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Monday, June 29, 2015

Page 10 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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After the Officer left, and the tail lights of both cop ACs were but memories, Ajax had a barbecue to keep going. Dave hoped he would hop to it. Instead, Ajax waited by the gate, so Dave made the first move to leave.

"Where are you going?" Ajax said.

Dave wanted to avoid the interrogation by his guardian. Not today, not now. He hadn't thought long enough about how he would explain himself, especially the confiscation of his jetter. He thought he'd have some control over the situation. Cops showing up had scotched that idea.

"Look, it was just a friendly race, and we took it too far, got caught up in the pylons."

"I'd say you got caught alright."

"I have a court date Monday."

"Judge Vanderhall is a friend of mine, but that doesn't mean she'll go easy on you."

"I met her."

"Do you know anything more than what you're telling them?"

Dave didn't want to lie, not to Ajax. "Not really," he said.

"What does that mean? You know something or you don't. Do you know something?"

"He has a nickname."

"You know the name of the other driver and you didn't tell them."

"It's his nickname."

Ajax stared at him. Dave fidgeted.

"You know what?" Ajax said, "This is your call. You can report what you know or... live with the consequences. But if there's a fine it comes out of your pocket."

"I was hoping for community service."

"That'll take a big bite out of your summer, but if that's what you want... you deal with it."

"I'm surprised you're not all upset about drawing attention to the family. Anyone with a computer can track a police report and find us," Dave said.

"That's not your concern right now."

"Fine."

Dave left to go jump in the pool, although he really wanted to leap off that swing and try to dive bomb into the lagoon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Page 9 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Rather than wait for others to finish discussing his fate, Dave jogged to the gate.

"Dave," Ajax said, "The officer here has an interesting story to tell about you and your mystery friend."

"No mystery," Dave said.

The officer faced Dave through the wrought iron bars and looked him straight in the eye. "Your friend caused some property damage during his escape this morning."

"What damage?" Ajax said.

"He's not my friend," Dave said.

"Mainsail. He ripped right through it on a jump. Damaged the main mast as well. We're looking at destruction of private property plus criminal charges. You... the other rider may avoid that if he comes forward and offers restitution. The owner of the sailboat is quite upset."

"I don't know his name," Dave said.

"That's unfortunate. The judge may take it easy on you if you cooperate," the officer said.

"I was out jetting. He just came along and said let's race. It got out of hand, that's all."

"What's he drive?" the officer said, and pulled a pad and pen from his pocket.

"Ford Freman. Like me."

"Do you know lying to the police is a crime?"

"Yes sir. He had a newer vehicle, but I drove faster. Would have won."

"Property damage and a date with Judge Vanderhall are not a victory, do you think?"

"No sir."

"Okay." The officer put his pad away, and handed Ajax a business card through the bars. "If anything comes up. You remember something, or maybe this other driver contacts you, or you see him again, please, give me a call."

"Do you think you'll be able to find him?" Ajax said. He put the card in his pocket.

"We have a shot. Surveillance cameras in the channel may give us something."

"Was the sailboat insured?" Dave said.

The officer looked at Dave with eyes that seemed sharper, more penetrating than a moment ago. "If you remember anything, or, maybe want to change what you've already said, that would be okay too."

"Okay," Dave said. He could feel himself stiffen. He was certain the officer knew he was lying. He should have told him the correct make and model of Pegleg's jetter. Security cameras would pick up on that for sure. But if he admitted to lying they'd wonder why. They'd press him to rat out Pegleg. The two of them weren't friends, more like rivals, or casual acquaintances, but Dave didn't want to get a reputation as the guy who turned someone in.

He knew he shouldn't care, not with University coming up in the fall, and pursuing career studies, and saying goodbye to almost everyone who had an opinion that mattered to him. He shouldn't care at all, but he did.

He cared in a way that he didn't know how to let go.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Page 8 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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The shared compound, a communal lawn and garden space owned by the Resident's Association, had a perimeter wall made of imported stone. Covered by grass, some small round bushes called photinia and forsythia, and a few tall poplars in the corners, it had a bucolic look and feel. Someone hung a plastic swing from the maple that grew near the south edge. If one swung high enough, one could conceivably vault from the swing, out over the rim of the LandBridge, and plummet to one's death on the docks below. Or into the lagoon, which would feel like concrete at that height.

Unless, of course, one knew how to fly. Just fly away, and go anywhere, seemed a fanciful, yet inviting idea to Dave.

