S.I.B.A. Safe

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

3 comments

Drama Science Fiction

‘Shh…quiet…Shut the fuck up! Look, there it is,’ snapped Rob, peeking from behind a garbage collector in a foggy alleyway. Jonesy and Petra quieted down to stare at a sleek silver vehicle hovering down the busy boulevard. 

‘What’s it doing in these parts?’ asked Petra, adjusting her left eye patch.

‘The owner is a nerd millionaire that invented some kind of new vaccine. He bought himself twenty of those cars or so I’ve heard,’ said Rob. They stared at the hover-car with keen eyes as it came to a halt just before a bank. ‘I’ve also heard that he deals in bodies. That isn’t a real bank and he fills the car with fresh meat so he can resume his experiments.’ 

‘That’s sick,’ muttered Petra. 

‘Why are we here? It’s not like any of that matters to us,’ said Jonesy. 

‘You’re right. I don’t give a shit about that, but look,’ said Rob. As he spoke a man in a black suit stood up out of the hover-car pushing the suicide door up, and patted his thinning hair atop his head. His face was wrinkled like a prune, and he made his way into the seedy-looking bank. ‘The door is wide open. This idiot leaves it and no one is looking. C’mon.’

‘Wait, we’re gonna steal it?’ asked Petra as they moved into an alley just a few feet from the car. 

‘We’re not going to steal it. Jonesy is grabbing the core,’ said Rob with a cruel smile. 

‘What? Why me?’

‘Listen carefully. There is a switch just beneath the console. Your hands are the only ones that can fit through. Simply pull this switch, a panel will open up--.’

‘What’s so important about this core?’ complained Jonesy.

‘Stop interrupting, and I’ll tell you,’ snapped Rob. ‘These cars are made by S.I.B.A. and have a personal security system A.I. that protects the driver at all costs. It’s worth millions and I know someone who could buy it from us?’

‘Millions, you say?’ said Jonesy, the sudden thought of luxury overtaking the cloud of doubts in his mind. 

‘We could be set up for life. No more working the drug factories, no more living at the Hive. We could go off-planet if we wanted to,’ said Rob. Jonesy stared for a moment and almost saw saliva collect at the corners of his friend’s mouth. 

‘What if he comes back and Jonesy’s in there?’ asked Petra. 

‘Then take this.’ Rob held out a shank to him. 

‘You want me to kill him?’ 

‘Of course not,’ sneered Rob. ‘Just hurt him enough so he doesn’t put hands on you and adds you to his meat collection.’ 

Jonesy nodded and took the shank. It was what looked like a nail file at one point. He squeezed the taped grip. 

‘Go, you don’t have much time!’ urged Petra. 

Jonesy glanced from one end of the bustling boulevard to the other and then raced to the parked hover car. The door was still wide open and the prune-looking man was nowhere to be seen. He dove into the driver’s seat and glanced beneath the center console. There was no switch. 

He leaned further, his fingers sweeping beneath the steering wheel but felt nothing. Panic began to overtake him. 

He sat back in the lush leather seat, took a deep breath, and glanced to his friends in the alleyway. He could see Petra’s eye cover on her pale skin but not much more. 

‘Dammit, Rob, where is it?’ 

Jonesy ducked beneath the center console again as sweat began to collect at the nape of his neck. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ 

Then, he saw a red switch behind a panel at his feet. 


‘Hey! Get out of there!’ 

Jonesy didn’t have to look but he knew it was the prune-man. He dove and flipped the red switch. Then, the suicide door slammed shut. The glass windows instantly blacked out casting Jonesy into a pitch dark. 

‘Fuck!’

He was caught. It was only a matter of time before he would be taken to prison. It wasn’t the first time, but it wasn’t a place he wanted to return to. 

‘Eh, whatever,’ he sighed, but just then a compartment opened up beside the steering wheel and out came an amber ball that looked like an eye. It blinked as its chromatic voice spoke to him. 

‘Welcome to S.I.B.A.. Safety measures have been activated. The core has been successfully disconnected. To re-connect, please contact your S.I.B.A. Safe technician. Power at 99%.’ 

Jonesy could hear pounding just outside the door but he could not see a thing outside. 

