STORY TELLING

A DAY IN 2036

We don’t want to accept it: Global Warming. And with our current state of pollution, one can only begin to imagine how things will look some years down the line. Here is one take.

“What have I done?”.

I crawled out of my bed. Putting on my slippers, I walked across my white tiled bedroom. My bed started dissolving, slowly changing to a couch. I knew that in 10 full seconds, the metamorphoses would be complete. I was thankful.

****

I waited at the station for my vactrain.

Like all great things, the vactrain had been a child of necessity. Hypothesized by a Russian professor Boris Weinberg in 1914, the development work on the train had only started in late 2016. The first vactrain had been built in Saudi Arabia in 2020’s. After the first run, foreign companies had simply started begging the Saudi Arabian government to share the technology. The government agreed to share the idea. At a huge profit.

They needed funds after their gold started floating above water”, I mused.

The concept of the vactrain was really simple. Reduce friction, get speed.

The vactrain ran on a mixture of liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Its powerful Hybrid engine powered up the superconductors, allowing the train to levitate 20cms above the ground. The tube containing the train was a complete vacuum, allowing the train to achieve mach-10.

****

I sat on my holographic seat and stared at the television screen cum window. The V-train was fully stocked. A child sat near me, face expressionless. He looked at the window as well. I wondered what he saw.

The population had started increasing at an alarming rate in late 2020’s. The UN and the different member countries, unnerved by the constant banging of WHO, had passed a bill, announced that all member countries needed to adopt ‘one child policy’. Any country that refused to comply would no longer be considered as a member of the UN. The WHO director had made the point. Each country reluctantly agreed. But that was not all.

Recently, the pollution levels had started increasing at a terrifying rate, attributable to the bright lights and long winters. Smog abused health, that was known. That it was a killer, was unheard of. The children had been the greatest sufferers. Ironically, it did not surprise me when the breakthrough came from a young high-school student, who claimed to have found a way to solve this problem once and for all, having come up with the idea of making a catalyst that could convert some of the dangerous air pollutants into less harmful gases. The additional research done by some graduates of Tokyo University confirmed the hypothesis by making the first sample of the Kuki catalyst. The news went viral. The 15-year old Indian quickly became famous.

***

I stepped into the sun.

In front of me, tall buildings rose high above the ground, all of them in a perfectly straight line. I knew it was an illusion. The first time I had been in the city of ‘NIyma’ in 2032, I had fallen for this as well, just like any newcomer. The buildings were actually arranged in a triangle, with the third side opening up in a huge central park, which spread over as distance of 8 km lengthwise. The park was enclosed in a gargantuan glass dome, which filtered the sunlight. The reflected ultra-violet rays were reflected by using some retro-reflectors into UV fiber optic cables where the rays went to a nearby particle accelerator. The park was filled with fauna, from tigers and one-horned rhinos to the dinosaurs and dodos. All were holograms, touch sensitive. Many were the old-school androids, which looked stupendous.

But nothing could beat the structure built in center of the park. It was a simple obelisk, that allowed the people to see in three-dimensions. What that meant was that though you look at only the front of the obelisk, you could also see its backside, without actually going 180 degrees around it. Few knew that NIyma was named after this masterpiece. On the left was the stadium where the Annual robot football league took place. On the right was my destination.

I took a cab from here. Telling the computer my identity and running my face through a scanner, I announced my destination. The engine hummed to life and in a few seconds we were going at a 100 km/hr. Although the AI taxis had become available only in 2030, I speculated about how quickly they had become the world’s most trusted and convenient mode of transport.

After a few minutes, we reached the building. I entered the building. After going through a dozen or so doors, I reached a metal door coated with high-tensile nanotubes.  Here, I removed an artifact from my pocket, and touched it to a tiny spot, 5.2cms right of the door. The hinges came alive, and I marveled at the machine that loomed before me.

Still wondering how I know my history so well?”

Lalit Mohan Sharma

Student Reporter

January 2017