Part 2: Fit the First : The Landing
Fit the First : The Landing
I had no idea of what to pack, but I could do little but assume that I'd get a chance to move my belongings later. Phillipa said that I'd get dirty, so I picked out most of my clothes for wearing outdoors, but I did pack my other, less expensive suit and one set of office clothes, just in case I had to entertain dignitaries at some point.
It was near midnight before I could settle into bed, but I was all keyed up, and decided I might as well open up the dossier.
One of the documents outlined what I'd be able to do in the first days of the job. The basic opening tasks would be to:
- Lay out residential and industrial zones.
- Provide them with power.
- And connect them with roads.
Even this seemed like a logistical nightmare! I really was supposed to start from scratch. Other services would also be required in the first few months, but the priority was to have people move in and get jobs so they could start paying taxes. Simple stuff, but stuff that seemed it would take a whole engineering corp to pull off. Crazy to even think about it. And yet I was the one charged with the mission.
I had to put the enormity of the task out of my head and focus on the small details, at least to begin with.
Getting back to the documents, at least it was clear I would have access to a variety of basic facilities straight away as I needed them.
This is the column of buttons at the right edge of the screen. In order, they are:
- Transportation (Road and Rail, basically)
- Utilities (Power, Water, and Garbage)
- Civic Buildings (Everything from Schools and Hospitals to Reward buildings and landmarks)
- Emergency (sound Emergency siren, dispatch of Police and Fire Brigades, and also... issue Disasters.)
- Advisors and Petitioners
- Information Screens (such as the Budget, Ordinances, Maps and Graphs)
- Game Functions.
I read on.
The Landscaping buttons include:
- Plant Trees (we'll be doing quite a bit of this, for reasons that will become obvious)
- Apply Surface Water (good for aesthetics, not so good for drinking water.)
- Lower Land
- Raise Land
- Level Land
- Bulldoze (a very useful, if destructive, tool in the Mayor's armoury.)
The Zoning buttons include:
- Residential (in three densities, from standalone houses to huge apartment blocks)
- Commercial (ditto - from strip malls to massive office skyscrapers)
- Industrial (small factories, middle-sized factories, BIG factories.)
- Landfill (smelly, and a pain in the arse to live with. Fortunately there are ways around having to have large rubbish tips, though not without cost.)
- Seaports (do you like ships? do you like teamsters?)
- Airports (greyed out at this juncture, they don't become available until about 1930.)
- Dezone (removes zoning from a tile.
- and our old friend the Bulldozer.
Transportation options are limited to begin with, but more become available as time passes.
- Highways (become available in 1950 - includes options for onramps and such.)
- Bus Stops (become available before too long)
- Rail and Train Stations.
- Subways (become available pretty early on, about 1920)
- Sub/Rail interchanges (available at the same time as Subways. Used to connected rail networks to the underground.
- Power Lines
- Power Plants (these start with two choices, Coal and Oil, but new options open up in time.)
- Water Pipes (which are laid underground)
- Water Facilities (including pumps, towers, and later on treatment plants and desalination.)
- Garbage Facilities (none to begin with, but incinerators and recycling plants become available later on.)
Ah yes, power plants. Apparently one of the first choices I had to make was between Coal and Oil. I wonder why I didn't have access to more modern choices, like Solar and Nuclear, it seemed very odd to me. Come to think of it, the dossier talked of other technologies that "in the future". No treatment plants? This seemed like all turn-of-the-century stuff. As in the beginning of the 20th century. Oh well.
If it was either Coal or Oil and nothing else, I had to make the best of my options. At least either would do for a start.
Civil Buildings, including
- Police Stations and Jails
- Fire Stations
- Hospitals and School (incl. libraries and museums)
- Parks and Recreational Facilities (zoos, marinas, etc.)
- Rewards and Opportunities
The "Landmarks" thing was interesting. Apparently there was a catalogue of landmarks from around the world, and, if I should so desire, the replica of my choice could erected free-of-charge in the city. Only they would not be functional in any meaningful way, they'd just "look good".
The dossier also talked of "Rewards and Opportunities", which was more intriguing, but less detail was given, just the suggestion that they were more effective - and potentially more lucrative - than the papier mache landmarks on offer.
It was nearly 1 am when I'd read enough to become drowsy enough to feel able to sleep.
