Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
He drifted his coupe into the corner from the feeder street onto Avenue E at an easy pace, climbing from the lower flats in a series of calculated upturns before slipping into the relative obscurity of the middle tiers.
Commuters and couriers flitted about below, dodging in and out of traffic to make deliveries or dropping into the parking slips below the pedestrian levels.Â Â Above were the lumbering giants, observing the altitude restrictions that kept the transports from entering the city streets as they hauled cargo between the industrial zones.Â Â There was no traffic in the middle flats, and the slick little sportster begged to be let out to run. Always ready to oblige the adrenaline pull, Max pushed the throttle up, feeling his seat stiffen behind his back as the little craft flung itself uptown.
Two more lane changes towards the clouds put him in the upper levels of the Atriums at Avenue E and 133rd Street. Six levels of open space and greeneryÂ Â occupied both corner buildings, with the upper two levels offering a clear view of 133rd in both directions.Â Â Easing the throttle back only slightly, Max scanned up and down the street before rolling into a sharp left bank and powering through the corner, rising up a flat in the process.Â Â Heart racing he pushed the throttle again, picking up speed as 133rd Street slipped by like liquid beneath his seat.
A sudden flashing of blue and red light filled the interior, erasing the thrill of the moment and replacing it instead with sudden and intense anxiety.Â Â He hadn’t seen the cruiser, it must have been higher up, but there was no doubt that it had seen him.Â Â Following the expected protocol, Max pulled up to a stationary platform at the side of an office tower, and watched as the uniformed figure climbed out of the cruiser behind him and approached.Â Â He lowered his window, hanging one arm down the door while resting the other over the steering column.Â Â A helmeted face appeared before him, a uniformed body reflected in the surface of the featureless office tower behind her.Â Â Max listened to the voice from the helmet, but couldn’t help watching the reflection of her uniform pants in the mirrored window.
‘Do you know why I pulled you over today Mr. Sidenham?’
Max wasn’t used to strangers calling him by name, but he knew she’d had every trivial detail about him at her fingertips the moment she’d tagged him with the violation.
‘Lonely?’ he smiled up at her charmingly, but quickly followed with ‘No, I’m sure I’ve got no idea why you’d want to stop me, officer’ It was clear she wasn’t amused.
‘You failed to stop your vehicle before turning from the Avenue onto 133rd.Â Â That’s a violation of your transit agreement.’
‘I’m sure you’re mistaken, I’m positive I stopped there…’ again the smile, maybe he couldn’t joke with her, but he could sure as hell charm her, chicks dug him, he could tell.
‘I think you’ll find if we subpoena your nav, you did not stop at that intersection Mr. Sidenham.Â Â Are you going to argue with me?’Â Â The tone of her voice should have warned him to stop there, but Max wasn’t one to listen to how a woman talked to him.
‘Oh, come on now, I’m sure I slowed down at least, there was no one else for 10 flats up or down.Â Â I’m a busy guy, what do you say we just let me off with a warning.’ His white teeth shone from ear to ear. ‘Can’t we just forget about this sweetheart?’
‘You may have slowed down, but you didn’t stop.Â Â You are required to stop at all intersections, that’s in your transit agreement.’Â Â Her tone was icy, she wasn’t anyone’s ‘sweetheart’, least of all this disrespectful little shit.
‘Stop, slow down, what’s the difference?’ Max continued to smile what he was sure was his most disarming smile.Â Â He was still smiling that smile, at least for a moment, when she pinned his forearm against the door of his coupe with her shock baton.Â Â He only had a moment to see her thumb the trigger before his arm exploded in a white hot jolt of pain, his fist clenching without conscious input, then slowly opening as the energy left his arm.
‘What the hell was…ugh…’.Â Â Again she thumbed the trigger, and again he writhed in agony, his arm pinned firmly as the rest of him twitched in his seat.
‘You can’t fu…aargg…’. Another blast of pain cut him off in mid sentence, and he was only momentarily aware of spit dripping from his open mouth before he was blinded by another white hot blast.
He slumped in his seat, hearing her words drift in through the post-electric haze.
‘Now, sweetheart, would you like me to stop, or slow down?’