How could someone as connected as Brent end up exiled to this hick-town? From a wonderfully automated home to hell. He wasn’t sure how primitives like this functioned. No Shopsys and PARs. An old library terminal in this town might have access to the Shopsys, but he doubted. Did these neanderthals use personal assistants, robotic or otherwise. Brent looked to where the bus that had dropped him off passed through the electric barrier. His exile was complete.
“I hate you!” screaming as though someone cared. It physically hurt to be without so much as a tablet. Glancing at the watch they’d given him told him nothing. How was he supposed to decipher what it said? It wasn’t even digital. Nothing about this situation was normal.
“They might as well have given me a sundial.” He moaned as he studied the people around him. A few of them glanced his way, but most just ignored him. Several scowled when they noticed him looking.
A few hours of exploration found him in the only hardware store in town. The poorly shaven old man behind the counter watched with a squinty eye like something from an old movie.
“Whatchya lookin’ fer son?”
“If I am going to be stuck in this town, I am going to have something normal. I need components. Soldering iron, some wires, and something I can strip chips out of, maybe calculators. Whatever you have that can be used to build a workable personal computer.”
“Why’d ya wanna have one a them?”
“Um, let me think.” Sarcasm laced in Brent’s tone. “Maybe so I have some semblance of civilization in this backwoods town.”
“I’m ‘fraid ya won’t be findin’ nuthin like that round here. Cultural preserve after all.”
“You don’t even have calculators? How in the hell do you do math?”
“Watch yer language, and we use paper or our heads.”
“Bullshit, you people aren’t programmers.”
“Twice I’s askin’, watch yer language son.”
“Fuck you old man. I just got booted out of the real world to your backwards ass village. I’ll at least talk like a normal person if I want.”
“Then you’ll be doin’ it outside.” The old man stepped from behind the counter and took a iron grip on Brent’s wrist.
“Let go of me you crazy shit!”
The man said nothing more but began dragging him towards the door.
“Let go or I swear…!” It was the only thing he could think to say. The idea that someone would invade his personal space physically was alien. If you wanted to attack someone you said it in a vlog, or at the very least typed it.
“Ain’t nobody cares about yer fancy computers round here.”
Brent wasn’t sure what happened, but the rage over his situation and the horror of actual physical contact was too much. The next thing he knew he was standing over the man’s body with a heavy wrench in his hands. He was hovering over the man who was laying in a twitching heap on the ground. No blood, only sparks spit from the gash in his head. Alarms were going off outside, but all he could think about was the circuitry and chips he might plunder from the body. Something inside him wanted to vomit. Another part was overjoyed that he was here with robots and not people. At least something about this miserable place was normal.
Coincidentally I lived in a town called Normal for several years. I escaped as quickly as possible to travel and acquire an education. Several years ago I returned for family issues. I was quite surprised even disconcerted when I found little high-speed connectivity availability. The best I found was dismal dial-up at an absurd cost-per-minute basis. I felt “cut-off” from the real world, but to the extent demonstrated by Brent.