The 3 A.M. Epiphany – Exercise 157

Firing Weapon at Night

The hot asphalt is drenched in sweat. A turnout of over 3,200 triatheletes this year. Over six million viewers and close to six thousand users paying for direct links. And although they’ve been outlawed in several countries, we know of plenty underground linkage providers that have parallel sensory links with embeds. The users feel everything the tri’s feel. Everything. But that’s for big gold. Only the toppers can afford that. The rest of us down here at street level have to gorge ourselves on second hand electro’s and coarse-fitting neurals.

The runners have weaved their way through the sweltering January heat, through the smog pits, along the outer rim of the ground zero crater for the 2025 nuclear attack on what used to be Los Angelos. The initial swim through the shark infested waters of Upper Mexico left around 2,500 participants. That’s another 200 over what was eaten last year. They’re thinking about moving the swim lanes again, as the sharks are starting to gather in greater numbers every year at the currently designated lanes. There have also been reports of people illegally chumming in the areas a few weeks prior to the games. You can’t really blame them, though. After the amount of money they lost in the years following the 80 percent games, people were very forgiving when it came to rigging and cheating. They called it the 80 percent games because almost 80 percent of the participants survived. Nobody is interested in games where everybody wins. What’s the point? Where’s the danger? The adrenaline? People were paying record prices to link to tri’s that crossed the finish line. When they unplugged, they were just exhausted. Not much of a rush for the price. Things are much more exciting now.

The timer is huge this year. It’s neon yellow numbers are over 30 feet high in the amber sky, and you can even see it through the pollutes from almost a mile away. Everyone is crowding the road. The first time idiots who make their way to the front of the masses find out too late that when the timer runs out, they are suddenly part of the games, whether they like it or not. In the frenzy, everyone pushes forward, expectant, and those little two foot gaps that existed between pavement spectators disappears. There’s no way to turn around and sift back into the crowd. You wanted front row, buddy you got front row.

The timer is ticking down now. 38 . . . 37 . . . 36 . . .

The crowd’s murmur is intensifying; some of the tri’s family members are screaming for them to Run! For the love of God! Run! But the exhaustion is setting in and the pollutes are filling their lungs. Tri’s aren’t allowed to wear their masks for the last part of the race. Their throats must be burning pretty bad right about now. People linking in are probably hacking and coughing away in their little underground playpens. Choking on what is, to them anyway, imaginary particles of acid rain, CFC’s, ammonia, and enough carbon to choke a horse, if there were any still in existence.

12 . . . 11 . . . 10 . . .

The crowd is going beserk now. You can look out over the sands and see ripples of excitement coursing in waves through the masses. The runners near the line expend whatever energy they have left to make it before the countdown ends. A few groups of ten or twenty make a last ditch effort and make it across in small desperate clutches. Everyone knows that if you miss the countdown, the only chance you have is to form a clutch with the unlucky RBI’s on the outside.

3 . . . 2 . . .

When the timer hits zero, the crowds are deafening. You can’t even hear the gunfire. You can see it though. Flashes of red from the tips of the weapons and the runners forming and reforming groups as they struggle for the line. Some of the front row spectators are dropping.

The big gold players, they pay big for the first shots. During a race three years ago, a man paid a month’s food ration to have the first five minutes to himself. He had all twenty weapons in a row, filled to capacity, and emptied them all in the first five minutes. Only three or four tri’s out of a couple hundred got by. It was a slaughter. Viewings were at an all time high.

They can’t all be like that, but this race looks to be a solid 30 percenter. No shame in those kind of numbers, folks. This is ViewLink One bringing you live coverage as always, right from ground level. Remember, we stay connected until the end.

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