Excerpt from Terra v. Aqua – Transition Zone

The transition

The transition

Conversation with Bella TA in the mag had been educational, mostly because it made Jon A reevaluate his reason for the visit. Was there something in his life that he wished to change? Maybe his whole life needed to be re-evaluated.

The mag’s arrival was so quiet that it took an automated announcement for them to be aware. Jon A and Bella TA exited the car and followed the clearly defined route to the transition center. They chose to walk after the long time they had spent sitting down, instead of taking the people-mover. In less than five minutes they entered a room with Amphitheatre seating.

Several tables near the entry provided drinks and light fare. Bathrooms and a quiet-room doors were clearly marked.

They chose one of the tables and poured water into their durable plastic bottles. Due to the limited supply of petroleum products, most plastic items were now durable, single-use plastic had been eradicated.

Jon A commented, “Love the graphic on the multi-viewer”.

Bella TA looked down to the screen and agreed with Jon A, “Right, it is my favorite depiction of ‘The Time Machine’ by Wells”.

Jon A agreed and they proceeded down to their seats.

Within a minute the lights blinked, and a pleasant voice directed, “Please proceed to your seats for our Transition primer.” A 60 second count-down appeared on the screen. The countdown stopped and the lights dimmed when a motion sensor determined that everyone was seated. The room appeared to be about three-quarters full. This had been determined to be the optimal occupancy and spoke as to the validity of the transportation and handling algorithms in the system.

At exactly 1100 hours the screen filled with easily recognizable icons of the Middle and the voice informed, “Good morning and welcome to the Transition Zone. You have been told of how you are expected to behave in the Zone, during your travel to your destination and your stay in the Middle. Please follow those instructions.”

“You will remain in the Transition Zone for no more than four days. The duration will depend on how easily you acclimate to the new surroundings and are ready to continue to the Middle. For at least one day, starting tomorrow, you will be provided and will be asked to wear a breathing device. It is imperative that you spend a good portion of the day, at least 30%, outdoors. This will get you used to the slightly different conditions you will find at your destination. This device will gradually change the air you breathe until it resembles what you will breathe at your destination. The device is specifically configured for the user. If after two days you still need the breathing device, you will be asked to reevaluate your intentions to travel further. About one third of our visitors need to use the device for only one day, only about 5% will not support taking it off and of those only about half will be asked to discontinue their travel plans.”

Bella TA observed, “It is actually really easy to get used to breathing normally, I expect the few exceptions are mostly psychological.”

The narration droned on, “… We have actually had groups in which every person only had to use the device for one day, and typically most only need two days.”

“From this room you will proceed to your living quarters for the next four or fewer days that you will lay-over in the Transition zone. Your luggage will be there, and your communicator synchronized to the zone’s system. Details on every need including dietary, medical and exercise-related have been configured for your convenience. While in the zone you will enjoy the latest media and several live-museums that you may want to visit. Included in the latter are the mineral, fauna and flora of the different areas of the Middle. Of special interest to many are the gems that are no longer available in the outside World because they can only be seen in some areas of the Middle.”

“If you have any question, please input it in the pad in front of you. If we deem the question to be of common relevance, we will answer it now, otherwise you will get a comm with the answer.”

After several minutes the narration ended with instructions to exit the room and follow the oral directions given at the door.

As Jon A entered the outside hallway, his chip, in personal mode, gave him information on his living quarters. Bella TA and he turned right on the hallway, he noticed that as many went in one direction as the other. Evidence of how convenience was a factor in the automation of public places.

Again, Bella TA and Jon A chose to walk. They walked to the left of the people mover. The colors of the walls were variable and muted and changed gradually. The internal music of his chip synchronized nicely with the color mutations. As expected, the stream of people was equally divided on both sides of the people mover.

The wall to their left suddenly slid open. Six figures of undetermined gender jumped to the center of the pathway. They wore one-piece, black uniforms with hoods and masks. They carried small devices, that neither Bella TA nor Jon A had ever seen.

One of the uniforms pointed the device at a woman walking no more than six feet ahead of them. A transparent, viscous slurry covered the person. Almost immediately it reacted with the air, started to solidify and turn opaque, forming large voids in the upper portion of her body. It was as if she had been covered by a large bubble that had a semi-solid base. Another uniform ran to her and inserted a piece of semi-flexible tubing so the woman could breathe if she had problem with the ventilation within the slurry shell. A seventh uniform materialized pushing an old fashion two-wheel dolly. It was wedged under the flat, solid surface below the woman’s feet. She was then carried effortlessly into the wall, that after all uniforms entered, closed silently.

The whole action had taken less than ten seconds. Then the same pleasant voice instructed, “Please continue to your living quarters. You will be fully informed of the activity that you just witnessed.

The color mutations of the wall and the music continued as if nothing had happened.

