Commoner Garden

Welcome, welcome! And right on time, how very punctual of you. Thank you for showing such interest in Commoner Garden, the most popular lifestyle center in Ubiquity. I think, as it’s the prime shopping hour, we should begin our tour with the living quarters. As you’ll note, they are empty at this time of day. Our motto is, Everything to your liking, and we at Commoner Garden try to live up to that in everything, be it living space or entertainment options. All you see around you is state-of-the-art, even the antiques. Each interior wall is moveable. Here’s our demonstration apartment. I’ll just show you—push this button, thus, and so—and instead of a traditional living room and kitchen, you have the trendy modern open concept. Push this button, and it goes back to traditional. Room too small? Merge two of them together by collapsing the wall that divides them. Everyone gets exactly what he or she wants Everything to your liking. See?

 

Let’s move along to one of our inhabited apartments. Next I’d like to show you our cutting-edge marketplace interface, or “MarketFace” (patent pending, all rights reserved). A marketplace, inside your home? Yes! Every room is connected to the MarketFace. In the bathroom and discover you’re low on toilet tissue? Just use the MarketFace to select the toilet paper that’s right for you. See how it compares brands and offers you reviews on each type by ordinary purchasers just like you. Delivery is free to those who subscribe; otherwise, all you need to do is head on over to the south wing to the MarketFace storefront, where your purchases will be waiting for you in your personal shopping cart. Carts are available in all sizes, from the Efficiency (five by ten) to the Premium (twenty by forty).

 

“That’s a lot of cart just for toilet paper,” you might be thinking. Well, you’re right! As I said, the MarketFace connects to every room in your home. Everything anyone could want, available 24/7. You can change out your furniture as often as you like—used furniture is offered on the MarketFace to the avid antiques hunters—and you can use MarketFace as your personal clothes shopper. Just enter the trends you’re following, and MarketFace will sort through every category of clothing for the keywords that match your current style. Everything to your liking—and at your convenience. Who could ask for more?

 

You’ll notice in your brochure that every apartment includes a room for each family member. That way, families reduce time spent together and cut down on those little frictions that cause arguments. No need to share your MarketFace connection with anyone else, and parents can set up a MarketFace Eyes account to make sure their kiddies aren’t buying what they shouldn’t! But don’t worry that Commoner Garden has eliminated all family togetherness time. Far from it—we’ve simply made it more efficient. MarketFace has an entertainment organizer that coordinates video games, movies, television shows, and music. If two people in the same family place the same entertainment option on their request list, MarketFace sends each an invitation to watch it together! If both accept, MarketFace starts the option simultaneously, with a private chat function for those who like to talk during films. MarketFace enables the active family to coordinate visits to our Commoner Garden theme parks. Tickets will be waiting at the front gate for any family members who accept the MarketFace invitation.

 

We like to make things easy for you. That’s why we—Sorry? No, there’s no ladder there. I’m quite sure there’s no ladder there. Begging your pardon, but what do you mean, there is a ladder? It isn’t on my tour schedule… oh, no. There is a ladder there. I’m terribly sorry for this. We tell them not to do this, but some of them will insist on it. No, no, it’s nothing important. We can accommodate for practically every taste, but once in a while we get a resident who goes a bit peculiar. It’s not dangerous, I assure you. Just… sorry, but what are you doing? You mustn’t go up there—yes, of course, the customer is always—very well. If this is like any of the others, there will be a trapdoor at the top of the ladder. Be very cautious, please. Be very quiet. Shh. It should be safe to talk in a whisper. Yes, there’s one of them now. We can be thankful there’s only one. Sometimes they get together in groups, sometimes three or four in the same room. I’m not sure what they do. They don’t use the MarketFace for anything. It isn’t natural, I tell you. I saw one just sit there for a whole hour, doing nothing but staring out the window, smiling. It was the most unnerving sight. Staring at a television, yes; staring at the MarketFace options, of course; but staring out a window? Smiling? Unnatural. Yes, they build these little dens for themselves. It certainly isn’t an option we offer. Look—all this one has is a few changes of clothes—how can anyone survive with just three pair of shoes—a puny full-sized bed, two old recliners and a beanbag, some basic cooking equipment, and a shelf of books. I’ll bet you anything that that hasn’t changed since she built her little cave. Unnatural. Wait—hsst! What are you doing? No, don’t—don’t go introducing yourself to her! You mustn’t—oh, blast.

 

What a relief, to be out of that strange room. Whew. But really– another one gone. I had better call the manager. What is his number? Oh, yes. Hello? Richard? Oh, I see. Sorry for the inconvenience. This happens to us all the time. You do? Thank you, just let me take that new number down. You’ve been very helpful. Hello, Richard? Finally, I’ve got you. Why do you keep changing your number? We can never get hold of you the first time. Listen, Richard, it happened again. We’ve lost another prospective renter to one of them. I don’t know; isn’t there something we can do? I know—those oddities are paying rent. Can’t we write something into the lease about failure to conform to community practices? No, I suppose not. But really, these nonconformists are more trouble than their worth. Thank goodness they usually don’t renew their rent after they go peculiar. I’d better go, Richard. I’ve had another case of MarketFace hypnosis reported on the third floor. This gives me time to pop down and switch that room to audio only before my next tour. I’ll keep you posted. Yes, of course I accepted the invitation. Lunch at noon, with chat. Bye.

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hmsnow1

Fantasy novelist and essayist H.M. Snow, author of the Last Book of the Kings series and the novella Faerie Tales for Travelers.

2 thoughts on “Commoner Garden”

  1. Nice one, Heather! The ladder evoked from me imaginings of the greatest treehouse, ever (with comfy chairs and books.) BTW, have you accepted my invitation to meet next Thursday in the brown study?

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