FatLand: The Early Days – 33

Bill awoke slowly to the sight of the sun pouring into his room.  He reached by instinct for his chair.

It wasn’t there.

He sat straight up in bed and looked around. Then he remembered.

Whistling softly, he looked up at the ceiling, then at the wall screen.

The wall screen blinked, then went green, then came alive.

“Morning, Bill,” Winston Stark said from the screen.

“Morning, Win,” Bill said. “How’re you doing?”

“Not bad,” Stark said.  “And you?”

“Oh, not bad,” Bill said. “One thing, though. My chair.”

“If I am not mistaken,” Stark said, “the lovely Loretta is coming in with a brand new chair right now, even as I am speaking.”

And sure enough, the room door opened and a tall young woman in a nurse’s uniform entered with a new and technically advanced chair.

“We don’t call them wheelchairs anymore,” she said. “We call them riders.”

Bill surveyed the vehicle.

“Well, try it out,” Stark said. “Loretta can answer any questions you might have.  And when you’re ready you can meet me in Breakfast Room 1. Loretta will direct you. Or she can take you. Your choice.”

“Thanks,” Bill said. He watched the screen blink out, then said to Loretta, “Okay, so show me how this thingy works.”

Loretta demonstrated the capabilities of the Rider. Bill was duly impressed.

“Neat,” he said. “I’d like to try it out.”

“Go ahead,” she said.

Using the clutch-and-climb feature of the Rider, Bill transported himself directly into the seat instead of having to hold on to the bed or the side of the vehicle.

“This is way cool,” he said.

“Take it for a ride,” she said.

“I would,” Bill said, “but I’m not quite sure of where to go.”

“Let’s take it to the Breakfast Room then. Or would you prefer t0 shower first?”

“Shower,” Bill said. “Then breakfast.”

“The shower is over here.” Loretta pointed at a door.

Pressing the button as Loretta had shown, Bill drove about twenty feet to a closed plastic grade door.

“Click on the right button to open it,” Loretta said.

Bill clicked on the right button on the Rider panel. The door opened.

“Oh, man,” he said approvingly.

“And wait till you see what’s inside,” Loretta said.

Bill saw a hot tub the size of a pool with incredibly lifelike foliage surrounding it. “Good God,” he said, “how many people are going to use this thing?”

“You are,” Loretta said. “And – “She hesitated. “Is it okay if I come in with you?”

“Sure,” Bill said. 

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