Alex was still breathing hard after that last section of twisty bits and he backed off the throttle a touch before he crested the rise ahead. Then he involuntarily gulped as the vast desert landscape opened out in front of him, and he headed down to the valley floor with its dead straight ribbon of tarmac disappearing into the hazy distance.
Once on the level road he savagely yanked at the throttle and the bike leapt forward. It was this year’s model, rated at 185hp and theoretically good for 260 kph. Everything blurred around him, sky and desert floor becoming one as he concentrated on the blacktop, knowing that at this speed the smallest bump could knock him off. He risked a quick glance at the holographic heads up display and it showed 210 kph at eighteen thousand revs. The road looked endless and he wanted to see what it could do.
More throttle and he was pushing 250 ks. His face was fixed in a huge grin and he’d never felt so good. He decided he wasn’t going to push it all the way and was ribbing himself for being a chicken when out of the heat haze a tiny figure appeared.
“Shit, it’s a cow or something” he cursed as he immediately began tugging on the ceramic brakes. They were brilliant, but he was still touching 180 k as he got close enough to make out the small straggly-haired man wearing worn jeans and a sweat-stained string vest. Even more incongruous was the cardboard sign he was holding in front of him which read
He was never going to do it in time and he braced himself for the collision at around 160 k. He didn’t feel the impact, he just saw the blue sky and blackness as he merged with the tarmac.
Alex fought to keep his head from spinning and struggled with the Virtual Reality headgear which seemed to be welded to his temples. The plastic lenses cleared and he saw the dirty little man from the road pushing buttons on a panel on the wall.
The VR couch opened up like the petals of a flower and Alex was able to stagger out of it’s clutches.
“Your half hour’s up, Bud. I already told you once. That’s why I zapped myself into the reality” he said with a snicker.
Alex was too shaken to reply. It was the first time he’d died in VR and it was too convincing.
He made it out to the street, his senses returning and looked around himself.
It was the same grim view as usual, with very few people on the streets and hardly any traffic. A police cruiser glided past and he straightened up so he didn’t look shifty. There was other traffic, but they were either government or corporation vehicles.
No ordinary citizens could afford personal transport any more and he didn’t know anybody who owned their own vehicle now.
Motorcycles had been banned fifteen years ago, when he was still in school and the model he was riding in the VR had been one of the last produced. In a stroke of irony it’d been the most advanced, fastest production bike ever.
Sticking his hands in his pockets, he headed home, vowing to once again save up for another VR session. Perhaps it’d be a top fuel drag racer next time.