Fortunate Son – Part 1
David C Velasco
Philip awoke just as the sun began to show itself though the bedroom window. As his eyes opened, he could see its rays hitting the flawless wall and door opposite. He blinked a few times, adjusting to the light of the new day, rolled onto his back, rubbed his eyes and stretched the sleep from his nine year old body.
Once done he sat up and looked out the window. It was adjacent to the bed, and just as long, enabling him to view the world outside without having to leave the comfort of the blankets. The plexiglass porthole angled slightly outward, allowing him to look nearly straight down and was one reason why his friends like to do sleepovers. None of them had such in their bedroom. And it was fun to pretend to be down there, on the ground below.
He yawned as he leaned over and rested his hands flat against the glass, watching the forest covered hills move slowly beneath the great ship. The vessel, home for him and countless others, did not yet cast a giant shadow upon the landscape beneath. In the distance, he saw the beginning of the big ocean they pass over every so often.
Last time the ship crossed over the sea he and his friends pretended his bed was a boat. Within their imagination they motored amongst a groups of whales they could see, all the while some shooting plumes of water from out of their backs.
Philip turned and crawled off the bed, stretching and yawning again once on his feet. He walked up to the dresser embedded in the wall adjacent the bed. Only a thin black line outlining each drawer gave any indication it was there. Gently touching the left side of the top drawer with his small hand caused it to open. To one side sat his shirts, the other side pants, all neatly folded. They always came back that way from the laundry section. Then his mother would place them therein, arranging them by color.
It was Sixthday, so no need to dress for class. Philip chose casual attire for his day off: grey short sleeve, pullover shirt and dark blue pants, all fitting loosely upon his small frame. Philip and his friends planned to roam about the ship today and play, so he did not want to feel too constricted.
He left his bedroom barefoot and proceeded to the kitchen area. Despite the efficient environmental scrubber units, a faint, yet unmistakable odor filled the crisp clean air of the moderately sized living room. Like his bedroom, the walls and floor were light colored and pristine. Lights embedded in the ceiling silently illuminated the entire area.
While dressing he hoped his mom would make a handmade breakfast instead of using the food processor. And so she was. He did not mind what came from the processor. It all tasted so good. But his parents told him that handmade meals were their special time with their special son.
‘Morning mom.’ He approached the counter where she stood. She looked down from her task of making breakfast and smiled. She was young and fair, with a head of full, light brown hair atop her flawless face.
‘Morning, Sunshine. Ready for your days off?’
She reached down and rubbed his head, watching him smile with a row of perfect white teeth. He turned and walked around to the other side of the counter occupying the middle of the kitchen.
It was their meal table, and stood about waist high to an average adult. As Philip got to the side opposite his mother, he waved his hand underneath the lip of the countertop. A panel opened up on the side, and out came a small chair supported by an L-shaped bracket, low enough for Philip to sit in without having to climb up. Once seated, his arms firmly on the armrests, the chair slowly rose, giving him a proper seat at the tall table.
‘Eggs, mom?’ Philip asked, reaching for the carafe of orange colored liquid upon the counter.
‘Yes, hun. And those cakes you like.’ She did not turn as she spoke, alternating her glance between the cooking counter and small plasma screen monitor against the wall. She needed to get things right:
Cook eggs, roughly turning every 1.25 min to avoid burning or undue singeing.
NOTICE: All aves/foul products must be cooked until well done. Allow scanner to indicate appropriate serving temperature before serving.
Using a dark black spatula, she turned over the two eggs already cooking. As always, doing so carefully, still having not developed the dexterity to do so in one smooth stroke. All the while, she could hear her son helping himself to the juice. She now turned her attention to the cakes cooking adjacent the eggs. Again, she looked at the monitor:
Cake batter poured until circumference is approximately 10 (ten) centimeters. Allow to cook until small bubbles cover most of the visible area. Turn over, allowing an additional 2–3 minutes to fully cook. Cake is done when color is a light brown across face. Refer to color chart opposite for comparison.
