Mid future sci-fi.
| Beyond a few years ago little can be said of any particular meaning regarding the past. To study history is looked down upon now, so much so that it is foolhardy to continue any endeavour to do so. After so long with such a powerful news cycle our country was weary of media, human history had largely done without it and experiments of previous centuries had not been edifying. Without a doubt history was mostly known, but it would require actual legal action by persons with considerable power to find the truth. Through these policies of deliberate constant lack of information the current system was maintained, up to this time, 2183, stably enough for the nominal consent of the governed.
About the creation of the train system surprisingly little was known. Except for a handful of facts, such as the union of all routes by 2134, nothing could be gathered by any average person. Between cities that were close together service could be good, or even great, rarely. Over lines far apart however there could be difficulties, such as with local government, continuing adverse weather and its environmental effects, or decaying tracks and bridges. Among the biggest problems, possibly the biggest, though it was often ignored, was the isolation of the area south of the Tehachapi mountains. Of often even more concern to those in northern California, lay the seeming endless hassle in traversing the coast line to Los Angeles. In this day in age the local communities south of San Jose were just too unpredictable to deal with.
About the trains themselves countless things could be said, and were. Throughout California they weren't uniform. After so many contracts by a plethora of vendors, across several decades, the cars were often in poor repair, if they ever had been for long. Upon the subject of their workings the greatest vexations had occurred. With so many technologies used to power them over the years it was hard to deal with all the infrastructure that had been erected. Inside an engine their might be batteries from the time solar charging centers were the preferred tech. At another time fusion power lines had run to every train, seemingly promising endless travel in an interconnected world. For now, and for a long while since the end of the last great age of invention, everything ran on the final invention, emission free hydrocarbon distillate. Across all the years everything had come full circle, it was now possible to take any biological matter and create pollution free power. Except that the new tech was only slightly more efficient than fusion and solar, and not easy to make, leading to shortages that didn't allow its use in auto-mobiles, and the resulting fuel could only be used in great bulk, leading to the final choice of the train as the common form of transport.
Behind schedule by only a few minutes, Arden Brandt guided his train to its last stop at San Jose central. After the long haul to Reno and back again through Sacramento, Concord, and the back end of the bay area people so often forgot about, he would retire to his apartment close to the yard. In a city that did not have the population it once had, and had torn down so little, it could be surprisingly easy to be left alone. Among those who drove and tended the trains, having been selected by the modern education system that offered less choice than the past, was noticed the clear tendency to be closer to what they once were, or what they were believed to be. Of Arden Brandt it could be said he was an exception. Beyond his standard issue jumpsuit and utilitarian boater hat there seemed little to distinguish him, he had no interests that weren't solitary and fleeting compared to his life with the trains, and it often fell to his lot to do the difficult or odd jobs, today was one of those days.
Along the tracks his train, bereft of passengers save those coming to this final destination, slowed to a halt and everybody made a surprisingly hasty exit after only a brief pause to get the kinks out from a long ride. Behind his cab automated porters removed stowed luggage and then began work on the main cargo bins. Before Arden could even leave the cab, for the yard did not need human help besides occasional repairs, The company A.I. came onto the screen fit above his controls.
"During this call you are monitored for quality assurance. To Brandt, Arden. On this day do you wish to accept additional assignment? With acceptance comes standard pay increase. Plus one day additional vacation, per day worked. To signal acceptance only verbal consent is required."
"Inside of what time frame are we talking about?" replied Arden.
"Between now and an indefinite time," said the A.I. without missing a beat.
On this Arden paused much longer than he would have with a human before finally with clear reluctance replying "Under standard current contract rules I accept."
"For further information you may consult the passengers waiting on the platform, goodbye."
Upon his monitor Arden saw a man and a woman patiently waiting for the doors to open. With the fact that they were standing close together and chatting easily despite it being near 12:00 pm possibly indicating they were a couple. Through the cab and outer doors Arden strode out onto the platform.
Without wasting any time the woman said, "About the train, we would like to get it for a private party going down to L.A., for at least sixty people desiring the greatest discretion, travelling in the night seems the best for us, everything has been paid, and we can't delay, do you think we could make it down there now?"
Behind them well off in the parking lot were more than a dozen, ancient, black windowed electric limousines. In them was doubtless the party spoken of. To get out of the recent and accelerating social, environmental, and infrastructure decay of the peninsula was clearly their desire. Beside any more nefarious activities, or a wish for a vacation.
"At least let me have a quick bite to eat, I'm sure the A.I. planned the route well enough. With what moniker do you call yourself if I may ask?" Arden asked with required but near mock politeness.
"Among ourselves only I'll tell you I'm Alba Lowe and this is my bodyguard Dorsey Hull," she replied.
Without her heavy Hollywood makeup and wig she couldn't be recognized anybody at first, usually, but her thin body under the purple sweater and blue jeans she wore, and the structure of her face left no doubt of her true identity as the highly paid top tier actress she claimed to be. Beyond his casual dress of jersey and ripped old style jeans, the only thing betraying the bodyguards true vocation was a certain muscular girth about the shoulders. Of their exact relationship still nothing could be said. With nary a word more Arden quickly got back into the cab and began a quick meal as he checked the route planned by the A.I.. On his monitor people began to enter the cars in only a few minutes, several of the faces seemed familiar through the grainy black and white monitor, but he enquired no further.
After this the train began its journey. Toward its destination it moved past blacked out stations through valleys that couldn't be seen, save as a patch of ground off of a rail. Across the Santa Cruz mountains grown cool in early autumn air. Against the newfound stars of a world with vastly less pollution it moved forward. Along ways that had been travelled since man was here. Under this old new sky they revelled as only the rich can, sheltered in the cars from the night and any jealously that would behold them. Despite their planning this night was a time for old technology to go awry. Toward a single point of failure they headed. On this night records were broken as early warning systems of inclement weather failed to predict record winds that had last struck the golden gate nearly two hundred years ago. Along this line just north of Monterrey the wind struck derailing the lightly built cars. Inside the cars their were no injuries but no one would repair such an old train on a dubious line like this quickly, maybe never. During the wind storm they could ride it out in the cars, but after that they were out for themselves.