Plato's Visit

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car (noun) - a vehicle with wheels; an automobile

smartphone (noun) - a mobile phone with added software and functions such as a camera, internet browser

plastic (noun) - synthetic material made of thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers


"Look, Plato," said the taxi driver as he slowed the car to a halt at the traffic light by the Wawa,  "I know that you are very inquisitive and probably have a lot of big ideas, but you need to calm down and take things one step at a time."

The taxi driver looked in his rearview mirror and eyed the ancient Greek who'd been transported through time into the passenger seat. The Greek was fidgeting and nervously glancing at buses, joggers, a helicopter, electricity wires, skyscrapers. His clothes looked uncomfortable to the taxi driver. Having a woolen tunic as an inner layer and a cotton cloak on the outside seemed all back-to-front. The wool looked horribly coarse and made the driver's skin prickle just thinking about it. Thank Christ someone at some point had come up with the plain old T-shirt. Plato was now feeling the inside of the cab, the smudged windows, the plastic seat. He spent a long time smoothing that seat.

"Where am I?" he said at last.

They were still outside the Wawa, but the driver assumed Plato was after a bigger picture.

"America," he said.

For that one word answer  it didn't matter whether his command of the ancient Greek language he'd spent a year practising was any good or not.  But clearly "America" meant nothing to the Greek who was looking sweaty and distressed. He'd screwed his eyes shut as if the world outside were too much to bear, then began opening them ever so slowly before growing wide-eyed again. Frantically, he shook his head. The driver passed him an iPhone with a map of the world blown up and the countries all labeled in Greek. But Plato was fazed by the smartphone itself. He held it at arm's length and stared at the thing all confused. The driver pressed on the accelerator when the light turned green. Plato was clever; he'd get things in the end.


By Stella Whiteman, author of  "Control Alter Delete", a technothriller set in London 2059.

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