Lying awake, wrapped in the silence of 3am, Chance went over the available options again in his head. He was trying to make genuine choices these days, based on logic and rational planning rather than simply flipping a coin. It was hard to abandon the habit of a lifetime, but things were different now. The world was different. Or at least what was left of it was.
Bored of the unchanging view of the inside of the car, Chance opened the door, shrugged on his coat and went outside. The night sky was clear, an infinite realm of stars and possibilities. He remembered being told at school how the light from the stars took so long to reach Earth that many of the ones we see are long dead. He didn't remember much else from school, possibly due to his tendency to avoid actually going. He'd left as soon as he could, a common theme running through his life. Foster homes had never lasted long either and while some of the people he'd lived with after his parents' death had been unpleasant, at least none of them had broken his face open with a hammer.
As he paced around the field he and Jac were parked in, he let his mind wander back to the gym where he learned to box, where he'd met Mac, who introduced him to the world of personal security and a career in entertainment venue management. He smiled as he remembered Mac using those exact words, trying to make the whole thing sound more appealing than the reality of keeping dealers in check and looking after cash thrown over the bar by people who wouldn't even remember how much they'd spent by the time they woke up the next day.
Chance had never learned to fight. It was something he'd always been able to do, something he'd always had to do. Boxing taught him how to harness it but it was the encounters outside of the gym that showed him what he was really made of. By Mac's side, he'd learned how easy it was to inflict real damage when there were no real consequences. And there weren't, in that world. Lurking just beneath the polished veneer of dance floors, well-stocked bars and ultraviolet bulbs was the truth of the environment he inhabited. Everyone had their hands in everyone else's pockets and you watched your back, always.
When the second outbreak hit, the world around him had descended into panic while Chance sat back and watched the chaos unfold. He had nothing to lose, not really. He never had. Everything that happened was just another step along the road to wherever he ended up, and since he didn't know where he was going, it didn't matter what route he took to get there. All that mattered was that nothing got in his way.
Taking the coin from his pocket, he flipped it, not looking at how it fell, just craving the comfort of a familiar sensation. He was surprised by the gentle melt of springtime, when the land began to show signs of life again. He had half expected every system in the world to shut down simply because those run for and by humans had. Of course nature would survive. It would thrive without human influence. The planet would be better off without us, he thought. Maybe none of this is an accident.
He flipped the coin one more time, heard a car door open and shut, then footsteps, steady but soft on the grass.
"Are you thinking of going somewhere?" asked Jac, their voice gentle.
"No. Yes. Kind of. We can't stay here forever, driving around in circles. We should move, try to find something more than this. What are you doing up anyway?"
"Same as you. Thinking. Trying to figure things out. And it's not that easy to move, not with the people...you know, the ones we've seen and done our best to avoid cause we want to stay alive. We're only driving around in circles because it's the safest option, right?"
"Had any luck?"
"With driving around in circles?"
"With figuring things out."
"Let me know when you do?"
"I won't need to. We'll figure it out together."
YOU ARE READING
Car ThievesScience Fiction
The year 2027. Edinburgh, Scotland. Disease has swept a deadly path through society. A nightlife mogul with a violent past, a sadistic drug dealer, an artist craving companionship, a privileged playboy and a fiercely independent motor mechanic strug...