Mortis stands looking out a window, at the futuristic landscape before him; a metropolis set in the year 2212. It is currently spring in the Northern Americas. Mortis, a young and inquisitive deliveryman for Pop-Top Deliveries, is waiting for any work to come in. It’s Saturday. Thanks to the innovations of modern technology, the delivery process is easy to accomplish. The necessity for anonymous courier services is still of great importance to very unique customers, and Pop-Top Deliveries prides themselves on meeting the needs of its private clientele. Couriers such as those at Pop-Top represent the flagship of modern product and information transportation. It’s easy to get the package to the client. The hard part is getting back alive and unscathed, as Mortis is already aware.
Ralph: Mortis! I got one for you!
Mortis: Shit, what now?
Ralph: Well, what’s all this about?
Ralph: I can happily find someone else –
Mortis: No, no, I’ll do it; I’m just giving you a hard time.
Ralph: Get married, kid, and you’ll know what a hard time is. Now here’s the package.
Ralph directs Mortis to a big wooden box that appears from a hole in the middle of the office. There is nothing discernable in the blackness from where the box came.
Mortis: What’s in it?
Mortis: What? Animals?
Ralph: Yeah, you heard me, right? Animals! Cows, chickens, pigs, dogs! A whole farm’s worth!
Mortis: This is a pretty small box, Ralph. How’d we fit them all in there?
Ralph: Should you even have to ask? It’s not like they’re all clucking and barking in there right now, are they?
Mortis begins to peek inside to box, but Ralph stops him.
Ralph: Jesus, kid, knock it off. This thing is specially packaged. Don’t open it until it’s delivered.
Mortis: It doesn’t look like you can fit a lot of animals in there…
Ralph: Yeah, it’s meant to be that way. The client wants the animals before they’re born.
Mortis: Where’s it going?
Ralph: You’re going to Northern Pennsylvania to deliver it to an Amish community out there.
Mortis: Are you kidding me, Ralph? The Amish? Aren’t they some kind of cult?
Ralph: Beats me, kid. It’s your call, you want the job?
Mortis: Yeah, I’ll take it. It seems pretty clean cut.
Ralph: Yeah, well, seeing as they don’t venture far from home, I’m sure you won’t have any problems making this one quick, won’t you?
Mortis: Oh come on, I’ve learned my lesson.
Ralph: Have you? It boggles my mind that you are able to adjust so quickly after what happened last week.
Mortis revisits the memory of his last delivery. A mess… Mortis looks back at Ralph.
Mortis: It will be quick, I swear.
Ralph: It better be, kid. Anything short of that, and I’ll put your ass on the street!
Mortis: Alright, alright!
Ralph: Get the hell out of here, you’re making me sweat.
Mortis: I think that’s all the crap meat you eat, boss –
Ralph: Get the hell out of here before I can your ass!
In a flash, Mortis pulls out a box labeled “Bubble Capsules.” He pops one open, and wraps it around the moderately-sized box, reducing it to the size of a baseball, and placed it snugly in his satchel. Outside the office, he pulls out another box, this one called “Bubble-Cars,” and jumps inside. A translucent bubble wraps around him, and takes him effortlessly into the sky.
Mortis flew in his bubble across the carved landscapes of cement and steel below him, across the endless metropolis that makes up Greater New England, a land once composed of, and divided into, several smaller states of plants, trees, wildlife, and sprawling development. Other bubbles could be seen in the distances around him. They were getting to be more common, Mortis thought to himself.
Mortis arrived at a desolate pasture with limited development. The roads were still made of gravel, unlike the magnetic infrastructures he was so used to. The community he arrived at was very old fashioned. People wore straw hats and bonnets, denim overalls and suspenders. Their clothes were dirty. There weren’t many to welcome him when he flew in to the destination on his map, as everyone was busy doing something. A vast tree land surrounded their pastures. A river ran beside a giant watermill. Beyond these valleys, a line of mountains cut them off from modern civilization. You could see the tops of the buildings and the light pollution emanating from the city beyond.
Mortis brought his bubble down when he saw one of the Amish men wave him in. He was tall and had a beard that ran down his stomach like a tie. At about four feet from the air, Mortis popped his bubble and jumped down, giving the locals a shock. Kids in the vicinity came by to see what the sound was, as the Bubble-Car popped and disappeared.
Mortis: Hi, I’m here to see [checking the delivery slip attached to his bag strap] Brother Ernest Thomas.
Ernest: Yeah that’s me, it looks like you made it down alright.
Mortis: Oh hi, Ernest, I’m with Pop-Top, I have your package.
Ernest: Oh splendid!
Mortis and Ernest exchanged the paperwork while people closed in on the activity. Mortis looked around oddly and noticed the staring townsfolk. He felt inclined to ask about them.
Mortis: Is everything alright?
