The Race That Keeps on Giving
It was the last race of the night. The sky was pitch black, lit by thousands of stars. The tall buildings in the distance were only barely visible, but their luminescence shone brighter than any other point on this planet. I felt my heart beat faster with every moment that passed underneath the unknown below me. By the time I reached the region I heard about, I could hardly breathe. It’s not that fear overwhelmed me – in fact, it’s just the opposite. But this wasn’t a normal race; it was to save my life, and I needed to win.
My wife and child wait for me at home. She swore I entered this tournament just to serve my ego. How could a decorated student of my prestigious university needs to go through the races to gain anything is beyond her? What she didn’t realize is that when you borrow so many credits to achieve such accomplishments, those things don’t just go away.
So here I am, to the tune of 5 million credits in debt, not a plan nor wish in the world, other than to win it all back.
I faced the ultimate challenge: A race through a maze of the desolated and isolated, lost city of Breena, fabled to have earthly desire once upon a time sought after.
As my craft entered the area, I could see one of my opponents flanking me from the side, ready to launch their weapons at my ship. However, I countered by firing a missile from the side of my ship, and it contacted his craft. I then turned back to avoid damage from what I assume was some sort of plasma explosion on his part.
My opponent wasn’t done, though. With a successful barrel roll, he soon found himself in front of me and began firing. Thinking quickly, I dodged his attack and fired a missile directly at the front hull of his ship. It made contact, and he plummeted to a cratering death below.
It wasn’t over. I had a few more bogies on my tail. It seems they saw the entire event and figured they could pick me apart after an intense encounter. Not today though, because I had a couple of tricks up my sleeve.
I pitched my ship down to the base of the planet, maneuvering through protrusions of steel, mortar, and other remnants of the lost city. They pursued me.
The thing about this city is that it’s a maze. You only have to go through one passage to get out. As I expected their movement, I pulled a fast curl upwards and boosted the ship back into the sky. My strategy confused the pursuers, and they went right where I previously was heading.
I launched several missiles and plasma shots where they were turning about face. The plasma shot connected with one of them and sent them spiraling down to the city below.
The other pursuer floated in confusion as they tried to throttle their way up into orbit. It didn’t work though; I was already there and ready to fire a rocket into the hull of their ship, ending their participation for good. My last challenger must have known what they were up against when the others perished, because they sped away after spotting me.
It was my time to move in. I flew towards the desolate city with its abandoned nature surrounding me. I entered an area where it seemed there once was a population center. It was hard to tell due to how deteriorated everything was, but it was the only place I could think of going.
It was an old station, something they once called a ‘department store’ or such. The roof had long since collapsed, but the walls were still standing. I parked my ship just outside of its entrance and prepared to go inside.
The entire area was so dark, you could hardly see more than a hand’s worth in front of your face. That didn’t stop me, though. Something this big would have an abundance of secrets hidden within I bet.
I identified an area where it appeared there was a large room and went inside. Hovering my flashlight about, I marveled at the sight it presented me with.
A place with full treasures one could only imagine, products that were banned by the once Socialist Galactic Order. The mere notion of profiteering with such things could have you tried for treason.
Not for me though, this was something I had to do.
I searched within the confines of the area, section after section, until I found what I was looking for.
A small green figure, dark eyes, a glint of a smile and draped in a garb of years of old. Perhaps this was the way of the times before. It’s markings etched with some words missing, ‘Ba-y Y-da’.
“Merry Christmas buddy,” I muttered to myself, thinking about my kid back home.
My eyes glanced at something in a glittering area, the words ‘Cartier’ over the department’s listing. I grabbed an artifact that had what I believed was my wife’s favourite colour.
“No way I could forget you dear.” I thought humourously, thinking of the irony of my situation. A wife back home thinking otherwise, but amid all the chaos, only those two filled my heart and mind.
Suddenly, I heard some low engine rumblings above. It seems the lone survivor brought some friends along for the party.
Placing my helmet back on, I got ready to venture back out to the reality that awaited me. Despite my odds, I found comfort in an additional need to endure.
Onward to win this tournament, decimate my debts and get back to my family just in time to celebrate the holidays together.
Time to go for the genuine gold!
The moral of the story is that the race is what you make of it. And even the smallest of gifts can mean the most.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays!
Get more holiday based short stories by purchasing a copy of ‘Holiday Fantasy and Science Fiction Reads’. 21 Stories based on the Holidays and contain Holiday elements.
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