8 0 0

Ahead, the dam already loomed, a vast wall of concrete rising like some ancient concave monolith from the riverbed. Its sluice gates were open; there was no need for either irrigation or power generation anymore, so the river just rushed straight through. But the structure remained as a testimony to a time of terrestrial mega-engineering, one of many such structures scattered all over the globe. Skyscrapers, dams, bridges, tunnels-all functionally useless now, for most people.

Jesse steered the doomed bike up the old riverbank to the eastern side of the river. There, the road curled up onto the top of the dam itself. The wall was thick and seemed sound, but I had no doubt that its old concrete was corroded, crumbling and cracked in ways the eye couldn't discern. There was a narrow access road at the top of the dam the safety barriers of which looked so rusted and fragile a determined child could push through them.

Jesse took them around the end of the road to where the bank on the far side dipped down behind the dam. There he brought the bike to a brief halt.

Clair hopped off and took the extra ammo from the storage space and put it in her backpack. "Okay. Go."

He climbed out of his seat and used the handlebars to push the bike back up the slope. Crouching down behind it, he lined it up, fiddled with the controls, and dropped face down on to the ground beside it.

The bike surged away from him, accelerating all the way. Jesse slithered back to join Clair, watching as he went. The bike was almost halfway across the top of the dam when it hit an obstacle its gyros couldn't negotiate. One wheel lifted momentarily off the ground and the other slewed right out from under it. Showering sparks, it tipped onto its side, slid, and crashed through the safety barrier to the left. Engine shrilly singing and wheels futilely spinning, the bike sailed over the edge and followed a perfect arc out into space.

There was no splash as it hit the river.

I cut my active connection to them as the whine of another bike rose up out of the valley below. Instead I listened-listened with every sense I could muster and all the attention I could spare. Part of me was arranging the quadricycle; another part was monitoring the decoys and "Dylan Linwood"; parts of me were scattered all through the Air, performing functions I was barely aware of, if aware at all.

Neither Clair nor Jesse uttered an electronic peep. Not so their pursuer, who, minutes after seeing the electrobike fall to its destruction, called a superior elsewhere. I couldn't decipher the content of the call, but I could detect its existence. It lasted thirty seconds. When it was over, I spotted the blossom of a faint infra-red signal: the pursuer's bike, accelerating west for Jamestown on a wild goose chase, exactly as Clair had hoped.

113 (Twinmaker)Read this story for FREE!