Work, Rest & Play

Below is a 1000 word short story, set in a bizarre future……..


by Kevin Bonfield

The shaking is uncontrollable, I can feel the sag in my cheeks slamming against my dentures. I’d shout for help but I’d sound like Donald Duck ordering a croissant. Of course, even if I could shout, there is only me here, shaking and slamming inside the bubble of this stupid buggy.

Schlopp, schlop schopp, like wellies in deep, muddy puddles my cheeks exclaim with every involuntary toss of the head. I try and move my hands to press my cheeks in but they are shaking so involuntarily it must look like I’m trying to swipe a swarm of violent wasps off of them. My arms making ballooning shapes in the air as I barrel around inside the cabin. It’s starting to look like I’ve been dropped from a great height in here, pieces of the futuristic, highly technical controls just shearing off and shooting at me from all directions.

The Marskart started so easily after I’d climbed aboard but it seems now every button I press just makes the vibration worse. The whole thing is vibrating out of control, bouncing like a slamming motor in those one of those vintage films from the turn of the century, when petroleum was all the rage. And the noise, the grinding, the squealing, the buzzing, the alarms, the almighty crash every time the kart hits the hard rock of the surface of Mars. Slam, slam, slam. It feels like there’s a block of platinum crushing each of my internal organs in a completely random pattern with each lurch of the out of control machine. I don’t know whether I’m coughing, gasping, screaming, retching or reeling, but I wouldn’t hear anyway amongst what is starting to sound like a purgatory of white noise.

One of these controls, it’s one of these controls. One of them makes the damned thing hover, I’m sure I read it on the instruction glass on the way here. Maybe it’s this one. Maybe it’s not, we’re rolling now. Space, rock, space, rock, space, rock, too fast for me to register which way up I am now. The last nutrient infusion is becoming increasingly likely to reappear. Oh, this is crazy.

What other eighty-year-old gets bought a solo trip to Mars? By his parents? Just because they’ve always thought I lived on another planet. I could have stayed at home I suppose, to be honest, they’re nagging me so much about leaving home, I thought the break would do us all good.

Well that was over a year ago, and quite frankly I think I’ve had enough of a break now. If this lunatic machine doesn’t stop hammering me into the walls, floor, ceiling and control panel the breaks will be all over my body.

Apparently, Dad wants to retire next year, and they think I should get a proper job now I’m eighty. Not be such a drain on their resources. So, he’s going to start taking it easy at a hundred and ten years old. It’s crazy, like me being here on this forsaken barren planet, that he’s working at all since they won the Galaxy Gazillions Lotto. Fair enough the implants have given us all a new lease of life, but surely, he realises his wealth would support him for another two hundred years, regardless of how many ridiculous trips to space he buys his ungrateful offspring.

If only you could see me now, Dad. Spinning out of control, rolling, bouncing and crashing against the unforgiving rocks on the surface here. Only he can see me, the Eyespy implant meaning he sees the world through my eyes as well as his own. Which seemed like a good idea but the mind controller constantly plays up, meaning the poor guy had the full three-dimensional view of that episode with the two lovely ladies who gave me a rather too thorough physical, er, preparation for this trip. Until it dawned on me to close my eyes. I could almost hear his voice pleading me to open them again, he always was a saucy so-and-so.

None of the preparation ACTUALLY prepared me for this hammering though. Apparently, people used to don gloves, enter a roped off square of canvas and set about punching each other. I’d always thought that boxing sounded rather barbaric. But it’s starting to seem mildly appealing compared to the constant thumping I’m taking as my unwitting vessel hurtles across the surface of Mars at some unthinkable speed. Twisting, rolling, slamming, squealing, screaming, whining with the constant wailing of alarms from what’s left of the console piercing through the cacophony, the industrial, chaotic symphony of noise to drive me to wrap my head in my arms. Although all I achieve is to slam myself in the face with my forearm, slapping the opposite cheek against the floor as we roll towards what can only be my terminal destiny.

I know I should have paid more attention to those instructions, but quite honestly, they were just weird. How hard can it be to drive a Marskart. I’d spent nearly a year on the Planetbus, so really, I could have read a bit more of the instruction glass. But once I found a way to stream that Pacman game, that was pretty much the year taken care of.

Hang on, we’re slowing down, whichever button I touched then has slowed us down. There’s a horizon again. I don’t believe it, we’re hovering. I knew I could do it, how hard can it be, I knew it. There we go we’re passing slowly and smoothly a few meters from the surface.
And . . . relax.


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