Driving Lesson: The Cyborg and the Kid, Episode 2

[Episode 1 is here]

“Ok. Now take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas. Ease the pedal down gently til you feel the truck start moving.”

Chi’s heart raced like he was running. He had no business being behind the wheel of such a giant, powerful machine. Before today, the biggest thing he’d ever driven was his old delivery bike, which hadn’t had gears or even a seat.

Gingerly as he could, he pushed the oversized pedal forward; even with the seat moved all the way up, his foot only just reached it. The engine grumbled and growled like some off-camera screen monster. A moment later the whole thing lurched forward, so sudden Chi panicked and slammed down the brake with both feet.

Dick Pynchon sighed and rubbed his head like it hurt.

“Not bad, kid. Let’s try again.”

Chi shook his head. He didn’t want to try again. Pynchon gestured forward, through the windshield, to the cracked pavement and faded yellow lines of the abandoned state park parking lot they were in.

“There’s nobody out there. Nothing to hit. We’re just here to learn the basics. Nothing complicated.” He chuckled. “I’ll do the getaway driving. But we’ll make better time on the highway if we can take shifts. Even I have to sleep sometimes.” A thought struck him. “I probably will, more and more, the longer it takes us to get where we’re going.”

A thought struck Chi.

“There’s something wrong with your head,” he said. Pynchon smiled, reassuring.

“I just need a tune-up, is all.” He knocked on the side of his head. “My generation’s more… robust.”

“Than your last partner?”

“Yeah.”

“The one who…?”

“Kicked all our asses and took your girlfriend?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah.”

Chi looked at the empty parking lot in front of him. The afternoon light was fading, thanks to the mountains to the west, the rays slanting gold and pink through the thin canopy. He took his foot off the brake, set it gently on the gas.

“You have a strange idea what robust is,” he said, and pressed down. 

Continue reading “Driving Lesson: The Cyborg and the Kid, Episode 2”

Whose Lucky Day: The Cyborg and the Kid, Episode 1

The cyborg had a headache.

It wasn’t the high mountain air. His body knew to compensate for the missing oxygen. Nor was he dehydrated, nor would it have mattered if he were. His body knew how to compensate for that, too. For its age, and the abuse it had suffered, his body remained resilient, efficient, capable, strong.

It was his brain that was going to shit. Hence the headache. Like needles in the backs of his eyes. It was really fucking up his enjoyment of the view.

Peaks stretched north and south, shoulder to rough, massive shoulder, glaciered still, the highest ones — they wouldn’t be, further south — great scudding masses of cloud among and above them to add depth and grandeur. From behind them the sun, orange gold, lit the great sere leeward plain below.

It was the kind of view to make a man believe in God. If his gmorg second brain would quit punching the insides of his skull for five minutes, that is.

The kid eyed him uncertainly.

“I’m enjoying the view,” said the cyborg. “It’s beautiful, don’t you think?”

The kid shrugged, his eyes no less bugged out in wonder and terror than they had been since the two of them passed the checkpoint out of Cascadia. He was so out of his depth it was a miracle he could put one foot in front of the other. Wasn’t his fault, but Pynchon — the platform the cyborg’s wet-drive last ran was named Dick Pynchon — was starting to wonder if it had been a good idea to bring him along after all.

Not that he had much of a choice. He was overdue for an overhaul, his wet-drive too wonky to travel solo. He needed a partner to keep him straight, and Chi — hard c, rhymes with ‘eye’ — was the best he’d been able to come up with since he lost the last one.

Kid wasn’t exactly dead weight. But you could fill a couple of warehouses with all the stuff he didn’t know. Like how to appreciate the little things in life — a breath of clean air, a picturesque view — when you’ve just learned there’s a price on your head.

“Alright. Good try, kid. Let’s get moving.”

Continue reading “Whose Lucky Day: The Cyborg and the Kid, Episode 1”