“Hey, you zip about Dave?”

“No, my telepathic faculties were centered on that mutant chick in Underground Detroit with the outstanding frontal lobes. Who’s Dave? What about him?”

“He hit the deer, man. Talk about bad luck. The last deer on the planet and Dave hits it.”

“Is the deer okay?”

“It’s being cloned right now. It will be all right; they figure they can clone another deer from it, plus maybe some excellent venison steak.”

“You mean… meat? I haven’t had any meat for, oh, I don’t know, maybe 200 years! What was, er, Dave on, anyway?”

“Nothing, man, he was straight.”

“No, what was he what, riding?”

“He was on the MV-Indian-Harley-Davidson-Triumph-BMW-Honda, of course. That’s all there is.”

“We haven’t got any fuel. What did he use to drive it?”

“Distilled some fuel it himself. He got the robo-factory to deliver 10,000 gallons of out-of-date aftershave and used the old whiskey distillery out on Desolation Road.”

“Ten thousand gallons? How come he got ten thousand gallons of aftershave? Er, what’s aftershave? Come to think of it, what’s whiskey?”

“We, er, we like used to grow hair on our face, and…”

“Hair on our face? We don’t grow hair anywhere. Even the deer doesn’t grow hair. The only animal that still grows hair is the rat, man. I saw him on ViveVideo last night, playing the ‘piano’.”

The Pacific Ocean.

“Yeah, but we used to grow hair on our face, and we used to shave it off, then we’d put on aftershave.”

“That’s disgusting. Why didn’t we just tweak our genes so we wouldn’t grow hair anymore? Like we tweaked our genes so that our liver would release a certain amount of alcohol into our system all the time? Wait… shave it off? Like with a blade? Blades have been illegal for, like, longer than I can remember!”

“No, most of the time these were Safety razors…”

“You said the sacred word! All stand and genuflect! SAFETY! Save us from ourselves, O Safety! Our Word in heaven, hallowed be thy spelling…”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s just us here. Sit down. Oh, you can’t, can you? You’re a disembodied brain in a bottle in a machine like me. Settle down then. Here. Have a piece of seaweed sashimi into your loading port.”

“You know, I swear by Saint Rollie I’ve heard that sashimi used to be actual fish.”

“Rubbish. You know there are at least, what, like 200 people left in the world including that chick in Underground Detroit. How would they ever have stretched the fish to give everyone a piece?”

“Well, they say there used to be more than one fish…”

“That’s crazy talk! You might as well say that there used to be more than one MV-Indian-Harley-Davidson-Triumph-BMW-Honda! Come to think of it, how’s the bike?”

“Oh, it’s good. They got the 3D printer out there right away and it’s reprinting the Safety… whoops, said the magic word! …features on the bike. The crash bars…”

“Hey! You know it’s illegal to say the word, ah, (whispers) ‘crash’. You mean the Safety… sit still, er, float still in your machine… the Safety bars.”

Remnant of what was once a “border”.

“Yeah, thanks, reprinting the Safety bars, and nothing else was damaged in the, the accident.”

“Whoa. ‘Accident’. Pretty risqué talk there.”

“Well I know you’re not supposed to say words like that, but you know, we’re near enough to adults at 250, and there’s nobody under 150 years old who can hear us. Actually, there’s nobody under 150 years old in the world. So anyway, it’s all good. All good.”

The automatic factory keeps mining ‘lithium’, whatever that is.

“Bit of a relief. By the way, are you watching the ViveVision tonight? They say the rat is going to run a maze on a simulated motorbike, live! Well, assuming it is still alive. If not they’ll use the roborat. Or electrical stimulation. If a wind comes up to drive the windmill, which is pretty unlikely since there isn’t much atmosphere left.”

“Naw. Can I trust you? We’re going to watch an old bootleg video of Easy Rider tonight. Want to come over and pedal?”

“Wow. I’ve heard about this. The 2301 Easy Rider Mobility Scooter GP at Underground America in Texas! With the revived consciousness of Valentino Rossi steering one of the scoots through the tunnels!”

“Ah, my money – what does that mean, money? – is on the revived consciousness of Kevin Schwantz. He’s a local. Got to be a local advantage.”

“All right! Bet you six months of Immortality Pills that Kevin takes it out!”

“You’re on. Oh, by the way, how’s Dave?”

“Dave? Oh, who cares? One fewer mouth to feed with seaweed sashimi. Have another one on me.”

(Time machine and photos The Bear)

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