faded quickly behind him.
Evan was tall and strong, in excellent shape for a young adult male. He easily paced 6:00 miles on today's run, a 10-mile tempo run. He had been
running his entire life, and loved it. There was power and grace running that he didn't feel while standing still. He felt free, and closer to the
natural world as he moved through it - in sunshine, in wind and rain, running past chittering blackbirds and curious squirrels, startled grasshoppers
and rustling trees; crunching fallen leaves, pine needles, and the smell of woodsmoke in the fall. Winter running was his favorite. He loved the
crisp air and the squeak of frigid, dry snow as he pushed his body's limits.
Today was late spring, though, and the world was green, not white or brown. Leaves had burst forth from trees and shrubs, and the meadows and fields
he sometimes ran by were covered in a vibrant, healthy emerald. The vegetation still had the energy of waking up after spring, before the dryness and
over-ripeness of the midsummer heat had set in.
He rounded the corner and headed out of the residential neighborhood, out into the surrounding country on the gravel shoulder of the county road. He
pumped up a small hill and across the pedestrian bridge over the highway. The land beneath him changed as the ground sloped down into a valley and
the bridge crossed over a small river on the far side of the highway. Mag-lev and the newer anti-grav cars carried commuters into the domed city in
the distance to his right, while heavy-duty haul-alls and family-sized lev-vans buzzed leftward toward the indistinct horizon, to other districts, the
mountains, or the ocean. He could see over the tops of some of the trees and down into the marsh of the riverbend, where geese, ducks, and other
water birds floated lazily in the lake that filled a depression in the river flats. The lake's glassy surface rippled slightly and reeds waved gently
in the light breeze, and the sun glinted off the water to make colorful spots appear in his eyes.
Just over the next hill he saw home. He pushed the run to the end and sweat trickled off his forehead as he slowed down on the walkway through the
park to the great metal gate.
"Welcome back, Evan," said the guardsman. He placed his hand on the biometric interface to open the gate. Evan waved and headed onto the campus.
He could feel his system cooling down already. The human body was such an amazing machine, ingenious and efficient.
Evan entered the complex and made his way up to the labs. As he pushed open the double doors, the four operators looked up from their terminals and
waved at him. He waved back and pushed on through the chamber to the far side, up into the control area.
"Well, hello Evan. How was your run? It's a beautiful day for it."
"It's always a beautiful day out here, Meagell," Evan replied with a smile. "Have you seen Sophia?"
"Come now, Evan, you know where she is."
"Of course. Thank you, Father," Evan said.
The graying man smiled kindly at him. "Evan, I've been meaning to talk to you about Sophia," he began, but Evan held up a hand to forestall the
"Father, please, we've had this conversation before. I know what you're going to say."
"You must be careful, Evan. She is not for you, nor you for her. It cannot proceed. You know this."
"Father, I am no longer an adolescent. I understand. But Sophia is my friend. I'll see you later."
He hurried off to find Sophia.
Sophia was where he expected her to be, in the holographic experience hall. That was where she spent most of her time, learning about the Earth and
all its wonders. He entered the hall quietly, trying not to disturb her.
She stood on a wooden walkway, supported by massive cantilevered logs. Thick posts held up a wooden railing, and she leaned her elbows on it as she
looked out. Behind her was the watchman's cabin, a small structure with windows on all four sides. The forest rangers in this part of the world - an
administrative district called Oregon, part of a large late 2nd-millenium nation called the United States of America - would sit in this cabin
scanning the horizon for smoke to detect wildfires.
Below her, the ground fell away into tumbled gray granite and ancient volcanic rock, until it met a sapphire-blue, round lake in the caldera of this
old volcano. Evan silently stood behind her, waiting as she checked her tutorial device from time to time. Specially designed cybernetic implants
would be relaying sound signals directly to the aural nerve, transmitting information almost directly into her brain. Wireless signals monitored her
vital signs - and his, come to think of it - as she went through her days of learning and training. She had much to learn, much to absorb about her
history. Sophia was a very special person, and not just to Evan.
She touched an icon on the tutorial device's screen, then untethered it from the port on her palm. Without looking at him, said, "Hello, Evan. I
know you're there."
He pushed off the wall and sidled up next to her.
"I'm always here, Sam," he said.
"Of course. How was the run today?"
"Wonderful, as always. I enjoy pushing my own limits."
"As do we all," she said.
"You look tired, Sophia. What troubles you?" Her eyes were worn, and the bubbly energy that she normally exuded was subdued.
"Why didn't you tell me, Evan?"
"Tell you what?" He nestled close to her ear, his breath brushing the lobe gently.
"Don't do that," she said. "Why didn't you tell me you aren't going with us?"
Evan was taken by surprise. "I," he started, unsure, "I supposed it never seemed the appropriate moment."
"Appropriate moment? Evan," she looked into his eyes, "That's not the kind of thing you keep from someone."
"I understand. I apologize, Sophia."
"Why aren't you coming along? We will need all the help we can get. You are perfect for this!"
"I'm sorry, that is not what my role is in this project."
He looked away, off into the holographic blue water. So clear, so remarkably beautiful. And such a tragic shame.
"I am not at liberty to divulge that information to you at this time, Sophia."
"Evan, I love
you, but you," her voice caught. "You never let me in. Please, just this once, tell me what is going on!" Her eyes pleaded
with him, and a deep longing boiled inside. But he could not.
"I'm sorry, I can't," he said softly.
"Then I can't do this anymore," she said, tears forming in her eyes. "I -- I just can't," her voice broke, and she hurried out of the holographic
experience hall, angrily scrubbing her tears away.
edit on 6-5-2017 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)