Building Migration #1
A few months before I asked Fran Wilde to come on as managing editor, I asked her to write a story for the Transport. I’m so glad I did both, because her story, “Building Migration #1” is so funny and so full of heart from the very first beat. It asks the question, as I’m sure we’ve all wondered, “What if I woke up one day and my building decided to go for a walk?” ~ Julian Yap, May 29
Building Migration #1
Sunday, 6:00 a.m.
Sunrise streamed into my tiny kitchen, bounced off the refrigerator’s data-screen with a painful glare, and turned the vids of Molly and me at last night’s Can Club show distant and pale. The fridge had woken me—but not my guest—by singing loudly that it was about to fall over. “Shhhhh,” I tried to comfort it, until two maintenance bots zoomed under the apartment door and leveled the thing. “I rented a north-facing, always-comfortably-dark-at-this-hour apartment with quiet appliances, right?” I blearily asked the bots, which left without replying.
That’s how, even before my first cup of caffeine finally hit, and without looking out the window, I realized my apartment had pulled up its foundation and left Jersey City, with me in it.
“Shit. Molly! Do you have any pets?”
“What the fuck kind of question is that, Nate? You know I’m uncommitted.” her voice crackled, sleepy, from the king-size futon we’d asked my apartment to print up the night before.
Right. That, at least, was a godsend. I still couldn’t make myself look out the window. I didn’t want to know where we were headed. Not yet. “Plants? That aren’t cacti?”
She stumbled into the kitchen. “What are you on about?” That’s when she looked outside. “Crap. Look at that.”
She tried to pull me toward the window.
“I don’t want to see where we are. Not yet. I was just getting used to the new place.”
“Well, then you’re in luck, because we’re still moving. God, the sound- and shock-proofing in here is incredible, even if the leveling needs work. You’re definitely not in Jersey anymore, though.”
You. Not we. “Figured that.” I put the mug to the side of my face. It felt warm and reliable. Timeless. “Caffeine?”
“Yeah.” She held out her hand and took the mug from me, sipped, then settled onto the floor, all elbows and knees and tousled hair. The floor tried to grow her a cushion, but she slapped it down. “Where do you think you’re headed? I have a shoot tomorrow.” Molly’s acting career was just taking off, no thanks to me.
“I’ll call the super in a minute.” I took the mug back. “Once I think of a way to ask without pissing him off.”
My building’s super was technically an AI, and it was the grumpiest piece of software I’d ever met.
“I knew we should have stayed at my place last night,” Molly grumbled. Then she whispered, in case the AI was listening, “Yours doesn’t even get good data. These new fabricator buildings may be cheap, but they get it in their heads they don’t like the view, and they try for better. Completely unreliable. Just like y—”
“I know, I know.” I didn’t have a shoot in the morning, or anything else. I was supposed to be looking for a job to replace the Dream Job, which was why I lived in the cheapest apartment in the sentient, self-fabricating, AI-run Radcliffe Apartments on the wrong side of the river.
Well, we used to be on the wrong side of the river. As far as I could tell from the sound of Molly’s voice, we were heading for the wrong end of the East Coast.