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A Free Online Science Fiction Novel- “Liberty”- Chapter 11

by Blaine Coleman 3 months ago in Sci Fi · updated 3 months ago
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Lucas arrives to pick up Sarah

Image credit: JosipPlecas-LiY0KIVeIjU-Unsplash

*Note-a short prologue on chapter one provides details of the world in which this story takes place. Each chapter links to the next to make reading easier.

This is chapter eleven of a novel I am sharing online, titled Liberty, A Daughter Universe Novel. I use the word “Liberty” because it relates to this story on multiple levels.

Comments and criticisms are welcome and encouraged.

~ ~ ~

Sarah Morgan's residence

“Mister Lucas’ car has arrived,” Charles said in its generic, factory-installed voice. She intended to purchase a more pleasant voice as soon as she could afford one but found it difficult to save money.

“He is waiting for you outside. I do not recognize the vehicle, Miss Sarah, but the car’s transponder matches Mister Lucas’.”

“Thank you, Charles,” Sarah replied. She liked to think Charles understood she appreciated his service.

With a rush of excitement, she picked up her handbag, opened the door and stepped out into the morning sun. And there he stood, Lucas, with his soft brown hair lightly lifted by a gentle breeze, shirt tight across his muscled chest, sleeves rolled up to his biceps. But what he leaned against took her breath away.

It was a car, but nothing like his Lincoln, or like anything else she had seen on the road. It was massive and painted bright red on the lower part with white above and had a ribbed, rough-textured top. Glass windows enclosed the top half of the car while chrome-plated parts reflected sunlight like a mirror. Sarah used her hand to shade her eyes, but still saw blue after-images. As her eyes adjusted, she got a better look at the car. She had minored in art and recognized the Art Nouveau influence in the sleek, organic, sexy, lines of the car, as though a sculptor designed it. She recognized it as an ancient Buick but compared to Buicks’ NuCars there was just no comparison. This Buick radiated power, a sense of being held back from soaring off down the road.

“I told you I had a surprise,” Lucas said with a huge grin.

“A convertible Buick!” She replied as she looked the car over end to end. “Is this a Roadmaster? She’s gorgeous!”

Lucas was taken aback. “It is. How did you know that?”

“My brother’s a fanatic about twentieth-century cars. It said that was when cars were about design rather than ease of transportation and thinks the new cars, other than manufacturer name and logos, sacrificed beauty in exchange for safety. When we were kids, I helped him paint the models he put together—he even insisted the paint schemes match the original factory colors,” Sarah said and laughed.

“And you recognized this just from building model cars?”

“Well, we spent a lot of Sunday afternoons working on his collection…” she said with a bright smile, her voice trailing off. “And the old Buicks were my favorites, especially the convertibles! But I saw one like yours in the History of Transportation exhibit last year, so it wasn’t entirely from my brother’s model building.”

Lucas still could not suppress his grin. “And here I thought I could surprise you with a centuries old antique car.”

“You did surprise me. I never expected to see one of these in real life!” She shook her head in seeming disbelief. “I honestly thought anything this rare would be in a museum.”

Lucas shrugged. “Most 20th century cars that survived are in museums. The mid-twentieth century is recognized as the golden age of auto design, of building cars more for their beauty than functionality. It’s a shame no one cares about aesthetics in car design.”

Sarah nodded. “They built such beautiful cars before the Collapse. Other than helping my brother build his models, whenever he wasn’t on his computer, I’ve only seen cars this old in the History of Transportation exhibit, in Docu-vids, and a few in old 2D-vids, but I didn’t think anyone still drove them."

Lucas’ smile tugged at her heart. “Not many people do,” he said. “They’re not allowed on auto-ways and the harder-to-find ones are expensive. Buick, the original Buick manufacturer, only built five thousand of this model, and this is one of fewer than a dozen that are still complete,” Lucas said, pride filling his chest. “But, come to think of it, she does look like something you’d see “running moonshine” in an old black and white 2-D film.”

Lucas gestured toward the car and grinned. Sarah could see the excitement in his eyes. “Poppa let me polish her on weekends. He knew I loved this car as much as he did; that’s why he left it to me in his will along with a trust fund to keep it up the way he always had.”

“You’re like a kid with a new toy,” Sarah smiled.

Lucas’s grin got even broader if that was possible.

Sarah did not speak for a few moments as she noted the clean, sleek lines of the Buick. It seemed somehow ‘organic’ and reminded her of desert boulders that millions of years of windblown sand had shaped into smooth, natural contours. Like a sculpture, it imitated the flowing lines of nature. She appreciated the artistic qualities of the Buick - the car Lucas loved- and looked him in the eyes.

“I’m surprised you’re risking taking it out on the road. Shouldn’t you have it delivered there on a truck or something?”

