The Chronicles of Sam Moon - A Short Story By A. P. Davis, revised on 2.12.2020
Chapter 1: The wise man and the fool
The old man could barely stand up when getting out of bed. Some days were better than others.
He was living alone, a widower, from having been married with children for over 30 years. Now he was up in age, about 69 and life was never going to be the same without her.
The year was 2027 and the world was so different from what it had been just under a decade before, in his recent memory. By now, everything had become automated. Artificial Intelligence and automation was common. Even something as simple as a door had the ability to weigh a person who passed through it, and could determine how often people opened a door and how much heat or cool was lost from air as it passed through. Locks on doors were voice activated and responded to verbal commands.
Floors would illuminate at night, to provide visibility for walking across the hall during night hours to prevent falling. So many aspects of living were controlled using the latest algorithms with Artificial Intelligence that it would be mind boggling if a person living in the first decade of the 21st Century to this moment were to suddenly experience it all at once.
There was an automated knock at his front door that mimicked a human that was motion activated. Looking down, he saw a package that had been delivered by drone. It was 14 X 14 X 12 small and the label read: To Sam Moon, 505 Brooklyn Street, Dallas, TX, from Cat Tech LTD. FRAGILE.
Sam Moon, the old man picked up the box with some hesitation, as he had a tendency to get vertigo when reaching for an object on the ground. He placed the mystery box on the coffee table, then reached for his MP3 player, coat and hat and headed out the door for his morning stroll. A local park was just a block down the road, past the old oak tree that grew out in front of his house. He had an hour before catching up with online news. Putting on his hat, and carrying his walking cane, he proceeded carefully towards the street then down a side road to Pecan Grove Park as his dog Apples, himself going on middle age in dog years, followed along-side.
Compared to how things were just a few decades ago, hardly anyone walked in his neighborhood. Most people remained in their homes until later in the day if they were not otherwise working in the towers in the Downtown area. It was a cool morning. The sky was full of clouds. No rain in the forecast though. Turning on his MP3 player to songs he remembered since he was in his 50s, he walked slowly down towards the nature trails and listened to a song by Gordon Lightfoot.
It was sometime around October and the leaves on the trees were only just now beginning to turn to shades of yellow, red and gold. James Tyler was out in front of his house at the corner, mowing his lawn.
“Hey there Sam,” James said in a rather cheerful voice. He was retired airplane mechanic who had lived in the neighborhood since he left the military. “Nice day for a walk. Did you watch the news last night?” Sam stopped for a minute and replied, “What was it about?” Apples walked up to his neighbor and wagged his tail and panted. As James bent to pet the dog, he explained, “Well, it seems there was a sighting of a rare kind of Eagle that had been declared extinct but turned out to be one of the oldest Bald Eagles alive. It was flying near the towers when it was hit by a police drone that mistook it for an unauthorized craft and it fired on it and the poor Eagle fell but yet it was not dead. It seems the police drone used a tazer on it. They plan on taking it down to the bird sanctuary and let it live the rest of its years at the Marsalis Zoo.”
Sam was pretty glad to hear that. Then he waved good bye to his neighbor and proceeded down to the nature trails. He hated that in spite of the latest drone technology man was still a threat to the local wild life. No wonder an eagle was on the endangered species list. Bad enough the big birds fly directly into wind turbines, much less those mile high towers.
There were wild flowers still blooming along the walk path that remained in spite of the cooler temperatures. Blue with yellow centers and some had grown over the edges of the cement walk. The local city park maintenance crew was busy blowing leaves off the park benches and a few children were gathered at the see saws and swings towards the end. Apples started barking so Sam had to grab his leash and attach it to his collar to prevent him from chasing the children. Usually there was no one at the park this time of day. Sam sat down on the metal park bench, designed with a curve at the back, as they were made ergonomically, to provide maximum comfort. Sam hated those benches. They made his back hurt even more.
Being alone at his age was not easy. Before his wife passed, he often enjoyed Jean's cooking, so much so, he had lost several pounds once she left him and he had taken her for granted in many ways. He began to cry. Every so often, when he stopped to think about her, he found it too difficult to hold back the tears. Clouds were rolling in and it grew dark fast. Sam realized he had to hurry back home before the rain started. So, before he could take his usual walk, one time around the park, which was only one block in length, he turned to his dog and said, "We got to go home now Mr. Apples." I'll get you something good to eat when we get back."
The wind was starting to blow a bit more and the leaves stirred as the city workers frantically tried to control the leaves. They turned in their lawn equipment and got into their maintenance vehicle then drove away. Sam hurried as much as he could, in spite of the pain in his back and his knees. Apples seemed to be a bit excited too. Some black grackles flew in circles over the houses like black kites tied to a string. Then, by the time they got back home, the wind was picking up even more. He lived in tornado alley, as it was called and a thunderstorm could evolve from minor cumulus clouds in a matter of half an hour or less, sometimes, bringing unexpected rain and high winds. Lightening was starting to strike. It was a good thing Sam managed to get back home before the storm went full force.
