by Elegant Butler

Chapter 11:

El Mercado de Tecnologia bustled with the curious and the competitive. There were dozens of flea market booths, carts, and stands throughout the remains of the former archology.

The building itself reminded Alice of the pictures she had seen of a place called Coliseum. Open at the top, it's staggered stories put her in mind of the seating around the arena. The upper levels looked safe enough, but were off limits to visitors.

Constance led Alice to a small cart that looked like the type which sold ice cream in the days before the world had gone to Hell.

"Juan Zavala," Constance said with a smile. "This is Alice. She's a new friend of mine."

"Alice," Juan smiled. He was not quite thirty with a wry smile and wavy black hair. His eyes were blue, which surprised her as mostly everyone else there had brown or black eyes. "My father came from Bremen, Germany. Went back there, too. Now what can I get for you ladies?"

"You've heard of Max Headroom?" Alice inquired.

"I have," Juan replied. "Computer-generated fellow. Nice guy. Funny."

"We've just rescued him recently," Alice told Juan, looking at him as if to warn against asking too many questions. "We're taking him on a journey that will last a few months. We need a solar powered generator that will keep him alive until we get to where we're going."

"Why months? And why solar powered? Most planes only take a few hours. A day or two at most."

"We can't go by plane," Alice explained. "Network 23's got bounty hunters and whatnot looking for us. So we're going by boat."

"Can't the bounty hunters chase the boat?" Juan asked her.

"It's not without protection," Alice explained. "And it would be impossible to land anything on her what with the sails and all."

"A sail boat?" Juan asked, envisioning the old sloops and catamarans that often sailed the harbor.

"Something like that," Alice agreed. "Look, I'd love to chat, but we're a bit rushed."

"Okay, okay," Juan said, sounding like he regretted that a bit.

Alice caught the regret in his voice and smiled while Juan opened the cart and looked inside at the various boxes. Finally he extracted one and opened it. Inside was a small solar battery.

"It doesn't look like much," he agreed, seeing the skeptical look on her face. "But it is covered with about a hundred solar cells. It can keep a charge for up to two days in inclement weather."

"It will have to do," Alice decided.

Constance paid for the solar battery. Then she and Alice bade Juan farewell and returned to the Golden Hinde.

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