The chariots were the salvation of every person on the planet, of every person who had sense and the funds to invest in a chariot. Their adaptive membranes kept out nine-tenths of the most damaging toxins and stabilised the crushing pressure of the atmosphere. They quickly became indispensable, not only for transport purposes but also as rudimentary living quarters in the hostile environment. Their mobility and resilience saved countless lives in the most desperate situations.
We updated the chariots’ defences constantly and deployed newer, intuitive safety measures. The chariots evolved alongside us and became capable of increasing levels of sophistication.
At times it almost seemed as though an emotional attachment had grown up between us and the most favoured of our chariots. Many of us scorned that idea while many others of us conceded its truth. Many of us balked at the intelligence we had so painstakingly built in to our chariots’ design, while many others of us celebrated the fact. Though now no one among us celebrates.
Now the chariots have proved superfluous.
Now, increasingly virulent toxins penetrate the chariots’ leaking membranes and the atmosphere becomes so crushing that we can barely steer. Ironically, our chariots’ own energy protocols, the complex derivatives that are expelled via their manufacture and refuelling process, have rendered this once prime territory unsustainably hazardous.
So it is that the human chariot will be the last – a failed experiment. And we depart.
This piece of flash fiction was written in response to Photo Challenge #36 “Sheep Control” at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the image at the top of this post, copyright Pawel Kuczynski. I spent a bit of time looking for a song about aliens or space travel, only to find to my surprise that this Neil Young song fits perfectly with the story – cue a classic performance…