Back inside, he fetched Apples some Kibbles and Bits and turned on the T.V. set to see what the weather forecast looked like. He had all but forgot that box sitting on his coffee table, in the living room. The box was vibrating or was it his imagination?
What's in this box anyway? , thought Sam, as he sipped on coffee he heated up in the microwave. I never ordered anything, at least not for a month of more. I wonder if it is one of those senior citizens care packages. No. This was not from the Pantry. There was a strange sound coming from the box. This was annoying. A storm was about to break and here he was, sitting on the couch, looking at it. He put on his reading glasses and read the label again. It was from Cat Tech LTD. And below the word FRAGILE, it read: Cat robotics item no. FTC108.ALT976-B Guaranteed. No returns. See invoice inside.
Sam reached for his box knife. He began to open the box, when there was a flash and a bang and suddenly all went dark. All the power in the neighborhood went out. Even the streetlights went out. Winds were blowing the trees at such velocity the tree tops began to sway. Then, as his dog jumped up on his lap, excited by the thunder, an orange glow shined from inside that box. Looking closer, Sam realized what was inside. It was a robot that looked like a cat. It's eyes began to flash blue. And it began to talk. "I can answer all of your questions. Ask me anything." There was a small booklet and in spite of it being almost completely dark inside the house, due to the power outage, there was just enough light inside the box, where the robot cat's eyes shined, for Sam to see that it appeared to be an instruction manual.
Then a few minutes after that, Sam fell asleep on the couch. His dog lay on the floor beside him.
Then that night, he had a dream.
In his dream, Sam woke up and was at the ground floor of New America 1.
People were exiting the tower in large numbers. Sam approached and entered the tower lobby and began walking forward to the central elevators. The door to elevator no. 11 opened and people sprang forth in a hurried manner, as if running from a fire.
But Sam was compelled to continue forward and then he ascended to the 70th level. The door opened to an empty space, with a vastness that seemed to him enormous. Then walking ahead, he saw a group of elevators that led up to the higher levels, 70 to 100. Elevator no. 4 was empty. Music was playing inside through the hidden speakers, behind panels of diffused light shining on the smooth surface of the elevator floor, which appeared as white marble. A panel at the door had an LCD screen advertising travel to a mountain resort followed by a voice that announced "Level 100 - Please take Elevators 1 - 5 to the observation deck."
Sam was anxious to reach the top level, for some unknown reason, but then, this was a dream, right? Dreams don't always make sense in contrast to everyday life. When he walked into the open space of the observation deck, another elevator that led to the penthouse suites and Club at the top of the World, he found a door that was open that led to an luxury suite and there was a white baby grand piano. Just beyond it, a window that took up an entire panel wall. Sam approached the window and looked out and saw clouds down below him and the sky above. It was a view that reminded him of being once on Mount Spokane, looking down over the city of lights below, but there were only clouds.
It felt as if the building was swaying. Suddenly he felt panic and an immediate urge to descend back to the ground level but as he got into the empty elevator to go down, he awakened from his dream or rather, his nightmare.
The storm had passed. A lamp light in the corner of the room was on, casting light on his wrist watch, which read 5:21 AM
His dog immediately barked to remind him it was his time to go outside and do his business. Sam reached for the remote control, to unlock the door to the front porch and the door swung open automatically as Apples rushed outside. He stared at the box that was on the coffee table. Inside it he saw the robot cat, it's eyes glowing blue and then it spoke. "Don't forget to take your meds. Ask me a question and I will give you the facts. I am the fact cat, your personal robot companion. I am custom made and programmed just for you, Meow!"
"O brother. Just what I needed." said Sam.
The robot cat replied, "Can you please repeat that question?"
Sam then said in an irritated tone, "That was not a question old wise one!"
Then, the cat made some unusual noises and began to laugh in a robot kind of way. "If I was to rate that humor on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it an 11."
Sam asked, "Is there an off button on you cataclysm cat?" - The fact cat replied, "I can be turned off by voice command."
"And that would be what may I ask?" Sam inquired. To that, the cat replied, "Just say shut up, or you can be polite and just say, ROBOT CAT, PLEASE HIBERNATE."
After being frustrated with that so called Fact Cat robot companion, Sam prepared his dog some canned Kibbles and Creamy Gravy and a bowl of fresh water. Then he microwaved a cup of chicken noodle soup. By now the sun had rose just enough to bring night to the new day. The air was crisp with the clean smell of a fresh rain.
As Sam sipped on his soup and his dog Apples goes to town on his Kibbles & Cream he turned on the monitor for the local broadband broadcast news & weather report.
The meals on wheels robot drone delivery service came right on schedule. Soon after that, a library drone flew by to drop off a box of items from the local public library with several videos of mystery shows and movies along with one book.
He opened the package of hot breakfast and placed it on the table to cool before freezing it for lunch time and then he opened the box that contained videos on thumb drives and DVD rom disks, and discovered one actual book, entitled: The Wise Man and the Fool. A novel, written by: AUTHOR UNKNOWN.
More to this story will be added as time permits.
Image Credit » image of a clock by Pixabay