I'm George Donnelly, a science fiction author from Philadelphia, currently resident in Colombia.
I'm fascinated by the future, big on Bitcoin, Steemit and other trustless, decentralized crypto tech, an INTJ, libertarian, former Chicago cabbie, former FreeBSD sysadmin and advocate for unschooling. Here's a photo of my son and I:
The Story of a Young Cryptocurrency Trader
But I'm not here to bore you with me and my life. I'm here to share a story with you; the story of Lando Cruz, a young cryptocurrency trader in a dystopian future.
The Coup Conspiracy
The United States is in slow-motion economic collapse. The Three Strikes Act funnels the unemployed masses into a national network of work camps for the most trivial of infractions.
Lando Cruz is a scrappy rebel who risks his final strike on the streets of Philadelphia by trading illegal currencies under cover of a burrito stand. He spends his days bribing dirty cops, fending off undercover federal agents and shepherding his little sister through adolescence.
Lando is getting by until beat cops seize his savings and kidnap his sister for ransom. He has thirty days to raise the hard cash he needs to free her before she is sold into sex slavery. His only chance is a lucrative job offer from the black market rebellion's paramilitary startup, the Core. He risks both his life and his principles to get his sister back before time runs out.
Here are some reader reviews so far:
What a crazy book! In an incredibly fast paced and irresistible manner. Crazy characters, crazy storyline, crazy twists, but…. I totally got and empathized with Lando – the main character. Please tell me there’s a sequel!! Sci-fi, future earth, corrupt political systems, revolting populace – this had it all.
The novel is well-written, fun, and contains some great ideas. Heroic line, romantic line, hard-working individuals who save the day, libertarian ideas, betrayal, statist maniacs and infiltrators, assassins and terrorists, and, above all, agoracopters!
The story hooks you right away with a lively world, lots of moving parts, and action. The setting in the not too distant future, with tech more advanced than today but not unfamiliar, meant I could imagine the world without the story getting bogged down with too much descriptive detail.
Sometimes you want a book that is easy to read and follow, and just moves along. Lando Cruz is that kind of book. I kept reading just to see what happened next. The style is terse and spare.
A fast paced look at one possible future for a society that shuns the rights of the individual in favor of government control.
A New Episode Daily
You're getting a new episode 5 days per week here on Steemit. You can expect to not only be entertained by a fast-paced story but also inspired to think more deeply about your future.
To start you off right, here are the first 3 episodes. Feel free to share it widely under a CC BY-NC-ND license.
Episode 1: My Corner
“What do you think you are doing?” Lando Cruz glared at the boy.
The boy turned to look at Lando, his eyes dim. He wore a tattered red t-shirt and a South Philly swagger. “What does it fucking look like?” He turned away. “Get your hot dogs here,” he yelled, “red hot, hot dogs, fresh red hots, all the fixings, none of the tricksings!” He shot a sly glance at Lando.
Men and women in suits crossed the street in front of the boy’s hot dog stand. They stared at the ground. The early morning sky was gray. Rain clouds moved in above the blue, angular skyscrapers of Center City Philadelphia.
“Nobody wants hot dogs for breakfast, kid. Now get off of my corner,” Lando said.
The kid ignored him. “Hot dogs, delicious hot dogs! Get your—”
Lando pedaled his burrito cart around the upstart’s. He parked next to it and engaged the brakes. He swiveled a small ball camera on the cart to point at the kid. In one swift motion, he disengaged the parking brake on the hot dog stand and turned it. He sent it rolling down the cross street sidewalk.
“You piece of shit spic!” the kid yelled. He raised a fist to Lando.
Lando stood his ground, his arms crossed and a thin grin on his face. He raised his eyebrows and chin toward the escaping hot dog cart.
The kid ran down the cross street. The cart took a soft left turn and kissed the red granite side of the building. Hot water splashed out of the cart. It dripped down the discolored metal plaque that read “Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.”
The kid turned around and stomped towards Lando.
“I thought I was clear with you yesterday,” said Lando. “This is my corner. I’ve been working it day and night for three years.”
