At some point I found a battered glare-visor near a refuse heap and put it on. It fit snugly, its rear straps self-adjusting to the abnormal size of my balding head. The translucent thermoplast was grimy and eaten away in some places but there was enough of the visor left to effectively hide my face.
I wasnt safe in the alleys anymore. If a C-4 had recognized me, I must have been all over the holovid. It had been six days since my banishment from the Sky and I was starting to smell like the old derelict that I had watched die the day before.
I needed a car. There was no place for me to run but I had to go somewhere, do something. I cautiously made my way toward the busy streets of the central Suburbs, sticking close to the alleys, in case someone else recognized me. I shouldn’t have worried; the zipping gravicars and bumpercabs paid me no mind. I looked like Class-4 street refuse now, not like a Class-1 citizen of the upper levels.
”Watch out you piss-wanner!” A well-dressed C-1 spit, rushing past me.
I stumbled back, muttering a curse under my breath.
God help me. Was I like this when I was respectable?
Stupid question, really. I knew that I was. In fact, I had been worse. The last six days had given me a new perspective on life and the social hierarchy of my world.
I looked up, squinting into the bright sunlight. I looked to the Sky, to the gleaming towers and spires, the gravitubes, farm-bubbles and play-stations. I looked to the floating, aerial structures of the world above.
Faintly, I could make out small dots traversing the heights, gravicars moving about their business: business that used to be my business. Saddened, I returned my attention to my Suburban surroundings, in search of a likely victim.
There. Across the street, a small, yellow gravicar floated gently, a few feet above the trash-covered pavement.
A small kiosk – one of many – was nestled in the shadows of the sky-towers. A crowd of hungry people was gathered around it. If it was truly my lucky day, the owner of the car wouldn’t even notice my theft until I was at least a block away.
Without thinking twice, I made my move.
I ran across the street without looking, leaving my fate in the hands of the silent gods. Somehow, I made it safely across.
I jumped into the gravicar’s open door. I worked the acceleration and clutch, diving haphazardly into traffic. Then the passenger-side door slid up.
I was caught.
A small, Asian woman dressed in a florescent red and green-striped bodysuit jumped into the car, her attitude belligerent. She held a festively designed purple and green stun-stick in her left hand and she pointed its dangerously glowing head at me.
I looked at the weapon. Then I looked at her face. And laughed.
I couldn’t help myself. The insanity of my situation was finally driven home and I felt my tenuous grip on reality loosening. She growled at me, which only made me laugh harder because her voice sounded like that of an ancient rodent cartoon character, high on helium.
“Get out, fok you! Get out me ca! Get out fo I shoot you, fok you!”
I really couldnt help myself. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Instead of slowing down, I pressed down on the acceleration. My blurred vision and shaking hands didnt help in the least and we swerved out into the path of oncoming traffic.
She screamed but I was past caring. I stared out of the windshield, glaring at the wildly swerving gravicars as the tears carved a path through the grime on my face. The hopelessness of my situation crushed my spirit and my will to live. I giggled. Insanely, I suppose.
Suicide must have crossed my mind, but I was too disassociated to pay the thought much attention. At some point, the girl shut up and I was vaguely aware of her using the gravicars comline to speak with someone. I was past caring then, so when the car’s auto pilot function took over, I wasnt surprised to be quickly surrounded by flashing, bubble-shaped cop cars; twenty or thirty of them, at least.
The little Asian woman was huddled in the far corner of the car, staring fearfully at me. The glare-visor had slipped from my head at some point during the car’s gyrations and now hung askew, giving her a clear view of my face. I guess she had recognized me. Just like the predator.
Fok it. A man responsible for the deaths of eighty-five million people on three worlds deserved whatever punishment civil society saw fit to mete out to him. I hung my head in shame and despair as the car doors were wrenched from their moorings and I was ignobly delivered to the world’s judgment.
BB Series Interludes