Ernest: Oh sure, we don’t get many visitors from outside of town anymore. Everyone’s just curious.
Mortis: Ahh, ok.
Mortis took the small bubble capsule out of his bag, dropped it, and when it popped on the ground, the crate came out as if out of thin air.
Ernest: Well I’ll be!
Everyone watching them began to gasp and gossip, pointing at Mortis and the bag and the Bubbles he came with. A kid confidently approached Mortis and began to speak.
Kid: By Joe, you see that? That man’s got a magic bag!
Ernest: It’s no magic bag, Jeremiah, it’s just another product of modern technology.
Jeremiah: Wowhee, father, what a thing that is! Hey Mister!-
Ernest coughs loudly to catch his son’s attention. The interest and use of technology is against Amish culture.
Mortis looked at the boy with a curious apprehension.
Jeremiah: Hey Mister! What else you got in that bag?
Mortis: Bubbles, A pen, a pencil, a pad, and a table.
Jeremiah: What a bag! You got a chair in there?
Mortis’ reaction is displaced and distressed. He did not have a chair.
Mortis: Sorry kid, no chair.
Jeremiah: No chair?! How you gonna’ use all those things on a table without a chair?
Mortis: I hadn’t thought of it…
Another kid hanging around with Jeremiah started to pipe in. He was wearing the same thing as him, including a small straw hat like the other men were wearing.
Kid: You know what you could do? You could buy a chair made by us!
Jeremiah: Yeah that’s what you should do! My pop can build you a fine chair, that’s right!
Mortis: Ah, I don’t know. I should really get back to the city…
Ernest: You’re welcome to stay while we make you one. It should only take a few hours. It’s really no trouble. As a token of our appreciation for your delivering our livestock, we won’t charge you for it.
Jeremiah: We make the finest products here, honest to God!
Mortis: Well, when you put it that way…
Checking the time, it was 14:08 EST. Mortis had time, and agreed to stick around. While he waited, he walked around with Ernest Thomas while his friends brought the crate to a large barn on the other side of the farm.
Mortis: So, Ernest, what kinds of things do you all do for fun?
Ernest: We take solace in the love of God to provide for us all the fun we’ll ever need.
Mortis chokes on his breath, realizing that the Amish people still believe in God. Current society has ruled out the mere notion.
Mortis: I understand your community lives off the land and all, but is there anything you do for recreation around here?
Ernest: We sing a lot. Music is a big part of our lives out here. The rest we find in nature’s bounty.
Mortis: Does anyone have a guitar? I could play a song for you and you all could sing along!
Ernest: Unfortunately no, we have some harmonicas and an accordion left to us from our ancestors, but those instruments are only played during religious ceremonies.
Mortis realizes there is little in the way of bonding with these people. As they walk across the farmland to the main barn ahead, Mortis takes notice of the men, women, and children working, constructing, gathering, and cleaning.
Mortis: You’ve got a really unique community here, Ernest. I’ve never seen such togetherness.
Ernest: It’s been our way since the 1700s.
Mortis: Jesus that’s a long time!
Ernest coughs in response to Mortis saying “Jesus”
Mortis: I got a question Ernest, how come you needed us to delivery you this livestock?
Ernest: Well, the world we live in has changed, and the animals we rely on no longer graze our pastures naturally. We have agreed as a community that, in dire straits, it was necessary to artificially replenish the area with animals local to it. We will raise the animals, and re-establish a balance here, so that we may live for generations to come.
Mortis: That’s awfully great, Ernest, I hope things work out.
Ernest: Thank you Mortis. Now how about that song?
The two entered a large barn and talked of many things, from Amish culture to current sports. The Amish didn’t know any of the sports he talked about. Mortis talked about his life in the city, the nature of bubbles and their use in modern society. A lot of the young boys and girls around them listened and asked him questions, eager to learn more. Mortis opened up after a while, and did not feel uncomfortable despite the culture shock. Ernest was wise and warm-welcoming, but was often worrisome about the children’s interest in modern society, for fear they would abandon their chosen lifestyles. In the meantime, he kept a conscious mind about it.
Other people gathered around, listening attentively to Mortis’ stories from life on the outside world. During moments of silence shared, the sounds of labor and chair-building were acknowledged. Mortis was unrestrained in his telling of stories. Everyone was eating it up. A young woman with long, flowing, blonde hair watched him talk, and he soon took notice of her infatuation. His eyes met hers, and he stumbled on his words midsentence at one point, causing her to smile and blush, while the others looked dumbfounded and ever-curious about the punch line of his most recent story. He had a hard time concentrating after that.
Eventually the chair was finished. The people who stayed in Mortis’ company during the wait stood around him now, outside in the warm farm air, the sun setting soon over the mountains in the West. The odors that Mortis first recognized upon arrival no longer seemed to bother him. He felt comfortable and popular. He was really enjoying the company.
