The Fall of Terra #16: The Brightfold Family

City of Atlantis.

The alarm blared at them like a foghorn.

Langton’s hand slammed down on the small chronograph flashing the time and beeping at them to wake up.  Both he and Ophelia groaned as they slowly peeled themselves out of the big bed and onto their feet.

The argument from the night before was nothing but a fizzled memory.

Ophelia was already up and into the bathroom, whilst Langton struggled to get out of bed.  He had pulled something in his back.  The argument had gone from shouting to ending up in bed, taking their frustration out on each other under the sheets.

The shower started up, but he didn’t hear the glass doors close.

He slipped into the bathroom just as she was hanging a towel ready.

She had a mischievous grin on her face as she stepped under the shower head and turned the water on.

“Are you coming in or what?”


*           *           *


The kids were arguing.

As usual.

Edward, the eldest, was trying to explain something to Jameson, the youngest.  His argument was sound and solid, but Jameson, only seven, didn’t want to hear it.  Both were wrong, and both were right, and neither would back down.

They were almost at the food flinging stage when their parents entered the big kitchen.

“He started it,” Jameson complained.

Edward looked at Langton with a shrug.

“Stop winding each other up,” Langton warned them.  Ophelia walked past to get to the cereals cupboard and slapped her husband’s rear, earning a smile.  “Remember what I told you yesterday, boys?”

Edward rolled his eyes.  “Yes, Dad; that we wouldn’t be able to go on the Proxima trip with the family if we couldn’t behave.”

“But I want to go to Proxima,” Jameson complained.  Langton had always thought his youngest son had developed a sense of humour not unlike his own father’s: none.  He took things too seriously, and couldn’t see the joke when it was directed at him.

Edward had received his father’s narrow dark-haired blue-eyed looks and genial nature, despite having a far higher IQ.  Edward was destined for great things, as far as Langton was concerned, although the boy wanted to be a soldier in the Army.

Jameson had his mother’s round-faced appearance, although his hair was a dirty blonde like his grandmother’s.

Langton sat down at the table, draping his tie and jacket over the back of the chair.  Gone were the days of wearing a uniform; he had his wonderful family.

Something cooed and clunked down on the edge of the table.

“Jameson, I told you Galileo isn’t allowed up to the table whilst we’re eating.”

Jameson looked crestfallen.  “But Dad, he gets lonely.  Besides, he’s a robot bird; he can’t eat our food.”

“He can still make a mess, though,” Ophelia said with a smile.

Jameson let out a long sigh, “Alright, fine.”  He held his arm up like he was holding a knight’s shield and the chrome bird, shaped like a small bird of prey, hopped onto it.  Galileo had been a gift from one of Ophelia’s clients; the boys, or rather Jameson, had fallen instantly in love with the creature and it had become the family pet.

He returned a few moments later and slumped down on his chair with a huff.

There was a distinct click-click-click and Galileo came toddling back into the kitchen-cum-dining room.

Langton and Ophelia just looked at each other knowingly.

They tucked into their respective breakfasts and the family descended into their usual banter regarding school, work, and what they were having for dinner in the evening.


*           *           *


The city of Atlantis was a true wonder.

Humanity’s pinnacle of engineering knowledge, it stood hundreds of metres out of the Atlantic Ocean close to the site of the original mythical island of ancient times.  Langton never understood what had made the scientists and engineers conceive of the project –terraforming practice maybe for alien worlds?

Langton had always thought of it as such; it was part of why he and Ophelia had settled down here after he had left the service.  They both earned more than enough to live extremely comfortably, but his time in the military had taught him to be grateful for any small luxury.

Their home was large in comparison to some.

There was the kitchen large enough to also be a decent-sized dining room, with a big lounge, an office for Ophelia’s home bookkeeping business, a utility room, a play room (when the kids were younger), a massive bathroom, and three reasonably big bedrooms, the master being en suite.  All of this was set into the city itself, on one of the lower levels of the hive-like tower block.  It was expensive enough that it had windows looking out onto city outside.

Although they had a garage with a big expensive hover-car, the mag-train station was just a two-minute stride down the walkway at the entrance to the hab-block.  It saved money, and was good exercise.

The two boys said goodbye to their mum, and Langton gave her a long passionate kiss that left both wishing he wasn’t working for another hour or so.

“Come on boys,” he said regretfully.  “Let’s get you to school.”

They waved good bye and headed off.

“So what are you two learning today?” he asked as they walked.  The hab-block they lived in was quiet, owing to many of the residents being retirees or the habs being used as second homes.  The walk to the station was relatively stress-free.

“Dunno,” answered Edward in a typically teenage fashion.  “Got Maths, Language, History, and PE today.”

Langton rolled his eyes.  “What about you, Jameson?  You still learning about ancient Britain?”

Jameson nodded his head enthusiastically.  “Yep.  Yesterday we were learning about the Kings and Queens, especially Charles III, who held the throne during the Third World War.”


They came to the station just outside the hab-block.  It was a bright sunny day, with a hint of sea mist reflecting the sunlight like sparkles in the air.  It didn’t take long for the mag-train to arrive, the small platform relatively clear of the busy morning traffic.

Langton dropped the boys off at their classes and headed to work.

Today was like any other day.


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