The Oldest CPU in the World

Year 2025â€"thirty-seven year-old Lily Chen switched off her sophisticated electronic notebook and slipped it into her pocket. She clapped her hands twice and the lights above her dimmed their multi-watt glow.

Quietly, she padded over to the window. As before, she snapped her fingers twice, and the two mechanical curtains veiling the window rolled away, their metal hinges squeaking in protest. Lily sighed. She would have to remember to get the maintenance robot to oil them tomorrow.

The multi-faceted window of platinum Plexiglas revealed an astonishing sight. The thousand of stars glittering in the night sky were beautiful, but their picturesque sheen were overshadowed somewhat by the numerous amount of erudite spacecraft swooping in and out of the heavens.

Tomorrow, June 18th, would be her thirty-eighth birthday. She wondered briefly what her husband and children would present as a gift to her, then dismissed the thought. Her family was not rich. She would be happy with a couple of flowers and a card. Electronic, of course. Real trees and real paper was so scarce nowadays that the price of one sheet of paper, A4 size, had escalated to two hundred and fifty jeicks each. Genuine flowers were no longer seen in flower shops. In fact, to glimpse one in a field would indeed be a rare sight. Anyhow, picking of flowers was prohibited by the law everywhere these days.

Lily leant against the Plexiglas. How she longed to be able to fling open the window and breathe in the icy night air without the obstruction of an oxygen mask! All the pedestrians on the street were wearing oxygen masks over their faces. The more prosperous ones were wearing the newest kind, just two barely visible tubes leading into their noses. The poorer ones could only afford the old, chunky black masks which covered not only their nose but also their face as well. In a way, that was better. The smog was so bad these days that one could go blind from too much exposure to the air. Lily looked out at the world below. For a moment, she wished that she was still living in the old world, before Earth had become such a corrupted core of smog and je ne sais quoi spacecraft. Only the destitute used limos nowadays. The truly destitute took taxis.

Those who walked were the ones who could still remember the old world very well. Gently, Lily waved to Terri, her aged neighbour who was hobbling up the street in her outmoded flower print dress. She turned from the window, her heart suddenly heavy. The mechanized picture over the sofa said, “A quarter to zero hours.â€