MONTAG SHORT FICTION #009
MONTAG publishes curious short fiction, exploring our strange future and what it will feel like when we get there. They take the technology you're interested in as a starting point and show where it might take us. The stories are outré, evocative, and atypical; they're also closer to today than you think.
This story was inspired by a tweet: "*realistic vision of the future* screens everywhere but they all just show bad weather predictions"
...and is a Choose Your Own Adventure.
The year is 2200.
You check your phone before getting out of bed to prepare yourself for the day.
Your home screen contains a widget with the day's weather prediction.
TODAY: Your Location: 20º C in the morning, rising to 35º by mid-day, and a 50% chance of rain.
The widget is always wrong.
What do you do?
A. You prepare for a colder day, and take an umbrella – go to A2
You prepare for a colder day, and do not take an umbrella – go to B2
C. You prepare for a warm day, and take an umbrella – go to C2
D. You prepare for a warm day, and do not take an umbrella – go to D2
A2. If you prepare for a colder day, put on a scarf and take an umbrella, it ends up being too hot (of course). You want to shed layers walking around all day, and find the umbrella cumbersome. You end up fashionably wrapping your scarf around your head and tucking the umbrella under your arm as you enjoy the surprisingly warm weather.
A police robot commands you to halt as you round the corner. You scramble for your identification card as it attempts to scan your face and match it to the citizen recognition database. You are still fumbling in your pockets as it scans your body and incorrectly categorizes your umbrella as a potentially lethal weapon. Electricity arcs through the air between you and every muscle in your body seizes, leaving you twitching on the ground. After you are delivered to the detainment center in a daze, you are released by a human officer who recognizes the robot's mistake but shrugs, "Better to be safe than sorry." Your umbrella is confiscated, "For your own protection," and it rains for the entire next week. "Lovely weather we're having," you grumble, as you fork over the cash for a new one.
B2. If you prepare for a colder day, put on a scarf and do not take an umbrella, noxious sulfur-scented clouds roll in around mid-afternoon and you get stuck inside the library. You sit glumly waiting for the rain to stop so that you can walk to the bus stop down the block, watching viscous yellowish raindrops pitting the concrete outside. The rain doesn't let up for hours, and you want to go home. What do you do?
If you risk running to the bus stop with your scarf over your head, go to B3
If you're not an idiot who wants to be blinded by acid rain, go to B4
B3. What are you, an idiot? That rain would eat through your scarf in seconds. Go to B4
B4. You know it will hurt your wallet to do it, but you have to call an autocab if you're going to get home before dark. You open the app on your phone and see them zipping around the map; looks like no one counted on rain today.
Your autocab pulls up to the library entrance and extends a weather-proofed awning over the door. Climbing in, you are greeted by several other miffed passengers. "Lovely weather we're having," says one, rolling her eyes towards the menacing sky.
C2. If you prepare for a warm day, and take an umbrella, you also slather yourself in 3000 SPF sunscreen – by the year 2200, the ozone layer just ain't what she used to be. And boy, does it turn out to be a scorcher. You end up using the umbrella as an extra layer of sun protection as you run your errands, and even then, it feels like the soles of your shoes are melting into the concrete if you stand in one spot for too long. It's way hotter than 35º by mid-day.
You buy two bottles of electrolyte drink from a vending machine to replenish yourself from sweating so much, and go to sit on a bench in the shopping plaza. The mall is overrun with chloro-kids on skateboards, acting up like they're getting energy from the sun. Injecting chlorophyll into your skin doesn't actually make you able to photosynthesize, but the kids think it looks cool to turn themselves green and use the weather as an excuse to menace the general public.
A green kid with bleached eyebrows and short, spiky hair rolls up to you on his skateboard and sneers at your umbrella. "Lovely weather we're having, eh?" Before you realize you're being harassed, the kid grabs the plastic drink bottle in your hand and squeezes, so that it squirts into your face, and rides off cackling.
D2. This morning you have awoken with a sense of purpose and trust in the universe. You feel optimistic, and figure a 50% chance of rain is also a 50% chance of not-rain. You head out without a sweater or umbrella, and for once, the widget is correct: the weather is lovely all day.