“I am gonna stun you,“ the kid said. He reached into his pocket.
“I bought it fair and square from the previous owner, Mr. Antonas —“
“The sidewalk is public property! You can’t buy fucking public property!” yelled the kid.
“Mr. Gianakos homesteaded it more than sixty years ago. I bought the exclusive right to operate food carts within a half-block of this corner. It’s mine.” Lando took a step back and held his fists at his sides.
The kid shook his head. “You fucking agorists think you can just take whatever you want. Well, I gotta take care of mine.” He lowered his head and shifted his body right. He came back and threw a punch at Lando’s head.
Lando stepped to the side. The kid came with another fist and clipped Lando in the shoulder. Lando whipped around and walked back towards the building, a grin on his face. Another punch hit Lando in the chest.
The kid backed Lando up against the building. He sneered. “I am going to teach you —“
Lando kicked at his feet. The kid threw his fist at Lando’s face. Lando moved out of the way and the kid connected with the building’s red granite.
His face flushed and he screamed, “Ahhhh!” He pulled out a switchblade, locked the blade in place and came at Lando.
An insect drone dove from the sky and stopped between the pair. “Cease your conflict, now,” said a male voice. Something clicked on it and two sharp metal prods appeared at the bottom of the donut-shaped device. A light wind from the four rotors blew Lando’s hair back.
The kid looked up at the device. He pointed at Lando with the switchblade. “He started it! He thinks —“
“Hostile intent detected.” The two prods shot out and lodged in the kid’s chest. A buzz sounded. He shook and then went down on the sidewalk.
The drone hung in the air a moment, then ascended and disappeared into the sky.
Lando sighed. “That’s a hard way to learn.” He dragged the unconscious kid by the arms around the corner and sat him down next to his hot dog cart. He folded up the switchblade and set it in a drawer of the cart.
Lando moved his own cart into its normal spot on the corner.
Episode 2: Manny
“Breakfast burritos here, delicious low-carb breakfast burritos!” Lando yelled. His wrist communicator read 7:28 AM. “They’ll fill you up, or you get a second one on the house! Made with authentic refried beans —“
“Beans are not low-carb, young man,” said a man in a business suit.
“Sixteen point four net carbs per cup, sir!” Lando threw down a tortilla and opened the still-bubbling pot of refried beans. A spicy, earthy smell rose from the cart and tickled Lando’s nose.
The man turned and walked back to Lando’s cart. “Now, wait, what about the wrap? That can’t be low-carb. And I don’t eat gluten.” The man frowned. He twitched his mustache.
“Not a problem, sir!” Lando smiled. “It’s a coconut flour wrap.” Lando dished the pork strips, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado onto the beans. He folded the wrap around the fillings and encased it in wax-paper-backed aluminum foil. “Enjoy your breakfast, sir. That’s $50 and if it doesn’t fill you up, just come on out for another one before noon. I’m here for lunch and dinner, as well.”
The man stared at him. “It used to be $50 bought you a steak dinner for a family of four.” He pulled out a $50 bill, handed it to Lando and received his food. “What happened?” He took a bite.
Lando jerked his thumb behind him and cocked an eyebrow.
The man swallowed and straightened his neck. “Oh! You’re one of those types that blames the Fed for the economy — or lack thereof.”
“Among other things,” Lando said. Don’t get into an argument. Just let it go. Lando kept his head down and prepared another burrito. He dispensed coffee into a small plastic cup and placed a lid on it. He passed it to the man and gestured towards the cream and sugar.
The man took a step forward and spoke in a hushed tone. “You’re not licensed, are you?” The corners of his mouth crept upwards as he chewed.
“Mouth-watering breakfast burritos with all-natural ingredients!” Lando yelled. “Don’t just gawk! Survive the corporate chopping block, with all-natural energy, around the clock!” Lando winked at the man. “Thanks again,” he whispered.
A line formed in front of Lando’s cart. He wrapped up a burrito, then another. The money came in from all sides, faster than he could process it, or the food.
Lando felt a tap on his shoulder. He held up a finger. The tap came again, harder. “Sir, please get in line like everyone else. Thank you,” Lando said. But the tap came harder again, this time on his skull. Lando whipped around. “I told —“ Lando jerked his head back.
