Some short futuristic fiction to round off the season
The Pensioner, the Urn, & the Number 99 Bus
My list specifies Mr McNeely – Mr McNoFeely, she called him – but a footnote from our Deborah says that he retired in 2023, so you’ll have to do.
Do for what? Well, insults, for starters. She said to say that the X99 doesn’t sound like a bus, it’s more like an ice cream what’s been squashed, or maybe retired. Yeah, like McNeely.
What did you say your name is again? You didn’t? Oh well, at my age – 105 next month by the way, you needn’t send a card, just buy me a pint at Tap next time you see me, that’ll be fine – your memory starts to slip a bit. You’ll find out, provided you don’t get too comical with your passengers.
Oh you didn’t? I see. This? Oh, this is my wife. Don’t she look festive, with that bit of tinsel draped round her. She always loved Christmastime, did our Dorcas. Can’t stand it, meself.
No, she’s not an urn, she’s ashes now, bless her – has been 10 year now. But you can’t really decorate ashes, can you? Doesn’t make for such a good photograph either.
The photograph? It’s here…let me just dig round in me pockets for a moment … there! I figured, given she turned 100 on New Year’s Day, bit a tinsel would make for a nice photo. She always liked to look her best, did Dorcas, except of course for when she couldn’t be asked. Then, she’d knock around house all day – doing chores, mind, and reading, and such – in that bloody dressing gown.
Funny. Never reckoned I’d miss sight of a 90-year-old woman in a 40 year old dressing gown.
Any way, she did like to look nice for a photo. Which is why I put the tinsel on, see. I thought about a bauble or two, but our Harry reckoned –
What’s picture for? Why her bus pass, of course. See, they put the age up, then up some more, and – well, you get the picture. I know you look to be no more than 19, but even you must remember –
40? Really? I reckon you can buy me that pint next year, after all. If we both make it, that is.
Anyway, when wife made will, she were just turned 67 – still working, of course. At least she lived long enough to have her pension, and –
Don’t rush me, lad, I’ll get there.
Anyway, wife says to me, Harry – our Debs named her oldest after me, you see – Harry, if I pop me clogs before I get that bus pass age, I want you to promise me, when I turn whatever age it is – 100, as it turned out – when I’d get me pass, I want you to take the urn, and –
You get the picture. Yes, the one in my hand. Our Debs had it laminated specially for the occasion: it being her mum’s 100th and all.
I see…not able to make corporate decisions at this level. Yes….Do you mind if me and the wife’s remains stay on bus til railway station? So as I can get on to item two on list?
Why yes, it is her railcard: how did you guess? Yes, I do know that railways were nationalised under Corbyn, then privatised again under that bloke with the hair – yes, that’s the chap – then renationalised again under Liberals 15 year ago. Just because I have to turn telly up to 11 to hear it doesn’t mean I don’t follow news.
Up to eleven…it’s a joke, lad. No? Never mind. Busy day, busy day. Never reckoned when I married her 75 year ago that she’d still be keeping me busy. After railway, I’ve got instructions to pop to a cake shop, then use both our railcards down to London to – what does list say again, oh yes “shove it in face of oldest remaining banker who’s not been replaced by a robot”.
Hmm, may prove a bit tricky, that.
If you enjoyed this story, check out my short story collections “What! No Pudding?” and “Koi Carpe Diem“, both currently available on e-book from Amazon. A print version of “Koi Carpe” is available locally from myself.
“A Yorkshireman in Ohio”, a sequel to “Koi Carpe Diem”, will be available in the spring.