Colin was sat reading the screamsheet about Tom Howards latest marvellous adventure with the space adventurers corp in the distant reaches of space complete with pictures and videos of all the action rescuing colonists from a meteor storm caused by some ancient device that had gone wild. He was riveted to the story and tapped through the pages at pace. With each turn of the page, the little cube let out a beep and the occasional sounds clips. Outside his door, you could hear the sounds of his mother and sister going about their mornings. The screamsheet was projected from a small, ivory, 2cm cube, a companion, it responded to prompts from the complicated nanoweave that coated his eyes.
The smell of bacon and eggs accompanied the sounds of sizzling coming from the kitchen
“Colin, Mary, food!” His mother hollered,
“Coming!” He grabbed the cube and bounded down the stairs a small model of a rocket ship wobbled as he went past it.
He was in his seat at the table in light speed time and looked over at his mum expectantly and then dropped his companion back on the table and continued flicking through the tales of adventure. His mum started putting plates on the table.
“Where’s your sister, Mary, Food!” She yelled again making Colin jump and picked up his knife and fork.
“Oi you, wait till everyone’s at the table!” His mum was pointing a spatula at him.
“Urk, I was busy!” His younger sister harrumphed as she came through the door.
“Less of that from you, now sit down, or it will get cold.” Mary sat next to Colin and started poking at the plate.
“Muuum, I told you I can’t eat synthacon I’ll get fat!” She whined.
“Shut up and eat what you’re given.” His mum said as she sat down with a plate of buttered toast and her own plate. Mary looked like she’d been told to eat a rat.
“Thanks, looks great!” Colin grabbed his knife and fork again and dove into the plate of food along. His mum also ate heartily. Mary, on the other hand, pushed things around the plate for a little while.
“If you don’t eat that now you’ll have it for dinner when you get back from school.” His mum pointed the knife at his sister scolding her. Eventually, she gave in and ate all the food.
“It’s like a prison here!”
“Well once you’re old enough to buy your own food you can decide what you eat until then you get what you’re given.” Plates finished Colin scooped them up and took them to the sink and set about washing them, Mary took out her companion. Colin imagined that she had probably started writing an angry diary entry about being forced to eat by her demon of a mother. Colin laughed at the thought, and she gave him an evil glare. The doorbell rang, and his mum, who had been sitting down reading a book headed off to answer it.
“Colin, you’ve got a package!” He put a plate in the rack as his mum hollered. As she came back into the kitchen, he finished drying the dishes, “here you go” she handed him the small package.
He went to the table and sat down, opening the box revealed a strange looking Sphere. His sister glanced at it evilly and assuming it wasn’t interesting went back to whatever it was she was up to. He picked it up and viewed it from a few different angles.
“Hey Gura, what’s this?” He asked his companion and a grid spun up around it as it analysed it.
“It looks like a companion; do you want me to interface with it?” A holographic talking shark girl appeared in midair.
“Do you think it’s safe?”
“I guess so, from the comm signal I can guess what it is.”
“What’s the guess?”
“I think that would ruin the surprise.” The neon shark girl tapped her cartoon foot.
“Okay, interface with it.” A moment passed. Then fireworks went off as from the once flush ‘top’, and ‘bottom’ of the sphere mini projectors appeared.
“CONGRATULATIONS COLIN ASIMOV, YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR THE SPACE ADVENTURERS TRAINING CORP!” The message was projected against an animated logo of the Space Adventurer’s Training Corp, an old-fashioned looking rocket ship flying around a planet a constellation of five stars, one representing each of the settled worlds. He sat mouth agape, only the sound of a pan dropping behind him brought him back to his sense.
“What, what, what, what, whaaat!” His mother’s voice getting progressively higher in pitch with each subsequent what. He turned to her slowly.
“You’re in trouble” his sister sang at him.
“No more out of you little miss, and you, what’s this!” She pointed at the enormous congratulatory projection.
“Let me explain!”
“Explain! Do you want to put your old mother into an early grave, are you trying to break my heart, I already.” She stopped.
“Sorry, I should have let you know, but you’d have tried to stop me.” He stood up with a guilty look.
“Of course, I would have. If it’s what you want, I guess I’ll just have to go along with it.” She put a hand on her hip and let out a sigh and forced a smile, “Congratulations! I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully.” She held out her arms, and he jumped up to share an awkward hug.