“You’re making a scene, Mr. Cruz.” A black-shirted police officer stood nose-to-nose with Lando. He took a step back and scratched his graying hair. “You don’t pay me enough for this kind of scene.”
“I’m trying to make rent here, Manny.” Lando shrugged.
Manny put his hands on his hips. “Manny pays rent, too, you know.”
“Does Manny eat breakfast?” Lando reached around for two burritos. “How about these for a down payment?” Lando held them out in front of him and smiled, showing his teeth.
Manny snatched the burritos with a look of irritation on his face. He held them up to his nose and sniffed. He grunted. “They’re changing the assignments again. My replacement is going to want more. And he definitely won’t tolerate fights on his turf.”
Lando turned and got back to the breakfast rush. “I’ll worry about it when I worry about it!”
Episode 3: Henry
“Give me all your bitcoins.”
Lando relaxed on his cart’s fold-out stool after the lunch rush. He looked up from his tablet and laughed. “Hey there. Sorry, what’s your name again?”
“Better I stay anonymous, Lando.” Dreadlocks and a bedraggled brown hoodie obscured the man’s face. “Make it two.”
“Two bitcoin? Nice. Business must be booming!” Lando switched apps on his tablet to his bitcoin wallet. “Code.”
“Tell you what, call me Henry.” Henry beamed his bitcoin address to Lando’s tablet.
Lando tapped his tablet. “$20,792,” he whispered. “Two lunch burritos with everything then, sir?” he said in a louder voice. “Coming right up.” Lando took two burritos out and handed them to Henry. Henry passed him a heavy envelope of cash under the burritos. Lando stowed it in his pants and hit return on his tablet.
“There’s something rattling around in there,” Lando said.
Henry took a bite of burrito and passed it from cheek to cheek. “Hmm. Don’t quit your day job.” He grinned and took another bite. “Yeah, a customer paid me some silver this week. You don’t mind, right? I used the exchange rate you have on your site. Hey, I almost forgot. You need some product?”
Lando grunted. He made himself busy cleaning his cart’s counter. “An ounce of the high-CBD stuff will —”
“Hey Lando! Can I get two large burritos and I want to pay in bitcoin.” A chubby teenager bounded up to Lando’s cart from the other side.
Lando jumped. “David! Don’t sneak up on me like that.” Lando took a deep breath and looked at Henry. He had the package of medical marijuana in his outstretched hand. Lando could see the buds. He jerked his hand forward to receive it — and dropped it.
“Is this gonna take a while, Lando? Cause I’ve got to run some errands for my mom,” yelled David.
Lando dropped a dish towel on the package and swiped them both up.
Two shiny black shoes appeared where the package had been.
Lando stood up. “Hello, officer. We’re running a two-for-none special today on my famous burritos. Free drink, too. How —“
The police officer studied him through narrowed eyes. “It’s Sergeant. Now move along! This is a public walkway. I don’t give second warnings!”
“Not hungry, Sarge? I also have cash.”
Sarge showed no expression.
Henry turned to go. “Thanks for the food, buddy,” he said to Lando.
“Hold it right there. I have some questions for you,” said Sarge.
Henry stayed still. “Can I get that free drink while I’m waiting?”
Sarge did not move. He motioned to the dish rag covering the marijuana. “What you got under there?”
“Under here?” repeated Lando. “Well, it’s a solar system, actually, no propane or anything. I cook everything at home. No cooking here. I just keep it warm with the solar panels. Lots of insulation, too.” He smiled. “Oh, and a camera. I record everything.”
“Propane?” Sarge asked.
“No! No way, no sir. Nope. That would be too dangerous for a crowded urban area.” Lando gave a toothy grin.
“How much did old Manny charge you?” he asked.
“Around — I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about, off—, uh, Sergeant. Manny …?” Lando shrugged with an exaggerated frown.
“Good man.” Sarge smiled. “One large per day, in bitcoin.” He passed Lando a small piece of plastic.
Lando studied the plastic card.
