Dear reader, what you are about to experience is (as will soon be made evident) a work of fiction. Any resemblance to pre-existing people or technologies, real or imagined, can be chalked up to a failure of imagination on the author’s part. Sorry about that.
Dave O’Malley stepped out of the back of his car, which sped away as soon as he was on the curb, splattering puddle-water onto his coat. “These newer models,” he thought, not quite aloud, “they never wait until you’re good and ready to leave before hurrying off. Wish I hadn’t let the dealership talk me in to a self-driver.” Dave scarcely glanced at his destination’s sign as he walked through the sliding automatic doors. He’d taken this route more than enough times to know that the car had, at least, dropped him off at the right place.
As he entered The Lodge, New Delaware’s largest co-working office, a familiar sound played through a small yet potent speaker protruding from the lapel of his coat. Jeanine had evidently selected the playlist for the evening, as the song was that strange acapella/country-rock fusion she seemed so fond of. Similar speakers, all tapping in to the local wireless, could be spotted on the lapels of just about everyone in the office, though many preferred to wear headphones or to mount larger speakers on their desks. Not everyone’s speaker played the office’s music; many played music of owner’s choice, or podcasts the user thought they might enjoy. Still others played no music at all, or used the technology to hold conversations with those across the office (or across town, or across oceans). All, of course, were just loud enough for the owner to hear without bothering those around them.
The front lobby was arranged with the standard accessories of an office building’s waiting room. Tables and chairs lay around the space in various levels of use, each equipped with a small screen for the purposes of communication or entertainment as their occupants waited for those they had come to meet. All four of the room’s walls were screens, two of which displayed ever-shifting images of advertisements for products and services rendered by those who worked at The Lodge, coupled with news stories of their latest successes. The third served as a station for taking notes or (for the less productive visitor) doodling idly. The fourth was currently set to display a live-feed of the view from Mount Everest, though Dave had often seen it configured for other locales or for presenting announcements.
Dave moved quickly past the unattended receptionist’s desk; these too had been automated in recent years. A synthesized voice wished him a good day as he scuttled along towards the elevator door, and a mechanical hand waved hello. Dave gave a quick wave back, as one must be polite, but did not slow down until he had reached the elevator. These doors, due to safety concerns, did not open automatically; they waited for a button press, the old-fashioned way. The elevator also, unlike most areas of the building, did not warrant a screen. The building was only a few stories high, after all. Dave rode the elevator up as high as it went: the third floor. This is where The Lodge kept the bulk of its meeting rooms. This was where Dave intended to make his fortune, and where one Harold Reiner intended to make his.
Jacob Rosenberg is our resident blogger and story teller.