Bella TA and Jon A closed their gaping mouths and after shaking their heads continued to their quarters. After about 100 feet Bella TA said goodbye to Jon A and veered off the left in route to her quarters. After another 20 feet Jon A also veered to the left to access his.

The quarters did not disappoint

As Jon A arrive at the door of his room, the door opened automatically. He entered the room and found to his surprise that the right wall of the room and the ceiling were completely transparent. A bucolic scene of the nearby mountains and rolling hills gave the appearance that he was outdoors. A good representation of the local fauna could be seen leisurely grazing and going about their business.

Jon A made a mental note to ask Bella TA whether her room was the same as his. It appeared that the building was a large rectangle with the rooms located on the outside wall, giving the occupants a nice view of the natural beauty that surrounded them. He appreciated this.

The room was minimalist. It had only a large recliner type chair and a table attached to one of the walls. Two sliding doors led to the bathroom and a closet where he confirmed his luggage had been stored. A small niche in the opposite wall stored all types of healthy snacks and drinks. Next to the chair was a console with several controls. The room was immaculately clean and appeared brand new.

Jon A sat on the chair and after a little scrutiny found the button to turn on the information screen. When he activated it, a portion of the transparent wall showed a menu. Jon A chose the entry for latest news and sat down to watch and satisfy his curiosity.

The screen showed an overhead view of the hallway were the recent actions had taken place. As the walls slid and the uniforms came out, a narrator started explaining:

“Today at 1117 hours, elements of the security team apprehended a female that had been flagged as suspicious by the sensory system. She was taken into custody without issues and did not resist. The video shows when the slurry-immobilization system was used, as well as when the redundant breathing tube was inserted to prevent any corporal harm.”

“She was transported to the central security building and after proper isolation she was de-slurred. Her vital signs are optimal.”

“The reason for her apprehension was that after she exited the welcome briefing room, mega readings from her chip were outside the normal limits. Apparently, her chip had changed location within her body. This is as much as we know, further information will be released when confirmed. We know of no reason for alarm.”

Jon A considered this information for a few minutes and was able to recall several episodes of people that had been found parading as members of the World, but not having the obligatory chip implanted in their bodies as required. He also knew of a few cases in which chips had spontaneously exited their hosts, probably because they had been implanted too close to the digestive system of the individual.

In any case, he would get more information later. Policy was to keep citizens informed accurately and promptly when anything unusual took place in their lives.

Jon A located the local communicator and called Bella TA, “This is Jon A, how about some mid-day repast?” She agreed and they decided in a place to meet after consulting a location diagram inscribed on the door.

Conversation with Bella TA in the mag had been educational, mostly because it made Jon A reevaluate his reason for the visit. Was there something in his life that he wished to change? Maybe his whole life needed to be re-evaluated.

The mag’s arrival was so quiet that it took an automated announcement for them to be aware. Jon A and Bella TA exited the car and followed the clearly defined route to the transition center. They chose to walk after the long time they had spent sitting down, instead of taking the people-mover. In less than five minutes they entered a room with Amphitheatre seating.

Several tables near the entry provided drinks and light fare. Bathrooms and a quiet-room doors were clearly marked.

They chose one of the tables and poured water into their durable plastic bottles. Due to the limited supply of petroleum products, most plastic items were now durable, single-use plastic had been eradicated.

Jon A commented, “Love the graphic on the multi-viewer”.

Bella TA looked down to the screen and agreed with Jon A, “Right, it is my favorite depiction of ‘The Time Machine’ by Wells”.

Jon A agreed and they proceeded down to their seats.

Within a minute the lights blinked, and a pleasant voice directed, “Please proceed to your seats for our Transition primer.” A 60 second count-down appeared on the screen. The countdown stopped and the lights dimmed when a motion sensor determined that everyone was seated. The room appeared to be about three-quarters full. This had been determined to be the optimal occupancy and spoke as to the validity of the transportation and handling algorithms in the system.

At exactly 1100 hours the screen filled with very recognizable icons of the Middle and the voice informed, “Good morning and welcome to the Transition Zone. You have been told of how you are expected to behave in the Zone, during your travel to your destination and your stay in the Middle. Please follow those instructions.”

“You will remain in the Transition Zone for no more than four days. The duration will depend on how easily you acclimate to the new surrounding and are ready to continue to the Middle. For at least one day, starting tomorrow, you will be provided and will be asked to wear a breathing device. It is imperative that you spend a good portion of the day, at least 30%, outdoors. This will get you used to the slightly different conditions you will find in your destination. This device will gradually change the air you breathe until it resembles what you will breathe at your destination. The device is specifically configured for the user. If after two days you still need the breathing device, you will be asked to reevaluate your intentions to travel further. About one third of our visitors only need to use the device for one day, only about 5% will not support taking it off and of those only about half will be asked to discontinue their travelling plans.”

Bella TA observed, “It is actually really easy to get used to breathing normally, I expect the few exceptions are mostly psychological.”

