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A Free Online Science Fiction Novel- “Liberty”- Chapter 16

by Blaine Coleman 3 months ago in Sci Fi · updated 2 months ago
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Last stop before entering the Preserve

Image credit: pexels-aleksandar-pasaric-618079

*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 sixteen 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.

~ ~ ~

Stop before entering the Preserve

Lucas glanced at the map and located the turnoff into the mountain Preserve.

“I’m going look for a place to stop where we can use the facilities before we enter the mountains.” Lucas said.

Sarah smiled at Lucas. “I was going to ask about that.”

He reached over and took Sarah’s hand. “I wouldn’t make you ride all the way to Liberty non-stop.”

“Lucas,” Rosie spoke up. “My fuel level is good, now, but it would be sensible to top off the tank before we enter the mountains.”

Sarah was confused for a moment. ‘Top off the tank’ was not something she’d ever had to do. Then she recalled that Rosie was not electric, like NuCars.

“Do you think you can get— whatever it is Rosie uses for fuel, this far out anyway?” Sarah asked.

“Oh, I can fill up Rosie almost anywhere,” he replied. “Except, it may be hard to find easily accessible water between here and Liberty.”

“What does water have to do with it?” Sarah asked. “Unless… No, you can’t mean that Rosie’s engine runs on water! That isn’t possible.”

Lucas chuckled. “Not exactly water,” he said. “But she gets her fuel from water and it’s better if it’s distilled, or at least filtered.”

“Water can’t be burned so how does Rosie fuel herself with it?”

“She strips hydrogen from water. It’s H2O, remember?”

“So, Rosie can split water molecules to get the hydrogen?” Sarah said with a hint of disbelief. “I didn’t know that could be done in something as small as a car.”

“Well, there is a reactant added that makes the process faster, but yes, it’s possible.."

“How?” Sarah asked, less disbelief in her tone.

“QCore ‘miniaturized’ the equipment needed, but with the SSP there wasn’t much of a commercial need for it. But switching from gasoline to hydrogen was the only way Poppa could keep using Rosie’s original internal combustion engine. Electricity from the SSP is used to break the molecular bonds and the pure oxygen is fed in with hydrogen so the engine doesn’t burn too hot. Rosie even keeps enough of each stored to go places that the SSP can’t reach.”

“As long as you have a clean water source and electricity you have power,” Sarah nodded, understanding what Lucas meant. It was basic physics. “So that’s another one of those things you said would surprise me about this Buick—I mean, Rosie,” Sarah said. “Sorry, Rosie, that was just a slip.”

“No need to apologize, Sarah. This car was a Buick for two-hundred-years before I even existed, so of course I take no offense.”

“Rosie,” Lucas said, “check the directory for a good place to stop.”

“I took the liberty of doing that before we left downtown, Lucas. There’s a small tourist and business district just before the entrance to the Preserve that should be acceptable.” The holo-map zoomed-in from satellite to road view and a red line led to a star icon; only one turn would have to be made.

“Thank you, Rosie.”

“Just doing my job, Lucas.”

Again, Sarah was amazed; an actual conversation with a car that acted like a human was something she’d never thought she’d see. Well, House, yes. But he was a massive computer. Yet not only was she witnessing it, but she was also a part of it, too.

They entered a small commercial district and stopped to use the rest facilities and walked through a souvenir shop then refueled Rosie. They stopped just long enough to use the facilities and for Lucas to add water to the car, then pulled back onto the main road.

They got back on the road and for about a mile along the old road they passed blocks of two and three-story apartment buildings and smaller four-family residences The apartments that had a view of the mountains had become desirable locations for people who didn’t have to commute downtown to work. Each building had a landing pad on top for the residents who owned personal aircraft and an elevator to store the craft in a basement garage when they weren’t being used.

Soon, they turned into the Preserve’s entrance and Sarah noticed a sharp demarcation between the developed land and the cool forested mountainside; everything was green!