Separate elevators along the southern edge led directly to the various living spaces located below decks, but one could also come and go into public spaces via doors in each of the north corners of the lawn. Under the poplars, these led to municipal sidewalks. A front gate would slide open and shut whenever one of the residents came or went in an aircar. These vehicles parked along the north wall. Like the jetters, they rested on the ground, or could rest on the water, but hovered six to eighteen inches off any surface when turned on and operating as intended.

They were not anti-gravity devices, strictly speaking. They utilized the weak electro-magnetic nuclear force to displace mass and create a buffer below the machine. Anything underneath would get crushed as if the full weight of the aircar were upon them. Nevertheless, this buffer had nothing but a vacuum filling the space between the machine and the ground below it.

Aerodynamic design was key to making these flat-bottomed machines fly fast. Alas for Dave, the line-up of twenty odd aircars along the north wall offered no inspiration. They were family vehicles, or small economy class runabouts, clunky, slow, but eminently useful if one didn't care about speed or maneuverability, braking power, or acceleration.

His eyes fell as he gazed across the yard at the depressing row of them. Maybe he should call a friend or two to come over. They could race in video games.

That idea died when he saw a spurt of luminescence at the north gate. Two ACs had shown up. Black and whites. Cops. One set of lights flashed insistently. They wanted people's attention.

Ajax left the barbecue in the capable hands of a neighbor, then wiped his arms off on an apron as he trudged across the lawn to find out the reason for all the fuss.

Dave knew he was in trouble.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Page 7 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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First thing, Dave needed to get his jetter back, but the judge held those handlebars. He needed to see her, as soon as possible, but the cop told him that couldn't happen until Monday at the earliest, and he'd be last in line on the docket. Aldrin was a small enough municipality that one could receive swift justice. He'd seen stories on the TV about other places, whether original land, or the LandBridge, where the wait could take months.

He remembered something from school about how the US Constitution promised swift justice. Since Aldrin flew the US flag, and issued US passports, it made sense. Maybe the court in Aldrin did what it did because it had to according to the law. One heard so often on the TV about judges, and cops, and politicians, rich businessmen, and almost anyone who could get away with it setting themselves up as above the law. It was everywhere according to his Social Studies teacher. Corruption. That was why Aldrin had organized as a small town, both part of yet separate from the larger communities of the LandBridge to the east or west. Those places, Armstrong, Lancona, and Triptych to the west, or Goddard, Helena, and New Hope to the east, also flew the US flag.

Armstrong was the wealthiest. Maybe they had swift justice there too. Pegleg came from Armstrong.

Dave walked to the local tube. It shuttled back and forth on the LandBridge, along the south face, from Triptych to New Hope, servicing the local US section from border to border. Didn't cost anything. Good thing, that, since he didn't have a dime on him, and didn't relish a four mile hike home. Instead, he only had to walk half a mile.

They had a nice place on the south face, third floor from the upper rim, a four bedroom apartment with a spacious balcony, and a shared topside lawn that twenty other families could use for barbecues, or baseball games.

Today was Memorial Day. Not everyone celebrated it out here on the LandBridge. Even Americans often skipped it, but it remained a national holiday. Ajax had organized a party this year with the other families.

He'd be a little upset that Dave arrived late, and that he'd been unable to help haul hot dogs and ice from downstairs to topside.

By the time he got there, the party buzzed. Music piped from someone's apartment played on the outdoor speakers, golden oldies from early in the century. A bunch of kids and adults kicked a soccer ball around. A few tiny dogs got in on the game, and seemed indefatigable and courageous the way they ran in front of the ball to try and stop it with their faces after any player kicked it.

Someone had set up a ping pong table, though a light breeze didn't help their accuracy. Dave could see the wind. He knew exactly where the gusts flowed, and when. It'd be cheating to challenge anyone under such conditions. They couldn't beat him, because he'd always know where the ball would go.

His sister Francy sat by the swimming pool with a few friends. None of them lived in the neighborhood. Birds of a feather. They all had a way of attracting boys that gave Ajax more gray hair. Dave was glad she was his younger sister, recently turned 16. It meant some of her friends gave him a second look.

Hep, the youngest, splashed in the pool with Edward, who chased a Frisbee. They'd picked up Edward as a stray. Folks called him a dack, which was slang, a tortured combination of the words dog and cat. He'd been grown in a lab, as a hybrid, then scheduled for euthanasia. Somehow he escaped death, and survived on garbage until the Boarder family took him in, then got his papers in order, and became his official owners. He was Hep's best friend.

