[This is a piece of “Science-Fiction,” set in Edinburgh in the year 2019.]
I awoke at midday and went into the kitchen. My mobile phone said ”good afternoon” and it presented me with my breakfast, a capsule containing several vitamin and energy pills. I tried to eat the pills but I could not swallow them. For a while I just ground the crunched-up fragments around in my mouth until I was forced to concede that no conclusion was forthcoming. I spat the bits of pill into the waste disposal. I poked my head into Tori’s bedroom and she waved at me from her bed.
“Fancy a short snort?” I suggested.
Tori frowned. “It’s a bit early. But there’s a bottle on the bedside table.”
I was preparing the gin and tonics when my mobile phone addressed me testily. “That is a third of your daily intake.” The phone had downloaded and processed nanotechnically-encrypted information from within every bottle in the house, and it was legally required to use this information to advise me about my alcohol intake. By the time that Tori and I were on our fourth gin and tonic, the phone was screeching blindly at us.
“Heart disease… Liver failure… Premature death… Impotence… Psychological impairment…”
I was bickering with the phone when I received a text message. Marcin wanted to meet us for a drink in the Peartree. Tori was as unhappy as the phone about this.
“We’ll have to take the trams.”
“It’s much quicker to walk.”
“I’m not walking,” she snapped.
Outside, we tried to climb aboard one of the trams. The staff had been pushing passengers inside the carriages, but several of the passengers had fainted in the heat and one carriage was closed to provide a space for them to recover. In the scramble, I managed to get up on to the roof, and Tori clung on to one of the sides, next to a poster which read “Integrated Transport.”
“Is it moving?” I shouted to Tori above the noise.
“I don’t think so,” she yelled back.
I looked around. “Oh it’s definitely moving!” I insisted.
She shook her head in disbelief.
“Aw, if you look at the castle, you can see it ever-so-slightly creeping towards us…”
“There is no way that this tram is moving! No way!”
“We’re several yards up the road from where we got on.”
“No we’re not. In fact, I think we’ve actually gone backwards…”
The staff were furiously pushing the tram and it gradually began to edge forwards. It was almost a year since that bizarre travesty of industrial action when the employment agency, Blue Arrow, had held a sort of upside-down strike. They had shut down the agency for several days, inflicting millions of pounds of damage upon the Scottish economy, and they had announced that the agency would only be reopened when their conditions were met. These demands had included a repeal of the minimum wage and all health and safety legislation. The President, Alex Salmond, had refused to negotiate, but the minimum wage was eventually reduced to two pounds an hour and Blue Arrow had claimed victory.
More passengers were struggling to climb up on to the roof of the tram. “We’ll be there in under an hour,” I reassured Tori. She still refused to believe that the tram was moving at all.