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23 November 2010

Guide Me Home

A Near-Future Science Fiction Short Story

My journey began near the site of Google's offices in Beijing, shuttered and dark after permanent closure some years earlier by the government of the People's Republic of China. My destination was Camelback Road in Phoenix, in the U.S.A. My home. I could return. I had completed the assignment.

Pacific crossing


Time was not of the essence, thankfully. My transport choices in China were limited, to say the least. I didn't even have a bicycle! I would be traveling on foot for much of the journey. Fortunately, some ferry boats were still in operation. A kayak was waiting for me. Promises were kept. By ferry, occasional kayaking and motorboat relays, I returned to  U.S. territory at long last, to Guam. Hawaii was next. I arrived without incident, intending to rest for a brief time.


         View larger map

Hawaii was beautiful. Photos on The Map did not lie. But I couldn't linger. I returned to my Map. It would be impossible to cross the treacherous waters from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland without it. I traveled by ferry boat and assorted small craft. This was the most difficult part of the route home.

Finally, after more than 100 days in transit, I reached the coastline of North America. I entered via the more negotiable waterways near  Vancouver, although I would've preferred Seattle-Tacoma. The directions said that several short intervals of kayaking would be necessary. I was prepared. I had kept my kayak, but was glad to see the last of it!

Paseo del Norte


I was very worried about the notoriously strict Canadian border patrol.

Fortunately, my contact at Google's Redmond headquarters was informed of the situation. He met me at the border, plying the guards with two crates of brand-new, shrink-wrapped Microsoft PCs with optical processors inside. They are, effectively, quantum computers, yet have the footprint of a Windows 7 wireless phone. Such wonderful contraband, complete with factory installed Chrome Operating System!

mobile phone steampunk style
Microsoft Optical PC: Small footprint prototype
 via the future and my imagination
You seem surprised. How so? Oh, my apologies!  I neglected to mention the massive consolidation that American industry and technology underwent during the economic and societal Aftermath.  That's how we refer to it now.

Euphemisms are a blessing.

Reconstruction


Let me pause a moment and get you caught up. This is what happened. Google and Microsoft consolidated. There were no succession problems following Bill's demise. Melinda Gates had years of experience as a Microsoft product manager prior to her marriage.

MS Google, as the combined entity was known, was warmly welcomed by locals in Washington State and Oregon after the auto da fe that destroyed Facebook. The populations of both states were delighted when Facebook's not-so-secret coal slurry and brimstone fueled data center was finally decommissioned!

Poor Apple. They were not social enough to get along with the others.

All that remained of venerable IBM were the Armonk and Almaden research centers. These IBM Research folk had PhD's and such, but very different attitudes compared to their predecessors. They quickly, and sensibly, requested a non-hostile takeover by Amazon Web Services. The merged entity chose to drop the "B" from the former International Business Machines, and became AWSIM.

AWSIM soon joined with Intel and AMD. Nowadays, AWSIM provides cloud computing, toasters and nearly anything else that MS Google or General Motors doesn't. AWSIM also acts as exclusive contractor to the U.S. Government. Probably will continue that until we get caught up again. There isn't any need for competitive bidding, not when I've just listed the only high-tech companies still in existence!

What was that you asked me? GM? Yes, General Motors is still here. We wouldn't have buses and blimps if they weren't! I don't recall the details, but I'm certain that GM did a reverse-IPO a long time ago. It continues to be a 100% employee owned and managed company.

Well! Enough of that! I must be on my way. I still have miles and miles to go before I sleep, working my way south, home to Phoenix. The thick blue path of The Map is my ley line. It glows softly yet does not flicker. I have no fear of getting lost with that to guide me. No, no fear at all.