“Stop eyeballing it and pay up. And I operate a clean sector here. No drugs, no boozing. This …” Sarge squinted in the late afternoon sun at the front of Lando’s cart, “… Agora Business Alliance sticker comes off. I don’t tolerate that agorism crap on my beat. Everybody pays, no exceptions.”
Lando cocked an eyebrow. “Yes, sir.” He executed the payment on his tablet.
Sarge ripped the card from Lando’s hand and grabbed the back of his neck. “The money better be there. No tricks. Don’t fuck with my money.” He turned to Henry. “As for you, this one is a freebie but I expect a cut of your profits, too, champ.”
Henry’s dreadlocks rose and fell. He waved a hand to Lando and took off at a brisk pace.
Sarge grabbed a cup of coffee from Lando’s cart and walked off.
Lando tapped his wrist. “Reminders,” he said. “Bring laxative tomorrow.” Lando covered his wry grin with his hand and coughed.
“Wow, what a pig. Hey, Lando, I’m still waiting on my burritos.” David scanned Lando’s bitcoin address from the front of his cart. “I’m sending you a little extra to cover your ‘cost of doing business.’” David rolled his eyes. “Hey, don’t forget extra jalapeños on mine.”
Lando handed him his burritos and a cold, red can. “If they could just do business like regular people, without all the threats and violence, I could probably tolerate them.”
David dug into the burritos and laughed with his mouth open. “It’s no wonder people can’t get ahead anymore. Sixty percent unofficial unemployment and these pigs are shaking down an honest entrepreneur like you.”
“You found a job, yet?” Lando asked.
“No,” David said with his mouth full. “There’s nothing out there that’s right for me right now.”
“Maybe you should leave the US,” Lando said.
“Leave the US? What about the rebellion? I’m needed here.”
“What rebellion? We’re all just treading water.” Lando sighed. “And the sharks are circling beneath us.”
David’s smile went stiff.
“Your parents have money, David. You’re under-age,” said Lando. “You don’t know what it’s like to be out here on the street all day, hustling to pay the bills.” Lando slammed his hand down on the cart.
“Hey, my dad has got four years left in the camps on a total thinkcrime setup, okay, Lando? Just because you’re Hispanic and I’m white doesn’t mean I’ve got a silver spoon in my mouth and you’re Cesar Chavez.” David turned to go. Then he turned around again. “Hey, are you okay?”
Lando pursed his lips. “I’ll be fine. Just a long day. I’ve been on my feet for eleven hours now.” He looked up. “Sorry.”
“Did you get any silver today?” David dug in his pocket. “I could go for a round.”
“A couple.” Lando dug out one of the silver rounds Henry gave him earlier. “Liberty Dollar,” “2005” and “one ounce” appeared in relief on the back of the coin next to a worn-down torch. “This one has changed a lot of hands.” He dug out a different one, palmed it and shook David’s hand. He grasped for the obligatory $500 bill but didn’t find it.
“Um, sorry, Lando. I didn’t have the cash ready yet.” David’s face went red. He extended his hand once more.
Lando groaned and shook David’s hand again. He slipped the note into his front pocket.
Lando looked across the street. Cars poured out of the Fed parking garage. Commuters marched towards the Market Street train station. A deep orange sun blinded him as it passed between two buildings.
“Do you make anything on silver?” David asked.
Lando studied him for a second. “Nope. I need to be a better agorist.” Lando grinned.
David laughed. “It’s one hell of a rebellion where the more profit you make the better rebel soldier you are. Am I right or what?” He slurped some soda.
“Soldier? We’re not soldiers,” Lando frowned.
David gritted his teeth. “You know what I mean.”
A man in a long, black leather trench coat and a black fedora appeared in Lando’s field of vision. Lando kept his head low but watched him out of the corner of his eye. The man studied him through sunglasses.
“What is it?” David asked. He turned around.
“Don’t turn around!” Lando hissed.
The man made a beeline for Lando and David. “Damnit!” Lando whispered.
Stay tuned for another episode or two on Monday.
Want to connect? Twitter's good: @GeorgeDonnelly
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