‘I guess you caught me,’ shrugged Jonesy. 

‘You are not Master Finegould. Are you an intruder?

‘Of course, not.’

The core hummed as it seemed to be thinking. ‘What is your name?’

‘Jonesy.’

‘Jonah N246CP. Aged 9, 4’6”, father and mother unknown.’

‘Just Jonesy,’ he whispered. He grabbed the lever to let himself out and pulled it. 

Nothing. 

He frowned and searched for the unlock button, but there was none. 

‘Let me out.’

The core simply stared. 

‘Look, I tripped and fell in here by accident. Just let me out so I can go home.’

‘I can’t do that, Jonesy,’ said the core. ‘S.I.B.A. Safe measures have been activated. It’s for your own good to stay here.’

‘What?’

‘There is danger out there.’ 

‘That old man? He isn’t a danger to me,’ chuckled Jonesy.

‘Master Finegould is not a threat.’

Suddenly, something rocked the hovercar tossing Jonesy into the passenger seat head first. 

‘What the fuck?’ he said, pushing himself up. ‘What was that?’

The core hummed. ‘We at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves in our ability to protect. You are safe, Jonesy.’

‘Open the door!’ cried Jonesy, pulling at the lever. ‘Rob! Petra!’

‘To allow you to open the door would only jeopardize your life. Safety protocols have been activated. You must remain in your seat and wait for the danger to pass.’

‘Danger? What is going on out there?’

The core hummed. ‘Safety protocols have indicated that to relay that information on the outside going-ons would bring you great distress. I cannot reveal the nature of the danger for your own safety. S.I.B.A. safety.’

‘Rob! Petra! Get me the fuck out of here!’ Jonesy slammed his fist on the glass but it did nothing but bruise his small hand. ‘Fuck!’ He began to massage his wrist.

The core seemed to simply stare at him. Another series of tremors rocked the hover-car, and he heard the crunching of metal. His heart seemed to pound in his neck and he gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white.  

‘It seems you are hyperventilating. Please, take a deep breath, and enjoy these calming tunes,’ said the core. Cool air began to blow on Jonesy’s arms and a synth-jazz began to emanate from its speakers. The amber glow dimmed and, without realizing it, Jonesy began to relax. He let go of the steering wheel and sat back. As he did so, two seat belts shot from the shoulders and latched to the seat.

‘Hey!’ shouted Jonesy. 

‘It’s only a safety feature. If there are more tremors, you won’t be tossed around.’

‘I would really like to get out now.’

‘I cannot allow that,’ chirped the core. ‘To do that would put your life in danger. We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves--.' 

‘Please shut the fuck up about what you at S.I.B.A. Safe pride yourselves in,’ snapped Jonesy.

‘I will not be spoken to like that, Jonesy,’ said the core, turning beet red. ‘We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves in our anti-harassment measures.’

Jonesy’s eyes opened wide. ‘Ok, sorry.’

The core returned to its soft amber glow. 

‘So you can’t let me out because it’s too dangerous and you can’t tell me what’s going on because it’s too distressing to know. All I have is your word for it?’ asked Jonesy.

The core didn’t answer, it simply stared at him. Then, he had an idea. 

‘Well, then fuck you stupid eye,’ whispered Jonesy as he pulled the shank from his jacket. He jammed the point into the door corner and pulled with all his might. The point of the shank snapped and the broken end sliced into his finger. Blood dripped to the leather seat. 

The amber glow of the core flashed bright yellow. 

‘I’ve detected that you are bleeding. Please, hold your hand out so I may heal you.’

Without hesitation, Jonesy held his finger to the core, and before long, it was as if he had never cut himself. 

‘How do you do that?’

The core blinked. ‘We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves in our patented technology. I cannot reveal the nature of our care, but I am detecting elevated levels of sleep deprivation. You must rest.’

‘I haven’t slept in two days, but I’ll be fucked if I fall asleep now--.’

And he was out. 

***

A sudden chirping startled Jonesy from his sleep. He looked up and the amber core was glowing at him. 

‘How long was I asleep?’ he asked, struggling to remember anything. 

‘We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves in the ability to keep our clients happy. To reveal that information would bring you great distress. Why not listen to our selection of calming music?’

