Bubble Dome City

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dear Liza,

I’m not so sure a visit to Bubble Dome is such a great idea. It might sound like a great vacation spot. The temperature is a comfortable seventy degrees. Room temperature. It’s a pretty big room, at over ten square miles. But it’s still a room. The weather never changes. It never rains or snows or gusts or anything else on the inside.

There is not much to see. I can walk anywhere in the city in less than an hour. We have potted trees spaced out evenly on the walkways. Everything else is a building.

I live in an apartment on the eighth floor with my mom, dad, and brother. It’s 72000 square inches, one of the largest in the building. We have a garden on the roof and a fruit tree spliced with oranges and lemons and limes. I like it when we get to eat exotics. For a class trip, we went to the hydroponics tower. Each floor grows rows and rows of food. It’s where most of our food comes from. There is an enclosed aquarium outside of the dome. Our teachers told us it is filled with tilapia but the water is so murky I couldn’t see them. I hate tilapia. My mom says I have to eat it because it’s the only source of complete protein in my diet.

The outside is so different. Nothing but dirt and sand as far as the eye can see, as barren as the surface of Mars on the outside, judging by the pictures. Sometimes I can’t even see the outside through the thick ozone and methane and hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide haze that hangs over the dome. My teacher says it’s as smoggy as the atmosphere of Titan and just as lethal. Even if you could breathe the atmosphere, the heat would cook you. It might as well be the surface of Venus.

Someday, I will be old enough to walk outside the dome in a spacesuit. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk for hours and to feel like you are not getting anywhere. Or to look back and see the dome, my whole world, as just a little bubble on the horizon, as I’ve seen in pictures.

It would be awesome if you could visit, but I think you would get bored pretty quickly. And to be quite honest, I think I would rather visit your planet. There just isn’t that much to do or see here on Earth.

Terrestrial Torpedoes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A soldier escorts a civilian to the CO standing in the center of the command center.

“Who are you?”

“I’m the mission observer here for oversight on Operation Lunch Delivery to observe the effectiveness of the CMCs.”

He presents his credentials to the CO. The CO nods assent. The mission observer stands with the CO at the heart of the operation.

“When do you send in the CMC’s?” asks the observer.

“We send in the TTs during rush hour.”

“TTs?”

“Terrestrial Torpedoes. That’s what they call ’em in the cartillery platoon. No one calls them Cruise Missile Cars except the engineering nerds.”

“Why launch at rush hour?”

“We know the traffic patterns. Easy to get lost in the crowd. Everyone is too busy shouting at each other to pay much mind to a bunch of nondescript cars.”

“So what is the plan?”

“They’ll drive in and park as close as they can to the target without raising suspicion.”

“Won’t a driverless car raise suspicions?”

“Barely, there not as ubiquitous as they are stateside, but they’re not uncommon. And the car bodies all come from a local business. They should blend right in.”

“You aren’t going to set them off during work hours, are you? It would mean a lot of collateral damage.”

“Yes, the mission is to take out enemy combatants. Targets are very specific but there is always collateral damage. That is the business we are in.”

“Now what happens?”

“Once they’re on secondary location, they’ll phone in and await orders. We’ll wait until lunchtime before removing the safeties and ordering them to their targets with their lunch orders.”

“You mean launch time and launch orders?”

“Launch time is lunchtime. This is a lunch launch. The torpedoes are all disguised as food delivery vehicles. The lunch orders are pizza to go.”

“Pizza to go boom,” the observer says wryly.

“We’re ready for launch now.”

A background voice, “Launch in 10..9…2..1..0. Missile fleet away.”

The observer studies the board for situation awareness. “It looks exactly like the online street map I used to drive into work today right down to the orange and red markings for traffic congestion.”

“It’s the same app, just showing our TTs.”

Red push-pins show on the road map identifying the land missiles. The fleet of TT’s moves out from its launch position and immediately split up. Most of them are stuck in traffic.

“Do they get road rage?” jests the observer.

“Of course not. They don’t get angry or frustrated or impatient. They just drive. That’s what they do. That’s all they do. Well, except at the very end.”

“Not exactly how I envisioned the terminator,” says the observer, recognizing the line from the movie.

The background voice says, “All torpedoes on secondary location and ready for target launch.”

“So now what?”

“We come back at lunchtime for launch.”

“And then?”

“Lavese Los Manos.”

“Huh?”

“We clean our hands of the affair and get back to work.”

P.S. The third in a series of car shorts. (Is car shorts a thing?) See http://www.thetembo.com/clip/2019/11/24/feral-cars/ and http://www.thetembo.com/clip/2020/06/27/courteous-driving/