Chapter 2. Reverside
Halfway to the top was a popup cafe. A pot of real, actual coffee, a miracle in a cup was waiting for him as he relaxed again among familiar minds. Checking on the origin, he found that it had been grown in a vertical blade farm in North Adams, and roasted in Great Barrington. A sack had arrived at Reverside via a Merit seeking fan of the community. It was a rare treat, and discussion was underway amongst the foodies of the tribe as to how it could be grown and or roasted locally. He drank some, heaped praise on all involved, poured more into his coppery mug, and strolled back to the comfortable lounge at the inn. [“There's nothing like an imminent departure”] he thexted publicly, [“to help you appreciate the simple beauty of your home tribe.”] These thoughts were met with cheerful approval.
Shortly he was back at Hemingway's desk, returning to his work.
Though no one person can claim responsibility for the demise of credit and the rise of Merit, Lester Sunshine is one of the few who cannot be denied his defining contributions. This is a subject of much discussion and debate, but it is this writer’s humble opinion, that without the Sunday Sunshine Clatch [image], our way of life would be impossible.
Though a few dozen articles on the end of accumulation and the extinction of quid pro quo were published by members of the Sunshine Clatch in the mid aughts, they were roundly dismissed by the general public as communist drivel, or the product of some non-trivial quantities of cannabis smoke. It wasn't until a decade had passed that some of these principles were put into action by way of the Sunshine app and corresponding social network. By the time the barons of credit saw the danger, it was already too late to stop it. Besides which, the old world of banking and hoarding was already facing its own growing doom.
- The Wakeful Wanderer’s Guide, Ep. 6, lines 24 & 25.
Marto stopped again to review. The word ‘doom’ pushed heavily into the paper like a dead rat. In the overgrown gardens below the writing room, Marto imagined a slew of dead rats, killed by the cats, or some inevitable disaster and, as he imagined it, it was. [“revert, save, escape”] he thought, and was back in the Sunshine.
“So you’re the famous Marto.”
Tall, and dark skinned with bright green eyes and a spherical puff of sprouting green around her head. She was actually speaking to him, in words. Marto was taken aback for a moment, unaccustomed to someone talking aloud at the Inn, and tried to find his voice.
“I am … Marto, um, I mean, I am … he.”
“I’m a big fan of your writings. My aunt introduced them to me. I loved your book on the Great Lakes tribes.”
Reflexively, Marto made a query as to her identity, and got nothing. This made some sense, as she was a talker. He blinked a bit and tried to re-engage his vocal chords to voice a response.
“You are … a voluntary-verbal?”
“Mandatory.” She responded. “Though I can receive thext and some news. I’m not phobic,” She touched the side of her head behind her right ear, “I just like to stay mostly in the here and now.”
“I am a voluntary myself. At home here, I thext, but in my travels I often have occasion to speak aloud. Welcome.”
Two of the lounging visitors to the Inn were staring at them, surprised. The silence of the room had been cut through by the sound of their voices, and it was, to them, as if lightening had struck the metal coffee table.
“What can I call you?”
“Helen,” She said. “Forgive me for not reciting all my fore-mothers. Just Helen, if you don’t mind.”
“An archaic name.” He blurted this out before thinking. Realizing that this was rude, he checked his Merit for an incremental drop, and remembered that she was not rating him. The conversation was, so far, just between the two of them. Relieved and embarrassed, he continued. “Much history in that name. A fine name.”
“Well, Helen « Somebody « Helen, etc what brings you to the famed Lester Sunshine Inn?”
This was strange. Why would anyone seek him out on foot?
“I don’t know what to say,” said Marto finally “I am not hard to find. I’m not hard to thext. You say you are not phobic, but you have walked here from… where did you come from?”
“Livings-town, in The Jersey.” Said Helen.
“Okay, from The Jersey, 100 kilometers on foot to find me here why, exactly?” Marto was beginning to become alarmed. This young disconnected woman could be anyone, here for any reason, she could even have been sent by one of the hoarders, in the Neo-Feudal Enclaves.
His alarm was registering in the minds of his tribe. They became ready. Marto was too distracted to notice, but Helen saw it right away. The dreamers stirred. The loungers shifted their balance. Their eyes went dull and blank like the eyes of a frog watching a fly.
“Please tell your friends to calm down.” Helen said with no small tinge of urgency. “I am not here to harm you. I have a message from your mother.”
Marto is four. He is somewhere in Pennsylvania. The sun is setting while he and his mom and dad eat pickled eggs. They look across the vast grey concrete expanse surrounding the huge metal box with a corner torn out of it. Marto has a fever, and his father, a large man with a long beard says they are going back to live with his family in Boston. His mother's hands are cool as they touch his forehead. She smells like his old bedroom, he thinks. Marto is happy to be with his parents, but even at his young age he knows that times are hard.
“There’s your namesake, Marti.” His mother says to him. “Sad to say we may not see one open again in our lifetimes. They were wonderful.” Tears fall on Marto's arm and the rain begins again, the sky dark and yellow-grey.
[“this is not a game”] he thought [“this is memory, but it feels real, like a construct. Where am I right now?”]
He opened his eyes, and found himself once again in the Lester Sunshine Inn parlor, surrounded by the usual people, and the mysterious traveler all looking down at him. He was lying on the floor.
[“you blinked out M”] thexted LalaUbriay. [“what happened to you?”]
[“I was following and you vanished?”] thexted Hanford-D.
[“Do you need anything? Are you hurt?”] thexted SpongeyPooBear.
More chimed in, concerned and curious.
“You passed out.” Said Helen, reaching down to help him up. Suddenly her wrist was swept behind her, and her legs were forcibly bent at the knee taking her down hard. Her left hand was clasped behind her neck. She barely had time to gasp.
[“I'm okay”] Marto announced. [“I don't think she's an assassin.”]
[“Not your call M.”] came Reyleena « Dorina « Silvia « Maritsa « etc, breaking in. [“Security algorithms dictate caution.”]
Five tribal members rushed in with wet towels, cups of water, bandages, and medicines. Helen was gone and Marto was blocked from any information on the activities. He distractedly accepted treatment from his friends in a daze.
Several long minutes later, the danger past, the gifters gone, the occupants of the Lounge slipped back into their normal activities.
Normal « Gelty « Lydia « Martha « etc was working on a new design for miniature printer bots that connected to create large tidal energy collectors out of sand. Gavin « Theresa « Josepha « Nikkika « etc was working on a new game environment, that took place in the ocean and could be used to guide submersible bots to build, reinforce and reseed barrier reefs. Patti « Theresa « Josepha « Nikkika « etc, his bio-sister was returning to a game set in the badlands where the enemy were coally rolling gangs, and the good guys were eagles. Dada « Paulina « Rina « Sarah « etc, a super-mod was working on a new method of caravan automation. The lounge was a hotbed of creation, reflection, and recreation.
Among these indifferent dreamers, Marto was supremely disquieted and agitated by what had just transpired. He went back to Delamine’s writing villa and stared out the eastern window at the sea.
150 miles south in New Atlantic, Barnabas Yoniver IV raised his head from a goggle display on his desk and regarded the silent audience assembled in his enormous seaside office.
“She’s in.” He said.