September 2011 Archives

Smith and Wesson

Chapter Two: New Vegas.

By Douglas E. Gogerty

New Vegas was founded by some very wealthy industrialists when electrical power was still in great abundance. They had made their money in various pursuits, and were looking for adventure. They wanted to create something big. This particular group wanted to leave their mark, and New Vegas was their idea.

They carved out the city in the midst of the Amazon jungle on the banks of the Jari River. The land was cheep and it was important for the town to exist on the equator. Thus, they clear-cut the forest, and built the airport. For them, the actual town was not important. It was just a place to fly into for the eventual trip into space.

Brazil could not provide enough workers for the massive undertaking. Hence, during this first immigration wave, workers came from all over the world. They constructed a hydro-electric dam, a 5-star hotel, and much of the infrastructure the city would need out of the virgin forest. The industrialists anticipated New Vegas to be a small touristy town. Therefore, they spent very little money providing resources for the town. It did not have roads to connect it to the rest of the country. It was plopped down in the middle of the forest without thought of it thriving without the tourist trade.

Nonetheless, people flocked to the city looking for work. Some anticipated that construction materials would be needed in space for the space hotel. There was a minor resource boom in the area. However, it was terribly expensive and energy intensive to transport all the materials from earth to the station. Hence, the industrialists planned all along to capture an asteroid to provide materials. The asteroid was placed in geo-syncronous orbit a few hundred feet from the location where they wished to place the hotel. It would be able to provide all of the concrete and steel needed for the hotel.

Hence, the second immigration wave came into the New Vegas. The workers that built the structures on the ground were strong and bulky. They were well suited for the harsh work on earth. However, they would be expensive to launch into space. Hence, this second wave consisted of small and light individuals. These smaller individuals would be cheap to place in space and they could work in smaller spaces. Most of this second wave spent a majority of their time in space. Many of their children and grandchildren still live and work at the hotel.

These space construction workers built a few structures on the asteroid to house the workers and process the materials. These accommodations were crude and harsh. The early workers spent months in space with cramped quarters and long days. As is often the case, they were just glad to have the work. They did not complain about the conditions even when one of their own did not survive. Working in low earth orbit was hazardous and many workers were lost.

Nevertheless, the hotel slowly took shape. Eventually, the workers were allowed to move to the more comfortable accommodations at the hotel. They would commute back to the asteroid during their shifts. They would rather make the leap back and forth than stay at the cramped rooms on the asteroid.

When the space elevator became operational, it became significantly cheaper to bring earthly materials to the hotel. Thus, the upper-levels of the hotel could have some of the finest luxuries from earth. Some rooms actually had woodwork in them. The most luxurious had carpeting. Thus, the space hotel became the destination for the very wealthy.

When the hotel was finished, there was no need for the asteroid. However, it was large enough that it would cause issues if it were left to enter the earth's atmosphere. Further, there was no money to tow it back into space. Thus, it was converted to a high security prison. Everyone involved believed it would be impossible to escape from it. Thus, only the worst offenders were taken there.

When the price to ride the space elevator was reduced to increase the profitability of the hotel, New Vegas became the place to be. Hence the third and final wave of immigrants entered the city. Zephenia Smith's grandparents were part of this wave. They moved from Portsmouth in the UK to New Vegas to have a better life. They catered to the tourist trade. They had a shop at a good location near the space elevator landing. At the time, purchasing the spot was quite expensive, but it was also a high-traffic location. Travelers came from far and wide and purchased things from their shop. Thus, the Smith family made a comfortable living.

However, when electricity became prohibitively expensive, travel became a great luxury. Many of the energy sources at the time were of the non-renewable variety. Thus, in the end, only renewable sources were available. While solar and wind power were quite abundant, they did not meet the needs of the energy hungry population of the earth. Thus, the earth went from a high energy consuming world to a low energy consuming world. This changed everything.

The fuel to fly to New Vegas became prohibitively expensive. Without roads to other cities, besides flight, the only way into the city was by river. Hence, once again only the wealthy were able to afford to go to the space hotel while the average citizen could not. The wealthy patrons were not enough to support the population of New Vegas. Many citizens left the city and left it a shell of its former self.

Some business owners saw the downturn coming and left. However, many businesses were not so lucky or smart. As time went on, it was expensive to enter and leave town. Many of these individuals had nowhere to turn. There was no work for the dwindling population, and it was too costly to try somewhere else. Some of these people turned to crime. Thus, New Vegas became known for its criminal element. This kept even more people away.

Zephenia Smith's great-grandparents passed the store to their children. Zeph's family passed the store to him. While it had opened as a souvenir shop, it had morphed into more of a flea market/junk shop. In this configuration, Zeph managed to keep his store going. He mostly abandoned the tourist trade and catered to the local population. He had a few My parents visited New Vega and all I got was a stupid shirt shirts, as well as some commemorative plates and salt and pepper shakers. Those items did not sell well, and mostly collected dust.

