The Last Joy Ride – Part 1

A young boy bursts into the room, yelling with enthusiasm as he swipes at the wall.  “Come on! You’re gonna miss it!”

The wall glows bright blue before filling up with multiple rectangles, each showing a different channel.

“Hurry up!”  The boy whines as he waves his arm dramatically causing the channels to scroll up.

Seeing what he wants, the child pushes his hand forward and the rectangle fills the wall.

The boy squeals with delight as an image of a helmet slides into the center of a rotating tire.  “It’s on!  It’s on!”

An announcer speaks over the exciting background music.  “Tonight on ‘Road and Driver’, we bring to you the most historic road trip ever!  It is the last time a car shall be legally driven by a person across the United States!  So buckle up and stay tuned.”

A different announcer chimes in immediately. “Tonight’s episode of ‘Road and Driver’ is brought to you by ‘Cathose’; a new kind of car for a new kind of mind.”

The wall turns fades before glowing into a new scene.  A man and a woman are sitting next to each other on a couch. Latin and in their early thirties; they are crisp, clean, healthy, and radiant.  The couch is white and the accessories have just the right amount of color without taking attention away from the actors.  The scene had a feeling of warmth, safety, and security.

            “Imagine Seneca,” The man says as he smiles to the camera. “The last driven road trip.  It’s so exciting.”

            “Yes.”  She replies.  “I’m glad we’re watching it, but I’m even more glad we’re not driving it!”

            “You’re right.”  Her imaginary husband agrees.  “Driving is so dangerous now days.  I’m glad we have the new ‘Cathose’ to do it for us.”

            Seneca nods her head.  “The new ‘Cathose’ has all the safety and conveniences we need to get us where we want to go.”

            The fake husband leans in.  “Piece of mind.  It’s a new kind of mind.”

            “Oh look!”  Seneca declares, pointing at the camera.  “The show’s back on.”

            The man quickly adjusts his position and leans forward with feign interest.

The scene dissolves and is replaced by two men book-ending a map on a screen between them.  Canned applause fills the background and fades as the man on the left begins to speak.  “Thank you!  I am your host, Patrick ‘Sherman’ Phillips and this is my co-host, Brock Peter Williams.”

The canned applause rises as Brock bows and gestures slightly to the camera.

Sherman gives a serious look as he opens his monologue.  “Tonight is a poignant night for us here at Road and Driver. Tonight we witness the last time a car will be legally driven across the country by a person.”

Brock nods in solemn agreement. “Yes, yes.  It is a bitter-sweet time for us. A new era of transportation is upon us and we must say goodbye to a rite of passage and a way of life.”

Sherman claps his hands in a soft prayer and continues.  “And we are saying goodbye in a way only Road and Driver can do.  We have listened to you, our viewers and have teamed up your perfect driver with your perfect car.  Let’s take a look.”

The map on the screen gives way to show a man in his fifties standing next to a car.  The car is low and sleek and the man is surprisingly fit.

“Nathan!”  Brock cheers.  “How are you doing?”

The African-American smiles brightly.  “It’s been a blessing, Brock.  I have been humbled and honored by the people’s choice to be their ambassador on this last great trip across America.”

“What do you think of the car?”  Sherman asks.

“They picked a wonderful choice, Sherm.”  Nathan replies.  “The Chevrolet Corvette is the top of the line American sports car.  With its hybrid technology and mid-engine design, this Corvette is the smoothest, strongest, and most agile Corvette to date.  It’s America’s first sports car and carries with it the embodiment of driving passion.  There is no better car to take this trip with.”

“And what a trip it is.”  Brock interjects.  “This adventure loops the countryside.  Starting in Los Angeles, it moves upward through California, hitting Seattle before heading east, and visiting Sturgis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, D.C., Charlotte, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas before crossing the checkered flag in front of the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles.  A true lap of America.”

The camera cuts to Sherman.  “Now since we have been given only three hours to present this historic event.  Most of the trip has already been completed.  Nathan, where are you now?”

Nathan smiles and answers, “I am in wild Las Vegas and getting ready to throttle down to L.A..”

To which Sherman replies, “We will be bringing it to you live along with highlights of the journey taken.”

“Roll on!”  Nathan shouts as he jumps into the seat of the Corvette and hits the start button.