Ajax. There he stood at the grill, flipping burgers.

Dave smiled, feeling wistful. He had a good life. High School would finish in a few weeks. He'd have one last summer to goof off, maybe race a bit when he got the jetter back. After that the march of time would take over. Youth would start to appear in the rearview mirror. He'd head off to University in September, hunker down for his studies, learn to make money and then live in the real world.

He knew he had to go, but he didn't want it all to end, not so soon, and not in the way it had been planned.
Page 6 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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The police kept Dave on the deck of the cruiser with nothing to do but watch with a growing sense of regret as they cut the jetter engine and hoisted it onto the rear platform of the vessel. They issued him a citation which required he pay a fine and see a judge if he wanted his vehicle back from the impound lot. No one even offered him a ride home, or a drop-off at the nearest tube. Instead, they just deposited him at one of the many boat ramps without a word of consolation.

He'd always liked the cops, so the mild anger came as an unfamiliar intruder. He had no clear idea what to do with it.

He decided to shrug it off, accept the reality, avoid it in the future, and deal with it now. He and Pegleg hadn't been hurting anyone, except potentially themselves. The only damage occurred during the flight from the police, and the one who caused it got away.

Rules could be incredibly stupid. People who lived by rules, beyond the most basic, such as do unto others what you would have them do unto you, seemed blind, or dishonest, or somehow corrupted by the prestige, or the power, or the risk that things could go wrong. They had no right. Not really. It felt unfair.

The ticket would cost him more than he could afford, and Ajax would breath fire out his nostrils. Plus the cost of the impound. He hoped the judge had a sense of justice that leaned toward fairness, rather than punishment. What did Ajax once call them? Hanging judges. That was it. He hoped he didn't get one of those.

As he walked up the long ramp where they'd left him, Dave had a view of the pylons they'd been racing amongst. Anyone could have seen them, and called the cops on them. Their violation of the rules was too blatant, too stupid.

He heard a familiar hum, and looked down to where Pegleg coasted along above the waves, still flaunting the law no less.

"Bad day, huh?"

"I would have won," Dave said.

"I did win," Pegleg said.

"Doesn't count."

"Tell you what Boarder. You race me again and we'll make it real."

Dave stopped walking up the long, gentle incline. "What does that mean?"

"Pink slips amigo." Pegleg spread his arms, like a master of the sea who could contain it all. "Winner gets it all."

"I've got to get my jetter out first." Dave resumed walking.

"That's your problem."

Dave stopped again.

"Just let me know if you're in or out. I'll tell you when and where," Pegleg said.

"Where?"

"Laguna Mojado man. If you're tough enough."

"If I get my machine back, you're on," Dave said. He wanted Pegleg's ride, and knew he could beat the guy, though Pegleg owned a better jetter. Those warning sounds in his head, the ones that screamed at him to stay away from what was going to be an illegal race on a professional course used by PAC drivers, well, Dave hit the mute button on that particular klaxon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Page 5 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Ratbags. Dave heard the siren and slowed his jetter. He looked left in time to see Pegleg abandon the race too, only without slowing down. Pegleg scooted off using the nearest pylon to shield his escape, and continued away, keeping himself as hidden as possible by avoiding open water.

A wide channel for north-south boat and AC traffic, at least 500 yards wide, had a high arched roof vast enough to accommodate almost every transport vessel known to humanity. It provided the only outlet to the sea for either of them. The cops waited in that channel. When he heard the voice on the blaring loudspeaker tell him to come out from the pylons slowly, and then stop his vehicle, Dave complied.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Pegleg leaving the scene at top speed, an illegal act in the north-south channel. He felt a little awe and a little fear.

Pegleg somehow found a small boat ramp, or maybe a well positioned staircase, to launch himself and the jetter high into the air, up and over a sailboat that came along minding its own business, but which blocked his escape route. The owner of that sailer must have been quite surprised when Pegleg and his jetter tore right through the mainsail, leaving behind the sort of gaping hole in the canvas that only a jetter could create. Adding insult to injury, as Pegleg landed three inches off the water, his AC sent up buckets of salty foam across the deck of the sailer, no doubt giving the owner and all his passengers a good dousing.

Pegleg sped away.

The cops had only one cruiser in the vicinity, and a bird in the hand, namely Dave.

