Sample Chapter from my new Science Fiction-LitRPG book: Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History Of Our Tomorrows
You can get my little book here:
14 days ago
Francesco knelt in a stall as he rigorously cleaned the toilet bowl with a brush. Standing behind him, a short, fidgety man in a black suit held a box in his arms.
“I regret to inform you that we can’t keep you, Mr. Bernadone. We have half the student registrations this year than previous year registrations. The budget is a mess. I am relieving you of your janitorial duties immediately.”
Francesco stood up in his gray overalls and the short administrator quickly stepped back.
“Awesome,” replied Francesco in a sad whisper.
The little man handed him the box and Francesco looked in it to see that his personal things had been collected from the school’s basement: a framed picture of his wife and son, a bible, a pill organizer and a crumpled lottery ticket.
There would be no pleasantries – not even a farewell hand shake after ten years of exceptional performance.
“Mi Dispiace…” The administrator shrugged.
Francesco acknowledged the insincere apology with courtesy.
“Before you go, would you fix a faucet in the faculty restrooms?” asked the small man.
“Si.” Francesco handed the toilet brush to the administrator. The short man received it with a sour face.
This was the third of Francesco’s three part time jobs that he had been fired from in the same week. Times were hard and employment of the elderly was increasingly discouraged. Just last week, the Italian Prime Minister had called upon the nation to employ its youth.
Francesco carried the box under his arm as he walked out of the college’s front door. He wore a gray suit. It was very important to Clare that he dress respectably – regardless of his station. After all, Francesco Bernadone was an educated and cultured gentleman. This – none could take from him.
A male college student ran up to Francesco and thanked him for fixing his bicycle the other day. As the young man patted Francesco, he stuck a placard on Francesco’s back:
Attenzione: The Walking Dead
Down the street, a group of teenage Sudanese immigrants laughed at Francesco and imitated staggering zombies as they followed him to the bus stop.
“They’re going to eat us alive,” said an elderly Jewish man with a modest black kippah. He had caught up with Francesco, removed the placard from his back and handed it to him. “Because they are, in fact, the zombies – not us. They consume everything in their path. Like locusts!”
Francesco took the placard, read it and smiled. He held out his hand in friendship.
The man shook Francesco’s hand and turned to go in another direction. Some steps away, the Jewish man turned his head to Francesco and spoke out.
“We got to stick together. Otherwise, they’ll put us in furnaces – the elderly, the sick and the disabled. It’s been done. It will be done again…”
On the bus, Francesco listened to a twenty-something Asian man in jeans, navy blue sport jacket, and white tee shirt. The young man carried a metallic-canvas back pack and wore matching combat boots. He was speaking about the challenges of molecular computing with a middle-aged Caucasian man in a white, three-piece suit. The topic was interesting to Francesco – even more interesting than the fact that the man in the white suit had no shoes.
“I really do think self-assembling, silver composite nanotubes are the answer to multi-threading the organic transistor,” said the young Asian man.
“And if you’re wrong, Thomas…” The barefooted man drew an invisible cut across his own throat. “That’s 10 billion UNITs down the drain – an unacceptable loss for TENsky. I’d have to take a pound of flesh out of you…”
Francesco got off at his bus stop, walked a few blocks, waved and smiled to various adults and children, entered his apartment building, and went up the abused stairwell to the sixth floor. Above the door to his apartment was a wrought iron sign holder minus the sign. At the foot of the door lay a newspaper. He unlocked the door, picked up the newspaper and went into the quiet darkness.
A small, mechanical white cat waved to him from atop a curio cabinet. He didn’t turn on the lights as his neighborhood was load-sharing – the electric supply was suspended for three hours as the utility juggled the electrical needs of the neighborhoods of Rome.
In the kitchen, he turned on a solar-charged radio, opened a can, and put food in two cat dishes. A female radio announcer spoke about the top news of the day.
Today, 72 civilian ships were scuttled while docked at the Port of Algiers. It is well documented that the boats were all used in illegal immigration operations in the last month. The Algerian government blames these acts of terrorism on joint special ops teams operating under the command of the European Military Protectorate and NATO. No one was injured in the incidents. One Netherlands national was captured by Algerian authorities and is being held in custody as a suspect.
In other news, Wikileaks released a dozen, separate incriminating videos of Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of The World Bank Lady Grey engaging in heinous sexual acts with male and female children under the age of 11…
The news faded as Francesco surveyed 12 small picture frames hung on one wall – different scenes of Clare, Cristiano and him. He missed his wife and son.
What am I going to do?
His mobile phone beeped and whirred with an R2D2 ringtone.
“Francesco! Bring avocados, bananas and raw milk when you visit Clare tomorrow morning,” explained a woman. “I’m thinking a smoothie for her and mom might be a cooling, anti-inflammatory pick-me up for their afternoon refreshment.”
“I’ll do it,” replied Francesco.
“Another thing,” the woman added with sadness. “Clare isn’t doing so well. I’m sorry, Francesco. On a level of 1-10, her pain is 13, constantly. I suspect the cancer has spread to several organs.”
Francesco closed his iPhone and tried to put it back in his front pants pocket, but failed and it hit the floor. The screen cracked. He took a deep breath.
Then he opened the folded newspaper to the front page and read the headlines:
You Won’t Believe The Money Making In That Zombie Apocalypse Game
Pope Authorizes Trained Laity To Use Formal Rites of Exorcism
Experimental Cancer Treatment Boasts 5% Success For Terminal Patients
66% Unemployment: Time For A Hail Mary As The Americans Used to Say
6x PVP Champion John Dionysius Ranks Up to No. 1 in Jacob’s Trouble
Grand Solar Minimums, Coronal Holes, and Earthquake Correlations
Are UNITs A Better Currency? Remembering The Dollar And The Euro