In the year 2210, on the brink of a time-travel breakthrough, an anonymous international competition is held to find the most appropriate and entertaining postcard messages that should be sent back in time to the year 2013. Anyone can take part. The winners are surprising…
In the brave new world of the future, not everyone gets to partake of perfection. I am what in your time was called a tramp, a misfit. Here and now they call me a Maladjustnik, a word that of course you will not know. But I think you will understand the condition all too well, if this message ever reaches you.
I live on the top of the New World Trading Tower, which sounds swanky, but I mean the roof. Up there, I live off passing seagulls which I ensnare with fishing wire. Rocket shuttles take off day and night in the ever changing skies around me, the rich and restless folks always jetting off to Luna or Mars or Europa or Titan or some such shit. Some days I get bored and want to go for a walk. So I sling a line over to one of the neighbouring towerblocks and slide on down. Kind of a bit like Spiderman, I think that was 20th century fantasy wasn’t it? Probably, then you’ll know what I mean. The slide along the wire is pretty hair-raising, gets my old adrenalin going, good for the heart.
The Order Commissioners, what you used to call cops, they don’t like me much, nor do the building owners. Filthy toilet scum I am to them, nasty cobwebs in the gleaming ceiling of their fancy world. Always trying to chase me away, painting acid on the building parapets but I always come back. Tenacious I am, like cockroaches or germs. Mostly I don’t break the laws, not the main ones anyway. Occasionally, if they wind me up too much, then I dangle down a façade and break a window. Jump in and help myself to some fancy stuff, leave a crap on a top business executive’s desk, that sort of thing. Holy smoke, didn’t know them damn maladjustys could fly! -they probably exclaim, wiping their pristine polycarbonate surfaces, although I never stay around to find out.
I’m not the only one. My mate Frankie, he used to hang around the Westside Rocket Terminal roof. One day he snooped too far. He slipped on a gantry spar and fell fifty feet. They found his body fried like an oven turkey, trapped between two booster pods. Nasty stain he made on that famous white and blue fuselage logo. Branson Stratoshuttles.
I found a little girl once. Living rough on the roof of the Central Department of Social Engineering. She can’t have been more than seven years old. Her parents had been made to abandon her by the Families Commissioner. Something to do with a non-Christian divorce procedure. She hadn’t wanted to be state-adopted for the Martworld program, so there she was, on the run. What can you do? I taught her how to catch rats and use them for gull-bait. How to raid the trashcrushers without getting caught in the electric jaws, how to short-circuit the robots, that sort of thing. She seemed to learn alright, but she never spoke much, like maybe she was traumatised or worse, brain funny, that might have explained things too I suppose. Disabled offspring outside the Gene-screen program are banned, everyone knows that, although I suppose you don’t, which is why I’m telling you.
I hope she survived but one day she just moved on. You get used to that around here, in this Strata of life, as the social engineers call it. I’m Strata Ten, which I guess is the lowest one, one of them told me one day, a do-gooder in a white-coat, doing the rounds in his turbo-copter. He had a daft little goatee beard, like he cropped it every day, what’s that all about? Them special folks are all meant to be so busy and all, so how come they have time for that sort of shit? I have all the time in the world supposedly, but you won’t catch me jerking around with my facial hair like I’m grooming a pedigree poodle. What’s the point of those guys? I must have been surveyed more times than I’ve had hot dinners, and it ain’t ever come to nothing. No aid, no extra food. Oh, health checks, OK, I’ll give ‘em that. But I’m hard as nails living out here. Healthier than them with their pasty white faces. They never take their see-through surgical masks off. Telling…
My old mate Geordie blew away in a hurricane year before last. He should have tethered himself better to his rooftop, like I warned him, but he was always out his box on blagged rocket fuel. Sometimes I wonder how far he flew before he expired, sometimes I picture him still flying like an old white withered angel, and I imagine him coming to visit me while I sleep, and whisper clues of what’s to come and what’s to happen. This postcard competition the last do-gooder told me about… Geordie would have laughed at that. That
do-gooder said I chose this life I lead, to opt out, and that makes me potentially sociologically interesting to the people of the past. Like hell. He might have chose his life, but I never got that privilege. He said this city two hundred years ago had land between the buildings, and folks like me walked between them and ate out of trashcans. Then the waters rose and people had to get about in makeshift boats. Some of my mates still do, but I never liked fish and I can’t swim. Besides, the fish are all poison from eating our sewage. I’d hate to fall out and die that way, by drowning. Up here’s nicer. Nearer my God than thee, as my Grandmother used to sing before they deported her. Did the people of the past choose this world for us I wonder? –All piss in their own bathtub until the waters swamped them? Cheers guys, you can pull out the plug now, we’re all washed up here proper now.