(Not so) Brave New World
By David K Scholes
No one came to meet me after I emerged from the cryo chamber. Which was no great surprise. Most people I had known would be dead now unless they were also on the cryo program. I wondered if an aging grandchild or great grand child might show up but they didn’t.
I didn’t look up any possible descendants of mine. Instead I opted for a low budget instant mind update to fill me in on what happened over the last 83 years. Then I went for an unsupervised stroll around Canberra, soon realizing I did not have the authority to enter many of the areas in the megalopolis. No reason was given for this.
The low budget update was vague and left a lot of unanswered questions. I walked where I could, for hours, taking it all in. I stopped at some of the numerous synthetic coffee booths and listened to public 3D audio-visual-sensory newscasts.
There were references to things not mentioned in the mind update. Things such as ionisation lists, compulsory cryo-freezes, relocations to a place in the distant past, none of which made me very comfortable.
Then I got the shock of my life bumping into an old acquaintance from back in 2016. He had not aged since that time.
“I’m one of the immortals,” Derrick said softly, almost embarrassed, He explained that immortality came at a very high price that few could afford. I presumed he meant monetary price but he didn’t elaborate.
We spoke about a few old colleagues.
“Bill Johnson? Yes he was ionised in 2035.” Derrick said it so casually that he might have been talking about Bill having a haircut.
“Fred Perkins? Relocated downtime in 2042.”
“Michael Swan? Emigrated off planet in 2051. It seemed to me that Michael might be a bit old for that by that time."
The puzzled look on my face probably told Derrick that I didn’t know as much about these things as he must have presumed. He looked distinctly uncomfortable as if he shouldn’t even be seen with me and took his leave.
“Careful what you say or do,” was his parting remark pointing to the ubiquitous, myriad tiny robotic flyers. “As an immortal I’m cloaked from them but you are not.”
* * *
I needed more information. A lot more. Yet my meagre residual credits were enough only for a short period of base level accommodation and would not allow of a higher quality mind update. I did try to engage some strangers in conversation but was singularly unsuccessful.
The public newscasts filled some gaps for me but used terms I didn’t understand and seemed controlled. I needed access to whatever passed for the internet these days. Not without difficulty I found it - a small booth that advertised pay as you go “All Net” access. It was expensive and there was a warning sign in the booth that any All Net access would be monitored.
Just after I started my All Net search I received a visit from robotic authority. The first time I’d seen them since I emerged from the cryo sleep.
“Citizen, you’ve done quite enough for today, you mustn’t tire yourself. We will escort you to your accommodations.”
* * *
That night I looked for the umpteenth time over the results of my interrupted All Net search.
It was a list of some formal penalties for various transgressions. Ionisation was actually an immediate penalty applied to citizens committing a range of major crimes. I noticed there were worse penalties than this.
I shivered in my cold basic accommodation.
Welcome to my not so brave new world, I thought.
- - -
The author has written over 170 speculative fiction short stories many of which appear in his seven published collections of short stories. He has also published two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, and Farther Stars Than These sites. He has also been published on 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is currently well advanced with a new collection of science fiction short stories.