In the shadow of the stolen light
“The fastest after the stairs?” smiled the young man.
“No, after the micro-transport on the electromagnetic pillows,” Grinning, Lora pointed at the guest’s chair. Suddenly her tension that had been so strong back in the ward was melting away fast.
“Do many people use them?” asked Derek, feeling genuinely curious.
“Not these ones in particular, however, there are many devices for carrying different loads. By the way, the central teleport is a public transport, but there are also freight units.”
“I get it, like buses and lorries.”
“Well, it’s like some old-fashioned transport means with tyres. They used to travel by land burning tonnes of petrol. However, they were improved later when the electric engines were introduced.”
“They?re described in encyclopaedias,” Lora tried to remember.
“They must be.”
“So, you remember the transport means on Earth. Anything else?” asked the girl as they were slowly heading towards the closest teleport.
“I remembered when you started talking… This information sounded like something I take for granted…”
“The doctor said that you would remember things which were associatively connected to your memories.” remembered Lora.
“Looks like he was right then.”
“I can take you directly to your apartment if you wish to rest.”
“I’d prefer to take a walk if possible,” answered the young man.
“Alright, what would you like to see first?..” At that moment the UCD on Lora’s temple buzzed softly, lighting a green colour which was indicating an incoming call. “Will you excuse me, I’ll have to take it,” she explained to the man. “Yes, Jean.”
After a short conversation she returned to the previous discussion with the guest from Earth.
“I was going to show you some of the local attractions…”
“This?” the girl touched the mini contraption with her palm. “It’s a universal communication device, UCD for short.”
“Is it a walkie-talkie?”
Lora frowned trying to remember the meaning of this word and finally answered.
“It connects people, but that’s only one of its functions.”
“Why didn’t I hear the voice of the other speaker?”
“A UCD transforms sound into an electrical pulse and transmits it onto the auditory nerve.”
“What else can this device do?”
“It provides a connection to the central computer, thanks to which any information that I may need reaches the brain through the visual nerve and visualizes as if in front of my very eyes. Again, only I can see those images.”
Without realizing it, they arrived at the teleport cabin.
“Good morning!” Initiated by the arrival of two passengers inside the spacious matte glass cabin, the local teleport system interrupted Lora’s explanations. “State your destination, please.”
“The North City Park,” decisively said Lora.
The doors closed, opening a second later.
“Welcome to the central square of the North Park!” reported the programme.
The young people went outside and Derek looked around. They were in the middle of a brightly lit hall with a colonnade, while to the right and left of them other tele-cabin doors were opening and closing. Coming out of the cabins, people were joining a moderately moving crowd following the direction indicated by the neon lines on the floor.
“We are now on the fifth level of the North Park teleport complex,” explained Lora. “The building looks like a pyramid based on a square with a side of one hundred and fifty meters long and with nine hundred cabins on its twenty levels. There’s a viewpoint at the top, on the twenty-first level, boasting an amazing view of the park. The main staircase runs along the eastern side, we’ll use it to go down to the park.”
“The North Park, the eastern side,” said the young man thoughtfully, proceeding alongside Lora. “If this is a city in space, then where do the sides of the world come from?”
“A good question,” Lora smiled. “The city territory is divided into four parts: Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Titanium. On the one hand, these are just names that have nothing to do with the real sides of the world; but on the other hand, they are the internal guidelines – simply indispensable.”
The two of them slowly joined the bright lively flow of people ascending the staircase, and they soon found themselves on a large square, with a tall white pyramid of the teleport itself towering over it. Further down stretched a real park. Short trees and bushes framed the winding paths and straight alleys, while braided stems of blooming ivy were climbing up the park pavilions. Here and there the neatly-cut lawns were decorated with rock gardens featuring blooming flowers and gurgling clear streams. Derek looked up to face the clear sky, lit by the rays of the rising sun.
“It’s hard to believe that these are not real clouds…” he noted.
“No matter how realistic they look, these are just projected images,” Lora added, feeling a bit sad.
“The park’s so huge…”
“Yes, it is. The North Park is the biggest in the city. The city fairs, our painters’ exhibitions and alien cultures’ displays are all held here.”
“Alien cultures? You actually have found traces of life on other planets?” Derek was mistrustfully looking at Lora.
“Why traces? Travelling through our galaxy we have encountered many living alien civilizations. We collaborate with some of them, exchanging technologies and resources…”
“That means that at the moment of your spaceship launch, contact with other alien races hadn’t been established yet.”
“Well, this… or my memory is failing me tragically…”
“At your apartment you can gain access to the central computer in order to get an idea about all the voyages of ‘Solar Flotilla’. There you can also get descriptions of all the habitable planets we have visited…”
“That would be great…” the guest from Earth suddenly froze and his chair stopped moving.
“What’s wrong?” Lora stopped beside him looking worriedly into his face.