Science Fiction

Sky City

Amanda stepped onto the shuttlecraft slowly, making sure her tired old legs could step across the gap between the platform and the ship. She used her cane to steady herself. Having traversed that, she went and sat down near the back. An old man, with a walker next to his seat, gazed up from his paper.

“Oh, it’s you.” He went back to reading, ignoring her glare.

“Tony got tired of having you around then?” She said it just to ruffle his feathers.

He set down the paper in his lap. “What about your two lovelies? Are they going to miss mommy dearest?”

“We had a goodbye party before I left.” She pulled out her knitting as she looked away. He went back to his paper.

A tear dripped down her cheek. “It’s a one-way trip,” she had protested to her kids. “I will never come back.”

Her daughter Lynn told her, “You’re not getting any younger. Do you want to slowly rot away and become a physical and financial burden on George and me? Besides, you’ll have so much fun in the sky city.”

“But it’s a one-way trip.” Her protest fell on deaf ears.

“Mom, think of us. You’ve lived your life. You don’t want us to be full-time caretakers, do you? This is for all of us.”

She felt guilty and selfish for wanting to live a little longer. I can still get by on my own, can’t I? Fear gripped her heart.

She hadn’t noticed, but Hans had put down his paper. He watched her. She quickly wiped her tear away. “You look about as willing to do this as I am. Tony had the board of directors vote me out of my own company, the company I started. Then he managed to get his judge friend to send me on this little trip. If I would have had time, I would have changed my will to leave it all to charity. He blocked me from seeing my lawyer before I left so I couldn’t.”

“The troubles of a rich man. Tsk, tsk.” She went back to her knitting.

He laughed. “I shouldn’t bother you with my problems.” He went back to his paper.

The shuttle lurched as it began its accent into space. She gasped, then changed seats next to his. “Don’t say a word. I hate the movement part. I’ll be okay once we dock.”

He put his arm around her. “Just like old times.”

“Up until the point you had that tryst with Mary Lou.”

“Ahh, Mary Lou. How she messed up my life. Things would have turned out much differently if she hadn’t come on the scene. The funny thing is, I didn’t have a tryst with Mary Lou.”


“That’s right. I took her home after the Christmas party. She couldn’t walk because she had had way too much to drink so I laid her in her bed and left. She woke up in her bed and assumed. Nothing happened.”

“You should have told me.”

“I did. You didn’t believe me.”

She leaned against him. “I’m sorry.”

The shuttle blasted through space and then slowed down as it neared the sky city. The landing bay doors opened and the shuttle slid in and set down. A ramp lowered from the wall and the shuttle doors opened. Several smiling attendants in light grey uniforms came out.

“Let me help you with that walker,” one of them said to Hans. He grumbled but then stood up with their help.

Two men helped Amanda to her feet also. They escorted them to waiting pods. Twenty people stood in the pods when the announcer came on.

“Let me remind you, the body you will be given is a methoanosian compound. However, it will feel like a real twenty-one-year-old body to you. It is fully functional, but it will only be yours for the next twenty-four hours. After that, you will come back here. Don’t worry about that right now. Go and enjoy your last few hours of life.”

A bright light illuminated the inside of the pod. When the pods opened again, she stepped out. “Oh, my.” She clutched herself, then grabbed at the robe hanging on the hook in front of her.

“Don’t worry it’s not actually your body. It’s like wearing a person suit,” Hans said.

“It doesn’t feel like that to me. Or look like that. Put your robe on at least.”

“All right. I was having a hard time controlling a certain part of me anyway. It’s better covered up.” He donned his robe. “Well, I’m going to go explore.”

“Have fun.” She walked back into the shuttle and grabbed her knitting. Sitting on a bench at a street corner, she hummed as she worked.

A little while later Hans came and sat down by her. “Not a big place. I guess they don’t want us getting lost and missing our date with doom.”

“Oh,” she kept on knitting and didn’t look up.

“Who are you knitting that for? You aren’t going to need it or finish it. We’re done for after this.”

