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About the series
“City of Water” is a fiction series, which runs Sundays through Thursdays through Sept. 30. Each chapter will appear in the print edition of The Journal Gazette and online at www.journalgazette.net/water. An accompanying online newspaper will appear daily with the chapters online.
Chapter 3 recap
The mayor and others take the Fort Wayne Transit train to go honor the city’s 1 millionth resident, a single mother of three and employee of Kekionga Optics.
fall fiction series

Chapter 4

At precisely 5 a.m. on Nov. 4, Angelica Lewis’ bot boy Johnny Depp rolled in with her coffee and yogurt. Lewis was a big fan of old turn-of-the century films, and Depp was her favorite actor. So when Wayne Robotics offered her a robot of her choice, she had them use Depp’s appearance, mannerisms and voice.

The last company in the city to still use Wayne’s name, the robotics company was one of the biggest in the world. Its sprawling factory and research campus extended practically from the old city limits of Columbia City all the way to the west side of Fort Wayne. The campus surrounded the last land holdout, Sweetwater Sound, which made old-fashioned electric guitars and keyboards. Sweetwater preferred humans over robots, ironic considering the company was built selling high-tech equipment over the old, long-forgotten Internet.

The Johnny Depp deluxe model robot cost 2,500 Amerinotes, but when Wayne offered to give it to the deputy mayor for free, she didn’t protest. No way she could afford that on her civic salary of 20,000 Amerinotes, the equivalent of 100,000 dollars.

Lewis savored each sip of her coffee, made with real coffee beans. Most people these days were in such a hurry to get going in the morning they just swallowed a coffee pill, but a cup of real coffee in the morning was one of Lewis’ few vices.

Her job was to make the day’s ceremony marking the 1 millionth resident a complete success and boost Mayor Roberto Gonzalez’s election prospects. Lewis figured maybe 200,000 people might come to the festivities at Headwaters Park. After all, it had drinking fountains with free water, and most people jumped at the chance to see the river fill its banks.

Lewis hadn’t exactly fabricated the fact that the city surpassed 1 million residents, but people came and went so often, a lot of cities stopped counting, and the U.S. census hadn’t been taken since 2040.

Fort Wayne was better about knowing its population because of its technology, but exactly when the 1 millionth resident came to the city was impossible to know; identifying her was beyond impossible and bordered on ridiculous. But the city liked a good show, and Thanksgiving Election Weekend was just three weeks away.

Sipping her coffee and planning her day, Lewis remembered her old political science i-Quark reader books about how elections used to be on just one day, earlier in the month. She wished she could read her old “History of 21st Century Indiana Politics” by Andrew Downs, but they stopped making the i-Quark when the Tau came along, and you couldn’t find i-Quark readers anymore.

But she could recall the chapter about how so many incumbent politicians who lost in November would raid their offices and reprogram the i-Quarks to wreak havoc for their successors. Downs called them “lame geese” or something like that. So they moved back the election to one of the last remaining holidays people could actually take off work, and the losing incumbent had less time to cause problems.

Lewis did not want her boss to become a lame goose. Too much was at stake.

Gonzalez was on the verge of reviving public education with a real, honest-to-God school, with real human teachers. He wanted the kids to be able to interact with each other and learn together, like he had. The mayor had ideas about releasing petty criminals from the huge Grabill Prison, built in 2039 after the remaining Amish landowners decided to leave the expanding, electric-fired city and sold their land. He wanted to start a modern-day WPA, paying the convicts to clean up the shantytown ghetto that had built up in what used to be called Aboite Township, once an expansive enclave of expensive homes.

But even if his ideas succeeded, the mayor had a lot of other worries. He desperately wanted to preserve the remaining farmland in East Allen County, but the neighborhoods, Tau-parks and businesses surrounding Monroeville, Woodburn, New Haven, Hoagland and even Zulu kept expanding, and developers wanted more.

Some of the more fundamental religious leaders were all hyped up over the 24-hour bars in Fort Wayne, and the regional electronic train service dubbed the InterUrban that Gonzalez championed wasn’t exactly an unsurpassed success. Gonzalez promised a city with roads, but there were so many more electric cars in the city than expected that gridlock ruled. It could take as long as 30 minutes to get from downtown to Dupont, so most people just took the city trains.

And Lewis knew that the forces behind Mia Brown would transport supporters to heckle the mayor at the demonstration.

So there was a lot riding on today’s ceremony, Lewis thought as she finished her coffee and instructed her Depp bot to bring today’s clothes. If Gonzalez can win again and accomplish half of what he wanted, the spotlight was bound to shine on her. Just 32, Lewis could envision succeeding Gonzalez in 2066, then re-election in 2070, the governor’s office in 2074, then – dare she think it – the presidency in 2080. She would be just 52, much younger than the current president, Bristol Palin.

The White House, she thought.

But first she had to pull of this millionth-resident program.

twarner@jg.net

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