“Haul” By C. A. Brown (Halloween 2017 Sci-Fi Stories #7)

Stay tuned for the next short story tomorrow night πŸ™‚

This is gonna get noisy!‘ Rich wound down the sky-car’s window and reached for the antique military rifle. Ignoring the rain hammering his face and the constant rush of neon lights below, he calmly leaned out of the window and braced the rifle against his shoulder.

Get on with it! They’re gaining on us!‘ Steve snarled, barely even taking his eyes off of the altimeter.

Squinting against the elements, Rich took aim at the flashing red and blue lights behind the sky-car. The antique rifle’s circular magazine rattled silently as he tightened his hold on the wooden grips, gritted his teeth and pulled the trigger.

CHATCHATCHATCHATCHAT! Click!

Above the loud ringing in Rich’s ears, he heard a quiet popping. There was a bright orange flash. Rich almost dropped the rifle. A plume of black smoke stood out against a glowing green electric billboard. Rich ducked back into the sky-car.

‘,,,,,’ Steve said with a frantic look in his eyes.

WHAT?‘ Rich shouted, blinking at the flickering array of iridescent afterimages that swam in front of his eyes.

Steve shoved a map towards him, before easing off on the thrusters slightly. As the afterimages began to clear and the ringing became more muffled, he heard Steve shout: ‘Find us somewhere to lay low! The whole bloody city probably saw that! We’ve got five minutes at most.

Turning on the courtesy light, Rich squinted at the map. Being careful not to look at the light, he glanced up at the windscreen. The green safety lights of the Westford Tower flickered to his right and the amber pyramid on top of the FleeceFayre Casino glowed blurrily to his right. His weary eyes scanned the map until he found their location. Quickly, he began to tick off locations in his mind.

Get a move on!‘ Steve barked, as he banked left sharply, narrowly missing a bright yellow sky-cab. A muffled honking sound echoed in the distance.

Got it!‘ Rich muttered ‘Pirate Paul’s Pleasure Palace isn’t too far from here. There was something in the paper last week about them closing down for refurbishment. We can land inside the roof display.

‘If you expect me to land this thing in the mouth of a giant skull, then you’re having a fu…‘ Steve paused for a second. Above the pattering rain and roaring engine, the plaintive wail of sirens echoed in the distance. ‘….that might not be a bad idea. Hold on!

Pushing the stick forwards, the air car descended sharply. Before he could even level out properly, Steve cranked the retros to max. The engine groaned in protest. The bright yellow windows of an office building flickered uncomfortably close to the passenger window. Rich grimaced. Steve took a hard left and started the landing thrusters.

Then, in the blue gloom, the skull came into view. Even without the lighting display, the pearly white teeth seemed to gleam invitingly. Furrowing his brow, Steve gently glided the sky-car towards it. ‘Here goes nothing.‘ He muttered.

It was, Steve thought as he caught his breath, a textbook landing. As long as the plod didn’t notice the thruster burns on the skull’s teeth, they were home free. Beside him, Rich gasped and trembled frantically. Catching his breath, he shouted: ‘We did it?… We did it!

Ssssh!‘ Steve hissed, putting his finger to his lips. The air was thick with silence. Steve let out a sigh of relief: ‘No sirens. We’re in the clear. Let’s get outta here before anyone gets too curious.

As Rich cracked an emergency glow-stick, Steve reached below the seat and pulled out the briefcase. As the stick bathed the car in faint green light, Steve leant forwards and squinted through the windscreen. ‘Is that… sand?‘ He muttered.

Yeah, there was something in the paper about them turning this into a viewing platform. They were importing sand from somewhere exotic. Tortuga Bay, I think. Hey, do you think it’s worth anything?‘ Rich grinned.

We don’t…‘ With a quiet hiss, Steve opened the doors ‘… have the bloody time. Now, get a move on!

The sand crunched quietly underfoot as the two men left the car. Keeping the briefcase close to his chest, Steve followed the glow-stick and listened to Rich’s slow footsteps. A few seconds later, Rich stopped and turned around: ‘There should be a wall here.

What? Don’t tell me we’re going round in circles.‘ Steve sighed.

Below the green light, Rich just shook his head. ‘No. This sculpture can’t be more than a hundred metres… ugh.‘ He spat black fluid and dropped the glow-stick.

Steve leapt back. In the dim light, he could see something shiny poking out of Rich’s chest. A second later, he felt something brush against his spine. The stench of seawater filled the air. A low croaking voice said: ‘Gimme the treasure, lad.‘ Steve dropped the briefcase. With a quiet slop, he saw the point of a rusty cutlass shoot out of his stomach.

As the numbness washed over his body, Steve fell onto the soft sand. Just like sunbathing he thought, as a smile crossed his wet lips. As all of the noises began to fade into peaceful silence, he could have sworn he heard a grumbling voice say: ‘Arrrr! More paper? Ye said there would be gold here! Five hundred years… and not a speck o’ gold!

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8 comments on ““Haul” By C. A. Brown (Halloween 2017 Sci-Fi Stories #7)

  1. babbitman says:

    Still raining, I note πŸ˜‰

    • pekoeblaze says:

      LOL!!!! Tonight’s story (“A Night Out”) will offer a little bit more of an explanation for it. But, well, it’d be more weird not to include constant rain in these types of stories.

      • babbitman says:

        Agree – it certainly helps set the scene(s). Very Blade Runner… πŸ˜‰

      • pekoeblaze says:

        LOL!!! Although “Blade Runner” was something of an influence on these stories (amongst other things, like “Silent Hill 3”, Clive Barker’s “Books Of Blood”, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, “Red Dwarf” etc.. too), the main thing that gave me the idea for this series was seeing the first episode of “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” on Channel 4 (which, of course, was also inspired by “Blade Runner” [Edit: Or, rather, it took visual influence from Blade Runner whilst telling another story by the author of the book “Blade Runner” was based on).

      • babbitman says:

        The C4 Electric Dreams series is really good. Have you seen the new Blade Runner film yet? Best thing I’ve seen at the cinema in years!

      • pekoeblaze says:

        Totally – except for the ultra-depressing third episode, it has really amazed me πŸ™‚ I haven’t seen the new film yet but, although I’d initially planned to wait until it came out on DVD, I’m now vaguely thinking about possibly seeing it at the cinema but I’m not entirely certain at the moment.

      • babbitman says:

        Ah, I really liked The Commuter (I lived in Woking for a year, so that was funny). Go & see BR 2049, it’s awesome. Feels like you’re watching a brilliant novel that follows on from the original. πŸ™‚

      • pekoeblaze says:

        Ah, if you’ve lived in Woking then I can see why the episode would be a lot more interesting. My favourite episode is probably the first or second one (although the fifth one was kind of a cool mixture of “Blade Runner” and “The Thirteenth Floor”).
        Surprisingly though, the fourth episode was good – but not as good as I’d hoped (I mean, it’s film noir sci-fi with Steve Buscemi πŸ™‚ But, the story barely makes sense and it’s set in this weird 1960s utopian sci-fi version of Cornwall).

        Cool πŸ™‚ Yeah, a while after writing the previous comment, I decided that I’ll try to see it tonight. I’m not sure if I’ll end up writing a quick “first impressions” review of it on here or not (since I kind of want to write a full review when I get the DVD, since it hardly seems possible to review any “Blade Runner” film properly after just one viewing. But, after I see it, I’ll probably want to write about it LOL!!!!!!)

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