by Reuben Horn

‘CAR 91, BE advised, we’ve got a report of an 11-25 on I75 outside of Rockwood.’

‘Copy, dispatch. We’ll check it out.’

I put the lid back on my coffee and set the law enforcement transponder to ‘on duty’. Murray, my new partner, turned out of the parking lot of the fast food restaurant onto West Road. While still turning, Officer Douchebag accelerated to a hundred and twenty miles per hour, throwing the lid of my cup and its lukewarm contents over my leg.


We sped along the interstate.

Three minutes later, we passed Rockwood. I turned on my monitoring terminal. The reflection in the tinted windshield showed Douchebag’s eyes fixed on the radar screen in the centre console. He accelerated to a hundred and fifty, and we passed vehicle after vehicle.

‘Why are you so gung-ho about a simple traffic hazard?’

A huff from beneath the thick moustache was the only response I got. We focused on our instruments in silence.

I registered a few domestic single-passenger motor vehicles. We passed two super-heavy autonomous long-haul freighters. Passing those always gave me chills, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. No illegal modifications, no line violations. We were almost outside the indicated incident area when my partner spun the steering wheel and sped back along the emergency lane.

‘Jesus... Murray!’

Foot on the gas, he pulled a photograph from beneath his protective vest and threw it at my face. It showed him, one arm in a sling, the other one around the little girl in a wheelchair next to him. Although they smiled, there was an eerie sense of grief on their faces. The ring on Murray’s finger provided the final clue to this tragic puzzle.

‘I have a personal history with this particular stretch of asphalt... and not one more word about it.’

We sped along about ten inches above the ground. The only sound was the constant background vibrations of the bioethanol turbine and the air we flew through. My monitor indicated the usual observations. Denied my daily dose of caffeine, I felt myself dozing off.


Suddenly, the proximity alert system cried out with high-pitched pulses and the car came to an abrupt stop. Murray stepped out of the cruiser and exclaimed: ‘Right... furry Canadians!’

‘What? Down here?’ This was a rhetorical question. A group of giant four-legged, antler-wearing animals stood in front of us. My colleague put his hand on the holster of his service revolver as we approached the group. Startled by the sudden confrontation, they stopped and stood in a neat line in front of us.


In their defence, I also hadn’t heard his question the first time. It had been completely drowned out by the sound of six lanes of high-speed traffic.

‘Sorry.’ I heard the synthetic voice over my earpiece, as the light on the neck of one of the moose started blinking. ‘We are on our way to visit relatives. Our flight leaves tomorrow. Can you tell us how much further it is to Nevada?’

Murray’s face turned the shade of a tomato. An angry, moustachioed tomato. ‘There’s no excuse for endangering road users with your reckless walking.’

‘Sorry, don’t you think it is endangering us?’

‘IT’S A ROAD! It’s for driving!’

‘Sorry, do you expect us to drive?’ They all bowed their heads to their feet as if to indicate their lack of fingers with which to operate a control panel and their inability to use a car seat with four legs. Cramming their antlers into such a tight space would surely also be an impossibility.

‘How?’ they concluded in unison.

‘Well, you shoulda thought of that before coming to Earth!’

‘Why did you even choose moose?’ I asked.

‘We figured they would have the best reception.’ They rotated their heads as if to explain their reasoning. ‘Unfortunately, we were deceived by their appearance, which requires us to make this journey that we embarked on yesterday in order to…’’

‘Alright, that’s enough.’ Murray interrupted the moose. ‘Anderson, tell the chief to send ICE while I make sure that none of these clowns walks into another lane.’

I walked back to the car. As I leaned through the open window to pick up the radio, I heard my partner shout: ‘Anderson! Look out!’

One hundred tons were racing towards me. Confused by our bizarre spectacle, the autopilot on one of the freight trucks had gone haywire. The vehicle was out of control and heading straight for our cruiser. I closed my eyes and dived for the ditch to my right. Tyres screeched. Something shattered and I hit my head.


‘Why the hell did you fall asleep? I almost ran them over,’ Murray complained while pointing at the camera feed from the front bumper.

‘I didn’t even have my coffee yet.’ I tried to excuse myself from dozing off while rubbing my forehead.

‘You ever seen a moose up close? What’re they doing this far south?’

‘Maybe their GPS is outta whack,’ I replied, trying to connect to their chip implants through the now-cracked screen of my terminal. ‘Maybe they’re disturbed by our logging and biofuel refinement operations up there?’

‘Perhaps. But I don’t know why we even keep ’em around.’ I could hear the gears in his head turning as he pressed his palm against the grip of the gun at his belt. Before he could do anything stupid, the blinking lights at their necks indicated that my update had been successful. The small herd galloped away from the road and was soon out of sight.

We didn’t speak on our way back toward Detroit. Murray was still a douchebag, and I still didn’t have my coffee. There was no reason to bring it up with him, but I wondered if the animals were resisting the control of their implants. If so, we would likely meet more of them soon.

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