Ernest: Well, Mortis, what do you think of the chair?
Mortis: It’s great Ernest, you guys did a great job!
Ernest: On behalf of the others, it was our pleasure. We were going to have dinner soon, Mortis. Did you feel like staying with us for the time being?
Mortis looks around for the girl with blonde hair. He smiles at her, and she smiles back.
Mortis: Yeah, I’ll stay for dinner, no problem!
Ernest: We are truly blessed today! Please make yourself at home while we prepare dinner. We usually ring this bell here when dinner’s ready, so let that be your queue.
Mortis: Thanks Ernest, I’ll keep my ears open.
Mortis takes a Bubble Capsule out of his bag and places the chair inside of it. The spectacle entertains everyone. He quickly places the bubble back in his satchel, and leaves his bag near the oil lamps outside the big barn. It is 16:48 EST. Everyone goes inside except for a couple of people who walk aimlessly in other directions; except for the girl he had his eyes on all afternoon. It was just him and her together now.
Mortis: Hey. I’m Mortis.
Woman: Hey Mortis, I’m Sarah.
Mortis: Sarah… I saw you earlier in the barn.
Sarah: Yes, you really entertained my family and friends. Thank you.
Mortis: Oh, it was nothing.
Sarah: You have such interesting experiences to talk about. And your bubbles! When I first saw you take Ernest’s package out from the bubble like you did, I didn’t know what to think!
Mortis: [laughing] Yeah, well, that’s how I do things nowadays.
Sarah was beautiful in Mortis’ eyes. Her blue eyes could be seen even as the sun was setting. Her smile made Mortis’ heart melt.
Mortis: I… um, really like your outfit. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it before.
Sarah: Really? I think it’s great too, but as of late I’ve gotten really tired of it. I wear it all the time.
Mortis: Yeah that doesn’t sound too fun.
Sarah: That’s something I’m sure you won’t see too often here.
Mortis: What’s that?
Sarah: Fun. We must seem so boring to you.
Mortis chooses his words well.
Mortis: No, I wouldn’t say that. Your community is really something new to me. It kind of makes me appreciate the simpler things in life.
Sarah: Really? Oh that’s nice of you. I really want to learn more about the world outside. Is it really as crazy as you make it seem?
Sarah shakes a little, excited by the thought of life on the outside.
Mortis: Hey while we have some time, you want to show me more of this place?
Sarah: Yes I’d like that. Come with me.
She takes his hand and they begin to walk along the dirt road towards a line of houses. They all look alike, white structures with black roofs.
Sarah: We’ve been in this part of the country for hundreds of years apparently. My ancestors came from Europe during the 18th century.
Mortis: Yeah I thought I heard Ernest say something about that.
Sarah: Ernest’s family has been here the longest, I think. He’s like an elder to us.
Mortis: He seems like such a nice guy.
Sarah: You seem like a nice guy, too.
They look at each other again and smile. He wants to kiss her, but doesn’t know if it’s right.
Mortis: I think you’re a really great girl, too.
Sarah moves in and gives him a kiss on the lips. Mortis’ eyes light up and his smile stretches from ear to ear.
Mortis: Yeah, you’re definitely a really great girl.
They laugh about it, and keep walking down the line of houses.
Sarah: This is my house here, I live with my parents and siblings, ten in total.
Mortis: Wow that’s a lot!
There are no lights on inside.
Mortis: Is anyone home?
Sarah: Probably not, everyone’s at the main house preparing the meal for tonight. We usually eat together on the weekends.
Mortis: That sounds cool.
Sarah: ‘Cool,” what a funny word!
They kiss each other again. Tension is building between them.
Sarah: Let’s go inside, we have some time before dinner starts.
Mortis: Is anyone going to come back?
Sarah: No, I’m sure of it. Now show me the fun you have where you come from, and I’ll show you the fun I have where I come from!
They start to get intimate, and Mortis can’t believe what is happening. Sarah is beautiful. Her body is perfect, her hair is soft, and she smells like flowers. Mortis runs his hands through her hair while they kiss in the living room. Candles were lit before they made themselves comfortable, and the ambient lighting added to the euphoria. Mortis was in love.
The dinner bell rings for a few moments, and nothing happens afterwards.
Sarah: I don’t want this to end! This is so great, you are amazing Mortis.
Mortis: Sarah, you’re beautiful, I love everything about you. You make me feel so good!
Sarah: This is love, Mortis, this is love!
Right then and there, the door opens to a loud and distressed family of people gathered around it. A large and upset woman, no doubt Sarah’s mother, comes barging in. Sarah separates herself from Mortis in that instant as if to prove nothing had been going on.
Mother: Sarah, what in the Lord’s name is going on here?
Sarah: We were talking, Mother.
