June 29, 2081
The door swings open of my travel pod.
“Good morning, Sir” says the controller in the Jaguar / Land Rover mid-Atlantic androgynous voice.
“Hullo Audrey.” I say and Audrey Hepburn’s melodious chuckle comes back
“Hullo Darling.” I prefer her voice when I am travelling alone. Travelling with my spouse I use James Mason’s confident tone.
“I see from the calendar we are going to JOTI again.” says Audrey “The most energy efficient way is via the hyper loop through the San Juans to Victoria terminal, and then by wheeled unit to the Windsor Park Dome”
“I thought I would use some energy credits and go by air.”
“I’ll connect to a drone unit, Sweetie,” Audrey coos. I nestle into the left hand leather seat, ( rescued from a 2005 Vanden Plas by J/LR for my custom pod. ) A quiet firm click indicates the electric drone unit is secured.
“Do you want to travel with Stirling, like last year, Cary?” She calls me Cary even though it’s not my name. I think it’s a virtual intelligence pun. Car-E because I own an electric E-type. I recall the trip last year with the holographic Stirling Moss sitting in the right hand seat driving the C-type illusion.
“No. I was thinking of a real time experience, Audrey, Dear. Can I see out?”
The sides and the roof become transparent and the simulation of the XJ Vanden Plas windows and sunroof frame the view. I look across the walnut dash to the vertical farm and the residences of Point Grey.
“So it is just us?” says virtual Audrey “Which way shallow we go?”
“The scenic route; and find the Orcas.”
The ground falls away and we head out over the Salish Sea leaving the great floating city in English Bay to our right. Its solar panels and windmill blades flash amongst the greenery.
“The Orcas are near Texada, feeding. I have permission to hover above, if you wish?”
“Please do.” The prop noise changes pitch and we slow to a walking pace 300 meters above the whales. There are at least 50 in view, travelling west diving to catch salmon and moving in that joyful smooth fashion. The controller projects a telephoto image on the shield and I watch the matriarch leader and a couple of young a few minutes. Since the quantum computers learned most of the Orca’s language, we have helped the Orcas flourish. They have told us they appreciate the industrially produced salmon protein that is drone delivered to their locations when wild stocks are small.
“Sorry. times up.” whispers Audrey. “I shared that to FB.” We move ahead to Van Isle.
The Nanaimo – Parksville conurbation glitters ahead in the morning light, the solar panels all turned to the rising sun. The pod rises above the urban air traffic and swings south over the Gulf Islands. The light morning breeze encourages some sailors to foil their way down the channel, thin trails in their wakes. On the big island the urban area gives way to forested wilderness with glimpses of the Highway One Hyperloop that joins all the urban centres of what used to be Canada. Most people use the “Pipe” and J/LR pods to travel interurban. It is my vanity to have a private pod, with its retro seats and custom racing green wrap and graphics; but most people are happy with the taxi pods of J/LR Mobility Services. The forest thickens as we travel south and the terrain rises to the Malahat. I can just make out the thin strip of old fashioned blacktop that is kept for enthusiasts to exercise our classics. It is my favourite drive in the E-Type Zero that I keep at the Canadian Tire Museum at YYJ downtown. Many JOTI entrants will be using their energy credits for Sunday’s Prowl up the Malahat nostalgia route.
We are approaching the YYJ urban area. The towers and trunk tubes glistening before the Olympic Mountains.
“Shall we go toYYJ Terminal for wheels or land at Oak Bay and walk?”
“The terminal, please. I should arrive on wheels for traditional reasons, and someone might be watching on the YouTube feed.”
“That is wise; and I should advise youth the Judges are requesting that you park on the field. There will be no charge for keeping the wheels while immobile.”
The 4 tubes of the mainland Hyperloop appear below and we glide to a hover above the waiting wheels. I notice J/LR are providing a polished shining wheel unit. Gently clicking into the sockets of the “skateboard,” the drone unit hovers away to a charging station. The windows disappear and a video extolling the virtues of living in Southern Cascadia starts rolling.
“Turn that nonsense off, James!” (I never speak roughly to Audrey.)
“Aye. Aye. Sir. Sorry. What do you wish to see Cary?”
“I used to live around here, so I would like to see out.”
“Very well, Sir. I shall spare you the view of the pods ahead and behind.” The sides become transparent and we glide through canyons of apartment buildings to the Dome.
We glide onto the pitch and are positioned in the modern section. I notice my E-Type Zero with the Digital Classics and nearby the first I-Pace sold in Victoria, still going strong. There will be many hundreds of Jaguars soon. Already around the world thousands are watching the you tube feed. My wife’s avatar will join me in couple of hours and we will wander the classics together. Old friends greet me and we sit for cappuccino and pain au chocolat in the horse racing bar. (They have revived horse races, but the Secretariat clones nearly always win!)
I think I will get a rest before the spouse arrives and return to my pod. I recline the VDP seat and request soft Miles Davis music from Audrey.
“This is like a dream.” I say.
“Life is a dream.” says Audrey.