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Horse Ride

by Daniel Braum

“I don’t like the sound of it, dear,” Tommy’s Mother messaged to Tommy’s Dad.

“You said the same thing about the Mariana Trench diving bell and the Mare Crisium observation point.”

“Tommy did get motion sick from the re-entry.”


Tommy played with a metallic toy horse as the three of them walked; hand in encounter-suited hand, down Central Park West. A new Spiderman sticker and I love New York decal adorned Tommy’s freshly charged scrubber casing built into his five-star suit.

The sunny afternoon brought the tourists out, strolling in their white “spacesuits” as the locals called them. The thrum of the photovoltaic skin on the skyscrapers adjusting position filled the air with an excited buzz.

“Can’t wait for the horses,” Tommy thought. His settings were on “link” so the thought instantly transmitted to his Dad

His Dad was pleased and transmitted an image of a smiling Spiderman face to his son, a custom image he had purchased just for these sentiments.

Up ahead a car tried to park and bumped into the last of the bulky metallic hulks lined up at the curb.

“Can’t you read,” a horse attendant yelled, out loud, his voice tinny through his old strapped on scrubber. “These spots are for horses only.”

He pointed to the street sign, a stylized horse head inside the outline of a human skull, then made a rude gesture at the vehicle as it sped away. He bent down to inspect the rear leg of the motionless steel hulk.

“Horses, Daddy. I see them,” Tommy messaged.

Tommy’s Dad sent the smiling custom image again.

The attendant ratcheted open the horse’s leg casing. Bone, skin and fluid tubes were briefly exposed to the afternoon before he sealed it up again.

“The poor horses,” Tommy’s Mom messaged.

“Don’t worry. They have it good,” replied Tommy’s Dad. “Coming this time, dear?”

Tommy’s Dad had taken his son squid cage diving to the bottom of the Tasman Sea, to three of the four civilian Lunar observation stations, and even on a riverboat deep into the Heart of the Amazon oxygen retention area. Tommy’s Dad wanted him to taste the world. To experience it all for real and not at home through uploads like most everyone else.

The attendants lifted Tommy and placed him atop the horse. They placed his hand in the connection cradle, an opening on the horse’s neck and strapped the cortex interface onto his suit.

“Hold on tight,” the attendant said. Out loud. Then fired the controlled burst of electricity that stopped Tommy’s heart.

Then Tommy was above the city on the back of a white winged horse. Along with other riders he circled the buildings. They were not aged and crumbling but new and shiny and pristine. Tommy remembered his Dad had said when you got close you could see people inside. Ghosts. The permanent kind.

Instead of banking toward the skyscraper wall, Tommy’s horse went up and up and up. Tommy wanted it to come back. But there was nothing he could do. It just rose into the black and did not stop.


Ambulance sirens blared.

“Where is he?” Tommy’s father asked an attendant. Out loud.

“We’re doing all we can,” he said.

“Find my son,” Tommy’s mother cried.

The attendant gently lifted Tommy’s body off the horse and placed him, interface and all, into the rear of the ambulance. Fluid leaked from the rear leg of the horse’s metal shell.

- END -

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