Alex Brisby’s mind was racing with the potential profits from his most recent purchase. His investment group had bought a Chinese-owned social media company at a third of its actual value thanks to his friends in Washington.
The Chinese were told they had to divest their American operation for “American National Security Interests.” Given that they either did so or the company was simply banned from operating in the United States, they didn’t have much of a choice.
The question facing Brisby now was how long to hold onto it before flipping it. He was told three years would be ideal but he was thinking he would like to be rid of it within a year. A quick sale to a domestic rival. There would be less money but there would also be less risk.
Brisby’s mind was so occupied with these thoughts that he didn’t even register the soft thud of his three-ton car rolling over something on his way into downtown. Quite a change from his first outing in the special aftermarket “FREEDOM EDITION” Rolls-Royce.
That time, just a few weeks ago, was filled with a combination of emotions: fear, dread, excitement, worry that his $2.6 million dollar car might have been damaged. All of which had been for naught.
The car was designed for exactly such outings and a quick visit to the detailer had removed any debris from the front and undercarriage of the vehicle.
The exit appeared. Brisby slowly entered downtown Los Angeles. It was a shell of what it once was. The days of boasting about Los Angeles finally having a “real” downtown had been buried and forgotten years ago. They had been put to rest by the various strains of contagions and the several riots which had ravaged it.
Downtown was now a mass of boarded up and abandoned storefronts. It resembled Detroit or some other abandoned Midwestern hellhole far more than any sort of “world class city” as it had once pretended to be.
As Brisby made his way toward City Hall, he saw a zombie starting to cross the street. He neither accelerated nor swerved. Such creatures were not his target. But the foul creature, poor and probably on drugs, stepped directly in front of him. What was he to do?
Other than a brief splotch of liquid and soft materials on the windshield, he barely noticed.
Brisby marveled at how quickly he had adapted to life in the FREEDOM EDITION. It was nine times the cost of a standard Rolls-Royce. However, aside from the armor, bulletproof glass, and other physical alterations, it came with something far more important. The legal protections necessary to cover any “incidental” damage or loss of life to others.
The “others” was very specific and qualified, of course. Running over a law enforcement officer or emergency worker was still subject to additional, very steep fines, for instance. But the rest. They were fair game.
Brisby arrived at the protest just a few minutes later. He wasn’t even sure what this one was supposed to be about. It seemed there were always lazy and potentially violent individuals downtown every weekend now in front of City Hall for one thing or another.
Sometimes it was about “social justice.” Sometimes it was about “financial reform.” Sometimes it was about “food relief.” As far as Brisby was concerned, it was all just different phrases for the same thing: hand outs.
The anger welling within him felt good. Just as the protestors had their moral outrage, he had his. They were leeches on society. These people had no intention of contributing anything to the nation. Only taking, taking, taking….
And with that thought in mind, he pressed down on the gas peddle. The twin electric motors propelled the car forward at high velocity toward the crowd ahead of him.
He barely had time to read their signs about climate change or whatever blather they were on about before the first bodies began to be crushed by the massive wheels of his car.
There were screams. And yells. And things banging against his car as he sped by.
Brisby would be annoyed if they scratched the body. He was assured the special clear-coat finish would protect the paint. Something which he was still nervous about given that he had spent nearly twenty-thousand dollars having it painted baby blue rather than settling for the standard black.
He needn’t have worried. The car was in it its element doing exactly what it was designed to do, running over useless scum and other organic obstacles with cool efficiency and without receiving even the slightest damage.
Brisby slammed on the brakes. He had never tried a reverse ram but was determined to give it a try this time. He waited for the angry and ignorant mob to run after him. Exactly what they thought they were going to do if they ever reached him was a real question. But he realized they were far too stupid and unaware to realize the bunker-like safety of being inside the Rolls.
He resisted the urge to floor it as they got closer and closer. He could hear him them yell. He could hear their threats. He could even see their angry and determined faces ready to try to pull him from his car and beat him to death. Savages.
He waited until they were closer and closer. Twenty feet. Fifteen feet. Ten feet. The wheels spun as he pressed the gas pedal to the floor.
Three tons of metal rammed into the crazed animals chasing him.
They fell below the wheels of the car in great clusters. Falling on top of one another as they were crushed beneath the car.
Brisby was disappointed how quickly he was through the lot of them. He had left of path of crushed and broken bodies behind but was now in open road again. They kept looking at him. Pointing. Yelling. Threatening.
Several others tried to attend to the wounded who had somehow managed to survive. But many, many more were intent on trying to surround his car. His beautiful, beautiful car.
