T   H   I   R   D    W   I   T   N   E   S   S


aaw: Are you the first generation born in space, or--?

ep: No, I'm third.

aaw: Third?

ep: Um-hmm.

aaw: So your parents, both parents--

ep: Um-hmm.

aaw: --were born--were they L5 also?

ep: No. Mom was born on the moon, Dad was born at L3.

aaw: How old are you now?

ep: I'm thirty-five.

aaw: Have you ever been on planet Earth?

ep: No. I won't go there.

aaw: Because?

ep: Stinks. 'S all kind of pollution and shit. Their air there is worse 'n here. It's compressed here. That's why I like it up at L5 better. The air's cleaner. But even there they say that it's, down on the world, it's really bad.

aaw: Because of--?

ep: There's still fallout, lot o' radiation an' stuff.

aaw: Oh. It was a nuclear war?

ep: Yeah.

aaw: Yes?

ep: The kooks set off some bombs.

aaw: Was there a--you had said that there are no more nations, no more national boundaries.

ep: Uhn-uh.

aaw: How did that come about? Do you know?

ep: Sort of. Everything broke down. The only thing left was the World Bank. They had to control everything. And some kind of--just the--the United Council took over. They were the only people who had computers left. And so it's--the way we look at it now is that power just naturally fluxed to them. They had information. Information is power, information is control.

aaw: I'd like to have you go back in time, to your childhood. Say about age ten.

ep: Okay.

aaw: Just go right back in time, and tell me what life was like for you at age ten. And are you on the same station where you were born, or are you someplace else at age ten?

ep: Oh yeah, I'm on L5.

aaw: Uh-huh. Have you ever been off of L5 yet?

ep: No.

aaw: And your name, what do you like to be called Al or--?

ep: I like Al.

aaw: Yes, what's your last--

ep: Albert's my mad name.

aaw: --what's your last name? Do you have a last name?

ep: I dunno.

aaw: Take a look and see. Take a look at that last name. Have you ever had to write it on anything?

ep: Just numbers.

aaw: Numbers? You have numbers?

ep: Numbers and cards. You don't really write. We type. But we sign off signature numbers.

aaw: So you're assigned a number?

ep: I'm AL659, see.

aaw: Yes.

ep: Dash L5. AL659-L5.

aaw: Well that's interesting. AL659-L5. What does the 659 signify?

ep: It signifies my birth number.

aaw: Like your date?

ep: No, my birth number. I'm 659th on L5.

aaw: Oh. Oh, I see. Do you have classes or school?

ep: Sure.

aaw: What do they teach you?

ep: Everything. We can know anything. We got screens in the house, there's screens. We don't really go to school, although there's places that we go. But mostly, information is everywhere. People are everywhere. You just learn. When I'm interested in flying I go fly. When I'm interested in playing games I go play games. When I'm interested in doin' numbers I go do numbers.

aaw: I understand. What do you mean, when you're interested in flying? Where do you fly from and to?

ep: We fly at the hub.

aaw: At the hub?

ep: I like that.

aaw: You fly at the hub?

ep: Um-hmm.

aaw: Of--?

ep: At the L5.

aaw: At L5. What do you mean, you fly? Is there a place of no gravitation?

ep: Yeah. It's in the middle. Gravity's the least there.

aaw: Yes?

ep: That's how we get around sometimes. Instead of goin' all the way around, you can cut across, and that's kinda neat. It's a bitch when you gotta first start climbing, you know, but once you get goin' it's pretty cool.

aaw: When you start climbing?

ep: Yeah. You can go up the sides. There's tubes and ladders. I don't like the shafts.

aaw: What are the shafts?

ep: They're lifts. Drone lifts. They give me the phobes, man.

aaw: So you fly?

ep: Um-hmm.

aaw: How, how--? Do you jump off something?

ep: Yeah. You just--you fly. Haven't you ever flown?

aaw: I've never flown.

ep: Oh, man.

aaw: We'll have to go there.

ep: Let's go!

aaw: Let's go. Okay, let's go there now.

ep: Oh, you gotta wait till it's--

aaw: Huh?

ep: --we gotta wait for the right time.

aaw: Permission?

ep: Yeah, see, if they're loadin' and stuff, you can't be around, 'cause you might get bumped by one of the loaders.

aaw: Do kids have jobs to do--

ep: Jobs?

aaw: --responsibilities?

ep: Responsibilities. That's a better word. Sure. The minute you can do, you do. Everybody's got a function. If you don't all function, it won't get done.

aaw: So the minute you can do, you do.

ep: Sure.

aaw: Do you get to choose--

ep: Choose?

aaw: --what your functions will be? Do you get to specialize in something?

ep: Sure. It's whatever you're interested in.

aaw: And what are you interested in at age ten?

ep: I like to fly. I want to go to Mars. I like to explore. I really like bein' over by the engines and stuff. They don't let me go there too much, 'cause it's dangerous. I'm pretty small yet. But I sneak over there. Sometimes I go fly when I'm not supposed to. But I wait until the lanyards go by, and then I leap, and get onto the sled, and just kind of ride it across, and nobody really knows.

aaw: With your buddies?

ep: Naw. They aren't so adventurous.

aaw: How big is this area in which you fly?

ep: How big is it?

aaw: Yes. Can you measure it?

ep: Yeah, I guess so. Takes about ten minutes to get across it.

aaw: So it must be pretty big. I can't imagine how big the space station must be. Is it round?

ep: From point A to point A is twenty-six point six miles.

aaw: Around?

ep: I.D.

aaw: Inside dimension?

ep: Diameter.

aaw: Inside diameter!

ep: I.D. ground, I.D. ground.

aaw: Explain that to me.

ep: Inside diameter at the ground level at the parallax is twenty-six point six. Not counting for fluctuations in height and stuff.

aaw: What do you mean, ground level?

ep: At the residence level, at the center lowest point of the hub.

aaw: Do they raise food here on--?

ep: Why sure.

aaw: Do they have gardens?

ep: It goes kinda like, every three or so miles there's a--the levels change--and so there's tiers or hubs, and there's eight tiers. Residence level there's only two tiers, but at feed levels there's eight tiers. And the top tier's not very wide at all, maybe a hundred feet or so.