"Say goodbye to her, son," the policeman standing on the bow said. "That jetter is mine."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Page 4 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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Inigo Despero had a perch that he shared with seagulls and terns. They pooped and slept where he sat. Every morning he had to shove them off the pylon. This was his special space.

It had a ladder that climbed up the pylon, into the bowels of the LandBridge town of Aldrin, but he never used it. He'd fall and drown and no one would know. He always used the stairs.

It amused him to watch the kids defy the laws. They placed their freedom above their own safety. What could matter more? Even to a perpetual drunk like Inigo, he thought he had his priorities straight. He got the important stuff right, the need for freedom, for instance. It was how he reached this state, but that was okay. He could live off the land, and the sea, and the charity of his neighbors as long as he wanted. And his neighbors were always free to withdraw their financial aid.

He called this place his home and for good reason. Inside the pylon he maintained a bedroll, a lamp that worked, a bookshelf, a refrigerator and hot plate he'd found in someone's trash, and a poop bucket. He only ever needed to go topside for two reasons. Booze, and exercise that stretched his legs and fed his skin the essential Vitamin D that he got so little of down here. Only at sunrise.

He also had a shelf with a working TV, but the batteries on the remote had run out, and changing channels manually could be a challenge when you were too drunk to walk. When you were that drunk, like this morning, scaring the birds came easy. Where he had to watch himself, he couldn't let himself fall off the ledge.

He'd drown, not in booze, nor vomit, as had happened in the past, almost, but in fresh salt water full of wild sea creatures, some of which might eat you if they were hungry and happened by.

Inigo heard the cut of the engines, the splash of the wakes, and then he saw two jetters, Dave and Pegleg, though he didn't know their names, running neck-and-neck, like two wild horses on an open field with the wind in their hair and loving every minute.

Pegleg had a slight edge. His faster machine inched forward, and he used this advantage to create a pincer between himself and the next pylon. Dave would have to brake, or veer, to avoid a crash into either the pylon or Pegleg's tail section.

Inigo had to blink at what happened next, as he'd never seen anything like it, and he couldn't be sure it wasn't the booze affecting his eyes.

Dave veered right and somehow caught an incoming wave crest, which lifted him a few inches higher than Pegleg. Coming down with that wave, he bounced off his opponent's rear corner, using it like a trampoline to increase his speed. Due to the AG buffer on the bottom of his craft, the same one that allowed it to fly a few inches above the water, the two jetters never actually touched one another. Dave veered again, this time bouncing off the pylon as the wave smashed through it. He was still behind Pegleg at this point, but accelerating so fast that he ended up in front, and on the inside as they reached the next turn.

Every good driver knew you could shoot ahead on the inside track. The last thing Inigo saw, Dave had surged to a twenty yard lead.

At that point, Inigo heard a siren. He had to blink, and turn, because you never could tell if you were hearing things.

A police cruiser had caught their scent and hovered into view. Those kids were in trouble. They were about to lose their jetters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Page 3 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning

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Dave Boarder rode like the wind. He felt as if he could almost see it, weaving this way and that among gusts, as he swerved between thick pylons under the LandBridge. The pylons connected the above water part of the structure with the underwater part, while letting surface currents pass with minimal hindrance.

He rode a Ford Freman, a two-year-old AC jetter that let him skip over the waves, and around the pylons, with a kind of wild, exhilarating abandon that blew his thick frock of blond hair back even as the salt spray sometimes soaked his face.

He opponent, who liked people to call him Pegleg, due to his bionic foot, attended a local private High School, Miltzan Academy, and rode a Nissan Nooner. When fully tuned and maintained with new parts, the Nooner could go a bit faster than the Freman, whether on an open stretch, or while zipping around turns. Today, however, Dave rode out front, hovering three inches off the surface, and sending buckets of frothy salt water into Pegleg's face.

Dave corkscrewed around another pylon, under a yellow and black triangular sign that stated quite clearly, "AC riding forbidden. Police will confiscate your craft."

Dave didn't care. He was young. PS 1863, Buzz Aldrin Public High School, had just two weeks before summer recess began. Then he'd have a few blissful months with nothing to do but feel alive and race for fun, and he intended to make the most of it before University began in the Fall. He'd have to move to Prelude City, and hunker down, but for now he couldn't care less about the worries of the world, any more than the devil cared.

Whoops. Pegleg took that last corkscrew pretty well, and gained several yards on Dave. They ran almost even.

