Friday, March 30, 2018

Microstory 810: Driverless

I woke up in a bed, but it wasn’t my bed. I thought I was in the middle of an earthquake, but when I tried to sit up and, the whole room turned. No, quakes don’t move like that, so something else was going on. I rubbed my eyes and got a better look around. It wasn’t a room at all, but a van, completely hollowed out, and filled to the edges with this van shaped mattress. Despite having no apparent driver, it was rolling down the highway. I looked out the deeply tinted windows, where it was either early morning, or late evening. Other cars were around, but none of them was towing this van, so it was probably being operated remotely. Why anyone would kidnap me would be a hard enough question to resolve, but trying to figure out what their reasoning behind putting me in this thing was beyond unanswerable. Of course, I tried opening the doors, but the handles were removed, and they wouldn’t budge without them. I took off my shirt and used it to protect my fist as I pounded on the glass, but that wasn’t doing any good. I might have tried a shoe, but they had taken those as well. I crawled up to the front to at least see where I was going. As soon as I drew close enough, a blue light lit up the windshield, and a soothing voice alerted me to the fact that autopilot had been disengaged. The van immediately started swerving, so I reflexively willed it to straighten back out, which it eventually did. We were coming up on one of the busiest stretches of the highway, so I wished the van would exit to the side streets, and as if the vehicle could read my mind, it exited. Or maybe that was exactly what it was doing; reading my mind.

I continued to think about where I wanted to go, and the van would comply. When it was necessary to stop for a light, or stop sign, or slow traffic, it didn’t seem to be planning on reacting properly, unless I deliberately thought that it should. Yes, it was quite clear after several tests that the van was responding to my instructions telepathically. The most pressing question now was where was I even going? I realized I could make these minor adjustments to my route, but ultimately, I was heading in one direction. The van was still working somewhat autonomously, and was apparently programmed to take me somewhere specific, whether I wanted it to or not. I kept trying to get it to just take me back home, but nothing was working. After hours of this, I was getting bored, having resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t really in any control, even though I still had to keep my eyes on the road. Finally, it pulled into an abandoned drive-in movie theatre. There were dozens of other vans already there, and a few more coming in behind me. Once everyone was apparently there, all of our doors opened at the same time, revealing that no one else knew what was going on either. The movie screen turned blue, and radiated different shades as the voice on the speakers spoke. “Welcome to your new home. Everything you need can be found in your gloveboxes. No one may enter your van without your permission. But have no fear, there are no criminals in this new world. The only rule...is that you must remain here forever. To leave means death.” Then everything outside of the parking lot disappeared, as if the world had fallen out of orbit, leaving only us standing.

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