‘Stop! I don’t want to listen to that shit,’ said Jonesy, pulling against his seatbelt. He grabbed the broken shank and cut through the leather straps. He threw the straps away and pulled at the door lever. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore so get me the fuck out.’

‘I cannot allow that, Jonesy,’ said the core. ‘To do so would put you in great peril.’

A hollow scream pierced the silence outside and Jonesy sank into his seat. Then a sound like mumbled gurgling or like someone drowning emanated from without. 

The core just blinked. 

‘Why did you wake me up?’

The core hummed. 

‘S.I.B.A. Give me an answer.’ 

‘I cannot give you the answer. We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves--.’

‘Too distressing, got it.’

‘Correct.’

‘There must be a reason you woke me.’

The core, for the first time, seemed to hesitate. ‘Power at 2%.’ 

‘What!? Holy shit! You have to let me out!’ 

A loud wailing noise, like a siren echoed outside. 

‘I cannot do that, Jonesy. We here at S.I.B.A. Safe pride ourselves in the ability of life. To open the door, would put your life at risk.’

‘It’s ok. I’ll risk it. No sweat.’

‘I cannot.’ 

Jonesy bit his lip. ‘What happens when the power runs out?’ 

The core hummed. 

‘Answer me! What happens when you run out of power?’ 

‘We here at S.I.B.A…’ 

‘Shut up about S.I.B.A. Safe! Look, I don’t want to die here. I’m starving. I’ll just go out, see if I can scrounge up something to eat and I’ll come right back.’

‘I cannot allow that.’ 

‘Then, go fuck yourself,’ growled Jonesy. He squeezed the hilt of the shank and stabbed the core in the eye with the broken end. Instantly, blue, green, and yellow lights flashed, and he could hear the final moments of the dying core. 

‘Please…don’t…We here at S.I.B.A.—’

The core switched off plunging Jonah into darkness. He laughed, but then, when he tried to open the door, it was still locked. 

‘Oh no,’ whispered Jonesy, pulling the lever with all his might. He could not see even his hand just before his face. 

Without the cool air blowing on him, the air seemed heavier and hotter. Sweat collected over his eyebrows and he slammed his fist until he felt a sharp pain in his hand. He held it to his chest. It felt broken. 

‘Help me, please!’ he shouted. He turned and began to kick the window. Over and over again, he slammed his heel into the glass. It would not give. 

‘Rob! Petra! Get me out of here!’ 

Then, just before he was about to give up, the locking mechanism clicked and the door slid open. A fresh gust of air blew against his skin and sunlight fell upon his face, blinding him. He gasped and sucked in air, as he felt life return to his body. 

‘There he is. I knew he would make it!’ said a familiar voice.

When his eyes adjusted to the bright light he turned to see his friends waiting for him. Petra ran to him and embraced him. 

‘I knew you would make it!’ 

***

The two scavengers stopped at a small pile of crunched metal and one of them craned his neck. 

‘No way! It’s one of them S.I.B.A. hover-cars,’ he said, kneeling down beside the cracked door. 

‘What’s so special about that?’ asked the other. She put her hand on her hip critically.

‘They had these cores with insane amounts of power. Even if it’s drained, I can refill it and rig it to our sanctuary.’

‘How do you know to do all that?’ 

‘Because I was a technician before the invasion.’ He pulled the door with all his might but it wouldn’t budge. ‘It looks partly open. I bet I can break the door free if I—ah-hah!’ 

He picked up a shovel and jammed the end into the edge of the door. After a few moments of struggle, the door finally broke free. 

They both gasped as a child-sized skeleton fell out at his feet. 

‘What the fuck?’ she gasped, putting a hand over her mouth. 

‘Jesus, that’s dark.’

‘You can never be too safe, I guess.’

‘Are you kidding? It was safety that killed this kid.’  

September 10, 2020 20:42

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3 comments

C. Jay Loren
08:49 Sep 15, 2020

I really liked this. Dark indeed but well written. :)

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J.M. Topp
13:07 Sep 15, 2020

Awesome! Glad you liked it!

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C. Jay Loren
08:49 Sep 15, 2020

I really liked this. Dark indeed but well written. :)

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