Though the War rages across the globe, the quiet farming town of Plumgrove is sheltered from much of the turmoil. A young girl named Lily Fairpoole works as her father’s apprentice in their robotic maintenance shop. Gifted with extraordinary technical aptitude, as well as a beautiful singing voice, there seems to be no limit as to what this young prodigy can achieve.
But the War arrives, and brings annihilation to her complacent world. Lily and her loved ones begin a journey fueled by survival, and determination for freedom. Along the way, she must learn to remain true to her heart, and to never give up, even when everything she loves has been stripped away.
“Perfect World Somewhere” is the second installment and first novel in the retro-futuristic “Family of Earth” series.
One afternoon, a man came into the shop.
She’d seen him around Plumgrove before, and had often waved to him. He was a commanding figure, in a peaked cap, tall laced boots, and a woolen, green-gray uniform. The door chimes announced his entry.
She wiped her greasy hands on a rag, pushed her goggles to her forehead, and gathered her black braids aside for a better look. “May I help you, sir?”
The visitor smiled. “Hello. Is your father here?”
“He’s busy, but I can fetch him for you.”
Daddy labored over the workbench, a half-assembled custodian unit laid out before him. Sweat glistened upon his dark brown skin, beneath the hot lights. Raw wiring and parts spilled to the floor in intricate weaves. “There, now,” he said. “Got those coils and plugs all cleaned up. Looks like you’re ready to go.”
“So, it’s true,” the uniformed man said. “I’ve heard that you talk to robots, Mr. Fairpoole. Does it make them any easier to work with?”
“It does,” Daddy said, with a wry grin. “Everything deserves respect. If we appreciate our machines, and treat them kindly, I believe they’ll do their jobs better.”
The man laughed. “That’s an unusual perspective. Nevertheless, I like your approach. I’m Lieutenant Barnhart, of the local militia. Might I have a word?”
Daddy wiped his face with his sleeve. “Certainly. Lily, can you put this one back together?”
“Sure.” She tightened the shiny brass bolts along the robot’s casing, while listening to the conversation.
Lieutenant Barnhart surveyed the shop with a swift, appreciative glance. “You have a skill which is in high demand,” he said. “And it can exempt you from the draft.”
“The mandatory draft passed the Senate?” Alarm lit Daddy’s face. “I thought it was still in debate.”
“I’m afraid not. As of this morning, all capable men must report to their nearest recruiter.”
“I see. And how does my profession waive this?”
“Plumgrove is no match for the Kaezer’s technology,” the lieutenant said. “There’s an ongoing project to expand our robotic fleet. The War approaches, and we can’t become complacent.”
“No, we can’t.” Daddy’s voice was resolute. “How can I help?”
“We captured an enemy walker, during a recent assault on Chelworth. I’ve come to invite you for a look, in hopes that you might build something similar for us.”
Lily gasped, and dropped her wrench with a loud thunk.
“My goodness, young lady,” the lieutenant said, smiling. “You assembled that robot quickly. I see that you take after your father.”
She retrieved the wrench, and tucked it into her belt. “Yes, sir.”
Daddy hugged her. “That’s my baby girl,” he said. “Do you want to see the walker, Sunshine?”
She nodded, excitement brimming.
“Me, too. Lead the way, Lieutenant.”
Daddy flipped the sign, and locked the door behind them.
They rode in the lieutenant’s motorcar to the militia headquarters, about four blocks away. It was an expansive building, one of the largest in Plumgrove. She often saw the militia coming and going, in their polished boots and pressed uniforms. They usually looked bored, lounging about their posts, waving at the locals.
They didn’t look bored that afternoon. A crowd was gathered in the large yard, curious and stunned at the sight before them.
Robots were friendly, domestic companions, in Lily’s experience. Most families had at least one. Their own custodian helped Mama with strenuous chores.
She’d never seen anything like this machine.
The walker’s engine was loud and raucous, and the cloying odor of diesel filled the air. It was bipedal, about two stories tall. The way it strutted, and the articulation of its legs, reminded her of the chickens Mama kept behind the house.
It had brass joints, with a few noticeable copper parts. Steel plated the durable, square-shaped body, and the optical pane was an oblong rectangle of glass. It glanced about harmlessly, despite the menacing automatic weapons mounted at its sides. The insistent grumble within was a combustion engine, not steam-powered.
Her mind whirled with questions, and she grasped Daddy’s hand.