Welcome to the Aquatorium! (a future of surfing)
The Old Man didn’t particularly care to join the frenzied masses that crowded the Aquatoriums to view potential Olympic heroes of surfing as they contended for coveted spots on the Olympic team, but his grandson was positively glowing since he had won the URMovies-Z(er)OSea-sQuik Design Rally. His grandson had been chosen as the American “Best Video” for his quirky 2 minute spot showcasing Sleuce-Juice, “Only a WaveBoarder™ knows the feeling? Now you can too!”
The kid’s parents would have no time to take the youth to his reward, so the Old Man had reluctantly agreed to take him. The Old Man tried to keep his grumbling to himself. He still remembered a time when surfers rode waves in the ocean, before the dominance of the Plutocrats decimated the EPA and federal regulations like the Clean Water Act which led to the Great Souring of the oceans. Now, the only places where humans could WaveBoard were in the Aquatoriums. It wasn’t until the Great Souring that the Aquatoriums expanded to the size and decadence they now boasted. These wave pools were owned by the SurfingElite, the board of directors of the corporate Aqua-class who charged exorbitant entry fees and aired live shows 24 hours a day via satellite of their top riders: WaveBoarders (the Old Man believed that “surfers” no longer existed given that “surfing” necessitates an ocean environment; the Corporate SurfingElite reserved the name for themselves) who were paid to stay in the AquaSuites and waveride in the Aquastadiums on chlorinated, hologram-ad flashing, iterations of waves engineered by each Aquastadium’s unique (and patented) vision of “The Best Wave In The World!”
The life, eh? The Old Man knew better. Ever since the privatization of professional surfing, the professional surfer had been promised a career, replete with retirement, health insurance, and a growing salary. Indeed, the Old Man remembered, these promises were fulfilled, but only with complete subservience. The corporate SurfingElite had finally worked out how to keep subversive voices from within the professional circuit from voicing incongruent opinions. The promise of retirement depended on the corporate sponsored surfer upholding a “positive image of surfing”, that was, the image of the SurfingLifestyle that the corporate SurfingElite manufactured and distributed. In case of possible breach of contract, the Independent Commissioner would meet with the corporate SurfingElite (comprised of all those invested in moving toward an Olympic SportSurfing and those who profited from SurfingLifestyle) to decide the fate of the professional surfer/WaveBoarder.
Once the Aquatoriums had been constructed, spread throughout various interested countries, and SportSurfing had been accepted into the Olympics, it had been decided that it would be in the “best interest of SportSurfing if sponsored WaveBoarders remained on the premises of the Aquatoriums at all times.” The Old Man remembered the uproar from sponsored surfers when this memo had been leaked by an anonymous insider. The furor subsided, however, with the introduction of Sleuce-Grog. Sleuce-Grog, created by the Red Wing Conglomerate, mimicked the neurochemistry of surfing in the ocean (plus a little extra chemical supplementation) and was pumped into the pools of the Aquastadium. When the waves broke, Sleuce-Grog erupted its molecular payload into the air and, as engineered, kept both WaveBoarders and audiences coming back for more.
It was only recently that Red Wing reformulated Sleuce-Grog to the more easily imbibed Sleuce-Juice for mass marketing. After all, read the adverts, “We can’t all get to the Aquatoriums!” Sleuce-Juice was meant to be sipped while watching WaveBoarding via satellite.
Rumor had it that the SurfingElite was going to launch its pay-per-view WaveRiding Xtreme Live Events at the Olympic trials, the very event the Old Man and his grandson were being directed towards, along with an expected 70,000 frothing spectators.
Caesar Slats XI
It was as he remembered it, only more gaudy, more casino-like. It reminded him of the pachinko parlors he visited in downtown Tokyo in the mid-2000s. UrBettyGrrrl clones smelling of jasmine and lilac, with hints of that yeastiness that reminded him of beer and sex, lazed just outside of the Aquatorium’s “Lounge Sexion” while sonic ballads of the heroism of WaveBoarders were piped through the pores of the polished Vermeer SunLight™ corridors. Visitors to the Aquatorium came as much for the UV as they did the atmosphere of the Sleuce-Grog. In most cities in the world, the Aquatoriums were one of the only places you could soak in UV since the sun had been hidden by an atmospheric darkness roughly a decade after the Great Souring. The Plutocrats preached human ingenuity, not conservation.
The boy and the Old Man made their way past vendors selling bashers that spectators could pound together to create thunderous applause that would echo for miles around the Aquatorium and googlegoggles that tripped the visuals of the Sleuce-Grog phytochemicals causing each slashing attack by WaveBoarders to explode in the sparkling 3-D visuals reserved for live audiences inside the Aquastadium. The Old Man rented a pair for the boy since this was most likely the only time he would see the spectacle live. The parents were hard working, but couldn’t afford the luxury of these events, as was true of the majority of the citizens of the United Continents of America.
They found their seats as the crowd erupted in cheers as Caesar Slats XI rose on the central liquid podium, emerging from the Sleuce-Grog wave pool as if the pool itself had parted for his grand entrance. The Old Man quickly shoved gene-hacked cotton into his ear holes to drown the din.
The Caesar Slats WaveBoarder model, ever clone-born 40, had been formulated for battles in the Aquastadium after the original human-born Slats who was both an ocean surfing legend and most prominent proponent of the wave pool movement which preceded SportSurfing’s induction into the Olympics. Caesar Slats was in his 11th incarnation and would be this event’s officiator since he could not qualify for a spot on the Olympic team as a clone-born.
“The battle royale is about to begin!” Caesar roared. 70,000 spectators exploded, pounding their bashers together in unison. The Old Man watched the boy do the same.
How he remembered the enthusiasm, the rush of glee, the jubilation of coming here for the first time himself… only, that was before he found out the truth about the Sleuce-Grog and what it was composed of; before he escaped from the Aquatorium, narrowly avoiding being made Sleuce-Grog himself; before multiple face alterations and DNA scramble sessions; before he met a human-born with a beating heart and learned to give love rather than take every meat-clone body he was rapaciously offered as a celebrity WaveBoarder; before his head cleared from the cobwebby effects of ground, pulped, liquified WaveBoarders (past their prime) and Aqua-clones. The Old Man checked the meter strapped to his wrist, making sure the invisible air-bubble filter surrounding he and the boy was fully functional.
“Welcome to the Aquatorium!” (a future of surfing) by Cori Schumacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.