Mother: Every lie is a sin, Sarah Farlorn. You should know better –
Mortis is clueless and confused.
Mortis: I – uh – we were – just…
Mother: You, stranger, should leave immediately, lest my husband sees this horrible spectacle. Seamus!
Mortis: What’s the problem, Miss? Sarah did nothing wrong.
Mother: Don’t say anything, you! While I should think I know my daughter, I don’t know you, and you can’t just come into her life and corrupt her young and immature mind. Now get out!
Sarah: But Mother!
Mother: But nothing! Seamus!
A loud opening of the front door hints towards Seamus’ entrance, a tall and muscular man with thick blonde beard and hard jaw line. His eyes were burning a hole into Mortis like a laser.
Seamus: What is the meaning of this, Mary?
Mother: I came in to find the two of them having relations, dear.
Seamus begins to flex his muscles and approach Mortis on the bench they were sitting on.
Sarah: Father, no! I love him, please don’t do anything to him.
Seamus: How could you be so blinded by this stranger, Sarah? Go outside with your mother.
Mortis: There’s obviously some misunderstanding, Sir! We both really like each other; I’ve never met anyone like her.
Seamus: And you never will, as long as I have something to say about it. Mary, Sarah, go outside, now.
Sarah: Please father, don’t do anything!
Seamus: We’ll have to talk about this later, Sarah, there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
Mortis: Shouldn’t you –
Seamus: Be quiet! Not another word! How could you be so deceptive? She’s not old enough to make up her mind about things, there’s so little she knows!
Sarah: I know I love him, father! Please, I want to marry him!
Mortis jerks his head towards Sarah now with repulsion and complete surprise. Marriage? At nineteen?
Mortis: Marriage? But Sarah, I’m so young, I’m only nineteen!
Sarah: That’s fine, I’m only fifteen!
Mortis looks sick to his stomach. The news of that turned his stomach inside out, and his interest in her is completely gone now. What did he get himself into? He was in serious trouble now. Mary pulls Sarah outside while Seamus’ anger envelopes the room they stood in.
Seamus: You demon! You heartless spawn of Satan! May God cast you down by my hand for trying to corrupt the heart of my little girl!
Mortis realizes his time in Amish land is over. He must leave immediately.
Mortis: Ok, ok, Mister, let’s try and work something out. Now obviously, I didn’t know your daughter was that young. She looks really mature for her age, has anyone told you that? You must be really proud; she’s got your hair, and your mother’s eyes. I can see now why I fell for her so easily. She’s a keeper alright!
Trying to stall impending bludgeoning, Mortis tries to make for the door while he is saying all this, only to be blocked by Seamus’ overpower size and strength. Seamus begins to advance, and Mortis, on a whim, jumps out the window. He begins to run toward the barn, but runs into Sarah first.
Sarah: Mortis! My love! Stay with me! We can be together happily if we marry!
Mortis: No thanks! I’d love you too, but now is not the time. It was great making out with you, you’re gonna’ make someone really happy one day!
They kiss quickly, but her mother strikes Mortis over the head repeatedly with her hat, forcing them to break their kiss.
Sarah: Mortis! Come back!
Mortis: Not a chance, honey!
Seamus exits the house and begins to chase Mortis. Mortis is now running like a bandit down the strip of houses and approaches the big barn where his bag is resting. Ernest is just exiting the barn with a platter fully of chicken and vegetables, enough to feed ten people.
Ernest: Oh Mortis! So glad you’re back, we were just setting things down. Care to help me lay out some of the dishes?
Mortis: Can’t now, Ernest, I have to run. It’s been really nice meeting you, you’re a swell guy, but I’ve overstayed my visit. Give my love to the family!
Ernest begins to protest his departure, but not before Mortis opens up one of his bubble-cars and hops inside. It’s a clutch moment for Mortis, as Seamus runs headstrong towards Mortis in his slowly-rising bubble, trying to catch him before he flies away, only to fly through it and land on Ernest, sending the platter up into the air and all over the others who were outside with him. A chicken leg flies within Mortis’ reach, and he grabs the leg just in time. Safely on his way back to the city, he looks back at the mess he made in that simple Amish village. Seamus is arguing with Ernest, screaming about Mortis. Sarah’s waving happily up at Mortis, and Mary is pulling her arm down. Jeremiah is pointing and laughing with the other kids at all the food on the floor and the other townsfolk are grief-stricken by the fighting that has occurred. The community will never be the same.
Mortis nibbles on the drumstick hungrily, sitting in his bubble as he flies back to the metropolis he almost forgot about, hoping that his boss never hears word about the craziness that ensued. He’ll need an alibi for his late return. Something along the lines of, “furniture shopping” should hold up pretty good. At least now he’ll get to sit in a chair while looking out the window at work, waiting for more packages to deliver. Just another day at Pop-Top Deliveries.