Alone on the Road by Bastien Grivet
When : Where
2112 AD : Terra / City 1 / Bridge 10
As I completed the last leg of my journey on foot, the wind caressed the massive support cables of Bridge 10 that led to City 1, producing a low frequency hum. The only other sound being the crackle of flames licking across the bodywork of my beloved VMX. It had finally given up the ghost on our mad dash back to City 1.
Every Sunday, for years, I’d fired up its rumbling and willing engine and journeyed to the countryside to visit my white-haired uncle. The VMX, a gift from him, was his dearest dream … a mechanical anachronism from a better vanished time. It ran like the wind and every time I left City 1, my adrenaline surged to its mechanical music. Earlier that morning I’d sat with my uncle by his fireside, him telling me tales of those same vanished times; me listening as if in a dream.
Selia had called me after lunch, her voice vague, her words desperate, pleading for me to return as soon as possible. Something was transpiring she could not articulate. The connection was quickly cut and I was left in a panic.
My uncle walked me out to the VMX parked in front of the barn. His hand slid lovingly along its fascia as I opened the door and slid into well-oiled leather seat.
Every Sunday, for years, I’d fired up its rumbling and willing engine and journeyed to the countryside to visit my white-haired uncle. The VMX, a gift from him, was his dearest dream … a mechanical anachronism from a better vanished time.
“She’ll get you there. She has one more run in her,” he said to me with a wink.
“I know,” I nodded.
I fired up the VMX and it responded with a roar. I forced the transmission into gear and left my uncle’s place, tires spitting gravel until I reached the primary lanes. The trip back to City 1 was a blur of landscape scented with country air. The lanes were strangely empty and the only thing to keep me company was the wind in my hair. I made it back at sunset, but it was too late. The city was deathly silent, the roads clear, the sky empty, the harbor waters pristine.
With the VMX behind slowly being transformed into a husk of hot metal and oil, I started walking across the long expanse of Bridge 10. Then through the echoing City 1 access tunnel. Then across the Borderline. It took me an hour to reach the outskirts of City 1 proper. Once within the chasms of the skyscrapers my search yielded only one clue as to what had transpired since I received that call from Selia hours before.
All the massive displays surrounding Central Hub displayed a message … the same message.
ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION: WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL
Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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