Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 2
Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.
On the morning they had agreed upon, Rae got a message telling her to take the elevator to the subbasement of her building, a level below the fabshop. She went dressed in boots and sturdy hiking clothes, carrying a backpack stuffed with supplies.
She had never been to this level and had no idea what to expect. She was surprised when the elevator opened onto an underground highway.
It was a wide tunnel lit by golden strip lights and divided down the middle by load-bearing columns that supported the tower above. On either side of the columns, cars zipped past in both directions. But even in this artificial cavern, the air was fresh and clean. The electric vehicles had no stench of exhaust and made no more noise than a flowing stream.
The elevator bank opened onto an island in the middle of the river of traffic. A car was waiting in the pickup lane. Elaina leaned out and called to her, “Right on time!”
The interior of the car was surprisingly roomy. There were large windows, a glass moonroof that ran the length of the car, and a dashboard with indicators for battery power, speed and a map displaying their location. There was nothing recognizable as a driver’s seat or a steering wheel, and in fact, the seats faced inward, toward each other.
Elaina and Sophia were sitting there. Jane had volunteered to come as well, since the trip would be an opportunity to visit Miranda.
“Resume trip,” Elaina said. A blue light on the dashboard glowed in acknowledgement, and the car pulled away from the curb with smooth acceleration and merged into the traffic flow.
“I didn’t think anyone owned cars here,” Rae said.
“We don’t,” Elaina said. “They’re communal. You make a reservation and put your travel plan into the system, tell it when you want to be picked up and where you’re going, and the car will come for you.”
“Why would you want to own a car?” Sophia said, amused.