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A ghost story set in a vehicle moving down a highway, featuring amnesia.

24 Sep

 

www.terribleminds.com – A second game of aspects.

A great way to randomly generate story conditions of theme, place, and something to be featured.

This is a ghost story set in a vehicle moving down a highway, featuring amnesia.

 Also, www.threewordwednesday.com featuring absolute, fall, and nestle.

 I can be a terribly slow writer, to the extent that this took me about eight hours. I finished at 5:30 a.m. having driven myself mildly mad. Enjoy

 

Jetstar #9

 

The highway stretched away like saltwater taffy, separated tentatively from Earth by 700ft high flexisteel stilts, warped and deformed by the great fireball in the sky, and the colossal star-born babies that cast ponderous shadows over everything.

Jetstar #9 wrestled the single pod mag-lev road-rocket at a whisper below the sound barrier around twist after torturous twist. Like one of the ancient Dali paintings, the road, the landscape, warped as if viewed through concave glass, melting past in a blurred glimpse into absolute madness.

At a distance of 40,075km, the Ramesses XXV Intercontinental Rally was the crowning glory of the Magnetic Levitation Racing calendar, circumnavigating the globe before ending where it began. The champion’s prize is beyond compare. Everybody dreams of life in the colonies, from the lowliest spanner jockey to the salaried programmistas in their silicon halls. However, only a favoured few transcend Earth’s starry dome and make the voyage towards New Mesopotamia. A first class ticket off this choking old ghost planet glitters greater than gold.

The Global Neural Network broadcast the deadly spectacle directly to the synapses of twelve billion citizens, who could pay not to watch, if they chose. This only cost half the price it did to watch.

All had been quiet on the highway, apart from the distorted wails of the star-borns, obsolete weapons of war shunting their dolorous exiled footfalls endlessly through the new desert. The deteriorating mag-lev track shot bright purple sparks in Jetstar’s wake as the road-rocket climbed dizzying vertical inversions at 343 meters per second and corkscrewed upside-down, diverting through illogical reams of split junctions that spaghettied together for miles.

Out of 700,198 pilots, there remained only eight running the highway, and there was only 500km left. Shanghai was already dominating the horizon, bridging earth and sky, glass spires stabbing cerulean clouds. Retinal interface telemetry showed that Shooting Star #13 was making rapid gains. Jetstar’s titanoid exoskeleton sent biofeedback shocks along the left arm to signify a proximity alert. The rains came. Four seconds later, the power died.

With all lights blackened but a single red blinking beacon, the road-rocket coasted briefly on a gentle slowdown before the mag-lev vehicle came to nestle, slotting quietly into the safety guttering. The moonlight gleaming off the pilot’s visor, Jetstar #9 rummaged through the dark, took a small silver bottle out of the emergency compartment, and screwed it open.

The live neural feed of every Earth citizen fizzled out. There would be no spectators here henceforth.

Shooting Star #13

 

Shooting Star #13 woke to the sound of a shattering sound barrier, screaming as he watched impossibly fast-moving vehicles collide into each other as constructions of solid matter, and end up as clouds of vapor and fire. The roar of far distant crowds saturated Star’s neural pathways, as the highway ahead noodled through a series of loops ignorant of conventional physics and common sense.

Several other competitors bifurcated themselves on violently sudden forks in the track, others would spin out, fly off, and fall until they became tiny dots in the sands far below the stilted speedway. All the while, Star’s screams swung from guttural and incoherent, to fervent proclamations of every single curse word in the universal tongue, as his arms somehow autopiloted him from one powersuit-wetting near-death experience to another.

He yelled for help. When that failed he screamed for mercy. The synapse connection crackled in his brain, and the final sounds of dying pilots came through.

Many hours past. Star could not recall ever operating a super-sonic capsule of swiftly dealt death before. There was nothing in his memory that explained the towering star-children, with their grey, bulbous, rubbery limbs and their total absence of facial features.

In time, Star passed many pilots with his preternatural reflexes at the helm. They appeared to him as various-hued phazarlight blurs, as dark sounds reached Star’s mind from the synaptic nanoids resident there. Twenty-eight hours later the rains came, and the track powered down. Whatever brain-tech had tripped and obliterated Star’s memories started opening windows into thoughts which did not belong to him.

The despair of the desert exiles, unknowably old, and composed of loathing, to the background of beating rain on the pilot pod, the wailing wind, the scritch-scratch of something’s claws creeping. Over and over Star kept asking himself, “what were all those people so desperate to get away from?”

There was a flashing red beacon down the highway. Somebody who could help? Or explain? Anybody? Star scrambled at the exit hatch of the road-rocket until he resolved to kick his way out. Once free, hale needled Star’s face like the icy teeth of some dread wraith, the wind roaring the anguish of the deserted dead from the Sorrowsands as he staggered closer to the light.

The whispers deep in his mind, lamenting the lost, louder, angrier than before, brought visions of violence before his eyes, shaking the foundations on which he stood. The highway lurched and teetered as though tossed on the boiling foam of an enraged ocean. .

On hands and knees, Shooting Star #13 found the beacon. It was another mag-lev,  seemingly empty. Alternately pounding on the glass and tearing at his face in desperation and terror, he didn’t hear the footseteps, and he never saw the titanoid exoskeleton reaching out.

Then Star remembered. Why we race. Why he was so good. And why, if the network abandons you on the highway in the middle of the Sorrowsands, you open your emergency silver bottle and you take your poison.

Because you wouldn’t want to live through what happens next.