Authors: Tara Tyler
A Division of
P.O. Box 2160
Reston, VA 20195
Cover Art by Eugene Teplitsky
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ISBN 978-1-62007-282-0 (ebook)
ISBN 978-1-62007-283-7 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-62007-284-4 (hardcover)
For my sons, Jace, Logan,
and especially my inspirational little guy, Cooper.
war raged in Sarah’s head. Never had she experienced such agony. This migraine far surpassed the last one, but she refused to put off her meeting. Pain would not win. Clenching her teeth, she banished the urge to empty her stomach. She struggled to remain composed while her high heels clacked, enhancing the throbbing, and background city noises exploded in her ears. Even the beckoning of her Qnet Viewer rumbled through her like a train, shaking her off balance. She couldn’t bear to answer it, so she fumbled to turn off the annoyingly chirpy ringer. Shielding her sensitive eyes from the dim glare of the sun diffused by the clouds in an overcast sky, she forced herself to reach the next crack in the sidewalk, then the next one.
Never a cab around when you need one. At least it isn’t raining.
I need to pop.
A pop would take care of the pounding in her head. Sarah always felt fresh and healthy after a pop. Reborn.
After an agonizing three blocks, the Valium the doctor gave her finally kicked in. Spying the welcome sight of her high-rise home, Sarah sighed and touched her head. The hammering softened to a slight, steady pulse. Hopefully, the drug’s effects would last until she made it to the travelport.
“Hello, Ms. Johansen. Your car is here and your bags are in the back,” Henry said, holding the door open for her.
“Thank you.” Sarah hopped in and shook off a chill. Making chitchat with androids gave her the creeps.
Inside the compact econ limo, Sarah felt confined and wished the carmakers would hurry up and bring luxury back to the electric car age, before she was too old to enjoy one again. When she finished fidgeting, she opened her schedule on her wrist imager, the latest Qnet Viewer. Sarah bought the upgraded QV hoping the clearer 3D imager would help with the recurring headaches. While she reviewed the notes hovering over the QV for her upcoming meeting, a message flashed in the corner. It was her mother. Again.
“Hello, Mom.” Her greeting triggered the notes to minimize and her mother’s face to zoom in.
“Sarah. I’ve been calling and calling. How did your doctor appointment go?”
“What did he say?”
Knowing her mother wouldn’t let up until she told her everything, Sarah took a deep breath and spilled.
“He said I should cut down on pop traveling for a while and reduce my stress. But my stress test results came back stellar.” Sarah touched her forehead. The pain had gone, but her mother could easily trigger another migraine.
“I knew it! I wish you would take some time off and come down here. We have the condo for another month. We could do some sightseeing and shopping.”
“Oh, Mother. I see enough sights when I work. I’m popping to New York again in an hour. I’m sure I’ll catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty from my hotel window.”
Sarah couldn’t let up now. Too many vultures hovered, waiting for her to slack off at work so they could swoop in and pick her bones dry. A few headaches, or even her mother, wouldn’t slow her down.
“Sarah, I wish you’d reconsider.”
Sarah tilted her head and cocked an eyebrow.
Did you forget that I’m a grown woman?
“I’ll be fine, Mom. I’ll call you this weekend.”
Her mother frowned.
“Whatever you say, dear.”
They disconnected. Sarah shook her head and sighed.
I’ll rest when I’m retired like you, Mom.
When she reopened her notes, she felt a drip from her nose. She dabbed it and cursed under her breath.
Praying the pain would not return with the nosebleed, Sarah pinched her nose and tilted her head back.
This crap happens to low-life neph-heads, not self-respecting businesswomen!
After waiting a good ten minutes, Sarah released the vise grip on her nose. The bleeding had stopped. She breathed a sigh of relief, back to normal.
As the cab pulled in at the Seattle TransAmerica Travelport, Sarah took a peek in her compact and checked her nose for dried blood. Satisfied with her reflection, she stepped out, wearing a triumphant smile.
When she finished trudging through the security scanners, Sarah flashed her frequent traveler card, allowing her to bypass the long lines at the pre-pop medical scanning checkpoints required for the general public. As she continued down the wide causeway, she passed the mass transit platforms on either side. Besides the pop travel renovations, the gates hadn’t changed much from when they were waiting areas for planes. The seats had been replaced with the brightly lit floors of transport platforms holding twenty-four shiny, steel cylinder docks each. But average folk and bickering families still fussed and clamored to find their spots.
First class, here I come.
At her gate, Sarah placed her hand on the palm pad for ticket verification, and the privacy door slid open. Focused on the dock chair calling her name, Sarah ignored the friendly smile of the technician, standing at his station. Entering the cylindrical chamber reminded her of an ancient pneumatic message tube or a giant syringe. Sarah smiled to herself.
Shoot me home.
As she reclined in the padded, steel, body-length chair, she relaxed and waited for the anesthesiologist to give her the sedative.
“All set?” the anesthesiologist asked.
“Yes.” Sarah grinned. This was her favorite part.
After administering the sedative, the anesthesiologist closed the dock and Sarah was out.
The technician pressed
She was gone.
At the JFK International Transport Hub in New York, a receiving technician stood by. The signal alerted him of Sarah Johansen’s transmission. When he answered it, he watched her form on his imager. A green silhouette appeared, one slice at a time, from the bottom up, as she re-formed in the receiving dock chair. A ping indicated her reconstruction was complete, and the reception nurse went over to welcome her.
When she opened the door, the nurse screamed and fainted.
The technician looked through his translucent imager into the receiving dock.
In the chair sat a pile of sparkly dust.