TOA Chapter 5: Frantic

Ottawa, Ontario CANADA | Wednesday April 2, 2070 | 2:00 am EDT

James Slone awoke with a start.

The growl of a car’s engine had interrupted an otherwise perfectly good sleep.  James looked over at his wife Cybl.  She was a gorgeous brunette even in middle age, he thought.  James kissed her neck as she lay sleeping.  He wondered if she would be smiling when he returned.  James let that thought linger as he got up out of bed and pulled on a shirt and pants so that he would be presentable.  In a flash he was ready.

James crept out of his bedroom so as not to disturb Cybl.  “Finally an adventure!” he said to himself.  At 46 years of age and being the Prime Minister, there were few problems James got to solve by himself anymore.  That’s one thing he missed about being on the Ontario Police Force, the job he had held before turning to Politics.  His fitness was no longer quite what it used to be, but the old reflexes remained.

James crept down the stairs, so as not to disturb his son Grant, who needed all the sleep he could get being a university student.  James found himself at the front door the front door.  Turning toward the closet, James rummaged around.  Finding his black leather jacket he slipped it on.  It had been so long since he and worn it, and it felt good to be wearing it again.  James left through the front door and locked it with a standard key, as it was an ancient ornate steel door.  He breathed in the fresh early morning (or late night) April air.  James bolted for the garage.  After activating the thumb print security system, James was able to enter his garage.  James quickly noticed that his throwback flat black Dodge Charger with red racing stripes was missing.

A normal middle aged man would be terrified by this, but not James.  Not wanting to attract as much attention as the thief had, James jumped into his Fiat Electro, activated the engine and spoke to the car’s directional system asking to be driven to the end of the driveway.

The car obeyed and took James to the edge of his driveway, James did not have to do a thing but sit there and be carried along.

“We have reached your destination” said the car’s automated interaction system.

“Good” said James.

James pulled a 20 million candle flash light out from under the passenger seat, got out of the car and shone it on the road.

James found what he was looking for.  Skid marks suggesting that the Charger turned right at a high rate of speed.

James got back into his car and instructed it to proceed southbound on Sussex drive towards the Autoroute de la Gatineau.

James willed the car to go faster, but he was limited to 50 kilometers per hour.  Finally he reached the entrance ramp to the Autoroute.  The car’s powerful headlights picked up more fresh skid marks leading onto the ramp.  James instructed the car to follow suit.

The car picked up speed….to a hefty 110 kilometers per hour.   James rolled down the highway across the Ottawa river into Hull, Quebec.

Suddenly he saw them.  Flames from a car which had just recently had an unfortunate colision with a barrier while trying to exit the highway..  James also saw the red, blue osculating lights of police cars.

James instructed his car to pull over at a safe distance.  James noticed two officers in uniform who were analyzing a small box.  James assumed it was the black box.  Suddenly James noticed that both of their steely gases were now upon him.  James decided to get out of the car and talk to them about what was going on.

James approached the officers.

“Hey Buddy!  Back off if you know what’s good for you!” said the first.

James was not wearing his traditional Prime Minister attire at the moment and it was dark out.  He could excuse these officers for not recognizing him.

“Evening, officers.”  said James politely.  “May I ask what’s going on?”

“Do you own this car?”  prodded the second officer.

“What is the plate number?”  James knew that if they were analyzing the black box, the plate number would show up, and it was a perfectly safe question to ask because plate numbers were not at all private matters.

“579W ZZ93.  Why does that matter to you?” grumbled the first officer.

James was slightly taken aback.  That was the plate number for his Dodge Charger!

“That’s my car!  It was stolen about 45 minutes ago.” yelled James as he realized this fact.

“May we scan your IDP card please?”  inquired the second officer.

IDP was a slick acronym that described a person’s Identification and purchases card.  Everyone got one by the time they were 18 years of age,  a person could  use it like an old fashioned credit card for purchases, but it also held a person’s  Department of Motor Vehicles  records as well as identity, health, and occupational information .