Her eyes went round. “Oh.” She shook her head like she was coming out of a trance. “You’re right.” She stood up and threw the yarn and needles in a trash receptacle. “I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around all this. What is there to do anyway?”

“The central park is called the Garden of Eden and from what I can tell the dress code is the same as the original. There are four hotels on each corner of town. One’s even called the Seedy Hotel. No subtlety there. There are a few places to eat. No health food whatsoever. And a justice of the peace.”

“So, debauchery is the main activity?”

“It appears so.”

“I didn’t cave into it when I had a twenty-one-year-old body. Why would I do it at eighty-nine, even if the body feels like a twenty-one-year-old?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t come here willingly. Debauchery wasn’t in my plans either.”

“I should never have let Lynn talk me into this. More like, she forced me into this. I wasn’t a burden on her.”

“How did George take it?”

“He cried like a baby. Lynn pushes him around, too. He would have taken care of me in my old age if it came to that.”

“Let’s go get something to eat. I found a hamburger joint that puts a pound of meat along with twenty slices of bacon on their burgers. The milkshakes are to die for, too, by the looks of them. It’s a very large glass full of the shake with a ton of whipped cream on top along with two scoops of ice cream.”

“Sounds wicked.” She stood up. “Is this a date then?”

“Yes, it’s a date before it’s too late.”

She giggled. When they arrived and received their food, he proposed a toast. “To Matthew, the only one that wanted either one of us around.”

“To Mathew.” They clicked glasses.

They walked hand in hand down the street and then stopped in front of a hotel. She walked up to the desk. “I would like a room for one.”

“Really?” the desk clerk said. “That doesn’t happen very often.”

“Well, it’s going to happen again,” Hans added. “I want a room for one also.”

The clerk cleared his throat. “Very well, but I don’t think you two are getting the concept.” He handed them room keys. “There you go.”

Amanda headed up to her room. She snuggled into the round bed and fell fast asleep.

A knock came on her door the next morning. She donned her robe and opened it. Hans stood there. “I thought we would go down and get a huge breakfast with eggs, too many hash browns, and all the bacon you could possibly eat.”

She smiled. “Sounds good. I’m liking this new diet of ours.”

After breakfast, he took her to the edge of the sky city. “The view from up here is spectacular.”

She gasped. “Wow, the earth looks amazing from up here. It looks like they are having a bit of a storm over our hometown.”

“Yes. At least Tom won’t totally enjoy the day of my demise.”

She turned to face him. “Let’s go talk to that justice of the peace and see if he can change your will.”

“That’s a great idea. I truly doubt he can, but the attempt will lift my spirits.”

When they arrived, a younger man looked up from his computer. “How may I help you?”

“I want to change my will,” Hans replied. “Do you do that sort of thing and if you do, is it binding?”

“Yes, and yes. I’m a lawyer. You’d be surprised how many people change their wills when they get up here, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. They can suddenly remember everything. They figure out who sent them up here and write them out of their will.”

“I would like to change my will. I want to leave everything to Amanda’s son, George.”

“Oh. That will be hard. If you have children of your own, they can contest the will and it will be in the courts for a long time.”

“You’re a justice of the peace. What if we get married? Then George will be my stepson. Will that work?”

The lawyer gave them a wicked smile. “Yes, it will work perfectly.” He stood up. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here…”

A couple of hours later all of the legal documents were taken care of. They stepped out of the lawyer’s office, hand in hand. “Tom is going to be surprised at not being majority shareholder anymore.”

“That was a nice thing you did for Mathew.”

The loudspeaker blared. “All Sky City visitors will make their way back to the pods.”

They turned the corner and walked half a block. Arriving at the pods, she took a deep breath. “This is it, then.”

“Yep,” he replied. “Next step: oblivion.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“I guess not. I do wonder sometimes.”

The announcement came, “Those of you who borrowed robes, please hang them on the hook before you enter the pods.”

They both obeyed. “Can I have a hug before we, well, go?” Amanda asked.

“Of course.” He hugged her and they both stepped into the pods.

August 27, 2023 02:08

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