FLASH Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 11
‘Damn it Golgorth!!’ Marcus thinks. ‘We had a deal!’
The electric skateboard and skateboarder model Marcus had hired only yesterday, fly by the two men, Marcus can see Sheila, the skateboarder, looks panicked. She is frantically pressing the buttons on the remote control. Jared looks confused and guarded.
Poor kid! The remote control was useless; it was only a prop. It was nothing other than a TV remote control whose printed buttons Marcus had sanded down and repainted with different labels. Labels that might appear on a new, flashy, motorized skateboard’s remote control.
Sheila has been circling the test track for just over five and a half hours. They had had a deal! Golgorth was supposed to gradually simulate the life and performance of a new high-tech battery pack, but he had apparently decided to not honor that little deal. Typical battery performance profiles would’ve already displayed a noticeable decrease in output power. Damn him! The frightened model is trying to get it to slow down. But it’s not slowing down at all Marcus thinks. If anything it’s going faster!
Jared, the investor, Marcus is currently trying to sell his ‘invention’ to is starting to suspect this is a rigged demo. He’s no fool. The previous range of the best electric models had a range of perhaps fifty miles. Marcus’ model has just traveled 112 miles.
Marcus sees Jared look down at the telemetry panel, to check the board’s speed. Jared’s eyes go wide.
“I can explain …” Marcus starts to say.
“What kind of scam are you pulling here exactly Marcus? Do you think I’m a fool?”
Jared looks at the speed indicator. His skateboard is currently going 33 mph! It had begun the demonstration by going a perfectly respectable (and more importantly believable) 20 mph. Current industry averages were a smidge over 19 miles per hour.
“Well? I’m waiting! Your skateboard, which weighs less than any electric model I’ve ever weighed, is now going 33 mph? That’s not possible. You know it and I know it. How’re you doing it? Is the model wearing lithium-ion batts under her clothes?” Jared asks. He’s about to walk away from the deal and Marcus very much wants this deal to happen. He needs it to happen.
Jared remembers the spandex suit, designed to minimize wind resistance, and knows it’s not extra batteries secreted on the skateboarder making this happen.
The two men just stare at each other. Marcus is struggling to come up with some believable story to tell his potential investor before he balks on the deal.
A dark shadow zips across them and the table of cameras, electronic equipment, half-eaten sandwiches, empty Starbucks cups, and plastic bottles of water.
‘Oh no!’ Marcus thinks. He looks up. There is not a single cloud in the sky. But there are plenty of circling hawks. Or are they vultures? Marcus decides he doesn’t know their names, he only knows what the birds portend. They are carrion eaters. Birds that subsist on eating the dead flesh of other animals.
“What was that? Are those vultures? What the hell is going on here?” Jared demands.
Despite the gravity of the situation, Marcus almost laughs at this.
Marcus’s phone rings just then. He looks down at it. “Pardon me, Jared, I have to take this.” Jared walks away from the table to answer his call.
A minute later he hangs up on the call. When he looks back he sees that Jared has pulled one of the spare boards out of the bed of Marcus’ truck. He’s doing something to it.
“Oh damn!” Marcus says as he pockets his phone and rushes over.
Sheila zips by again yelling, “I can’t stop it, Mr. Richards! The remote isn’t working! See?” she says as she holds it up for him, but then she is gone again.
Marcus pulls Jared away from his truck. He looks down aghast. Jared has removed the battery compartment lid on the skateboard. The compartment is empty.
“What the hell are you doing here? What kind of con are you running Marcus? Whatever it is I promise you this, you are done! When I file my complaint with ASAC, you won’t be able to sell bearings to kids in Atlanta.
Jared sighs audibly, he looks up, sees the birds still circling over the test-track.
‘I doubt you’re going to file any report to anyone,‘ he thinks and decides to be straight with Jared, the poor bastard.
“For starters, that isn’t the battery compartment Jared. It’s here,” Marcus says as he points at a lid small enough to cover a watch battery at the bottom of the empty compartment.
“No one would believe me if I showed up at a demo with a compartment that size, so I had to put the larger compartment over it. Like window dressing, you know?”
“What? What are you talking about?” Jared says as he starts prying the half-inch square battery lid.
“I wouldn’t recommend that!” Marcus says. Then he looks up at the birds and decides it’s probably too late.
The lid comes off with a click more suited for a much larger door, Jared thinks.
Inside the compartment, he sees a tiny swirling knot of rainbow-colored light. Each fiber of light is a different, pulsating color. It’s a beautiful little universe of swirling, vivid colors.
“What the hell’s this?” Jared says weakly.
“Well short answer, it’s a very tiny nuclear reactor.
Jared looks at him blankly. Marcus says nothing.
“Fusion or fission?” Jared asks. Though he has absolutely no idea what difference the answer could make.
“Well, it’s complicated, Jared. It’s both fusion and fission. But it’s also neither. It’s a technology that liberates the energy within the nucleus-electron bonds without destroying the atom. It’s self-perpetuating and safe.”
“Yep. You’re definitely done. I don’t know how you’re doing that,” Jared says as he jabs a thumb over his shoulder towards the skateboarder. “Nor do I particularly …”
“AAARGH!” the skateboarder screams only once. On the board her arms gone wide, her head droops to her chest like she’s simulating someone hanging on an invisible cross.
She flies by them again, still accelerating. They see there’s no cross. Tiny, silvery-green tendrils and tentacles have sprouted from the battery compartment beneath and have penetrated in and out of her legs, sewing her to the grotesque mockery of a writhing bush from hell. The tendrils begin burning with an intense blue flame.
“Damn,” Jared says. His thoughts are primarily about how he’s going to get another model for the demonstration he has arranged for tomorrow. He never puts all his eggs in one basket and he sees that the Jared ship has already sailed.
“What the hell Marcus?! What! The! Hell!”
“See the problem with nuclear reactions, like the one the Zippy 5000 here uses, they require extremely high temperatures to get started.”
Another blank stare from Jared.
“The kind of temperatures not normally found on earth. The kind of temperatures that happen in the sun. Or in … “
Jared is starting to look very nervous.
“Or in … hell. To put it as bluntly as possible,” Marcus says.
Jared is starting to hyperventilate.
“See this button?” Marcus asks Jared. Jared looks closely, his eyes look to be having a difficult time focusing. Finally, he nods a single tiny yes.
The button is labeled “RELEASE.”
“This releases the demon containment field. I apologize. They sometimes do this. We had a damn deal. He was supposed to simulate the profile of the battery graph I sent you last month. But sometimes they do this. Sometimes they get hungry. I’m truly sorry to have wasted your … time.”
“So it’s going to eat her now? The demon is going to eat her?” Jared says as his left hand loosely gestures towards the crucified Sheila still zipping around the test-track at 33 miles per hour. Jared looks exhausted by this bombardment of information.
Marcus starts to laugh.
“What!? What is it? That girl is dead! This isn’t funny you know!” Jared shouts indignantly.
“Oh, I’m sorry, but as you said, Sheila is dead! Golgorth prefers his entrées to be alive,” Marcus says as he presses the RELEASE button, freeing the demon from its powerful containment field. Jared’s screams begin almost immediately. He knows they will continue for a while, so he hops into his truck to go clean up the crucified Sheila mess. He sees the birds have already landed and begun feeding on her smoldering corpse.