Published by: Grimbold Books
Publication date: July 29th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Science Fiction
Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They are two strangers, who never should have met, and now they will rip apart the world.
What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite?
What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world?
What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making?
What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed?
Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.
“And now, with just twelve seconds to go the Dogs are done. It’s just a question of whether they can keep it to 1-0, or whether the Razorbacks will score again.”
“To lose one maul is unfortunate, but to lose two looks like carelessness . . .” Cyndi’s leotard was so tight it looked as though her breasts would pop out at any moment. They had once, in front of a crowd of billions. A costume malfunction that might be repeated if ever the ratings dropped.
The display cut to a simulated three-dimensional image of the Razorbacks captain, deRacine, stamping on the Strontia Dogs, then taking them up in his mouth like a dog, shaking them left and right, before hurling them at the screen, making Pasco flinch. This was supposed to be funny somehow.
“Come on, come on,” Pasco said under his breath. “Get on with it.”
It had been a gut wrenching hour, but it was almost over and he was going to win. Everything he could beg, borrow and steal was on the Razorbacks. Jay Blood, a colleague in his fantasy league, had given him the tip. Working in Media, he saw that Reggie Rose had crashed his manually driven, hugely expensive, vintage Maserati on the way to the match. Uni Su, his replacement, had only ever played in the minors. Pasco placed the bet a few seconds before the news broke on iNet and changed all the odds.
Pasco enjoyed a curious relationship with the sport. He hated the worst excesses of the violence but loved the ball play and the sheer athleticism of the players. There was something incorruptible about it, something fundamentally real about the conflict, about the struggle. As a child, it was one of the few things his father, brother and he did together. As an adult, it reminded him of happier times.
But not today. Not with so much money riding on the game. Even now, when it was effectively over, he could hardly stand it. The sweat dripped down Pasco’s face and he prayed. He wasn’t sure he believed in the Faith, but he wasn’t taking any chances.
Finally the time out was over.
“And so the teams line up. The Strontia Dogs are hopelessly out of position. Look at the space on the outside, they are in shambles.”
“Well there is no orthodox formation to defend a four on two,” Cyndi muttered.
For a brief moment, stillness settled over the exhausted athletes, then the buzzer sounded and the Razorbacks rushed forward. The crowd roared so loudly, Pasco had to adjust his implant.
“Here we go,” Larry said.
The two Razorback mauls circled and then charged at the Dogs’ limping interceptor, sandwiching him in a bone crunching tackle.
“And he’s down!” Larry cried.
The Dog struggled to get up, but the maul was too quick, slamming an iron plated knee into his back. A sickening crack reverberated in Pasco’s ear. A real time battle suit scan showed the back was broken, a career ending injury.
“The Razors have only the rookie Uni Su to beat. He steps away from the goal line to meet them!”
The mauls knocked Uni Su off his feet in a vicious tackle, slamming him back towards the goal. The battle suit instantly predicted concussion. deRacine grinned at the cameras, pulled back his arm and showboated a slow motion throw.
“Carry it in, you idiot!” Pasco yelled. Eight seconds.
deRacine pitched the ball at the goal, but at the same instant, Uni Su made an impossible lunge upwards, stopping the ball just before it crossed the line. Then, flipping to his feet, he side-stepped one onrushing maul and delivered a crushing roundhouse to the other. It happened so fast, the commentators took a moment to catch up.
Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.