Of course, I barely got a wink in when the alarm went off four hours later, and I groggily got myself and made myself ready to be picked up. The car came up into the driveway just before six and the driver beeped the horn once. I'd managed to throw a cup of coffee down my throat and rushed out of the house into the cold dawn air with suitcase in one hand, hastily made ham-and-cheese sandwich in the other, at that realising that the food in my fridge might go off while I was away. I fumbled with my keys until I managed to lock my front door and walked to the car. The driver got out and took care of my suitcase while I got in the back seat.
"Hello, Wallace Bunkley", said a voice in the gloom, startling me as I fastened my seatbelt.
"Err, hello, err, whoever you are" I said, mumbling with half a sandwich in my mouth.
"My name's not important." said the guy next to me, who wore dark glasses and a cheap business suit. "But you can call me O."
"Oh, Hi O." I said, "Interesting handle. Why O?"
"Letters A to N were taken" said O.
"What, are you some kind of secret agent?"
"Some kind, yes, I suppose you could say that. Fixer, or operative are better words, though I must stress that that's not what the 'O' stands for. The name doesn't matter. if you're lucky, you won't see me again much after today."
The driver had gotten back in the car and had backed it out of my driveway, and then moved forward across town, as the streets slowly brightened with the sun rising.
"Ah yes, and in case you're wonder about the food in your fridge going off, that, like everything else, will be taken care of."
"How did you know I was worried about that?"
"It's a common anxiety for those that we... abduct, for want of a better term. I assume you'll be cool with us taking care of your house here."
"Well, no, I'm not, really, but I can deal with it. Just don't break the china. Anyway, do you know what's going to happen now?"
"Right now? I can tell you that we're taking you to meet a boat at the docks. After that? You'll find out more when you need to know more."
We didn't say much after that. The city, that I was leaving, was slowly waking up - joggers, garbage collectors, power walkers, early commuters, homeless people, religious freaks, heroin addicts. It occured to me that I might have all of these in my own city eventually.
"Whose idea was this O thing of yours?"
"I'm not quite sure" said O, "but I can tell you the guy who was called 'I' went mad after just a few months and succumbed to megalomania. We had to lock him in a padded cell with a scale model of a city to play with. Me, I just had to adjust to the fact that everyone weren't really surprised but were actually referring to me by that name."
"Do you enjoy your job, whatever it is that you do?" I asked.
"It has its ups and downs. I get a lot of pussy, actually. Chicks dig the Big O." said O, deadpan.
The car neared an open-air wharf on the harbour. I could see some kind of steam ferry moored up to it.
"O, it looks like we're here"
The car pulled up, I got out, this time the driver stayed put but pulled the lever instead so I could retrieve my suitcase.
O also got out, and bent down to whisper in my ear as I took the case out. "You may be able to return one day, but it will not be for a while. If all goes well, we will take care of everything here while you sort things out over there."
He shook my free hand and then pointed to the steamer.
"Good luck, Mayor" he said, and got back in the car, which quickly turned around and sped off up the road.
I walked down to the wharf, and boarded the steamer. The boat seemed to be an old ferry, with two decks. A huge chimney poked out the top of it, and black smoke was puffing out the top of it. The stench of coal dust was rampant.
"Is this thing seaworthy?" I asked the person who took my case as I came onboard, and he just nodded and smiled. He pointed out some seats on the lower deck where a few other people where seated, and he suggested that I should talk to them during the journey.
"What's going on now?", I said to one dour-looking chap with a bow-tie. Bow-ties normally make the wearer look dapper, jaunty even, or at least like a big goof. This guy didn't fall into any of these categories, it was as if he was exuding a force-field strong enough to suppress the bow-tie's inherent joie de vivre. He was reading some kind of textbook when he noticed me.
I believe we're going to Funkytown. Whatever there is of it at this point in time.
So what have you got to do with it?
I'm your Financial Advisor, Mayor. Mortimer Green. I'm supposed to help you not send the town broke.
I see. And how will you do that?
By telling you to raise taxes all the time. Aside from that, I'll keep an eye on the books and let you know if I think you've missed anything.
OK. That's great. I'm sure your advice will come in very handy.
Mortimer just nodded at me sagely and then went back to reading his book, which had some title to do with Austrian Economics, whatever that was supposed to be.
I turned to the man sitting opposite in the facing seat. I couldn't begin to describe his face, but at the very least it was quite grotesque. He appeared to have a very nasty cold, something which the brisk morning air could not be helping.
