The sun was high and it was almost noon when Sarah came to get him for lunch. She was shy and awkward in social situations. Tobal guessed she didn't get around much and was surprised she was being home schooled. To be home schooled in today's high tech society was unheard of. As they walked back to the shop for lunch he wondered how good her education really was.
Sarah and Tobal spent a lot of time together and became good friends. She was interesting to talk with and certainly knew far more about history than he did. The days crept by and early March brought heavy snows that made a mess in Old Seattle where traffic was foot traffic. Sidewalks were kept shoveled clear but the streets were left to melt on their own. Getting around on foot made travel hazardous. They spent most of the time inside the store or visiting other shops.
One day they went to New Seattle. It was like any modern city-state he had ever visited. It was lacking in personality and created to satisfy it's population with passive pleasures like virtual gaming tournaments and interactive learning terminals linking people from all across the globe. Like many city-states if followed the European pattern of stacking people like sardines in limited living quarters. That was balanced with large parks, recreational areas and gardens where a person could spend time alone in nature without ever leaving the city itself.
It was Old Seattle that was a breath of fresh air to Tobal with it's strange shops and residents. The entire area was filled with people that dared to be different and creative. Each person was living their own self-created reality and prospered or reduced to poverty on the merits of their vision and efforts. Old Seattle survived on the seasonal tourist trade. Still, it was surprising how much business it drew even in the slower months of winter and late spring.
There was a darker side to the city as well and they tried to steer clear of it. Drugs and prostitution had found a home in the old city along with other illegal activities not allowed within New Seattle. There were dangers that beckoned with shadowy fingers. This was an area of human predators and there was little protection from the law. Tobal realized why there were iron bars and heavy reinforced doors on most of the homes and shops.
The freedom of the old city came at a heavy price. That price was no medical or police service. It simply was not available even though one could go through the gate into New Seattle and have instant service. New Seattle did not want people living in Old Seattle and did not support it's occupants. The local community united together to provide emergency service and transportation when needed. They looked out for each other through a neighborhood watch program.
Sarah and Adam lived in a fairly safe and respectable neighborhood but even she was concerned when they were followed home one snowy night by a shadowy figure they couldn't quite make out. They never did know if it was a friend making sure they got home safely or a predator. The mysterious figure vanished into the snowy night when they reached the shop entrance.