“Now off to school with you! You still need to finish this week off.” He smiled and nodded, and she nodded back.
His sister scurried out, and he also grabbed his bag, looked at the sphere projector.
“What should I do with that Gura?” He asked silently.
“To continue the message,” the small cartoon shark started, “other than a whole bunch of admin stuff I’ll add to your task list there, it says that the new companion is yours, its blank so you can load your existing companion onto it. Oh.” Her tail wagged, and excited neon motion marks flickered as it did.
“Cool.” He grabbed the spherical companion, and the projection vanished; he stuffed it into his bag and headed out.
A few fluffy white clouds rolled idyllically across the perfectly blue sky, the yellow sun rising. He was walking along the road to his school, the houses were all the same two-story compact rectangles with roof gardens and plenty of space around them windmills and solar panels decorated every roof and front garden. The street was full of kids in school uniform, you could make out 3 distinct sorts, bright red jacket and shorts for Primary, a dull grey blazer and trousers or skirt for Secondary and, a reserved navy blue pea coat, with a blazer and darker trousers or skirt for the college. An electric delivery pod trundled down the road projected warning signs on all side and coming the other way was a similarly illuminated automated public carriage carrying workers to the business district.
None of this mattered to Colin, of course, was lost in dreams of adventure, so lost he hadn’t noticed the person stood next to him trying to get his attention and who finally resorted to slapping him on the back. Suddenly he looked, just within the college appearance guidelines stylishly scruffy hair and a dashing smile the hole for an earring in their ear.
“Woah what was that for James!?” Colin’s shock was clear as day.
“I was trying to get your attention ever since we passed Thrush avenue man.” He had a gym bag thrown over his shoulder to go with the shoulder bag hanging from his other shoulder.
“Ah don’t sweat it, hey wasn’t today the day they sent out the invites for the training corp?”
“Yeah” Colin frowned.
“Ah shucks, you didn’t get in? Well don’t worry man, you get to hang out with me in technical college and beyond!”
“Hmm” Colin tilted his head, thinking about something.
“Hey, can I copy your gravitics homework? I didn’t get around to it.” James started to help himself into Colin’s backpack
“Wait, hell no! I always tell you to do your own” he deftly dodged away and turned to face James who smiled.
“Ahh come on!”
“Nah, I’ve spent one too many days stood holding buckets of water outside the classroom with you thanks to that in the past!”
“Ahh come on!” James repeated as they began to duck and weave through the crowd of other students.
A few moments of agile dance work of the two boys was suddenly halted as Colin felt himself bump into something and start to fall with whatever it was, he bumped into. He could see James mouthing “oh shit” and bringing his hand up to cover his face at the same time Colin suddenly understood his predicament and deftly swapped place with whoever it was he was about to unstylishly flatten.
A moment later he’d hit the ground and had someone’s back resting on his chest, almond smelling mane in his face, whoever it was had let out a squeak and leapt up.
“What on, what are you doing!” Whoever it was sorting their hair and skirt out simultaneously while giving Colin an accusatory stare.
“Boom got it!” James shouted, holding Colin’s schoolwork tablet high a look of triumph on his face.
“Shit, no you don’t,” Colin leapt to his feet as James continued towards the school at full speed, “damn his speed,” he then remembered what just happened, “ah, sorry” he gave a little bow then headed after James. The girl looked on aghast as her friends sprung to life and checked to see if she was fine after the impact, she shooed them away then suddenly with a frightful burst of speed started chasing after the two rascals that had inconvenienced her.
“Come back here you hoodlum!” She hollered. Collin looked back, and she saw the boy look surprised but didn’t stop, she’d show him surprised when she got her hands on him!
That was her plan at least, the three of them were stood outside the principal’s office a bucket of water in each hand, and Colin found himself once again considering his poor life decisions, mainly who he chose as a best friend. James was stood to his right, a massive smirk on his face, and the girl he had bumped into was on the left was the girl who he vaguely recognised as being in the year below them.
“What a day.” He muttered to himself.
“Silence!” Shouted a disembodied voice, the school’s disciplinary AI.
Then remembered he still had to tell James that he had got into the training guild. Ah well he thought, I’ll do that at lunch.