Short Story

Smart Car 35

On a bright summer morning in 2092 Duke made coffee and waited for Sheila to get out of bed. After they had both had their coffee, Duke told Sheila “I’ve got an idea for something different to do today. Eugene Springfield has branched out. That guy didn’t stop after all of his huge success with MindphoneTM. He got into personal submersibles. A concession in George Rogers Park rents out his crafts. They all have safety built in, so we can’t crash even if we want. Why don’t we take one for a spin? I think the cars can entertain themselves while we are gone.”

After a few cups and getting dressed they told the cars Deuce, Carl and Josie what they were doing, and took the short walk to George Rogers. They got the quick introduction to operating Medfords (named after one of the Springfields’ children), and launched into the area of the Willamette River where the Medfords were allowed.

The water was fairly clear, and they were immediately entertained by giant sturgeon bottom feeding and salmon headed towards the Columbia River a few miles downstream and hence to the Pacific. The fish in the Willamette had changed significantly over the last forty years with the elimination of dams and sea lions. They had flipped a coin and Sheila got to be the pilot. After she became perhaps overly confident, she decided to do barrel rolls. They decided it was a bad idea after they both came close to painting the inside of the vessel. Fortunately for them, their stomachs settled down quickly. About the time that they decided they had seen it all, they saw a conga line of other Medfords. A queue of ten Medfords formed a train in which each of them dipped and veered right and left. Duke got on the intercom and got permission to join the line with a hearty “Welcome aboard newbie”. After a little practice, Sheila was able to coordinate with the train.

Duke said “I just noticed that we can lower a screen. Let’s see what it does.”

Sheila broke from the line of Medfords and they looked at the menu on the screen. The options were:

Underwater sites around the world.

People in Medfords in your area.

The Underwater sites had a submenu listing local places in the Pacific Northwest, and in all of the oceans and many rivers where Springfield had placed viewers. Duke and Sheila picked places at random and marveled at the many forms of aquatic life and the geology of ocean and river bottoms.

Duke said “I wonder if there is anyone down here we know?” He went down the list of twenty submersibles. There were several that were anonymous. “I’ll bet they blocked names and viewing because they are couples joining the underwater club, like those that used to get in the mile high club by going into the rest rooms. Hey there’s our exes Jane and Shane. I’ll look in on them.”

Their screen was filled with heavenly bodies doing things vigorously which were illegal in 63% of the world. Duke quickly killed the picture, but kept the sound. “My bad, I should have remembered you were not only perverts but exhibitionists.”

Jane said “Hey we were just able to glance at you two. Knowing you, I can’t imagine you were having any fun. I won’t apologize for allowing the world to see the beauty of our love.”

Sheila’s turn “We’re here to see the underwater sights. We didn’t know we’d get to see mammals spawning.”

Now Shane “We weren’t spawning. I’m fixed.”

Sheila responded “Hey, we have that kind of fun at home.”

Duke looked at Sheila like “We do?”, but didn’t say anything.

Jane played peace maker “Hey, if this is uncomfortable for you, why don’t we catch up somewhere on dry land where people wear clothes.”

Everybody agreed with Jane and they set up a meet next week.

After the view and sound wrapped up, Duke told Sheila “What a day. I don’t think anything could top this.”

He was mistaken.

A familiar voice came over the intercom “Hey guys, didn’t expect us did you?” It was Carl, and he was right behind them in the train.

A surprised and confused Duke asked “What, how?”

Carl told him “We cars were going to surprise you. A month ago when you took a short vacation without us, we decided to get modified to be river or ocean going. We heard that you were going to go out in some Medfords, so we followed you discretely and launched a little upstream from you.”

Even though it was an easy walk home, Duke and Sheila rode with Carl and Josie respectively and talked about the adventures of the day. Deuce followed them.