And you sir, what do you do?
Me? *wheeeeeze* Moe Biehl. Transportation advisor. Ain't these coal fumes great?
Uh, yeah, they are. So you're all about the roads and rails and that.
Yep. *cough* *cough* *splutter* *cough* Roads and rails. You got me all worked out son.
I guess that's all I need to know about you then.
Not really. But feel free to condescend down to me at any time when you feel like abusing your power, Mayor. But remember this, a city's roads are its arteries, and if they get all clogged up... *wheeeeeeeeze*
Do you smoke by any chance?
Used to, when I was your age. But then I realised that I couldn't smell petrol any more, I quit, cos I love the smell of petrol. Plus smoking at a gas station is pretty stupid anyway. BOOM! Heheheh-*hhhhhhhiiiirrrrr*
That's quite a shocking cold you've got there.
Yeah I guess I got a slight case of pneumonia or something. Not that a boat trip's the best thing for it, but, you know, a job's a job. *harrrrrackggghhhhr* You wouldn't happen to have any Ventolin on you would you?
Do you know what? I do. Your lucky day.
I passed him the inhaler that I kept in my pocket for emergencies. He took a couple of puffs and breathed in as much as he could, then gave the inhaler back, coughing and spluttering as he did so.
Thanks for that. Ooh my golly, I'm going to be all hyper now.
In the bench across the aisle from Moe and Mort was a woman in a fine cut but gaudily coloured power suit, straight out of the 1980s.
Let me guess, you sell Tupperware. Or something.
Yup. Constance Lee, town planner, at your service.
What does town planning have to do with Tupperware?
Absolutely nothing. But I always say yes to a question unless it involves rape.
That is an absurd philosophy.
Oh don't say that. I like saying yes.
Ri-i-i-ight. So what else do you know?
I think you should start planning for farms straight away by zoning light industrial in areas of low land value so we can have farms and maybe a farmer's market!
Wow, you're not as green as you're cabbage looking. And that is one cabbagey looking suit. Man.
Although you've got that pink blouse on, so maybe that's more of a watermelon thing.
Don't worry about it. I'll take your farm suggestion into consideration.
Awesome. I like farms. I like farmers.
Please tell me it's the early start that's making you act like a dill.
You say I'm a cabbage, then you say I'm a watermelon, now you're saying I'm a dill pickle! You got some sass Mr Walter Bunkley!
It's Wallace, not Walter.
Wallace, Waldo, Whatever.
By this time I was beat. I asked one of the crew what time they'd be getting there, and they said at least a few hours. I decided I may as well grab a nap, and put my coat on one of the hard benches so I could take a kip.
The rocking of the ferry wasn't too severe, fortunately it was quite a calm day. I soon succumbed to my drowsiness.
I slept until mid-morning, by which time the sun was well up in the sky, though there was brisk cold breeze coming off the sea. I noticed someone had put a sandwich and a paper cup of coffee on the end of the bench, the coffee was still quite hot so it must've been put there recently. After I'd eaten, I got up to walk about and stretch my legs. As I walked out outside, I noticed a mousey-looking blond woman was watching the coastline drift by as the ferry chugged away. She smelt faintly of pachouli oil.
My names Karen Frawl, I'm your Environmental Advisor, and I can't believe they're sending me to a CITY WITH NO TREES.
Just look! We're nearly there already! And there's no TREES!
As we looked out out front of the boat, we could see a headland and a beach, and the whole landscape had been completely denuded of foliage. This was presumably part of what would become Funkytown.
Well shit. What are we going to chop down for wood then?
Karen glared at me as if I'd just dropped her grandmother's urn.
I didn't mean that. I'm mean, obviously, we're going to have to plant some trees, then we can chop them down.
OK, we'll plant LOTS of trees and only chop some of them down.
Just go away.
I shrugged and walked to the front of the boat which, by this time, had begun to head into what looked like a pretty decent harbour at the mouth of the river. There was a strange looking island at the headwaters, that looked quite artificial.
As the boat steamed to the right of the island, a woman in a police uniform was leaning on the balustrade, staring ahead.
OK, you're a cop, I assume.
*nods* I'm a cop.
I'm also your Public Safety Advisor. Maria Montoya's the name.
Hmm. *sings* I've just met a girl named Maria.
Sing that again around me and I'll taser you. That musical glorifies delinquency!
