Press One at the Tone

By Abel L. Torres, age 11
Press One at the Tone I love to watch old sci-fi flicks and 80s movies with my doge, Tito, and I love to read books like Armada and Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.

“The beacon was also an entrance to his ‘office,’ as he liked to call it. It was more than his office, it was his home. Then he waited for the scavenger to come. With him, the stranger’s dream team would be complete.”

BRIIINNNGGGGG! BRRRIINNNNGGGG!! BRIIINNNNNGGGGG!!! The brick rang endlessly, piercing the silence that permeated the dust covered bedroom. The noise annoyed me to no end. Groggily, I picked up the phone and answered. As soon as I picked up the brick, the noise stopped. On the other end, someone was using sound bytes from various old sci-fi films I knew (like, The Last Starfighter, 2001: A  Space Odyssey, and The Day The Earth Stood Still). “Klaatu barada nikto,” it repeated. “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” pelted my ears at an increasingly higher pitch and tone, until it sounded like, “Greetings, starfighter, you have been recruited to defend the frontier against Xur and the ko dan armada.” Then the fabled “DUH DAH DEE, your call has been forwarded to an automated voice message system, to record a message, please press one at the tone.”

I wasn’t in a particularly good mood that morning because of my jarring wake up call. So I pressed one and gave the caller a piece of my mind, but the battery on my overclocked brick died at that moment, so I couldn’t do anything about the mysterious caller. I thus proceeded to my morning ritual, which consisted of a strict diet of granola bars and milk, plus the luxury of one small piece of canned fruit. My personal assistant tallied the calories to my daily calorie intake. Then I was repeatedly subjected to electrical muscular stimulation, which in effect meant shocking myself with electrically charged needles, replacing the need for exercise.

“HAL, any new messages?” I said to the open air.

“Affirmative, you’ve got five new emails,” replied my custom virtual assistant.

After checking my emails and strapping on my gear, I went to work. Work consisted of scavenging through the junkyard I called home and repairing and stripping down old electronics for resale to others. This was no ordinary junkyard scavenging job, however, it was surviving in one of the biggest tech wastes in the world the size of New York state. I had to compete with fellow scavengers, who were not above stealing from each other if necessary. During the War, the elitists bribed countless military officials to use non-nuclear warheads and avoid the giant scrap yards, as they had built luxurious bunkers underneath the yards. These yards were protected from harm by the barrier, which both kept things in and out. Sixty years after the war, the elite began rebuilding above ground, creating the Domes, megacities protected by 50 foot thick walls and a spherical force field that protected from all angles of attack, hence the nickname “the dome.”

The other 90% of earth’s population had also survived, but most were still underground. The reason scavengers were around was because, sometime around sixty years ago, there was a coalition of multiple rebel factions in several local bunkers who were then discovered by the overseers of their bunkers and forced into exile out into the wasteland, where they eventually became the scavengers. I sensed a disturbance in the force. I felt as if I was degrading from the story at hand. Anyways, back to my point of view.

“HAL, full lockdown while I’m gone, okay?” I said, initiating a series of actions in my hideout. I opened the hatch that led to a tunnel and to another hatch that led to the outside scraps. Before opening the final hatch, I remembered to grab my combo staff and my cycle baton. Then I stepped out into the waste that lay ahead of me.

 

Your Call Cannot Be Completed

 

The receiver hung limply from its wire, dangling from its cradle, the audio port shattered beyond repair. The stranger had been careless. Too careless. He had fled from the phone booth, fearing the chance of being hunted by Sentries. He was hidden in a dark crevice in the underground of the Citadel, a Dome known for it’s extensive black market. He listened keenly for the hum of the sentry engines. There was a patrol coming, nearly two blocks away. In an instant, the stranger took out a baton and ran, separating the halves of the baton. As he did so the halves transformed into a light cycle. He fled, making sure to turn off his lights, effectively becoming invisible in the darkness of the neglected streets. The stranger, intent on getting to his destination, entered a series of tunnels that led to a breach in the dome. Years ago he had discovered the breach while evading another patrol. He flew through the breach, and out into the scraps for half a mile. Then he stopped for a break. The stranger shook his canteen, trying to coax out the last drops of water that stubbornly clung to the interior of his canteen. After the water was gone, he took out a circular disc that he set on the floor. It began to glow as he did so, and after, he spoke into a small bracelet on his wrist that glowed softly as he whispered to it, “Transport me to the scavenger’s residence.”

Then he stepped onto the disk and there was a flash of bright light. Suddenly he was standing next to a circular hatch set into the ground. “Subject isn’t home, must be out scavenging,” he commented. He opened the hatch and into the darkness beyond. He dropped a messenger probe, its’ sleek glossy black shell humming with energy. The stranger promptly proceeded to erase all evidence he’d been at the scavenger’s residence, using a micro disinfector and his walkman to block out the annoying noise the disinfector made when in use. As the next song cued up on his walkman, he fled on his cycle, mouthing along to the lyrics currently blasting in his ears, “and another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust,” silently on his cycle.

An hour later, he arrived at his destination. To the passing observer, it would have seemed like a weary traveler stopping for a rest on a rock. In reality this was a beacon that was used to signal rebel forces, but that was not what he was there for. The beacon was also an entrance to his “office” as he liked to call it. It was more than his office, it was his home. Then he waited for the scavenger to come. With him, the stranger’s dream team would be complete.

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