Deltron 3000 – Pandora
“Advances in technology can change the way we interact with the world and with each other. Come visit our offices today for a test drive of the Deltron 3000! Guaranteed to make others see you in the best possible light! Come in today for a free preview showing of the new alternative vehicle made for the future of our planet!”
Marvey thought of the first time she’d seen the advertisement for the Deltron 3000. Back before the darkening, they had been the hottest alternative vehicles around. Owning one had been a status symbol in the early 2020’s. If you cared about the environment or the health of the planet you had a Deltron. It was something to make you stand out from the ordinary and now it was a relic from a time lost.
She’d been waiting for a public transit vehicle in the dusky afternoon Seattle drizzle for 20 minutes when the bus shelter suddenly lit up. She jumped a little in surprise. The shelters across the city had been wired years ago with sensors to turn on when someone was waiting for a bus. But due to the economic collapse and the intermittent power supply, the bus stops remained dark these days. Before the blackout, Direct Product social Marketing (aka DPsM) had been everywhere. Because everyone had a social media device, turned on and powered up at all times, the advertisers could “know” who the customer was waiting at the bus stop, or in an elevator, or in their car, or any of the other places that DPsM was allowed (the Supreme Court was still sorting out the legality of it all when the darkening had occurred).
The ads were custom designed to match the metrics of the people in the immediate area. If a group of teenaged girls were waiting together, an ad for the band “Destroy the Horizon” would flash on the walls, blaring the harsh emo-core music directly into their listening devices. It always annoyed Marvey when she could hear the screeching music seeping out of the teenager’s earpieces. And the advertisers always prioritized the desires of the younger viewers. But Marvey remembered fondly the advertising that targeted her. It would focus nostalgically on the roaring 2020’s: when energy was still relatively free and plentiful.
The ad that flickered before her in the bus shelter was one of those nostalgia pieces. Images of incandescent light bulbs cast soft glowing light on dewy wet roadways while a Deltron 3000 drove through the city towards still green forests. Marvey remembered what it was like to drive (something that was now forbidden) and couldn’t look away. She instinctively reached for her device to turn on the sound, before she remembered that her device hadn’t been active in over 15 years. Once the grid went down, the cars stopped rolling and all portable devices soon followed, screens going dark around the globe in a surprisingly short amount of time.
The ad featured a sexy looking woman stepping out of her Deltron 3000 while a man stared in admiration. The soft glow emanating from the woman made it look as if she was lit from within. In the next scene they were both shown cruising in the vehicle through the bucolic forest. Marvey could almost smell the pine forest and hear the faint whirr of the alt engine. It was a car that required no gas or oil; you merely plugged it in and charged it just like your cell phone. But since everyone had given up on gas-powered vehicles and switched to the electric vehicles the power supply chain had been over whelmed by demand. The car that had been sold as a promise for the future health of the planet had actually led to the collapse of modern society. Once the power grid was down all the trappings of modern society had been erased as with the flick of a switch. Electricity was horded by power companies and distributed to only the highest paying customers. Power pirates then came along and destroyed the supply lines by diverting the electricity to their own black market. In the end, the grid was so compromised no one could get any power. Many referred to the time they were living in as the Deltron Depression (D.D.). But the vehicle that had caused it all still had appeal to Marvey as she watched the shiny body of the sleek vehicle in the ad. The text at the bottom of the screen scrolled the location of the nearest Deltron dealership. Marvey noticed it had been right around the corner from where she stood waiting.
Peering down the now dark roadway Marvey saw no sign of any transit, bus, car, bicycle or otherwise. “Fuck it,” she said to herself as she stepped out into the rain. The bus shelter flickered back to darkness behind her as she turned the corner.
About halfway down the block Marvey heard the bus she’d been waiting for sweep past. It would be several hours before any other transit serviced this area. She figured she might as well keep going. She came to a stop before the papered over windows of the Deltron Dealership. She’d known it would be closed but still felt a shiver of disappointment that the place was so obviously deserted. The parking lot had been dug up and turned into a vegetable garden. The slick show room she remembered from the ads was obscured behind the faded craft paper that covered the graffiti sprayed windows. Coming up to the door, Marvey thought to herself “If I could just take a peek in the window.” A corner of the paper hung down where the tape had peeled loose from the window. She stood with her toes on the sill of the window peering in. Marvey gasped when she saw the faint glow coming from one of the draped vehicles inside the show room. She could tell it was a Deltron by the distinctive shape of the car’s body even through the fabric draped over it. Marvey knew that she had to see and feel the car. After hopping off the window ledge she gingerly tried the front door. It was open!
Marvey quietly crept into the showroom and approached the bluish green light of the glowing car. She gingerly lifted the edge of the cloth covering the car but let out a scream when she saw the family of raccoons inside the vehicle. Luckily the open window they had climbed in was on the other side of the car. “They must have activated the battery when they climbed in the car,” Marvey thought to herself. She slapped the glass with her hand and the raccoons a scurried out the other side. She opened the car door and checked to make sure no more raccoons were hiding in the vehicle. Seeing it was all clear she eased the cover off the car completely and settled into the seat. Fearing a return of the raccoon family Marvey pushed the window switch button and up the window came with a swoosh. The car hummed beneath her and Marvey knew that she would not be getting home via bus tonight.