He stepped out to the porch, placed a mug of hot coffee on the table by the door and began the morning ritual of lighting his pipe. The sun had completed its climb above the highest peak in the McCluskey Mountain Range, its warmth determined to melt the snow-cap on Juliette Peak. His house, not far from the base of Sagamoor, was built on top of the foundations of two earlier family homes, one swept away by a landslide and the other destroyed by fire. The house sustained damage in the mid 21st Century when a large chunk of orbital debris fell in the mountains, striking the family home, and sliced off the top floor of the house, along with several family members.
He had thought about what to do with the property once he moved on to the LRS. He never married or contracted so had no issue, which left his sister’s brood as the most likely to bid as inheritors. Then his former lover paid him a visit last year and he convinced her to stay. Gideon Glass was considering naming Lily Swan his inheritor. They lived in a time when few humans had their own homes. It had been so for centuries. Only Gentry and former Nobility kept their properties and Gideon came from a long line of Gentry. Lily cared deeply for Gideon but would stay at his house only until he left for LRS. She did not want to be his inheritor. Once registered as inheritor, it would be irreversible. Lily would be tied to the property for the rest of her life.
Lilian Swan was a member of the Street Royalty— the majority class on the planet, its origins rooted in the 20th Century. Through a series of atypical strategies, cleverly executed over decades, the population living on the streets had controlling interests in all the major enterprises, seizing control of the planet. They restructured governments under a modified feudal system, supported by the Plebeian class, a version of the serf of the Middle Ages. Street Royalty were the ultimate minimalists, owning nothing and enjoying everything. The landed Gentry became agents of the Royalty, executing their will.
The two years until LRS quickly flew by, or so it seemed to the couple. Lily and Gideon grew more desperate to hold onto each moment with every passing day as the date of Gideon’s LRS approached. LRS, or “Lunar Renewal Station,” was required of every person on the planet at least once in their lifetime. This policy relieved the strain on planetary resources as LRS travelers were placed in suspended animation on the planet’s moon, where their unconscious minds were questioned, analyzed, educated and even repaired. A “traveler”, as a subject was called, could stay in suspended animation for as long as 100 years. Depending on an individual’s class, he or she could return to the same time and circumstances, as if they had never left, except for the effects of mind manipulation and minor physical shock due to time dilation.
The Street Royalty advocated the “check-up” of minds as a means to early intervention. In the past, persons living on the street were considered either mentally deficient or impaired and many were addicts of one kind or another. The Royals were accused of playing at conformity through mind control. Gideon was one of those accusers. Gideon never had any intention of going to LRS, but had plans for asylum in the Southern Star Region of the planet that defied the Street Royalty and refused LRS. That region was once known as Australia and New Zealand.
Southern Star was able to maintain its autonomy by hiding in a distant past. The entire continent and island traveled in time, having the ability to appear in the relative present if necessary. It was a marvel of science and engineering. Time travel had been around for centuries, but only the Southern Star Region had the ability to time shift land masses, bristling with life.
The morning of Gideon’s departure arrived too soon for the couple. They said their goodbyes earlier, so when the aerovan arrived to transport Gideon to the spaceport, he simply boarded and didn’t look back. At the spaceport, Gideon was standing in a queue for designer coffee when he felt something press against the small of his back. He was preparing to turn and strike when he heard Lily’s voice:
“Do you really think you can run away, Gideon? I know you think our minds, our thoughts will not be our own after LRS, but some ideal conformity….”
Slowly, Gideon turned around to face Lily. There was no weapon in her hand, just her comb. Lily’s face was flushed and there were tears pooling in her eyes.
“LRS is not a thought inhibitor, or reprogramming, Lily. It’s death. It’s execution. This planet is overpopulated and everything is stretched to the limit. Do you honestly believe our government is maintaining millions, maybe billions of people in suspended animation on the frigging moon? Have you ever met anyone who has returned from the LRS? No? It’s because our government warlords systematically murdered them.”
“How is it possible? Why didn’t you talk to me about this?”
“I’m talking to you now, Lily. You can walk away and let me go, or come with me. What will it be, Lily?”
This story is in response to a prompt for Inspiration Monday: Street Royalty at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompt: Street Royalty
Photo: “Forbidden Planet” 1956 Credit: harshcritic.com.au
Thanks to Stephanie Orges for hosting Inspiration Monday
The title of the story, “You don’t know me” is from the song of the same name, 1956, written by Cindy Walker. The best version of the song, I think, is by Ray Charles 1962
use this link to listen to the song on Youtube