“Dave’s Last Ride”
A “Suicidal” story
On one of his first nights as the soon to be infamous Suicide Dave, David LaCoste suits up – an old pair of black denims and an all black biker jacket over a grey tank – and heads for his bike. Dave, owner of BioMech Technologies, has the world’s first anti-gravity hot rod in his possession. He – with the help of his assistant, Mel, – built it from scratch and is still working all the bugs from the machine.
Dave jettisons through the double doors of his private laboratory on the eighty-third floor of his BMT Building into the city on a horizontal rocket of a bike. I love this city, he thinks to himself, allowing a brief glance at his surroundings before banking left and going for an immediate hard right to narrowly dodge a low flying mag car. Its only occupant stared in wide eyed astonishment as Dave barely missed his vehicle. Dave notices other “drivers” staring at him from their moving boxes, their free flowing prisons within the infinitely gargantuan skyscrapers of Savyer City, moving through it like two ton electromagnetic powered logs floating perfectly down a winding river. Of course, The Uptown half of the city has had no “real” drivers since The Mayor implemented the Sat-Comm GPS system shortly after using it in his platform on his campaign trail. The system served to connect every single magnetic car to one of many satellites orbiting around the Earth. The idea was that two computers talking to each other was better than using a middle man or in this case, a driver. Since people can make mistakes and aren’t perfect they are considered variables and by eliminating the variables, The Mayor had effectively eliminated traffic accidents—traffic altogether, even as the millions of mag cars in Savyer are in a constant flow at all times of the day or night. And since people do any number of things during the time they would normally spend focusing on driving, Dave finds it odd that more and more passing cars’ windows aren’t shaded. It’s usually only tourists on vacation visiting the most technologically advanced city in the world who don’t have all their windows shaded for maximum privacy. Now, it seems like every night he goes out it’s only a matter of time before someone calls in and he’s outracing the police, some of the few privileged enough to be able to actually drive in Uptown Savyer. Not like these people in their moving boxes. Prisons.
Dave loves the freedom his bike offers him, the freedom all of his tech affords. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he feels. With his anti-gravity bike he can even slip through the magnetic barrier that holds the mag cars on their paths and descend Downtown into the lower part of the city if the mood were ever to strike him.
Dave comes to a halt on a rooftop not far from his own building’s. What was he doing here again? He tries to focus on why he’s out tonight but the thought keeps slipping through his consciousness like a glob of Jell-O through his mental grasp. Nav-Ware! That’s right. He had been working all week to create navigational software with Mel in hopes of saving thousands of dollars by doing the work themselves rather than contracting with ElectroniCorp for the software development and having to share the rights to it.
“Any day now, hotshot,” came Mel’s voice from his comm. God, she could be annoying at times. Doesn’t she know he could die if their calculations are off just the slightest bit? Not that they would be. Dave’s been a genius longer than he can remember. He built his first crude machine, a robot of sorts, to play with because his parents were always gone, leaving him alone with the television to babysit him. He built a super computer before he was in high school. David LaCoste was an intelligent child and is a very gifted young man.
“Quiet, Mel.” He has to focus. He can do this. He’s in his zone. Dave pulls up the Nav-Ware program on his bike’s LED vid screen and revs the powerful engine underneath him, preparing it – and himself – for the steep vertical climb ahead of them. Mel was saying something about coordinates and trajectories when he shut her mic off from his headset. How could he get ready for this suicide stunt with her going on and on like that?
“Here goes.” Dave mutters under his breath before shooting across the rooftop like a bullet from a gun, going over the ledge and taking flight as he soars through the air, a flying man in a city where none exist. “No biggie,” he says, more for Mel’s benefit than his own, as he works the controls to go from horizontal movement to rotate the bike upward ninety degrees vertically. The hard part isn’t over, though. Far from it. The next building over is less than six seconds away and Dave must time his landing perfectly as well as use the Nav-Ware program to perform tonight’s stunt.
At the very last moment possible, he completes the rotation and engages the anti-grav once more to bounce off the building. In that same instant, he activates the magnetic boost on the bike to hold the connection to the building and begin scaling the surface, transferring his forward momentum upward. Nav-Ware, the software that’s going to turn Dave’s BioMech Technologies into the next multibillion dollar corporation. Working at its finest.