Dave couldn't afford to give an inch against a faster jetter. He leaned into it.

No way he would let that son of a bitch win.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Page 2 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1
Scroll to Monday, June 8 to read this tale from the beginning.

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On the shore of the lake below him, a noise in the tall grass caught his ears and pulled his eyes.

A young gerenuk had been trapped by a pride of lions, six beasts against one infant, scared and helpless, and without any options that might change its situation.

An airtram full of passengers on a photo safari drifted near. It hovered mere inches above the placid water, its AC turbines displacing no more than necessary to remain aloft without actually getting wet. Nice job. The driver knew what he was doing. No spray. The tourists had a perfect view of the savage wild.

Several of them shouted when a crocodile surged from the shadows at the shore, clamped its iron jaws around the spindly leg of the young gerenuk, and withdrew with its meal in tow.

The lions were stunned. Their feast had been taken in seconds. They'd have to hunt again, and they were tired.

Not so the crocodile. It could sleep well tonight.

Diamond Joe sipped his coffee. When he thought of the crocodile, as he watched the airtram move on to more pleasant places, and the lions as they prepared to hunt again, his mind drifted to thoughts of one man. Jorge Mesquite, the man who made Diamond Joe what he was, who had forced him into hiding, and would, he felt certain, play a major motivating role in the trauma that would soon come upon the world.

Jorge had given Diamond Joe the gift of seeing what was coming, and what was coming was Jorge.

The feeling was growing stronger.

Diamond Joe would have to pay more attention, for there were other players in this drama, others whose futures he could see, if only through a dark glass.

There was Ajax Combus, a friend and ally, also in hiding. Most important of all were the children. Dave Boarder, surely almost 18 by now, his sister Francy, a few years behind him, and the youngest, Hep, who'd been an infant when their parents perished in that fateful accident that altered everything.

Diamond Joe would start following the daily news blogs. He'd have to tag Ajax and the kids. He needed to know when anything happened.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Page 1 of Dave Adventure - Episode 1

Since I intend to make Episode 1 and 2 of the 14-part Dave Adventure series available for free, I've also decided to post it here each day as I add to it, until it's done. Each book in this series will contain two episodes, for a total of seven volumes, each about 100-150 pages.

Episode 1 - Dave Adventure

The LandBridge, a gargantuan project dwarving the Great Wall of China, stretched across the open Pacific. From Santa Monica, California to Fukushima, Japan, it floated, housing a billion people on a mile-wide masterpiece of engineering.

Tide-resistant cables, thick as a house, tethered it to the ocean floor. Massive turbines, hundreds of yards across, drew energy from those same tides and currents, providing power to the citizens who lived upon it.

Every section of the edifice flew the flag of a nation, yet sovereignty belonged to the Union of Nations, which maintained an elected republic at the center of the bridge, near Hawaii, in the capitol city known as Prelude.

At Prelude, the LandBridge grew to ten miles wide, a consequence of the need to house its three million inhabitants. Above it stretched the Sky Tower with its Space Elevator that carried visitors up to yet another city, Rim, hovering in geosynchronous orbit. The only such city on earth in the year 2074, it provided a home to an additional 250,000 human souls.

The world was wide open, and full of hope. The problems of ample energy, and sufficient food, had been solved by technology.

Yet, it remained what some would call a fallen world. The pursuit of power in all its forms, the imposition of guilt in any way the free market of ideas could bear, created burdens for those at the bottom even as it lifted those who had won either a brief or a more long-lasting victory for themselves in the never ending game.

It had been almost a full lifetime since the Global War on Terror, and since the nuclear exchange that slaughtered millions. The violent soul of humanity stirred once again, and Diamond Joe McGowan, a middle-aged man at 56, felt it in his bones. He knew something awful was due. Too much time had passed since the last awful thing that re-ordered the world.

The deck of the world was about to be reshuffled.

Diamond Joe pondered these things not from the LandBridge, nor the Sky Tower, nor Prelude, nor Rim.

He pondered these things on the east shore of Lake Tanganyika, in Congo, where he waited, had been waiting a very long time, in a secluded hut, powered by a low-yield underground nuclear generator, fed from local produce, and from his own garden, and blessed by a scenic view of natural beauty that greeted him every morning on his deck, where he took his coffee with a dash of hazelnut creamer.

Here he would stay, in hiding, until the storm clouds gathered, casting their long shadows over the entire world.