Race From Outer Space
rating: +15+x

"Welcome racers, to the Galactic Line and to the last day of your lives," shouted the metallic cube. On each vertex of the floating metal object sat a speaker, each clamoring out a different instruction. But I only heard this one message.

I am called "Worker" and today I will race in the Galactic Line; the fastest and most dangerous racecourse in the universe.

There is little doubt in my heart of what will be sacrificed in the race: life, dignity, happiness. But what will be gained makes all else trivial.

I landed onto the starting platform and started to gaze at the vehicles of the other contestants. Huge spaceships the size of asteroids, small fighter drones from back during the War, sleek sand barges, it was all fast, clean, sparkling.

Then I walked to my ship, a medium-sized Xeno-jumper Mark V. Something I bought the parts for and fixed up myself. I jumped in and waited for the race to start. I look up and see the black of the universe. The darkness consumes me. I close my eyes.

Every day in the mines. Every day in the mines. Every day in the mines. Every day in the mines. Enough.

I look over to the man next to me. It's dark. Has he always been there?

"Hey," I call out.

He doesn't respond.

"Hey!" I shout.

He looks up from his exo-axe.


"Who are you?" I ask.

"I'm just a person who works in these mines. Just like you."

"I'm going to quit this job, you know. I'm going to become a racer." I didn't say that, but the noise is coming from my mouth and the sound is my voice. "And I'm going to place in all the courses and I'm going to work my way up to the Galactic Line and I will experience reality."

Is that what I want?

The person who works in the mines then says "You won't do anything. You might make it to the Galactic Line, you might race against kings and gods along the way but that won't change a thing. Because you are you and you are a Worker like me."

The darkness around us starts to swim. And then takes a bite.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Galactic Line will start in a few minutes. Remember to start the bettings at the correct booth, who is the one racer that will survive this year! Will it…"

The betting isn't new. Many die during the races. I almost died many times, sometimes from black holes, other times from missiles. But for some unknown reason, I'm still alive.

I look up and see the stars dancing. Some are twinkling, some crying. Maybe the universe knows that many of its children will return to it today.

The metallic box screeches, "Rev your engines, racers! The race will start in five seconds!" And the audience roars.

I tune out the countdown. I listen closely for the vibrations of the engine and my finger grazes over the smooth metal of the switches. My foot hovers across the ridged rubber of the photon pedal. The cheering is gone, the engines of all thousands of racers disappear, all that remains is what is in my own mind. And it is empty.

The race starts. And as you expect, it's fast and exciting. But let's skip to the end.

So far, people have died and spaceships have been destroyed. The asteroid fields tore through metal, the sudden black holes collapsed dozens of racers, the stars melted a few vehicles. But that's to be expected.

I am here for only one thing; the speed. No sane person could have ended up on the Galactic Line. Only those who have been by blessed by the "God of Thrill" could ever even imagine why one would race these tracks.

There are only 19 racers left. I weave my ship through the clouds of dust and flip up to avoid a comet. I hear a massive blast behind me and look on my radar. The Galactic Line Committee just induced a supernova. Seems like they want to get the race over with.

I hear beeping and I quickly glance up. I suddenly see a massive starship in front of me aiming missiles at me. It fires and I spin my ship through them and I increase my speed. I want to get past this beast.

I keep increasing and increasing and increasing and suddenly everything melds together. All 19 remaining racers, the stars, the finish line, the universe becomes one and I experience enlightenment. Is that the right word? Happiness, contentment, insanity, enlightenment, whatever it was, this was my pure self.

I look down and see how fast I'm going. Hmph, 75% the speed of light. I look up and the tears of the stars streak on the front shield. My own tears start to match their pattern. And then I died.

"Ahh fuck, I hate cleaning up after the race," said one member of the Galactic Line Cleanup Crew.

"I'm okay with it. The race this year was damn good. Especially the end, you saw that guy almost went FTL or something…too bad his ship crashed, he almost got first place."

"What was his name? Someone with that amount of balls has got to be a famous racer or something."

"Lemme, check it out."

"Oh god… Says here that the racer in 19th place was a Worker"

"Good on him, this is the first I've heard that any Worker has done anything."

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