Around the 32nd floor of the chase, I came across a bright empty lobby with a staircase opposing me. The stairs undulated left and right, creating a sine wave when viewed from the balcony above. I was about to continue my sprint up the stairs, but froze a few dots1 away from the first step. Running would be difficult. The steps would move my foot in one direction or the other, making my gait unnaturally wide or crossing my legs and making me step on my own foot, and then it was back to the starting line2.

Damn. I had no choice but to use the transport gun she gave me just an hour before. I only had 3 cartridges for the whole race, and I always felt sick for a few drops3 after. This was the only way to catch up, though. For her.

I pressed the switch, like cocking a revolver. A guiding arc appeared out of the muzzle, displayed in MR4. I aimed it to the top of the staircase, then pulled the trigger. For two drops, everything went dark. One drop for every kilodot. That’s what she said. They felt longer than ever. I just wanted to be back in her arms.

Then the blinding light returned, until my vision dimmed. I saw the throne, and knew that this was supposed to be the end of the race. So where were the spectators? Where was the confetti? Where was my girlfriend?

Then I saw him appear in the throne. I tensed, as the message appeared.

Race Complete

Your ranking: 2/192

1: Measure of distance equivalent to 1cm

2: Participants cannot lose any health during the race, even self-incurred. They must repeat the race until complete.

3: Measure of time, equivalent to 1 second

4: Mixed reality. All citizens have artificial eyes equipped with the latest in artificial display tech.


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