With the items that came into the shop, some were in need of repair. Thus, he learned to repair things and resell them. Eventually, he found that he could fix anything. In this way, he could make money fixing the local citizen's things. They would either pay for the repair, or he would take the items and resell them. It was not lucrative, but he managed to scrape by.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Three: The Escape Continues

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Now that 235218 was safely aboard the space elevator's hotel, he needed to work on phase two of his plan. He had arranged a few days off his work in the prison. Thus, they would not miss him for a few days there. While people disappeared from The Rock occasionally, they always checked the hotel as a matter of course. When the authorities checked the hotel, he wanted to be gone. He had just a couple of days.

Generally, the "jumpers" were never found. A few would be found frozen in space, but most were assumed to burn up re-entering the atmosphere. Thus, it would not be unusual for a prisoner to simply vanish for good. In this way, the prison could claim that no one ever escaped from there prison. The fact is that no one knew for certain. However, for 235218 to make it, he needed to get to Earth. This was the next phase of his plan.

He had been in microgravity for years. He would not be able to do anything in the gravity of the Earth. He would be weak and unable to stand if he just snuck aboard the elevator. However, he knew the station had a system. They had to. People came and went all of the time. He just had to con his way into that program. He did not know anything about it, but he would need to be part of it.

Further, he could not go around as 235218. He had read that Earthers used names not numbers. He did not know any named people, but he believed he needed an alias. While still in prison, he did a lot of reading. He read many old books. He had read a name in some ancient book. The book was rarely checked out in the prison. Thus, it was not popular. Further, since the book was so old, he was sure no one would know who had the name in the past. Thus, 235218 became Daniel Wesson.

Daniel had his story figured out if anyone would ask. He would say that his ship came from deep space. His communications were knocked out, and it ran into some space debris as he approached earth. With this difficulty, he managed to eject and make it to the station before his ship burned up in the atmosphere.

He opened his storage case and fondled some water-filled vials. He would tell them that he had to deliver some important vials to Alpha Base as soon as possible. He hoped they would not delve deeper into Alpha Base. He did not want to have to pull the Top Secret card if he did not have to.

Further, any quirks and oddities of his personal actions could be explained by him being out in space. Also, they would likely not check any aspects of his story. It would take weeks to check the details. Not to mention, why would anyone come to the hotel and fabricate such a tale? He hoped the people did not think about the prison floating just a few hundred feet away because then the entire scenario would come crashing down.

Nevertheless, he thought it was a good cover story. He hoped it would not evoke too many questions. He was counting on them just taking his word for it. He had practiced it so many times, it almost felt like the truth. Thus, he felt he could tell it sincerely. He also hoped it would help him expedite a trip to Earth. Then he would be home free.

Daniel had never been to a hotel before then. He realized he should have studied them more closely. He put his helmet back on and pulled himself along the corridors. He needed to speak to someone, but he did not know who that should be. He passed a few people in the halls as he pulled himself along, but they just stared at him. He gave a polite smile to these other patrons, but he did not know if they could see his expression through his helmet.

Eventually, he came to what he believed to be a public space. The railing with which he used to pull himself along, led to a large desk. He pushed a button, and a computer screen flickered. There were some type of sounds, but he could not make them out while wearing his helmet. He removed his helmet and pressed the button again.

"Welcome to the Hotel Habitat. How may I help you," stated the image on the computer.

"I need to speak to someone," replied Daniel.

"With whom would you like to speak?"

"Hell if I know!"

"I am not familiar with the term Hell. Could you rephrase your query?"

"I do not know who to speak to," sighed Daniel.

"You do not know whom to speak to?" inquired the computer.

"Whatever! You see, my ship malfunctioned..."

"Would you like to speak to someone in our repair facility?"

"That won't be necessary."

"I am not familiar with the term won't. Could you rephrase your query?"

"My ship was destroyed. Thus, repair is not an option."

"Very well then with whom would you like to speak?"

After years in service, no one seemed to feel it necessary to improve the user interface of these computers, Daniel muttered to himself.

"I need to get to Earth," Daniel stated deliberately.

"Would you like to speak to our Earth Travel Coordinator?"

"That would be great!"

"Please answer yes or no."

"Yes!"

"Are you sure you would like to speak to our Earth Travel Coordinator?"

"Yes!"

"Please stand by."

"But..." Daniel attempted to say when the screen went blank.

The computer made some strange buzzing noises. After several buzzes a voice stated, "You have reached the E.T.C. office. Our hours are from 10 to 14 hundred hours. Please call during our normal business hours. Thank you for staying to the Hotel Habitat."

The screen remained blank for several seconds before Daniel realized that his transaction had ended. He did not know whether to press the button again or not. Reluctantly he did.

"Welcome to the Hotel Habitat. How may I help you," stated the image on the computer.

"The Earth Travel Coordinator Office is closed," Daniel said with his contempt for the computer barely suppressed.

"The E.T.C. office hours are from 10 to 14 hundred hours," replied the computer. "Can I be of further service?"

"What time is it now?"

"The current time is 20.24 hundred hours. Can I be of further service?"

"What can I do until 10 hundred hours?"

"Do you have a reservation?" asked the computer.

"No! My ship crashed!" shouted Daniel.

"For 160,000 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"I do not have that kind of money!"

