Pluribus 14

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September 18, 2031, 4:00 PM.

The Netrosonics property was a real fixer-upper.

The campus was sandwiched between a derelict railway on one side and freeway on the other. Right next-door was a Superfund toxic waste site, covered with cracking concrete that vented some strong chemical smell. A creek that ran through both properties was eroding its banks, causing the weed-choked asphalt in the parking lot to sink in slow motion.

Two of the remaining office buildings were still standing, but the sky bridge connecting them had fallen. Their broken windows reflected the afternoon sun at odd angles into the pond scum of the abandoned fountain pool at the main entrance. Slightly away from the first two structures was a black scorched concrete pad indicated where a third building had been.

Realtor Tracy Chin had a real turkey on her hands and these were the first interested buyers in the San Jose property in years. She smiled but resented all these rich speculators coming in from Asia and treating her like she was some sort of ignorant country cousin. Tracy stood in front of the buildings and turned her smile up a notch at Don Jin, Luisa Almondo and Tap Kalki.

“As you can see, it is a four acre lot with great freeway and rail access. It was originally part of the Antzen family ranch on Condor Creek in 1847. The buildings did receive some damage in the quake and I am legally required to tell you there were several deaths. If you are going to use it for your employees you have great opportunity to remodel. If you are going to outsource to contractors, it is ready right now.”

Luisa tried to stifle a giggle. She had been buying California real estate for the past five years and could not believe the sheer chutzpah of this realtor. “We are not sure if we are going to develop the property. We were thinking of it more as an investment.”

“I see.” Tracy’s phone rang. “Excuse me.” They heard some sort of whining screeching unintelligible voice bleeding through Tracy’s earpiece. They noticed she could not stop wincing at increasing intervals, before the call cut off. “I am sorry, but I have a family matter to attend to. You are free to look around and let me know your decision.” She stepped over the fallen chain link fence and took off in her car.

Tap did his best Bette Davis impression. “What a dump!”

A voice came from inside one of the dark buildings. “It may be a dump to you, but it is a home to me!”

Don called into the building “Who goes there?”

“Jefferson Redman.” An old man with speckled frizzy hair wearing a dirty army jacket came to a second floor window. “I used to work here.”

Tap looked at the other two and then up at him. “Mr. Redman, it would be an honor to take you to dinner.”

Note: Hello Hollywood!

Copyright 2006 DJ Cline. All rights reserved.