“Voila!” Dave turns Mel’s mic back on to hear her screaming in his ear. He winces, makes a mental note to install noise adjusters into the headset so his ear drums wont explode every time he completes a stunt.
“—did it! You did it!” she is screeching incessantly. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it! You finally got it to work.”
Finally? Dave thinks to himself. We’ve only been working on this ware for like a week, Mel. “You work too hard. You’ve got some vacation time coming; I’d encourage you to take it.” He says after thinking a short moment. “And we did it, Mel. We did it.” Dave shuts her mic off once more. He can only take so much bland positivity at one time. Plus, he is still working.
Dave can see the lip of the building’s roof now and begins to manipulate the bike’s controls in fervent and deliberate motions, handling the machine like only he can. He needs to slow down a bit before he reaches the top in about four seconds or he’ll blow his landing.
“What the fuck?” The controls he was previously manipulating with such precision are no longer responding to him. They are moving, but not responding to any of his commands at all. They are moving as though there were another person controlling the bike via remote. But who could be doing this? It must be a malfunction somewhere. Nobody even has the access codes to any of his ware. And this bike isn’t going to be on the market for another decade at least. To gain the rights, it would take a team of hackers at least a week just to break through the first few hundred firewalls and red flags would have sounded way before then. Two seconds.
Dave considers getting Mel to run a quick diagnostic on the stupid thing to figure out why it is fucking up so royally but there is just no time. One second. Dave’s bike now has a mind of its own and he has no idea what’s happened in the few brief moments it took to converse with his assistant and mute her mic again. What the hell is happening? Dave continues to attempt to regain control of the bike to no avail. He will not make his rooftop landing; perhaps a lunar one. He is out of time.
The bike rushes upward past the lip of the building’s roof and continues, gaining speed; the anti-gravity jets of the finely tuned machine working overtime now, pushing closer to redline. Dave attempts to comm with Mel but it is futile. Now his mic isn’t working. “Pick up, dammit!” He screams inside his helmet. “Mel!”
What the fuck?!
In an attempt to save his life by flinging his body from the rocketing deathtrap before it is too high above the rooftop he just passed, Dave reaches down to unstrap himself from the bike’s protective harness only to realize that his safety harness is still in place, unmoving, stuck. ‘Safety first’, my ass, Dave thinks ripping at the belt holding him to his machine. Now I know why they did away with these things years ago.
“Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Dave jokes to himself, feeling fear gaining purchase inside him. Now is not the time to panic, he thinks to himself. Why is the bike heating up like this? Hasn’t done this on any of the previous test runs. The highly modified machine is heating up to an intensity that, despite Dave’s lack of an actual shirt under his open jacket and the climate at this altitude, he cannot stand. Past sweating, fluid pours from his pores. Now is the time to panic.
“WHAAAT! THEEE! FUUU–!”
* * *
Back at the BioMech Technologies Building:
David LaCoste turns to his assistant sitting in the chair next to his. He must have been daydreaming again. She is currently preaching something about his lack of morals and equating his methods of testing new wares being inherently wrong. Dave is inherently bored. He sips a small amount of cognac from a large glass in a sophisticated manner.
“Hold on a sec, Mel,” he interrupts her self-righteous tirade with a dismissive hand, unconsciously brushing his index finger against her lip. The girl moved forward, eyes closed but the hand was no longer there; its owner not even noticing her true feelings. “You’re gonna miss it,” he says.
The explosion a few blocks over paints the sky a myriad hue of reds, oranges and yellows so bright Dave has to wince a bit but does not look away. He never looks away.
“We lose more me’s that way. Eh, Mel?” He turns once more only to find himself alone. “Mel?” Always alone.
The original David LaCoste shrugs as he turns back toward the fireworks he has created this night. He will not let a petty ideology like moral responsibility impede his success. The young genius lifts his glass, takes another sip and marks a straight line through the last objective on his to-do list: Finish working final kinks from Nav-Ware project.
“Finally,” he says to himself. Alone in his dark office, he kicks his feet up onto the desk to admire his works for the night. Suicide Dave is feeling accomplished as he looks into the still glowing midnight sky. “I love this city.”
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