“Couldn’t do it if I wanted to,” Lucas replied and shrugged. “No auto-ways go anywhere near Liberty Valley, and I doubt a transport big enough to carry a car this size could even make it down the mountain road. And I want to take close to the same route Poppa did when he took me to the car show. But I don’t trust the City Traffic Control’s out-of-date computers to interact with the Buick. I’ll let the car decide the best route out of the city. Some of the old roads were in bad shape when I was a kid; they could be decrepit by now, or completely impassable.”

“You don’t trust Traffic Control?”

Lucas slowly shook his head. “Not with this car,” he said as he patted the faux canvas top. “She’s my baby. Besides, the AI has real time sat view and can find the best route.”

“The car has an AI that can choose the right route without the grid?” Sarah asked, thinking about the low-powered navigation computer that drove her NuCar. “I’ve never been in a car with an AI-that good.”

“Well, it wasn’t factory equipment,” Lucas said with a laugh.

Not sure what to say, Sarah told him her bags were just inside the door. “Let me put them in the trunk and we can get started,” Lucas said as he went to pick up her bags. “Looks like you packed everything except the kitchen sink. Or did you pack that, too?” Lucas said with a good-natured laugh. “I just packed one large case, my suit bag, of course, and a duffel bag for extras.”

“You didn’t pack anything, Mister O’Connell. "I know that House does those things for you,” Sarah replied. “But I’ve never been to Liberty, and you didn’t tell me what we’ll be doing, so I wanted to be sure I have whatever I might want to wear. Besides, you should know that women pack differently than men. I had to bring a separate case just for makeup and toiletries that I’ll need.”

Lucas was embarrassed that he had said anything about how much Sarah had packed; his mother never travelled without a half-dozen bags and suitcases and he had no reason to think Sarah would be any different. Feeling abashed, he quietly loaded Sarah’s luggage into the trunk then went to the side of the car. Putting his hand around the chromed handle on the passenger side door, he pressed the button to release the latch. Obviously, the technology to build bio-scan locks was not available when the Buick was built; everything was mechanical, and the lock even required a metal key.

He swung the door open and turned toward Sarah and smiled. “Have a seat,” he said, while grinning devilishly. He

Sarah walked over and Lucas hugged her and gave her a kiss before she got into the car.

“Be sure to put on seat restraints,” he said. “Or the car won’t start.”

Sarah looked up and grinned. “You’re cute, Lucas,” she said. “I know the seat restraints must be buckled before the NuCars will move, because the motor is always on. But these old cars weren’t built with safety restrictions.”

“No, they weren’t but I had this one modified. The AI won’t start the engine until the seat restraints are locked in place,” he said. “Unless I override it, of course.”

Sarah smiled. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Oh, I think there’s a lot about this car that will surprise you.”

Lucas was thrilled Sarah was making this trip with him, and it not because she was such a beautiful woman; he had dated plenty of beautiful, stylish women in the past. But he loved Sarah’s sense of humor and was constantly surprised at the things she knew or had an interest in.

Lucas’ grandfather had told him to “give to all who ask” so Lucas shared so much of his wealth because he thought it was his duty. Sarah did the same, but not because she had to; she shared much of what she had because she cared about people less fortunate than herself. She spent much of her extra salary on winter coats, gloves, and scarves to be given to poor children. Sarah had not told Lucas that, because it was not the sort of thing she would bring up.

But Lucas knew. He also would not tell Sarah he knew those things about her, afraid she might be upset that House had ‘checked her past’, even if it was for Lucas’ benefit. House knew that Lucas was often naïve about the motives of other people, so he always investigated the background of any woman Lucas dated.

And House had been especially concerned at how Lucas had acted when he had gotten home the night he met Sarah. When Lucas came home after a date rather than taking her to the condominium, he usually went straight to bed. But that might, Lucas had taken an Irish coffee and sat in the garden for thirty-two minutes before going to bed and House wanted to make sure Sarah was not out to ‘con’ Lucas. When House informed Lucas of Sarah’s charitable acts it confirmed what he already thought-- Sarah really was different than the shallow, money and status seeking women he had dated in the past.

Lucas had learned early on that physical beauty is just a veneer, not the true person. He had fallen for Sarah so quickly because they enjoyed being together no matter what they were doing. She supplied Lucas the love he had not realized had been missing before they had met. She made him feel complete, somehow, whole in a way he had never felt before.

“I can’t wait to reach the mountains so we can put the top down and enjoy the fresh air,” Lucas said. “This will be a weekend you’ll never forget!”

~ ~ ~

Chapter 12

~ ~ ~

This was originally published on Simily.co

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Sci Fi

About the author

Blaine Coleman

Born at the end of the Boomer generation, I enjoy a quiet retirement with my long-time partner and three dogs.

When I write, it's on a variety of subjects or short stories. I'm a student of life and go with the flow of the Tao.

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