Short Story

Materials Girl: Part 2

This is the second half of the short story I wrote for the XPRIZE contest. Read the first half.

Samantha took the box from me and led me out of the building. I focused on her colorful dress and intentionally tried to block out everything else. She headed towards a waiting line of the same sleek vehicles I’d seen on the traffic camera.

Up close, the vehicles looked even more alien that they had in the video. The wheels were made out of a complex webbed matrix that had to have been 3D printed. They didn’t have any visible lug nuts, and there were no inflated rubber tires, just a solid strip of darker material around the circumference of each wheel.

As we approached, the vehicle’s single door slid open, like the door on the side of a minivan. Inside, three bucket seats faced forward and three faced backward. There was no steering wheel, nor any visible controls at all.

Samantha climbed in and sat in one of the seats facing backward. I sat across from her, my carry-on beside me. I clutched my purse like it was the life raft that would save me from this sea of strange. …

Materials Girl: Part 1

This is the first part of the short story I wrote for the XPRIZE contest.

Materials Girl

The little animated plane on the seat-back entertainment screen circled San Francisco three times before we were allowed to land. On the ground, my tiny window allowed me a glimpse of an impossibly white main terminal before the plane turned towards a squat building tucked away by itself.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking,” said a calm, authoritative voice. “We ran into a little paperwork problem, but it’s all sorted out now. Sorry for the delay; we’ll get you out of here as quickly as possible.”

When the seatbelt sign went out, I pulled down my carry-on and followed the other passengers out of the plane. At the end of the jet bridge we were met with a double line of people holding placards with names on them.

“What’s going on?” the middle-aged woman in front of me asked the closest uniformed attendant. …