Like a continuous line of ants, they come and they go. Squeezing through the gap in the protective covering created by the bio-build bots. Dashing across the tarmac track. Scrambling up the slope of the grass mound in the centre of the dome to find a patch they can call their own. Breathing in deeply. Sucking down the thick air. Waiting to catch a glimpse. The girl and her grandmother are no exceptions. Rubbing shoulders on the crowded slope they chortle in anticipation. They tingle with the thrill.
Four shiny diamond-like eyes pierce the smog that clings to the floor of the bubble. Pinpricks that gradually grow. A silver mesh stretches between the two largest eyes like a mouth guard for the most ferociously dangerous animal. They both feel a rush of excitement through their veins. A smaller daintier eye sits either side of the larger eyes, one on either side. A rumbling noise with an undercurrent of a steady beating thump increases in intensity.
Glints of sunlight that pierce the skin of the dome reflect off the approaching beast, shooting beams upwards to delight the crowd with the cross of a kiss above them.
The roar is immense as it rushes past them, spewing its internal gases into the air and into their lungs. The girl shrieks with delight and her grandmother chuckles with the incredible joy of reliving her memories. Memories of the bygone age of petrol fuelled automobiles. The power that is barely contained within its shell is exhilarating.
“To feel alive, you must taste the poison of death,” whispers the grandmother to her transfixed granddaughter.
The girl licks her lips and swallows.
“I taste it,” she says and lies back on the grass to savour the sensation.
Stephen Oram’s near-future fiction has been praised by publications as diverse as The Morning Star and The Financial Times. He is published in several anthologies, has two published novels and two collections of sci-fi shorts. www.stephenoram.net
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