It's a fucking musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It's entertainment!
Hmmf, teen suicide pacts.
OK, Public Safety, that's not just the police, that's the fire brigade as well, isn't it.
Yeah, I have to oversee those pansies who get cats out of trees as well. Oh yeah they have the odd fire to put out, but they never have to deal with bums that are soaked in piss, do they? The violent drunks? Pulling dead people out of drains. Domestic disputes. People stealing other people's cable TV. Perverts snowdropping underwear from old ladies' clotheslines. Noooo, the cops have to deal with all that. The cops have to deal with everything that's shit. Fire fighters? Ohhhh, they're "heroes" of course.
And Maria actually did the air quotes thing with her fingers as she said "heroes".
Apparently there's a volcano close to town. That'll keep the firefighters busy.
Oh, you must be kidding me.
Actually, I think we might be able to see it from here.
Hahahah, if that thing blows it's top that's going to keep those fire boys busy, heheheh.
By this stage the ferry had entered the river that passed through what would become Funkytown. We weren't far from reaching our destination now.
I went up to the top deck of the ferry to get a better look. Up there, there were two more men sitting around and also surveying the view. One seemed to be quite charismatic but also a little creepy, whereas the other was wearing a hardhat and exuded no personality at all. Suffice to say they weren't getting on like a house on fire. The charismatic one saw me as I climbed up the steps, and beckoned me to sit down next to him.
Hey, Wal. My name's Randall Shoop. Pleased to meet you. I've heard absolutely nothing about you but I'm sure that when I do hear about you it'll be grand.
You knew my name, though.
Haha yeah you got me there.
So what's your role in all this.
I'll be your Health, Education and Aura Advisor.
My WHAT Advisor?
Aura. Aura is REAL. Can't you feel it? All around us? Hmmmmm. Oh yes. Very good.
No. I don't feel a thing.
You just have to tune in and feel the vibes, if you get what I'm saying. Let go of your inhibitions. Listen to the music of the spheres. Embrace the cosmos. Be at one with eternity.
So you're in charge of our schools and hospitals as well.
That's right, all that as well.
Well fuck me.
Sorry, I don't swing that way, man, but don't worry, between you and me, we're going to make Funkytown really live up to its name. And more!
Right. That's good. And how about you, oh hardhatted one?
Me? I'm Gus. Gus Oddman. Utilities advisor.
So you deal with bullshit as well!
Well, technically just human shit. And just about everything else that keeps people from turning into cavemen. Sewerage. Water supply. Electricity. Garbage. Nothing exciting, but, I like working with it. Stuff people take for granted. I don't need the praise, the paycheck suits me fine.
What do you think of aura, Gus?
I dunno, but when the water or electricity gives out, aura can take a flying leap as far as most people are concerned.
Strangely enough, Aura does go down when we don't have enough electricity to supply everyone.
Whatever, it all sounds like high-faluting interlechual crap to me, I just worry about keeping stuff working so flamers like him can keep talking about hippie crap with the lights on and the water flowing.
Hate is a negative emotion and thus I try to have as little to do with it as possible but UNNNNGGGh you're completely harshing my mellow man.
Marshmellows? No, I've only got boiled lollies. Do you want one?
Randall declined, though the offer seemed to placate him a bit.
Chill, Randall, I think your aura is out of whack. I'll have you planting trees in no time, that'll make it all better.
I could feel the boat gradually coast to a halt, right next to the riverbank, not far from an oxbow. Someone yelled out and I could hear the clatter and the clunk of the gangplank being wheeled out onto the bank.
Oh, looks like we're here! I'm going to have everyone as busy as possible so you might start appreciating what each other does a bit more.
I was first down the gangway, followed by the advisors and the various workers that would help begin the task of turning this barren landscape into a city. Although there were a number of hills surrounding the valley, there was also quite a lot of flat land available around the meandering river - it might be prone to floods, but we'd worry about that down the track.
After a bit of a walk around, I felt that the oxbow lake would be not a bad place to begin construction. We could start allocating areas for housing beside the lake, whilst the power plant and factories would be located further from the river. Maybe we could even encourage the establishment of farms, like Constance suggested.
After that, there was plenty of scope to turn this into quite a beautiful city. If only there were some goddamn trees.
As I imagined the possibilities of this place, I felt that my ambition for power and glory would finally be unfurled.
NEXT: Turning the First Sod.