The Conversation

(Just a little fun every author has.)

“Don’t do it.”  The voice whispers as I rub my bleary eyes with the heels of my palms.

“Why shouldn’t I?”  I ask “It seems like a fun way to get a story going.”

“Because of the ramifications.” The voice warns.  “Strong, very strong ramifications.”

Sadie, my yellow lab starts bouncing around and running to the door.  She had just been out less than twenty minutes ago, but she acting like she hasn’t been out in a decade.  Reluctantly I get up and follow her out the door.

“It’s been years since I’ve had this idea.” I state as Sadie waters the lawn.  “Why won’t you let this one grow?”

“It’s too soon.”  The voice calls back.  “The world is not ready for it.”

I follow Sadie back in and close the door behind me.  “Too soon?”  I ask.  “When is it too soon for Sci-Fi to be written?”

“When it can compel others to act upon the ideas before they are mature enough.”

“Oh now you’re grasping at straws.”  I snap back.  “Comic books have been out since the Fifties and nobody’s trying to grow claws or bond metal to their skeleton.”

“No but they have mixed animal DNA with plants just to see what happens.”   The voice counters.

“Yeah.” I agree, relenting on this point. “”But it was going to happen eventually.”

“Yes, but we made sure it happened at the right time.”  The voice comments.  “It’s what we do.”

“Sure you did.”  I chuckle.  “Like you’re not a manifestation of too much Pepsi and too little sleep cause by the time change this week.”

“Are you so sure?”  The voice asks.  “Maybe I’m from the future communicating to you through your own thoughts inside your mind.”

I take another sip of Pepsi.  “Right.  Uh-huh.  Sure you are.  And I’m the Flamenco King of Zaire.”

“I see the Theta waves are getting to you.”  The voice replies dryly.

“Theta waves. Yeah sure.”

The voice explains, “Theta waves are what we use to communicate across both time and space.  It’s how we can observe different species in different places at different moments in history without interfering with the timeline.”

“Ah.”  I comment, “The almighty ‘Time Directive’.  Just like in Star Trek.   But one thing.  You’re breaking that directive by talking to me.  In essence, you are changing the timeline.  That is, if you were real and not a figment of my imagination.  Overactive imagination.”

“Interesting that you would bring up Star Trek” The voice says. “The Star Trek era of exploration only happens after the population of Earth comes joins together over their political, economic, and religious differences.”

“Yeah.”  I counter. “But that only happens after a nuclear war and the influence of Vulcans.”

“Imagine what would happen if that unification never happened.”  The voice offers.  “What untold misery would it bring onto others?  Disease?  War? Genocide?  The wholesale slaughter done to innocents by the thoughtless acts of humans too immature to even conceive of the risks they pose just by stepping onto alien soil? Is this what you would have?”

My mouth tightens before I swig down more Pepsi.  “Dude.  Lighten up.  They’re just stories.”

“Yes they are.  But they can inspire people with degrees or dreams to build the platforms to leave without humanity being ready for it.  That is why you must stop before doing this.”

“Is this why you had Windows do an ungodly long service package to my computer tonight?  Because if that is so, it was not cool!  That damn thing took a half hour out of my writing time.  I hated that!”

The voice rises a little in my head; instinctively I know that’s the best it can do to yell.  “Listen!  If this goes forth, whole planets will die out including Earth.”

“Why would the Earth die?”  I ask.

“In retaliation to all the deaths and suffering  on other planets caused by humans.”  The voice replies.  “Surely you didn’t think our actions wouldn’t have consequences.”

I sit blankly at this.

The voice implores. “You must wait until humanity has evolved before sharing your ideas.  They must lay dormant for now.  Let your treasures lie buried until discovered at the proper time.”

I lean back in my chair and take a deep breath.

“Nah.”  I decide.  “I’m going to go through with this.  It’s going to be fun.  It would happen eventually anyway.   Besides you forgot the biggest Star Trek theory of all.  There is a dimension for every choice to be made or not made.  A dimension for when I turned left and one when I turned right.  For all I know this dimension is the one where I write these stories and nothing happens other than entertaining people.  Beside, for all I know, you’re just a creative play of words used to aid in me filling this story.”

My head is silent as I post this up to Word Press and go to bed.