The narration droned on, “… We have actually had groups in which every person only had to use the device for one day, and typically most only need two days.”

“From this room you will proceed to your living quarters for the next four of less days that you will lay-over in the Transition zone. Your luggage will be there, and your communicator synchronized to the zone’s system. Details on every need including dietary, medical and exercise-related have been configured for your convenience. While in the zone you will enjoy the latest media and several live-museums that you may want to visit. Including in the latter are the mineral, fauna and flora of the different areas of the Middle. Of special interest to many are the gems that are no longer available in the outside World, because they can only be seen in some areas of the Middle.”

“If you have any question, please input it in the pad in front of you. If we deem the question to be of common relevance, we will answer it now, otherwise you will get a comm with the answer.”

After several minutes the narration ended with instructions to exit the room and follow the oral directions given at the door.

As Jon A entered the outside hallway, his chip, in persona mode, gave him information on his living quarters. Both of them turned right on the hallway, he noticed that as many went in one direction as the other. Evidence of how convenience was a factor in the automation of public places.

Again, Bella TA and Jon A chose to walk. They walked to the left of the people mover. The colors of the walls were variable and muted and changed gradually. The internal music of his chip synchronized nicely with the color mutations. As expected, the stream of people was equally divided on both sides of the people mover.

The wall to their left suddenly slid open. Six figures of undetermined gender jumped to the center of the pathway. They wore one-piece, black uniforms with hoods and masks. They carried small devices, that neither Bella TA nor Jon A had ever seen.

One of the uniforms pointed the device at a woman walking no more than six feet ahead of them. A transparent, viscous slurry covered the person. Almost immediately it reacted with the air, started to solidify and turn opaque, forming large voids in the upper portion of her body. It was as if she had been covered by a large bubble that had a semi-solid base. The uniform ran to her and inserted a piece of semi-flexible tubing so that the woman could breathe if she had problem with the ventilation within the slurry shell. A seventh uniform materialized pushing an old fashion two-wheel dolly. It was wedged under the flat, solid surface below the woman’s feet. She was then carried effortlessly into the wall, that after all uniforms entered, closed silently.

The whole action had taken less than ten seconds. Then the same pleasant voice instructed, “Please continue to your living quarters. You will be fully informed of the activity that you just witnessed.

The color mutations of the wall and the music continued as if nothing had happened.

Bella TA and Jon A closed their gaping mouths and after shaking their heads continued to their quarters. After about 100 feet Bella TA said goodbye to Jon A and veered off the left in route to her quarters. After another 20 feet Jon A also veered to the left to access his.

The quarters did not disappoint

As Jon A arrive at the door of his room, the door opened automatically. He entered the room and found to his surprise that the right wall of the room and the ceiling were completely transparent. A bucolic scene of the nearby mountains and rolling hills gave the appearance that he was outdoors. A good representation of the local fauna could be seen leisurely grazing and going about their business.

Jon A made a mental note to ask Bella TA whether her room was the same as his. It appeared that the building was a large rectangle with the rooms located on the outside wall, giving the occupants a nice view of the natural beauty that surrounded them. He appreciated this.

The room was minimalist. It had only a large recliner type chair and a table attached to one of the walls. Two sliding doors led to the bathroom and a closet where he confirmed his luggage had been stored. A small niche in the opposite wall stored all types of healthy snacks and drinks. Next to the chair was a console with several controls. The room was immaculately clean and appeared brand new.

Jon A sat on the chair and after a little scrutiny found the button to turn on the information screen. When he activated it, a portion of the transparent wall showed a menu. Jon A chose the entry for latest news and sat down to watch and satisfy his curiosity.

The screen showed an overhead view of the hallway were the recent actions had taken place. As the walls slid and the uniforms came out, a narrator started explaining:

“Today at 1117 hours, elements of the security team apprehended a female that had been flagged as suspicious by the sensory system. She was taken into custody without issues and did not resist. The video shows when the slurry-immobilization system was used, as well as when the redundant breathing tube was inserted to prevent any corporal harm.”

“She was transported to the central security building and after proper isolation she was de-slurred. Her vital signs are optimal.”

“The reason for her apprehension was that after she exited the welcome briefing room, mega readings from her chip were outside the normal limits. Apparently, her chip had changed location within her body. This is as much as we know, further information will be released when confirmed. We know of no reason for alarm.”

Jon A considered this information for a few minutes and was able to recall several episodes of people that had been found parading as members of the World, but not having the obligatory chip implanted in their bodies as required. He also knew of a few cases in which chips had spontaneously exited their hosts, probably because they had been implanted too close to the digestive system of the individual.

In any case, he would get more information later. Policy was to keep citizens informed accurately and promptly when anything unusual took place in their lives.

Jon A located the local communicator and called Bella TA, “This is Jon A, how about some mid-day repast?” She agreed and they decided in a place to meet after consulting a location diagram inscribed on the door.