Philip finished his drink. He had put enough into his glass to get the slight, pasty taste of sleep out of his mouth. ‘Where’s dad?’
His mother proceeded to turn over the cakes, having followed the instructions to the letter. ‘He received a textcall from Tech Department. An electrical issue on one the upper decks.’
‘Oh … ’
‘He wanted to be here too, you know,’ she said without turning.
‘He’s an important man. I know he helps make the air we breathe.’
His mother smiled, turning one of the hotcakes over to make sure the other side was the appropriate, fully cooked color. She shared in her son’s pride when it came to the environmental skills her husband contributed to the ship, ensuring each cubic meter of atmosphere was clean and pure.
‘Are you and your friends going to get together today?’ she asked, placing his breakfast onto a clean, black colored plate. It was disposable, but sturdy. She then reached up to the touchscreen monitor and entered some commands for the food processor.
Philip poured himself some more juice. ‘Yea. Jill and me … maybe Benny too … are going to the park section.’
‘You kids like it there don’t you?’ She remembered the many, youthful days she spent there as well.
His mother turned around and presented Philip with his breakfast in one hand. In the other, she held her own.
Philip smiled as she put the plate down before sitting in her own self-adjusting chair. Philip noticed, as always, that his parent’s eggs looked different during handmade meals. His were always flat, with the yellow and white colored parts showing on both sides. Theirs a solid light yellow and nearly square. In the past he had asked why this was so. The answer always being they liked them that way, and that when he got older, he would like things a certain way also.
Philip started in on his breakfast as his mother readied herself for her own. Their utensils were the same color as their plates, just as disposable and just as study.
‘Be careful today, you and your friends.’
‘Yepper, mom.’ His answer came between bites.
Like most others, Philip entered the park from Level 1. The Park Section extended for two more decks above, and was located near the rear of the ship, just in front of the engineering sections. Those places were off limits to him. Once, he and his friends tried to go there, just out of curiosity, and for something fun to do. They were turned away with an explicit warning not to try and do so again.
The Park Area currently contained a simulated forest, complete with hills and trails. One end housed a rock climbing section for the more adventurous. A small stream wound its way through the park, ending at a modestly sized pond. By now, a good number of people roamed the area, or sat by the big window. Like his bedroom, it faced out and down onto the world outside, taking up nearly the entire side of Level 1.
Philip walked down one of the trails and over a small bridge on the way to the window side of the park. He could hear the sounds of running water mingle with that coming from hidden speakers. His teacher and parents told him they were the sounds of birds and other extinct animals. Once over the big ocean, he knew the park would be converted to that resembling a tropical island, complete with palm trees, sandy beaches and the recorded sounds one would hear at a real seashore.
Emerging from the forest, he scanned all the tables along and near the window for his friends. His perfect eyesight spotted them within moments.
And Doug was there too.
He quickened his pace toward the small table. The young girl seated there turned and saw him approach.
Jill stood and waved. ‘Hey Phili!’
The other two boys there turned. All three were Philip’s age and equally energetic. Doug sat upon on the table, Benny in a chair adjacent Jill.
Jill and Philip gave each other a slight hug. While doing so, he glanced over to see the slight look of irritation upon Doug’s face.
‘How long you’ve been here?’ Philip asked as Jill sat back down. He did not sit himself, preferring to stand next to Jill, but opposite Doug.
‘Not long … just waiting for you.’ Jill smiled, looking up at Phillip.
As always, they all looked forward to a couple of days away from the mental strengthening and physique building which were the bane of their studies at the learning center.
‘Yea,’ Doug said as he leaned back on the table, using his hands to prop himself up. ‘Was just telling Jill how my dad is going to take me to the Command Section next week.’
‘Oh.’ Phillip responded, attempting to appear totally unimpressed.
‘Yea. Going to ask if Jill can come along.’ Doug glanced down at her and smiled.
‘Wow,’ Benny spouted. ‘Your dad can do that?’
‘Yep,’ Doug answered. Normally children needed to be a bit older before they were allowed to go to that part of the ship. But Philip figured it was Doug’s way of trying to impress Jill. The one thing Philip noticed he was trying to do more and more often.
