had read about the vast amount of technology that could be found in parts of
the world like the city-state of Midcal, but he hadn't expected to find so much
technology in Africa, which prided itself on preserving its cultures. There
were consoles and vids everywhere he looked. The ceiling was pulsating with
scrolling texts and blinking images advertising everything from bottled water
to clothes to hallucinogens to VR's (virtual realities) to buying the perfect
Erick's senses were quickly overwhelmed
and he had to look away from the ceiling. He now listened to the sounds around
him. It sounded like the low roar of the ocean that he once experienced in virtual
reality. As he concentrated on individual sounds, he noticed that it was made
of the low din of conversations and the buzz of the surrounding technology.
Erick was jarred from his reverie when a man bumped into him.
The man mumbled "He is returning," as he
stumbled off. Erick regained his balance and turned to look at the man. Erick
could see little of his face or head because the man was hunched over. He was
wearing a faded black coat with the collar raised, which further obscured his
head. Erick could see that he wore a pair of khaki pants that were much too
big and frayed. He had no socks and wore sandals. Erick only saw that he was
light-skinned rom the sight of the man's bare ankles and heels. Just as Erick
was turning away, the man looked back at Erick. His features were ordinary except
he had a tattoo of a sword on both cheeks.
Erick now became interested in the people
filling the immence indoor plaza that he and Samuel had entered. He was surprised
to see that less than half were dressed in native garb. The rest wore a variety
of styles. He recognized modern punk and classical prep which both had been
moderately popular at the Institution. There were many other styles that he
did not recognize. The most bizarre was a tattooed, suit-wearing Asian whose
head looked like a metal pincushion.
Most everyone was walking around in all
manner of VR headgear, from old, bulky, beat-up gear to sleek and shiny cutting
edge VR headgear. Some of those wearing VR were talking to unseen companions,
both real and computer-generated. It seemed that between the blaring billboards,
vids and VR, few here wanted to be alone with their own thoughts. Even those
not jacked in seemed to be drifting aimlessly. Erick also observed little to
his surprise no children or adolescents.