“Rosie,” Lucas said, “turn off climate control; I think we’ll enjoy some fresh air now.” Rosie complied and the silent blowers slowed to a stop.

He pressed the lever button on his door, lowered the window and indicated to Sarah to do the same. A cool breeze blew in through the windows and, as Sarah breathed in the fresh air, she noticed the difference right away. The air smelled- even tasted- clean, with not even a hint of staleness or chemical contaminants.

“Now you can get your first experience of the mountains,” he said. “Rosie, put the top down, please.”

“Of course, Lucas,” Rosie replied. Sarah was astounded as the roof of the car folded back into the space behind the rear seat, leaving the car open to the air. She’d never been in a ‘convertible’ car before. Then again, no one would want to be in an open-air car in the city. Lucas pulled off the road, got out of the car and fastened snaps on the leather flap that covered the retracted roof.

“Some things still have to be done by hand,” he said and smiled.

Sarah looked across the road and could see enough sky through the trees to know they’d already climbed some way up the mountain. She’d brought her QCore Omni to save 3D video, audio and holographic images and video to the ‘net but Lucas had told her that there’d be ‘dead zones’ in coverage, so she’d have to wait until they left the Preserve to upload it. And Sarah wanted to bring back a lot of holo-vids to show her girlfriends, especially Lucas and this magnificent car, Rosie, the two-hundred-year-old Buick Roadmaster Riviera convertible they’d taken the trip in.

As they pulled back onto the road and continued up the mountain, Sarah’s Omni analyzed and recorded the scent of the forest, but it couldn’t capture the amazing feel of the cool breeze in her face and blowing through her hair. She hoped Lucas would bring her to this place again. She’d never known what “fresh” air was like, and she knew she’d miss the wonder of it all, pine over it when she was back in the office on Tuesday.

Sarah was disappointed, though, that no image or description could convey the feeling of breathing fresh mountain air…

~ ~ ~

Soon, they turned into the Preserve’s entrance and Sarah noticed a sharp demarcation between the developed land and the cool forested mountainside: everything was green!

“Rosie,” Lucas said, “turn off climate control; I think we’ll enjoy some fresh air now.” Rosie complied and the silent blowers slowed to a stop.

He pressed the lever button on his door, lowered the window and indicated to Sarah to do the same. A cool breeze blew in through the windows and, as Sarah breathed in the fresh air, she noticed the difference right away. The air smelled- even tasted- clean, with not even a hint of staleness or chemical contaminants.

“Now you can get your first experience of the mountains,” he said. “Rosie, put the top down, please.”

“Of course, Lucas,” Rosie replied. Sarah was astounded as the roof of the car began to fold itself back, leaving the car open to the air. She’d never been in a ‘convertible’ car before. Then again, no one would want to be in an open-air car in the city. Lucas pulled off the road, got out of the car and fastened snaps on the leather flap that covered the retracted roof.

“Some things still have to be done by hand,” he said and smiled.

Sarah looked across the road and could see enough sky through the trees to know they’d already climbed some ways up the mountain. She’d brought her QCore Omni to save 3D video, audio and holographic images and video to the ‘net but Lucas had told her that there’d be ‘dead zones’ in coverage, so she’d probably have to wait until they left the Preserve to upload it. And Sarah wanted to bring back a lot of holo-vids to show her girlfriends, especially Lucas and this magnificent car, Rosie, the two-hundred-year-old Buick Roadmaster Riviera convertible they’d taken the trip in.

As they pulled back onto the road and continued up the mountain, Sarah’s Omni analyzed and recorded the scent of the forest, but it couldn’t capture the amazing feel of the cool breeze in her face and blowing through her hair. She hoped Lucas would bring her to this place again. She’d never known what “fresh” air was like, and she knew she’d miss the wonder of it all, pine over it when she was back in the office on Tuesday.

Sarah was disappointed, though, that no image or description could convey the feeling of breathing fresh mountain air…

~ ~ ~

Next

~ ~ ~

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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