The following excerpt takes place on Earth approximately fifty years from now:
Jo Cartens didn't mind that her magped was a ten-year-old model with fading blue and yellow colors. She had named it Mabel. It was surprisingly plush, sturdy, and dependable. She had installed new magnetic shock absorbers and recently replaced the failing core module. That allowed for smoother travel or idling in place. Mabel wasn’t the fastest model, but she didn’t have to be. Jo only lived three miles from her job as a history professor at Chintawka University in Chase Creek, Colorado. The cool afternoon wind was picking up and the clouds were threatening rain. A few drops bounced off the windscreen and her helmet.
She smiled as she passed the slower-moving 305 bus, which was currently empty. During her time as a student, she had ridden the 305 at all hours of the day and night. All mass transit had become remote controlled and thus driverless about fifteen years ago. Behind her, she heard the bus release its magnetic seal with a loud whirr and it began moving forward again.
She should get home before it stormed. Ethan would become spooked by thunder and lightning. It wouldn’t help if she got in an accident, either.
A block ahead of Jo, there was a flash of bright light. Instinctively, she made a wide swerve to avoid whatever it was, then eased into the brakes, pulling over to stop. A multi-colored portal appeared and began swirling in mid-air. Her eyes widened as she saw a blue-haired woman in some kind of long robe stumble out of the phenomenon.
The woman stood, apparently uninjured. But she was in the bus’s path. The woman appeared disoriented.
“Lady, get out of the way!”
The vehicle automatically blared its piercing horn at the living object in its path. The woman had triggered its proximity sensors and its brakes screamed to life. Horrified, Jo watched the other woman plant her feet to the ground and extend her arms forward, her head down.
“Are you insane? Jump! It’ll—”
Before she could cover her eyes, Jo witnessed the impossible. The front of the bus’s metal frame came to an abrupt halt and crumpled, smashing against the blue-haired woman’s grip. Glass from the windshield and windows shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. Tilting from the impact, the bus fell on its left side. And instead of a bloody pulp, the other woman was almost unscathed, aside from some scratches caused by tiny, razor-like shrapnel. More startling to Jo, the woman’s feet had dug into the pavement where she had been pushed backwards by the transport vehicle, creating twin trails in the concrete.
Jo was frozen in place, stunned, her mouth hanging open. She blinked several times.
That . . . couldn’t be real!
Jordan hadn’t felt the rush of the vortex in decades. It had grabbed her like a thing alive and thrashed her about in its clutches, shifting violently in a torrent of motion as lights flashed all around her. When it finally released her, she was barely coherent enough to land on her feet and run to a stop. Then she heard something approaching. Whatever it was, it was big and so close, it was almost on top of her.
I cannot get out of the way in time!
Instinctively, she dug her feet in place and reached out to protect herself. A heartbeat later, it felt like a wall of metal rammed into her. She held onto it and rode out the shockwave. She could feel her feet burning as they ripped up the ground. She screamed, determined to
survive, though the noise from the collision’s aftermath drowned her out. Jordan heard whatever had hit her topple onto the ground. For an instant, she feared it might fall on her.
Seconds later, it was over. Jordan’s adrenaline was fading fast and she felt herself sliding down towards the ground. Now on all fours, she was trying to catch her breath, but the air had a chemical tang to it that was offensive; she coughed, almost gagging at one point. She leaned forward, covering her mouth and nose with her hand as her hair covered her eyes. It took an effort not to lose consciousness or vomit.
“How are you even alive?” a female voice reached through to her. As she lifted her head, she saw the blurry silhouette of a woman walking towards her.
Is that—English? It has been so long; I had forgotten how it sounded!
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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