Robert wandered down the beach like every day, followed by his Threevec, a three-wheeled cargo bike, which quietly whirred five feet behind him. A few months ago, shortly before delivering the last boxes and letters to his neighborhood, he had received the upgrade, a nice a retirement gift from his employer.
Now the Threevec was completely calibrated to him. In addition to the original smartphone controls, he could also use small gestures detected by the vehicle by a bat-like sensor or put it on fully autonomous drive. The latter was especially convenient and he sent the vehicle to the supermarket to have his groceries picked up. He enjoyed the luxury of solitude that his electronic friend helped provide. The gout in his left foot had continued to get worse and on some days he could barely drag himself through the apartment. But within battery range his Threevec drove him and his bags to any destination that he wanted to go to and it followed him when he wanted to walk by himself. Almost like a faithful dog, only that you could not rest or ride back home on a dog. Robert would rarely have left his apartment without this feeling of security.
The dense fog that crept up from the sea and the constant sound of the waves had turned into a trusted friend after years of anxiety. Nobody bothered him at this remote part of the beach and Robert could immerse himself entirely into dreams of beloved memories. He had come here with his wife often. She had always loved the sea, up to the last minute. The water had rarely been too cold for her, a professional swimmer, and it had been hard to resist for her to dig through the waves for at least ten minutes.
He missed her. Since that moment in the winter, not a day had passed in which he did not miss her. He had tried to drown his grief in alcohol in vain, only feeding his gout which became more unbearable by the glass. Eventually he had accepted his fate. Now he focused on the wonderful moments in his memory that were full of light and joy. At sea Robert felt closest to his wife. It was as if the waves still carried her laughter while she would dash up to him, soaking wet, and the towel in his hand to kiss him passionately. Water had had that effect on her. He closed his eyes to feel the wind and felt her tender lips on his.
Suddenly Robert sensed all pins and needles in the neck and turned around. A young man crouched in the sand hidden behind a dune and …
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