Road Hazard Incorporated
It happened quickly and efficiently. Within seconds, everyone driving - or to be precise, renting some time to drive - on Liberty Way Incorporated Freeway were informed of the "accident." This included Charles Stark. He gripped his steering wheel hard and dug his fingernails into the smooth plastic covering.
"Warning," a soft female voice within Charles' car intoned. "A vehicle is blocking the Turbo Lane. It is imperative you move to the other lanes until you pass the vehicle. Since we value our customers, you will be discounted upon your future use of Liberty Way Inc. Freeway, the country's favorite road service for your driving needs."
That warm, bouncy recorded message gave Charles a bad feeling. There were no "accidents" on Liberty Way Inc. Freeways.That was unless the driver forget to do one simple and automatic task before entering the on-ramp.
Charles was sure he did. it, but the apprehension was getting the best of him. He had to double check. He shot a glance at the auto-pay meter reader on the dashboard. He sighed in relief; his automatic payment had gone through.
Within minutes, a rarely seen incident occurred on the freeway; traffic came to near halt as people began to change lanes and avoid the stalled car. Eventually, he drove by the car and stole a few glances at it.
Smoke bellowed from a blackened hole in the middle of the hood and under the car. The driver sat behind the steering wheel, stunned. That was no "stalled" engine, Charles thought.
"Accident?" he muttered. "Yeah, right.”
It didn't take him long to realize what really caused it. He caught a glimpse of something hovering above him.
Charles gritted his teeth. He knew what was inconspicuously up above him. Still,Far above the Liberty Way Incorporated Freeway, the blades of the unmanned attack Helicopter drone slashed the smoggy sky.
And the biggest threat to security was the wayward driver who failed to auto-pay
Charles sneered. He had a personal reason to hate those drones. Not only did they intrude on his right to drive, they took his job. The drones were part of Liberty Way's Security Corp (the company that promised to offer "superb policing at a bargain price").
Charles was one of those cops who were forced to retire when the Security Corp took over and began charging the public for cheap and affordable security, (thanks to the community's monthly payments).
They became the patrolmen, the enforcer, judge and jury. The legal system was now in the hands of Liberty Way's consortium. And the biggest threat to security was the wayward driver who failed to auto-pay. Charles' heart jumped. The drone was now moving. Its gun turret rotated toward his position. Suddenly, the car next to Charles' came to crashing halt. An invisible beam seared through the hood and evaporated the engine. Charles blew a sigh of relief as he raced away from the new hazard. He will live another day under Liberty Way's vigilant regime. All the while, the recorded voice intoned: "Warning! A stalled vehicle is blocking the Speeder's Lane."
Some Thoughts on Drones
Drones seem to be the "it" technology of late. Whether in it's in a theater of war, exploration, or for hobby, these remote-controlled contraptions are fast becoming a tool of choice.
Clearly, these drones have been used in nefarious ways. In part, this story reflects that. There are many that worry this technology will be used to stifle one's liberty and privacy. These are valid points.
Still, one must remember they are tools. It's the users, not the technology that's causing the problems. There have been those that have used it to survey landscapes or take them to places humans can't go. Science and research nearly every field has benefited in some way.
They've also been used by the military and law enforcement throughout the country. And, in some cases by criminals (such as 'peeping Toms'). Also, they have been mishandled by reckless users who seem so content to pester people or attempt to get a "unique" photograph of an event. This latter occurred during a massive wildfire in the Western United States. Someone flew a drone into the path of planes and copters that were on missions to quell the flames.
What must be done? Probably the best answer to this is to keep an eye on these "eyes in the sky" and make sure they are not used in the wrong way.
Other Flash Fiction Tales
- That One Hit
Sometimes, the coldest of professionals have a moment of clarity that will thaw their hearts; however, it may come in the most horrific moment possible.
- A Bad Road Trip
Maggie's on the road, but so are some of her demons.
- Soft Sunset
Sunset are things to behold in Southern California. But, even this spectacle will have competitions on a hot autumn night when the Santa Ana Winds are blowing.
- The Dance for the Ages
Memories die hard, as Randolph discovers with delight. The dance for the ages beckons him while somebody waits for him to take his chance, one more time.
© 2014 Dean Traylor