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Bad Day Studio
"In The Last Days of the Age"
Story by Jeff Patterson
Art by Carolyn Faille
.2001 Bad Day Studio
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          Dear Friends,
          It's hard to believe it is already the eve of the year 2000!
          Somehow, it does not seem so long ago that we harbored our young fantasies of what this approaching year would bring. Jack and I were just talking the other day about how the future has turned out so different from what we had expected in our youth. Still, as we flip the calender over, we hope this letter finds all of our beloved friends well and happy.
          Our family is, as usual, flung hither and yon for the holidays. Our oldest, Evan, has four more months of duty on Lunabase 19, where they have almost completed the mass-driver array. We thought that they were going to ship him out to one of the frontier moons around Jupiter, but I am happy to report that he will be coming home in the spring. He says he misses the gravity. Maria will be spending her break on campus, she has just been promoted to supervisor at the school Genetics Archive and says she wants to get a jump on the projects for next year. I think she just wants to be near that handsome post-grad she's been working with, a mother can tell these things. She will be taking Advanced Physics next semester, so there is still a chance that one of my kids will follow in our footsteps. My precious Tom is still growing up too fast. He had his third intelligence upgrade this past autumn, and is almost as tall as me, but he is still our little boy. This year he competed in the Jetpack Racing League, and has gone through three helmets already. He says he wants to try out for the gyro-bike team next year. And Jack wonders why I have so much grey hair.
          All in all, it has been a good year for our family. This summer marked the tenth anniversary of my sister and her husband being bio-morphed, so we went to visit them in Oceanopolis. They had another little girl this year, their third. She is adorable. She has her mother's nictating membranes and her father's gills.
My parents have certainly been enjoying their retirement. The robotic bodies they were integrated into have allowed them to go do the things they always wanted to try but never had time because of the kids.  Just a few days ago I got a vid-feed transmission from their base camp at Mout Fuji. Mother says they plan to hike across Asia after that. This has made Jack extremely jealous, and now he keeps talking about taking a couple months off and driving crosscountry. He's always wanted to visit all 56 states. Personally, I'd rather take a leisurely wing-liner cruise and be waited on hand-and-foot.
          As for me, I have been busy. My big project was overseeing the automation reformatting of our house this year. I think I have finally taught the kitchen how to replicate my oatmeal-peanut butter cookies. I'm still putting in time at the research center with Jack, tutoring some of the rookies and dabbling in some of the more esoteric projects. Quantum tunneling, dimensional theory, things like that. It has been extremely rewarding work, and here's why:
          I have been doing a lot of walking lately, some pre-emptive exercise to stave off the effects of too many holiday dinners. The weather controllers have kept it reletively mild these last couple of weeks. It's a little warmer than Jack likes, but it's perfect for me. The other day I took a walk through the city, and I started thinking. I remember being a kid, and pondering about the future, how we thought the year 2000 would bring us a world full of flying cars and teleporters, and great domed cities floating in the air. Instead we are surrounded by the familiar fluted spires and ziggurats of the skyline, the chrome and glass arches and flanges that line the streets. We thought the future would be a world where all you could here was a constant choir of buzzes and beeps. As I walked, I listened to the symphony of the city around me, the whoosh of the tubeways, the pulse of water-fusion cars, the thrum of the wireworks, the polyphony of street musicians plying away on theremins and pneumoharps. I thought about the grand meal that Jack and I would partake of that night, instead of the food capsules we always thought would sustain us. 
          No, it isn't the future we were expecting, the one we read about in our childhoods. There are no sleek starships shooting through hyper space towards distant suns, no race of androids performing our labor, no travelling through time. But there is also no great plague, no despotic super-computer ruling the earth, no horrible atomic war. Of all the various pathways that history could have taken, I think we got a pretty good deal. But as I work on projects and theories about the nature of reality, I can't help think about those other pathways.
          The possibilities thrill me, the idea that somewhere in the foaming chaos of the quantum realm there are other variables, full blown potentialities where the outcomes are infinite. Worlds not so different from ours, just tweaked at slightly different angles. Places where some of our idealistic expextations about tomorrow came true, and some where our worst fears reign. Maybe somewhere there's another me, penning another letter to her dear friends, pondering the importance of the end of the age. I hope there is, and I hope this time in history finds her and her loved ones well and happy.
Jeffs Note: Once again Carolyn did a lot of research for this, going through all my old pulp cover art books. A rare piece for her as it has no main character aside from the hand. The architecture is the star here. I always liked how she kept that woodcut look to it.
    I debated long and hard about doing a "Y2K" story, but being a science fiction fan for so long I decided I had to. I had just re-read William Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum" when the usual rash of "Holiday Letters" from friends started coming in. The two ideas clicked. The result was more a vignette than a story, really.
    This one was dedicated to Mary Comstock, Carolyn's grandmother, who died that year.