‘That would be great!’ Jill responded, the look of glee and anticipation on her young, flawless face.
Not to be outdone, Phillip decided to bring up the subject now.
‘Hey … We’re getting close to the big ocean!’
‘Yea I saw that!’ Benny stated with glee of his own.
‘Sleepoverrrrr!’ came from both he and Jill at the same time. Doug remained silent. It was one thing to see the outside world from the Command Deck or here in the park. It was another to have that privilege in your own bedroom.
‘Yeppers!’ Philip was equally ecstatic.
‘And a handmade breakfast?’ Benny asked. ‘Like when we do other sleepovers?’
‘Yep. My mom likes to do those I think.’
‘Well … let’s go for a hike and have some fun.’ Doug announced as he stood up, unable to compete with Philip when it came to visually accessing the outside world at any hour of the day.
Immediately both Jill and Benny stood. With a quick pace, Doug and Jill began weaving their way through the other people slowly milling about the park area. Philip and Benny followed close behind as all four headed back towards the forest. As usual, they followed one of the trails until it came to a more remote point, then ventured beyond the well kept path, running, jumping or skipping among the neatly kept grass, trees and shrubs.
Both Doug and Philip attempted to lead their small group in one direction or another. Jill and Benny simply followed behind.
‘I wonder if it’s like this on the ground?’ Jill mused while Doug led the group up one of the small hills not too far from trail. There were only a few trees atop there, and one could get a good view of the entire park.
‘It is,’ Doug answered, looking up at the simulated sky above. Projected onto the smooth surface over the park was the image of a clear, blue sky, with a hint of clouds rolling past.
‘How do you know?’ Phillip said, racing past Doug to the top.
‘Because that’s what my father says.’
Doug reached the top also, then leaned back onto the largest tree there, taking in the park below.
Jill came up beside him and glanced over the landscape as well. Benny finally caught up himself.
‘Has your father been on the ground?’ Philip asked.
‘No. But he talks to those in the camp.’
‘We won’t be there again for a while I think,’ Benny added. ‘After we’re over the ocean.’
‘If we are going to be over the ocean, then the park will be changed to a beach,’ Doug smiled at Jill as he spoke. ‘One day when I work for Command, I’ll get to decide when we change the park.’
Philip said nothing, his slight frown speaking for him. Doug was trying to impress Jill yet again.
‘ES is important too, you know,’ Philip said, refereeing to the countless environmental systems technicians, one of whom was his father. ‘Maybe that’s why we have a window view in our quarters.’
Doug did not respond. A fake beach was one thing. Philip’s privileged view of the world from his bedroom was quite another.
‘Hey … What’s that?’
The three turned to see Benny pointing towards some trees a few meters to his right. He then slowly walked over that direction. Almost instinctively, Doug strode towards him, attempting to see what had caught his attention.
‘What is it Benny?’ Jill asked, taking a few cautious steps towards the trees.
As Doug approached one of the trees adjacent to the clearing, he saw it also: a small branch, lying on the ground, part of it appeared buried under the soil.
Phillip had come up and also saw the branch. He stared at it as Jill came up behind him. Doug, normally a fountain of authority, remained speechless.
‘Never seen that before,’ Benny said, slightly leaning over the branch.
‘I bet it’s leftover from when the park was changed−’
‘Why didn’t anyone clean it up?’
Philip saw the look of puzzlement on Doug’s normally composed, pompous face. Curiosity got the better of him.
He stepped up to the misplaced branch and reached down for it. Benny backed away, having a feeling about what Philip was doing. As his friend straightened back up, the soil covering part of the limb fell off, with only a small amount clinging to the bark.
‘I don’t think you should touch that,’ Benny stated.
To be continued tomorrow …
Bio: David C Velasco is an amateur writer, doing so mostly in his spare time as an office manager. He self published his first book, The Lofts: A Life Story, in March 2012. It can be found on Createspace here or Amazon here. He is currently working on several science fiction stories.