Author : Laura E. Bradford

“Merging down.”

He pulled the joystick and the car started its swift descent, tugging him along like on a roller coaster. “Whooo!” he yelled, pushing the pedal down and merging onto the invisible highway at two hundred miles an hour. He swerved around skyscrapers, flying across the street made of air, completely exhilarated. He was born for this.

“Car approaching, left side,” came the calm, female voice of the navigation system.

“Way ahead of you,” said the young man. He pulled the joystick back and the car went up, giving the other–a yellow car in the shape of a bee–plenty of space to go by. He watched it pass beneath him on the monitor, which showed a 360-degree view of his surroundings.

“Light ahead. Projected signal: stop.”

“Aw, man.” He hit the brakes and slowed, noticing how smoothly the machine responded. With some disappointment he watched the floating signal ahead change from magenta (northbound travel go) to blue (northbound travel warning) and then red (universal color for stop). So he stopped, which meant floating in the air six hundred feet above the ground, as traffic in other directions began to move. He glimpsed a few ladybug-styled 2018 models, but mostly saw older cars, shaped somewhat like yesterday’s ground-movers but sleeker, with an aerodynamic design better suited for cruising through the air.

A soft “beep” sounded in his car, and the light changed back to magenta. He pulled a lever and darted forward, maneuvering like a fish through the sea, swimming in an ocean of blue sky. The pedestrians below appeared tiny, like pebbles tumbling in sand.

“Turn left now,” the navigator said pleasantly.

Done. At the sight of an office building, he lowered his car to its space one foot off the ground, and paused a moment before taking off his seat belt. What a ride! Safe, fast, and thrilling. Finally, with a sigh from having to give up something so wonderful, he pressed a button to lift the eagle-wing doors, and stepped out. He stood in the showroom of a car dealership, having completed his virtual test drive.

“Well?” asked the salesperson.

He grinned. “I’ll take it.”

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