Good morning, sir, I am Peter, your fifth class driver today. Please state your destination.”Click here to return to the book page
“What? . . . Where am I? . . .”
Mercifully, the resonant voice stayed silent as I struggled slowly back to full consciousness. Blearily, I opened my eyes and took in my surroundings. I was sitting in a semi-reclining position in a nice cream coloured leather chair, inside what appeared to be a pod, the top half of which was transparent. Gingerly I sat up and the chair moved into an upright configuration to support me.
There was a subdued musical chime and the voice spoke again.
“Good morning, sir, I am Peter, your fifth class driver today. Please state your destination.”
“Em. . . Hello . . . Where are you?”
“Good morning. As to where I am, I am in the vehicle with you, sir.”
I glanced around, slowly because my head still hurt a little, although this was fading quite quickly. There was nobody in the pod with me.
“No, you are not.”
“Yes, sir, I am in the vehicle with you. I am simply not in the passenger compartment.”
I looked outside of the pod for the first time but there wasn’t much there to see, only a glassy looking plain that stretched for more than a mile in every direction. At the edges, there appeared to be some kind of ruins, but they were hazy and indistinct in the distance.
“Do you have a destination in mind, sir?”
“I don’t know. Where are we?”
“The map coordinates are three-seven-five-dash-oh-two, by six-three-eight-dash-five–seven, sir.”
“The map coordinates are . . .”
“No, stop. I heard you the first time. They just don’t mean very much to me. Actually, they don’t mean anything at all to me.” “I see sir.
Is there another frame of reference in which I can tell you?”
“Possibly . . . What’s the zip code?”
“That can’t be true. That’s my zip code.”
“It is exact, sir.”
I fought down the rising panic, bile flooding my mouth, but somehow I stopped short of being actually sick. I lived somewhere near here and I had never seen anything like this area before. Mind you, I’d never seen a talking car before either. Something nagged at the back of my mind, but it wouldn’t quite surface.
“Do you have the full postal address of where we are?”
“Yes, sir. Shall I give it to you?”
I was almost shouting now.
“It is 35 Farisle Road, Los Angeles, California United States.”
This time I was shouting full volume. This was my home. Only my house wasn’t there. Nor was Dick’s, my neighbour.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Please calm yourself sir. You are perfectly safe in the care of a fifth class driver sir.”
Finally, the latent memory, the one that had been nibbling at the edges of my consciousness snapped into focus.