When James bought the Dodge Charger, a record of that purchase and all the vehicle information went on his IDP card.  All the police needed to do was scan it with the same device they used to analyze the black box.  As expected everything checked out.  The officers turned to James, he noticed they were very concerned.  The first officer picked up a flash light while the second officer instructed James to follow them.  40 feet away from the wreckage the trio stopped in front of an ambulance.

“I’m sorry Prime Minister, we didn’t recognize you” said the first officer.  The second officer was scrolling through the information the black box contained.  He scrolled to the most recent trip.

Through thumb print technology on each car’s ignition button, the black box was able to ascertain who was driving the car at a particular time.  This same thumb print technology also prevented unauthorized people form driving certain cars.

“Does the name Grant Slone mean anything to you?”

“He is my son,”  said James proudly.

The second officer handed James the black box information for the most recent and last trip of his beloved Dodge Charger

***

Veichle Information:  DCHAR-579W ZZ93

Trip Start: 1:58 AM EDT 4/2/2070

Trip End: Failure.

Driver: Grant Slone

Maximum speed achieved 1,205 Km/h.

***

The officers motioned to the two ambulance attendance to uncover a tarp that had previously been hidden from the light.

I’m very sorry you have to see this.”  said the first officer as the second shone a flashlight over the rotting Skeleton of Grant Slone

James wretched from the smell.  He stepped three paces to his right and threw up in the ditch.

“MY BOY IS DEAD!”  yelled James in anger.

The ambulance attendants  applied a blow torch to the rest of Grant’s rotting skeliton and collected all of his ashes in a jar

“What did your son major in, Honorable Slone?”

“Grant was an engineer, mechanical electrical I think.  Why does that matter right now?”

“That explains how he was able to achieve 1,205 kph!  He must have figured out how to disable the limiters.”  said the first officer

“Did your son ever tell you about any thoughts he had been having previous to tonight?  Were there any problems at school?”  asked the first officer.

“Grant is…was a quiet boy, he never said much to me about what he was thinking.”

“There were no skid marks when Grant’s vehicle hit the separation barrier.  No attempt was ever made to brake.  I can’t get inside his mind but I believe, from the evidence here that Grant wanted to take his own life.”

“we”re so sorry.”  said the second officer.  “Would you like us to take you home?”

No thank you, I’m going to drive myself” said James, knowing full well that his car was going to be on autopilot and would carry him home.  James took the jar of Grant’s ashes from the ambulance attendants.

James sank into the seat of his Fiat and instructed the car to take him home.  The Fiat obliged.

James’ vision went blurry, he had held it in for so long.  He wept and started banging the steering wheel furiously.  Fortunately this had no effect on the car because it was on autopilot.

Why did he let Grant spend all that time in his room?  James thought.  Why had he not made more of an effort as a father to communicate with his son, his only child.  Why did he not try to get inside Grant’s head while he was still alive, while James would still have the chance.

James wished he had known his son better.

He wept bitterly.

The next time James opened his eyes, his car was sitting in his garage.  He had totally missed the notification that he had arrived at his destination.

He checked his watch. using his thumb he   slid from current weather conditions to the current time.

3:30 am.

James was exhausted, but he needed to know more.  He left the garage and walked across the lawn, entering his home by an outside basement door.  The very same one through which Grant had made his escape just under a couple hours ago.

James proceeded down a hallway and stopped once he reached a door at the end.  Usually he’d knock if he ever came down here at all, but tonight was different.

It was Grant’s room, and James was barging in.

The bed was made perfectly.  His clothes were all hung up in his closet.  The only strange thing James noticed was a note on Grant’s desk.  It read:

Sorry,

Had to leave.

James couldn’t take it anymore

“What kind of suicide note is that!”  screamed James loudly.  “You vague boy!   You had plenty of options and a future.  Why did you have to throw it all away?  I wish I could have known about this so I could have helped you!  We loved you!”

James didn’t care that he was screaming loudly to himself.

James felt a hand on his shoulder.  It was his wife Cybl.  She had been awakened by James’ loud mourning.

James collapsed in her arms.  He showed her the jar of ashes and explained what had happened.  They both wept bitterly.  Funeral arrangements could be made later, now was the time for the two of them to accept that their son was gone.

 

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