How did he know that this would be the day that he died? To tell the truth, he did not know. And it really made no difference to him. He had lived a long time by the measure of earth's chronology. Everything was tuned to the minutes and hours of this place in this universe. He thought about floating from universe to universe and understood why the body perished so that it made no difference what happened to it when life had passed from it. And he knew that it would be true death as far as he was concerned.
What he had done, whatever history he had made, would be subsumed in the next iteration, whatever it might turn out to be. What he had thought, his vision of a world beyond the car, would remain perhaps, joining, supplemented and being modified, by billions of other cogitations, all within the earth's chronology. It was unfathomable, what existed in the state beyond this one. No one knew. Many mansions in one house perhaps. That's what Jesus thought. Bellngham would soon find out.
The girl had risen and walked out of the kiosk. It was still too early for her to be engaged with whoever might come around, whoever might wonder about the world of rocks and all the other elements of geology. If it was geological, she could cover it in any direction and at almost any level. All it took was a touch of the screen and a few spoken phrases. The new school. Voluntary. Open. This was what Bellingham had seen as a younger man, part of the world beyond binary. Here in this place, he had won the battle. The world had moved his way.
Bellingham breathed deeply. The air was clear. The interstate was empty except for a few double-wide vehicles plying their routes. These days travel was down. One rode easily between communities. A cluster of ten communities - around 100,000 souls in all - composed a Cyber-City. How easily worries about overcrowding could be dispelled, once the first cyber-communities began to develop.
She was getting closer to where he stood. He turned slowly and their eyes met. He was instantly aware of a somber but palpable person, present and unusual. She stopped.
"I'm new," she said. "You are Mr. Bellingham. I recognized you."
He nodded. Something was broken now. It made him sad.
"Peter Bellinghan," he said, "still here."
"I am here because I read your work."
"Ah. And how did you like it?"
"I'm very surprised."
"I did not expect the - I didn't anticipate -"
"The fact that it works."
"Yesterday was my first work day. I think I reached almost everyone who showed up. It was quite amazing."
"Tell me about it."
She came forward and stood next to him, looking outward.
"I was explaining some elementary things to some children when this woman appeared and demanded information about Inge Lehman. I told her that I would gladly get the information if she would explain to the children what she what she knew about Inge Lehman. If not, she would need to come back when the children were finished. Amazingly, the whole thing transmogrified into a mini-seminar on Lehman's work and on the contribution of other woman scientists."
"Transmogrified. I love that."
"I am a word person."
"So am I," Bellingham said.
He wanted to take her hand. A child, maybe 12 years old, appeared at the entrance to the kiosk. She turned to go.
"I don't even know your name."
"I'm Amanda," she said with her back to him, She led the boy inside.
"Amanda. Good by, Amanda.," he said softly, looking out..
Bellingham turned and walked down a slight incline. There were ten such gentle spirals in the whole complex, each allowing movement up and down the four levels. Side spokes appeared at irregular intervals, allowing passage to and from the ways. Every two-hundred feet or so, there was a level space with tables and chairs and childrens' play equipment. Almost everything in the compact yet oddly spacious community had a retractable top. When there was rain it was entirely collected.
There was no waste. Everything was used. Just as Bellinghan had imagined before there ever were cyber-communities.
"They will have to come up with something to replace turning a corner," Bellinghan musing as he walked.
Something took hold of him. It was not a pain. But it was something definite and he walked to a table in the next square and gingerly sat down.
Again he heard music inside him. But this time it was his own. His Peace Oratorio.