Chapter 2 – Arthur Fogg
EARTHNOT – The Gravity Works, Inc. – Late at Night
Levitation and psychokinetic scientist Arthur Fogg was the last to leave the Quality Assurance lab that night. On the nearly-empty shuttle ride back to his home in the suburbs, he closed his eyes to rest for just a second and almost ended up missing his stop. He was exhausted. Arthur had been putting in so many long hours recently that he wouldn’t know what a regular shift looked like if HR showed it to him in colorful charts and graphs. Nobody asked him to work these long hours, of course. He just did. Once he faced a problem, he didn’t know how to let go; his personality liked to hang out at the corner of Obsessive and Compulsive.
It was perhaps one reason why, whenever Arthur was offered a promotion to a management level position he declined. Arthur told HR he preferred to work in the trenches, as a principal contributor, and not get stuck in endless mid-management meetings that took a lot of time but went nowhere. The truth was a bit deeper, however. Arthur lacked confidence in his own decisions and did not believe he had the creative mindset to be a leader. He could execute someone else’s vision, true, but felt he lacked the visionary gene himself to be a leader. Or so he rationalized.
The Fogg Family Residence – Late at Night
As soon as Arthur arrived home, he looked in on his sleeping son, Danny, eight years old; four times worth of terrible twos packed in a rebellious body. Arthur dreaded the boy’s approaching teen years. Still, he loved his son and especially admired the boy’s spunk and directness, which he must have inherited from his mother’s side since Arthur was generally non-confrontational.
Next, Arthur checked in on fifteen-year-old Sara, a beauty destined to break many a young man’s heart. She, too, was sleeping. If Danny took after his mother, Sara was more like Arthur. A bit too passive or deferential at times, perhaps, but a hard worker who always tried to please others. Without a doubt, she was a team player and could be counted on in a pinch.
Finally, Arthur walked into his bedroom and looked at his wife, Doris, sleeping soundly. In many ways, they were complete opposites. Where Arthur was cautious, Doris was adventurous. Arthur considered himself a classic introvert, the nerdy scientist type; Doris was outgoing and a reliable presence on school boards and community action teams. No matter where they went, they always seemed to bump into someone Doris knew. They never seemed to remember Arthur’s name and she’d always have to re-introduce him as her husband, which was okay with Arthur. He preferred not sticking out and preferred anonymity to attention.
Arthur walked to the kitchen, removed his dinner from the fridge, warmed it up. He carried the plate of food to the dining room table, where he sat alone and began to eat. He looked at the three empty chairs around the table and decided he’d leave work early tomorrow and be home in time to have dinner with the entire family. He’d catch them by surprise. The thought made him smile.
EARTHNOT – The Gravity Works, Inc.
The next day, his regular shift over, Arthur joined a mass of employees leaving The Gravity Works building, a wavy metal structure that looked like something Frank Gehry would have designed on peyote. It fit right in, since all the office buildings in the central part of the city looked the same.
Arthur was taken aback by how crowded it was on his shuttle ride back to the suburbs, and reminded himself of another reason why he liked working late. To avoid the rush. This time he didn’t almost miss his stop.
As soon as Arthur entered his home, he announced his presence.
“Guess who’s home early?” he asked, to nobody in particular.
A post-it-note in the form of a hologram of Doris appeared instead. “Hologram for Arthur Fogg from Doris,” a robotic voice announced. The image of Doris spoke.
“Hello, Dear, I’m at the school weekly committee meeting. The rest of us had an early dinner. Just heat up the leftovers and I’ll be home soon. Love you,” said the hologram, which disappeared in a flash.
Before Arthur could send Doris a reply, a second hologram post-it-note appeared.
“Hologram for Arthur Fogg from Sara,” the robotic voice announced. “Hi, Dad. I’m studying late at the library. You and Mom don’t wait up. Love ya both,” said Sara’s post-it hologram. Truth be told, Sara was out partying with friends.
“Studying? That’s my girl,” he said. “Danny? Are you home?”
“Hologram for Arthur Fogg from Danny,” the same robotic voice announced. “Mom said I could sleep over at Ray’s. See you tomorrow,” said Danny’s hologram, which promptly disappeared into the ether.
“No. Wait. Did you clear that with your mother? A sleep over on a school night?” replied Arthur.
It wasn’t a school night, a minor detail that escaped Arthur’s notice. But what didn’t escape his notice were the three empty chairs around the dining room table as he ate his dinner alone.
[more next time]