The alarm woke Andy when it always did, way too goddamn early. A quick glance through the sheer bedroom curtains found the blue-black sky of pre-dawn staring back at him. For the thousandth time he grieved that beds were always at their warmest and most comfortable just when you had to leave them, then slowly eased out from under the covers. Michelle muttered and rolled over on her side of the bed, but didn't wake up.
Andy quickly pulled on his uniform coveralls and a thick pair of cotton socks, then grabbed his tablet off the nightstand and stumbled to the washroom. There was the usual text from Donna, confirming she was on her way to the hub. Good, because he was running a little late. He propped the tablet up against the vanity mirror and glanced over the local weather and news while he shaved and brushed his teeth. When he saw how cold it was, he slipped back into the bedroom and found his favourite pair of thin wool socks by feel.
Socks and tablet in hand, he made his way to the front hall, checking in on the kids as he passed by their bedrooms. They were both fast asleep. He hoped for Michelle's sake they would stay that way until she had a chance to get ready for work and wake them up.
He pulled the wool socks over his cotton ones. His work boots were a bit tight with the extra layer, but not painfully so. He shrugged into his fall coat, checked his tuque, gloves, and wallet were stuffed into the pockets he remembered putting them in, and headed out.
By the time he walked to the hub, the sky had turned the dark grey of pre-dawn, and he could see a lighter streak in the east, just above the stands of pine trees that surrounded the town. Andy palmed the entrance lock and let himself into the break room.
The only person in the room so far was Donna. They nodded a greeting to each other, and Donna cocked her head to point out she had already left his first coffee on the nearest table. Andy picked it up and, between sips, helped her lay out the boxes of doughnuts and yogurt cups on the counter. Donna had already put the bread beside the toasters and started the big coffee maker. His and Donna's brew came from a small maker with a schedule feature that she always prepped at the end of every shift.
The rest of the crew arrived in twos and threes, checking if the coffee was ready and helping themselves to breakfast. Walter sat with Andy in their usual spots, watching Andy use his tablet to run an RFID scan on his toolbox.
"You always check it before you go home," said Walter. "Why do you check it again in the morning?"
Andy shrugged. "Shit happens." He glanced up and saw a pale sunbeam filter through the nearest window.
The entire crew was now sitting at tables, drinking coffee and sharing news with each other over their tablets. There were a few conversations, but mostly people watched holograms together and made comments.
"Okay, but did you see the speech she gave two days ago? Here..."
"No shit, eh?"
"If that asshole gets red-carded one more time this season..."
"Flip that to me, will ya? I'm gonna send it to Trudy. That's hilarious."
Andy's tablet flashed red. "Schedule's here." He swiped his way down it. "Sonuvabitch."
"What?" said Walter. His own tablet had just flashed.
"Frank's got us going to Saskatoon and Orlando this morning, and then Phoenix and Montreal this afternoon."
Walter snorted. "Want to call him up?"
"Better." Andy tapped a few spots on the tablet. Frank's head appeared as a hologram above it.
"Hey guys," said Frank. "The schedules are just getting distributed now."
"We know," said Andy. "Any way we can rearrange ours? Do the warm-weather places in the morning, then the cold ones this afternoon? Or the other way around?"
"Sec." Walter and Andy watched Frank's head glance down at an unseen display. "Like that, you mean?" Their tablets flashed red again.
Walter checked his screen and nodded at Andy.
"Thanks boss," said Andy, and cut the signal.
"So now it's Orlando/Phoenix, and then Montreal/Saskatoon," said Walter.
Andy grunted. "That'll make the walk home less harsh."
The two men drained their coffees and put the cups in the dishwasher on the way out. The locker room was noisier since it was awkward for the crew members to work a tablet and put on their weather gear at the same time.
Andy and Walter pulled their toolboxes to the departure pad.
"Got the map?"
"Closest working pad is two blocks south."
"Two blocks? Doesn't sound like a nice neighbourhood."
They took turns holding their tablets up to the departure scanner and teleporting.
Walter shook his head as they got their bearings and started walking to the broken pad stop. "Look at the cracks in the pavement. You'd think if they weren't going to use it for driving anymore, they'd put paving stones or gravel or something on top."
Andy spotted a row of mangy-looking palm trees in the distance, highlighted by the brilliant blue of the morning sky. They were walking by rows of old hotels, now converted to low-income housing. Since teleportation had become the norm, most families just teleported straight to Disney World in the morning and went home in the evening. Only the diehards who wanted to go to more than one park stayed overnight, usually right at the Disney resort.
"Some places are adjusting better than others. I just hope this isn't another vandalism."
Walter shrugged. "Ours is not to wonder why."