"For 16,000 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"No thank you," replied Daniel attempting to suppress his anger.

"For 1600 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"What can I get for not destroying this computer monitor?"

"For 160 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"How low do you go?"

"For 16 credits, you can be placed in a very comfortable room."

"Keep going."

"I am sorry, but we are full. Thank you for coming to Hotel Habitat."

Daniel pushed himself to one of the chairs along one wall and strapped himself down. He was tired, so it did not take him long to fall asleep.

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Smith and Wesson

Chapter Four: The Life of Zephenia Smith

By Douglas E. Gogerty

At the foot of the space elevator life was difficult. Because of the level of crime, the once prosperous city of New Vegas became feared. The few tourists that came to the city would fly in and immediately go up into space. They feared the city. They feared its criminal element. Thus, they did not spend any money there. In this way, the city could not prosper. Hence, crime continued to be the only option for many citizens. This completed the never-ending cycle.

This is the circumstance in which Zephenia Smith lived. During the boom times, his family purchased a nice estate away from the center of town. It was a nice house with a good sized plot of land. His mother loved to garden, and she took the time and effort to make sure it was nicely landscaped. In the midst of the rainforest, anything and everything would grow. Thus, she took great pains to make it look good as well as be easily maintained.

Zeph loved that old house. He had never known any other place. As a child, he had fond memories of playing in the junglish garden. He knew and loved the old trees. However, as an adult, he did not have time to maintain the land. He also did not like his trip into the city. Therefore when a developer offered him good money for the house and land, he happily accepted the offer. Fortunately he got his money before the developer's business went bankrupt.

Zeph placed the money in a rainy-day fund. Life in New Vegas was difficult to predict. The city had seen ups and downs. There was always talk of fixing the towns problems, but no one seemed to have the will or the money. Thus, everything stayed as it was. Zeph was not one to rush ill-prepared into the future.

In this way, he had a pretty good nest-egg saved up. He lived well within his means. His business did not earn him lots of money, but it made enough. At least he had income. His life ran in the black. With his savings and his steady income, he was doing better than most people in New Vegas. In fact, many people in the area knew he was one of the richest men in town.

Without the estate, he needed a place to live. Above his store there used to be five smallish units that his family would rent out. However, in the circumstance of the city, it was difficult to find anyone who could afford to rent a place. Further, it was difficult to find anyone to trust to live above his business. Therefore, Zeph converted the entire upper level into one big living space.

Further, he built a garden upon the roof. It was the best of both worlds. He had a rather large living area, an extremely easy commute, and he had access to a garden space like he did at his family's estate. He even splurged and hired a gardener to come in once a week. He really enjoyed his new living arrangement.

With this reputation, Zeph had to make his shop a fortress. There were steel grates that he had to pull down every night. He had detectors of every type. Cameras recorded any movement around the perimeter. He had motion detectors and security lights. While the police department was mostly useless, he also had a sophisticated alarm system that would alert them. Thus, he had multiple levels of security. It helped him rest easily at night.

All of this was enough to keep the criminal element from attempting anything during the hours when his shop was closed. However, when the shop was open, these were mostly ineffectual. If his alarm would go off during the daylight hours, the police would call him to inform him that his alarm was sounding. They would never send anyone out. Thus, he found the alarm useless, but he kept it anyway. Many citizens did not know that the police would not respond to his alarm.

Nonetheless, without the police, anyone could enter his establishment and cause trouble. He was vulnerable during business hours. Therefore, his final level of security read "This Property is Protected by Smith and Wesson". This was enough to prevent most trouble from entering his shop. Because of this situation, Zephenia was able to steer clear of most of the trouble that plagued his city.

With his reputation as a prosperous business owner, he had several advantages. Other business owners regularly courted his business. Zeph always paid his bills, so he always got excellent customer service. If you did not treat him well, he would take his business elsewhere. Few establishments could afford to lose him as a customer. Thus, he got regular deliveries of groceries and other supplies. He rarely had to leave the safety of his establishment. A quick phone call and a courier was on the way.

Furthermore, he was regularly voted New Vegas's Most Eligible Bachelor. This meant he was a bachelor and he had money. There were plenty of bachelors in the city. The city had long been dominated by a male population. Few single women came to the city during the construction phases. While many came during the boom times, they left in great waves during the downturn. With a two to one male to female ratio, there were many bachelors in the city. Being most eligible had little meaning.

If you had a reputation for wealth, the few remaining single women would call. A single woman could afford to be choosey. The rich bachelors would often shower them with gifts. Some women took advantage of the situation. For the most part, Zeph did not feel he could trust the single women in town. After all, he wanted to be around someone who was interested in him and not his wealth. He could never get over this initial distrust, and he remained single. He let others deal with the troubles of relationships.

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Recent Comments

  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
  • Susanne: Nice read, shame computers havent improved several years later (mainly read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Hey Rushan! Sadly no, I do not have one. Thanks read more
  • Rushan: Nice work.do you have that kind of one?thanks.. read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Joyce. I appreciate your kind words. We do have read more
  • Joyce: Douglas, I just want express and my true admiration before read more

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