"Why the black clothes?"
"In 2059, Any color besides black is not worn by the general population."
"The official state clothing manufacturer produces only black clothing. It is more cost efficient for them and it conceals dirt longer."
"Official state clothing manufacturer?"
"Yes. In 2059 most production has shifted to the state. Clothing, housing, basic food & nutrition all were declared basic human rights and these industries were taken over by the government."
"The USA is now Communist in 2059?!"
"In all but name, yes. But it is more complex. You will see."
I look around. I can usually tell where I am on Earth by looking at the sky, but I am having a tough time placing our current location.
"Where are we?"
"We are in Los Angeles."
We are standing in a street - or what used to be a street and now is falling apart and apparently closed to traffic. The nearby buildings are all white, from top to bottom. It looks like someone got crazy with a paint can and it is hard to distinguish where one building ends and another begins, because of the uniform color.
"Where are all the cars?"
"Cars were outlawed over 20 years ago. The state car company, USGM, now only produces high speed rail cars and other public transportation vehicles."
"Why are all the buildings white?"
"To save energy and reduce heating. It is the law that all structures in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Florida must be painted white."
I see some people nearby talking, all dressed in black. I walk a bit closer to get a closer look. All appear Latino and are speaking Spanish. As I approach they turn and look at me and Yal-hune rather hostile-like.
"They aren't used to seeing a Caucasoid. You frighten them."
I turn away and walk back towards Yal-hune.
"They all had something by their eyes. What was that?"
"Yes, each person is implanted with an ID chip GPS transponder. It is used in place of driver's licenses for identification."
That makes sense. Without cars they would have no licenses and without licenses they would still need identification. I find the idea of an implant and monitoring system rather distasteful - too much like Logan's Run.
"Don't freak out, but you have one too right now."
I reach up and feel my right temple and sure enough I feel the implant. About an inch or so, round and partially embedded underneath my skin.
"How did this get here?"
"I added the necessary accouterments along with the clothes."
I suddenly realize her abilities are far more than we even were aware of. Not only can she fly, deflect objects and teleport, but she can travel through time and alter atomic matter at will into very sophisticated structures with her mind. I never expected physical extraterrestrials from another world to have such powers.
I don't like 2059 so far. Los Angeles looked bleak in 2009, but this is even worse. We walk together down the street and come to what looks to be an old liquor store. However, the old sign is gone and a small polished sign adhered to the building, next to the door, advertises "Licencia azúcar cande y Distribución de Bebidas" and underneath, in English, it says "Licensed Confection & Beverage Distribution Outlet."
"Yes, alcohol and liquors are illegal here. So is smoking. Sugar confections are available in quantities of 100 ounces per month, to each citizen."
We walk in. The place looks run down and the structure is old, probably built over a hundred years ago in 1950 - and looks it. The feel of a liquor store is still present even though there is very little selection. The refrigerated cases filled with beverages all seem like the same brand and the shelves filled with candy are far less colorful, but there is more selection it seems, than the beverage brands.
An old man behind the counter eyes us warily. I feel a slight irritation in my temple where the implant is.
"That's data being retrieved from your ID chip. The operator of this outlet is reviewing it on his screen."
"What sort of data?"
"Your name, place of birth, current address, age, occupation, criminal record and those sorts of things."
"What an invasion of privacy! Are these chips you made us, real? Do they proffer up real data?"
"Yes. We are registered partners. We live nearby in one of the state housing facilities. You are Gabriel Vasquez and I am Maricruz Vasquez. We have no criminal records and our loyalty to the state is rated high."
"What's with the names, anyone can see we're not Mexican?"
"Even non-Mexicans of this period, and in most of the US now give their children Mexican names to avoid even more discrimination for having an unusual name. Because of our appearance the operator of this facility is pulling up our data. Caucasoid disturbances and criminals are fairly common."
So far, I'm really not liking 2059. Big brother is alive and well in a dystopia even Ayn Rand could never have imagined and is apparently Latino. It makes sense though. The demographics were inevitable. What I would give to go to a library and look up some history.
"There are no libraries. Books, paper and the ink used in them were deemed hazardous to health - particularly those made in the early twenty-first century which were found to have had lots of lead and other hazardous chemicals in them."
"No libraries? You must be joking! Do they read books at all?"
"No. Paper books are mostly obsolete. They are illegal to sell and to buy. You can own books if you inherit them and that's it."
"That's crazy. How do they learn?"
"It's all done by screen. All reading is done by electronic books and these are fairly scarce. Illiteracy is dramatically on the rise in this time period and consequently IQ is down considerably too. However, most here do not remember the days when books were plentiful and only those older than 40 probably even remember being taught with books. Most people discarded their books once they found out they were hazardous. The government has a large recycling program in place. Discard books and receive credits towards an electronic reader - or other electronic goods."
"And the older folks went along with this craziness?"
"Yes. Face it this is 2059. People have been communicating by emails and via screens for almost 70 years now. After newspapers folded up around 2017 it seemed natural that paper books would be next. The commercial booksellers started selling book viewers in 2012 and most kids raised since then were far more familiar with reading on screens than off of paper. Booksellers folded up and now 'books' are sold straight to the buyer via download. Very efficient. No trees are consumed and very eco-friendly."
"Yes eco-friendly translates into increased illiteracy."
I grab a beverage that looks like water from out of a refrigerated case. I also grab a candy bar, called 'Healthy-World' and manufactured by the State Food Distribution Center - SFDC.
(End Part 21)