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Articles by Brian Jackson

The Delivery

2 December 2013

Amazon's recent announcements of its upcoming UAV-based delivery service reminded me of a dream I had once...

Shippensburg was getting a new McDonalds.

It took fourteen hours to clear the block - twelve of which were taken up by workers pouring and curing the foundation off Route 11, leaving two hours of screaming, frantic fanaticism corralled by the corporate manager, the would-be patrons refusing to be hushed away from the prospect of being close enough to the front of the line to order off the breakfast menu.

With everyone safely behind the red and yellow "safety tape" barricade, the site was finally prepared for delivery.

It began as a gray blob in the sky over the western horizon. A child cheered loudly, and the crowd erupted into applause and whistles as the group caught sight of the sun-glossed aircraft and its unmistakable cargo.

A restaurant, fully formed and still glinting from the Illinois factory, was flying atop a massive platform. Its central turbine roared, and the crowd began to froth at the mouth. The foreman was taking control - union rules - and the platform was coming in for a landing.

The crowd pressed tightly upon one another, gawking at the aerial sign already proclaiming "99 billion served," the gray plastic upon brown brick reminding some of an embassy and others of a chapel. A teenager, daring fate, ducked under the tape to get a better view of the impeccable double arch.

The construction crew noticed the transgression and shouted him back. Two men in hard hats were rising from the seat. The foreman glared for a second...

Something screeched. The platform was tipping. The foreman had jerked the controls just a little as the teen retreated. As he tried to level out, he was overcorrecting. The building swayed and turned. The crowd, horrified, began to shove and push and run. It was too late; the crew held their hats and clenched their teeth.

The brick-and-glass cathedral slid loosely from the platform.

McDonalds hit Shippensburg's business district with the force of five hundred tractor trailers at over a hundred miles an hour. The teenager lept, trying in vain to hurdle the oncoming shockwave; he danced among the glittering dust of shattered windows and insulation.

From the brick and carnage, the coughing foreman crawled to sit against an exposed girder. He adjusted his hard hat. At least half a dozen buildings were a complete loss.

Days later, when the wreckage was finally clear, another crowd gathered at the scene. Some bandaged, some on crutches, the group peered up to the sky, and seven or eight gray blobs could be seen over the horizon.

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