Andrew leaned back and rubbed his eyes.
The images on his computer screen were still blurry
When did I last sleep?
He focused on the streaming news ticker on the bottom of his screen and grimaced. His Grandfather had taught him that it was important to keep up to date with current affairs and that it was important never to let it get you too depressed.
He quickly checked his ex-wife’s dabo profile. He was just checking for updates about his daughter, that was his excuse.
Finally he looked at his work. He barely understood what any of it meant anymore. So many people working on this one project, so many sleepless nights trying to figure it all out. He couldn’t bring himself to look it over again. He just reached out and pressed the send button on the screen and logged of from the virtual lab.
That’ll have to do for now.
His head was pounding. He had to get out.
Andrew drew back his curtain. It was grey outside.
His neighbourhood wind turbine obscured most of his view, part of him was grateful for that. The cars rolled by with their makeshift alternative fuel contraptions attached wherever possible.
Whatever happened to the idea of flying cars?
Andrew laughed to himself as he remembered his Grandfather’s joke about flying cars and how they never really got off the ground.
Andrew’s Grandfather had been a historian. He had taught Andrew that a lot can be learned about the present and future by looking at the past and that life generally worked out neither as bad or as good as people imagine.
Things are pretty bad Granddad.
Andrew had loved hearing about the wars, the great ones. His Grandfather told him that despite all the fighting going on in the world he couldn’t imagine another war on a worldwide scale ever breaking out.
He had been wrong.
Tensions were mounting for a long time over energy concerns. Nuclear power seemed like the best solution. Green energy was great but never proved to be truly cost effective.
Nuclear power however came with its own difficulties; Making sure it was safe and making sure people didn’t use it as a weapon.
The Sellafield disaster of ’37 was the breaking point. It was the final straw in the turn away from nuclear power. Other poorer countries had had their disasters but this was a leading nation, this wasn’t meant to happen.
Andrew had never seen his Grandfather so mad. He had come from Ireland. His family was there. They didn’t even have nuclear power there and yet they suffered equally from this tragedy.
We should have known better
The turn away from nuclear power brought the crises to a head and war broke out in the ‘40s.
No one had anticipated the aggression of Unified Africa. Africa moved upon the Middle-East. Europe and America quickly intervened and soon the whole world was at war again.
Andrew’s Grandfather was hit badly by the shock of this sort of war. He thought he lived in a world that was past this sort of war.
He never got to see it end. His heart gave out in ’45. Two years before the war ended.
The war took Andrew’s son from him as well. He had been so proud to sign up. So proud to fight for his country and for goodness and right.
He never came home.
Andrew withdrew himself from life after that. His wife couldn’t take it and left with his daughter for a better life.
I lost everything I loved to that damn war.
His head was pounding. He had to get out.
He ejected his function card from his computer, which immediately powered down. Throwing on his thick raincoat he headed for the door. The rain was pouring down
Dry heat or endless rain, that’s all there is now
Andrew pulled his hood up, clicked his earphones into place and turned his function card to music. He stepped out into the rain and took a deep breath before moving on.
Andrew preferred the rainy days. It kept the corner boys away and the streets were bad enough without having to deal with them.
Andrew moved quickly through the bustle. People just trying to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. No one wanted to interact. Gun shots rang out but no one reacted. This was just the way things were now. Here anyway. Not in the clean zones.
Andrew could see one from where he was standing. In the distance. The completely enclosed area where the rich lived and ignored the crumbling world around them.
Andrew’s wife lived in one, with her new lawyer husband.
It’s a whole new world.
After the war, the European Union reformed and strengthened its links with America. A tentative peace was struck but a watchful eye remained upon Unified Africa. There were still horrendous stories about what was going on there but Andrew’s Grandfather had always told him that travesties in Africa were nothing new.
The 50’s had brought about the space race. It was the new desperate bid for an energy source. America and the R.E.U. formed the Euro-American Space Alliance and used their combined resources and technology to ensure that they lead the way.
They were first to set up facilities on the moon in 2054. It was a major gamble on a new power source that so far had proven fruitless.
Four years on and they still had not cracked it and the world was growing impatient.
Andrews head was pounding even worse now.
He waved his function card at a shop door and it slid open. He went straight for the pharmaceutical section finding the new max strength pain killers. Grabbing a bottle of water he quickly popped two pills.
The relief was near instant.
He swiped the items over the scan bar and inserted his function card into the credit slot. He could only assume that a teller on the other side of the screen was checking his credentials as they appeared on the screen and making sure his face matched his picture before his credits were deducted from his account. The card popped out and Andrew left the shop.
As the doors opened he saw a man lying prostrate on the ground. He was wearing an army jacket and combats. Andrew rolled him over. He was still breathing but his eyes were dashing wildly.
The man suddenly grabbed Andrew and pulled him close
“You can’t have ‘em. They’re mine. I’ll kill you”
The man went limp again and Andrew quickly pulled away. He saw red on his raincoat. The man’s hands were covered in blood.
Andrew was nearly home when his function card began to beep. He was in no mood to talk to anyone.
They can leave a message
Andrew paused and looked around before entering his building. He couldn’t believe that this is what the world had become. His grandfather had always told him that the strength of man, the thing that allowed mankind to overcome any difficulty it faced, any problems the world had, was the human capacity for hope. Hope is what keeps the world moving, growing, striving for tomorrow because there will always be that belief that things can and will be better if we want them to be. As long as there’s hope.
Andrew looked around again and couldn’t see it.
How can anyone have hope anymore?
In his room Andrew returned his function card to his computer and immediately his message minder popped up marked urgent. He touched the message screen and a colleague’s excited face appeared.
“Andrew, where the hell are you? Pick up your phone! We did it. We finally did it. We put all the calculations together again once we got yours in and it works. We figured out how to get the Helium-3. We have fuel, clean fuel! Call me!”
The face disappeared and Andrew wiped back the tears. Falling into his chair, he thought of his Grandfather and smiled.
You were right Granddad. As long as there’s hope…