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Hyperflop in the Hyperloop
Loara has taken her seat on the Hyperloop to go and meet her soul mate.
In Belgrade, Lance is boarding.
This grandson of a famous racing cyclist has a charming little bike in the head.
“Hello,” replies Loara without raising her head from a claims form worthy of a predigital administration.
“You’re reading Schumpeter,” says the newcomer on spotting a book lying down. “That’s strange!”
“I like Schumpeter,” replies Loara.
Loara particularly appreciates the creative destruction principle of the economist from the past. It’s nice to know that when you destroy something, another thing replaces it. But she would especially like this principle to apply to her life. For almost two years now, her life has been reduced to binge-watching box sets, gulping down reality TV, and ruminating about her misfortune of having to sleep in an empty bed.
One evening, after discovering Schumpeter, she decided to blow her savings to go on an ‘love around the world’ trip. The case guarantees a reconstruction that will create happiness. In the package, the designers had included 100,000 kilometres by Hyperloop and sensitive artificial intelligence for meeting men most ideally connected to you.
“I’ve always wondered whether Hyperloop was faster than life,” says the man.
Loara looks at him. Since then, the beginning of her trip, he is the 174th or 175th man who sits before her. She doesn’t know anymore. She just remembers that they all say the same things.
They start with the geo sequence: “Where do you live?…. Paris, the Eiffel Tower, swimming in the Seine…. I really like Paris”. After an introduction of such breathtaking originality, they follow up by commenting on the Hyperloop: “1,000 kilometres an hour, we may criticise, say what you like, but it does go fast. When we depart, we’ve already arrived…. The world has become a village. Hyperloop has broken down borders…”.
She is then treated to a killer sense of humour: “Hyperloop’s like a hearse; it doesn’t have neutral.” Followed by some neo-advertising speak: “Love speeds up life. So what could be more natural than boarding a Hyperloop to find it?” If the conversation lasts, she is entitled to reflections on science: “The interest of Hyperloop lies in going at a constant speed. This allows passengers not to confuse speed with haste…. Let’s be realistic, whatever the speed we are travelling, it does not change the speed of light.”
At this point in the discussion, Loara feels a urge to kill. In the questionnaire, she made it clear she wanted to be surprised and that nothing annoyed her more than stock phrases. The World Love Tour programme was designed by a player. When you don’t fall in love at first sight, you alight and take another Hyperloop. If you complete three sections together, you can extend invitation to dinner. Since her departure, Loara has just done three sections of a Paris-Tunis with the same man. On arrival, it was raining, so she refused his invitation and carried on her way.
“Have you noticed that when you don’t know where you’re going, the travelling speed doesn’t matter?”
Loara looks up. Since losing hope of meeting the man of her life, she’s no longer impressed by the speed of Hyperloop.
“I’m talking to you. Shame on me. I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Lance Amstrong.
“Lance Amstrong? That name rings a bell.”
“I’m the grandson of a famous racing cyclist. It’s just with the bike in my head I sometimes lose the plot.”
“You mean you’re….”
“Crazy! Yes, enough to love life… a little, a lot, passionately.”
Loara clicks on the claims form to make it disappear. The man she was waiting for is there. Artificial intelligence has realised that she is a bit slow on the uptake. She has decided to warm up her love sensitivity that has been in trapped too long in the ice age.
“When your screw’s loose, do you like Hyperloop?”
“I would tick the box ‘it’s complicated’. Since we’re there and elsewhere almost at the same time, it’s a bit scary if you’re not a superhero. You want to go to New York. You’re happy. You’ve planned what you’re going to say to the Statue of Liberty. A little tense, you fall asleep and find yourself in South America. Now you feel like a total idiot because you don’t have your sombrero. You leave without breaking the ice with the locals and end up talking to the polar bears. At this speed, it’s hardly surprising some people have flights of fancy!”
Loara’s heart flutters. The way Lance Amstrong talks about travelling really turns her on.
“Fifty-four hours in the Hyperloop. Well, do you really like this?” says Lance.
Loara looks and is surprised not to see her discussion partner’s card displayed on the Hyperloop window. Normally it shows information on the men in the Love World Tour dating programme. This is probably one of the many glitches caused by these crossings between one country and another.
When she travelled into Vietnam, the simultaneous translator slipped up. The speaker’s comments were translated into an unidentified exotic language.
“It’s just that I like to love,” simply says Loara. And you, what do you like?”
“I like to take my time. Things take time to mature. I like to wait until spring to see the first buds. Loara hangs on his every word. They are so lagged in these pods racing along at breakneck speed in a tube. Belgrade, Dubai, Delhi, Bangalore…. Four stations, she’s hit the jackpot. So it’s in this city she’s going to spend the first night of her new life. When their arrival is announced, Lance gets up. Loara likewise. He helps retrieve her luggage. On the platform, she has a smile on her face. She wonders where he’s going to take her. The Love World Tour programme has arranged rooms in luxury hotels, but this eccentric might have other ideas.
At that very moment, Lance’s phone rings and she hears him say:
“Yes, sweetie, you’re not going to believe it but I’m back already…. I took the Hyperloop… I didn’t pay anything. A man gave me his pass. He was taking part in a love hunt and was fed up of being bored at 1,000 cents an hour.
Loara realises she is experiencing nothing short of a hyper flop. She sits on a bench and takes time out to shed some tears.