He hit the gas and ran right through them, once again.
Dozens more screamed. Dozens more died. It was all so easy. All so natural. Such was the way things should be. The way of the world. The hunters and the hunted. Those that contribute. Those that do not.
Death to the freeloaders who would bleed the country dry in its hour of need!
It was then that flames engulfed the car. One of the bastards had thrown a molotov cocktail at him.
Fire flickered through the windshield. His hood was alight.
The fire quickly went out but the damage had been done. His custom paintwork now had unsightly burn marks on it. Brisby was outraged.
He scanned the crowd with his eyes and quickly saw the young thug which had thrown the flaming bottle at him. He could think of nothing but reaching him and making him pay for what he had done. He floored the pedal in pursuit.
He may have run over another one or two of the crowd along the way but he hardly noticed. He could think of nothing but the youth fleeing from him. The one who had damaged his car. The one who had ruined his paint job.
He hit him with such force that rather than go under the wheels as was the norm, the youth was tossed up into the air. Brisby delighted in hearing the thud of the falling body against the very hood he had damaged with his molotove cocktail.
In a moment of pure magic, their eyes met. Brisby inside the Rolls. The insolent and violent youth pinned against his windshield. The youth pleaded with his eyes. Brisby slammed on the brakes and let him roll off. Then he made sure to run over him again to finish him off.
These people had to learn.
Brisby’s joy was short lived, however. His excitement and anger had gotten the better of him. As a result, he had somehow driven the Rolls off of the road and into the park across from City Hall. He was stuck in a ditch.
The Rolls was immobilized.
Brisby looked out the window and saw the mob approaching. Several had baseball bats. Several had more molotov cocktails. A few even seemed to have guns.
For the first time since Brisby had began his outings, he was truly scared. What if he was burned to death in his car? Or the the bulletproof glass was somehow defective and the bullets penetrated into the cabin?
He opened the glove box and slammed down on the red button inside. The one that read “Special Roadside Assistance.”
The mob was upon him. They climbed on top of his car. The bats pounded against the metal. The sound was deafening. It was like the banging of a hammer against his skull.
Molotove cocktails were lit under his car.
Brisby soon felt the heat of the flames beneath him. He knew all about the manufacturers promises of fire protection. All the same, he was filled with terror.
What would they do to him if they could reach him?
His fears were soon put to rest. Two helicopters flew near. They unleashed a hail of bullets into the attacking mob. “Special Roadside Assistance” had arrived almost instantly.
Brisby knew that such a rescue was above and beyond the standard plan and he would be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for such service. He didn’t care.
He just needed to get out. To get away from the mob. To return to the comfort and safety of his Bel Air home.
The crowd dispersed easily and one of the two helicopters descended as the other stood guard. Brisby saw the black-uniformed men in their combat gear. One of them got out and ran toward Brisby.
He knocked on Brisby’s windshield and showed him his ID. He gestured for Brisby to get out of his car.
Brisby didn’t move.
The man knocked against the window again. And then the helicopter above released a hail of gunfire. The mob was attacking again. They were trying to prevent Brisby from leaving.
Brisby forced himself out of his car and followed behind the security officer. They ran back to the helicopter. They gestured for him to climb in.
Brisby hesitated. “But what about my car?!” he yelled. The officer told him that a recovery team would be sent to retrieve it. It was reassurance enough for Brisby. He climbed into the helicopter.
Before he even had time to strap himself in, the helicopter was lifting off leaving the mob and his beloved Rolls behind.
The protesters yelled at him. They threw things. A few fired guns. They even continued to pound away at his, now empty, car. A symbol of all that they hated.
There was little harm they could do to Brisby, now. He was already hundreds of feet in the air.
The scene of the incident faded into the distance. Brisby was safe. It had cost him a lot of money. Far more than he had intended. But it had been worth it.
He felt more alive than he ever had before.
Buying and selling companies was thrilling but nothing like he felt now. Pure primeval emotions. Rage. Domination. Knowledge that he was the alpha and could and would do as he pleased.
Life had never felt so intense and complete.
And then he saw the two figures on the rooftop of a nearby skyscraper. Men in dark suits. Asian men. One of which was on his cell phone. The other kneeling with a large tube-like item in his hands. A tube-like item aimed directly at the helicopter.
It was the Chinese.
Brisby saw the missile coming directly at him. He knew there was nothing he could do. It was over.
The helicopter exploded instantly.
Ash softly floated toward the ground. It covered the Rolls in a blanket of grime, its baby blue paintwork now turned to gray.
AUTHORS NOTE: This story takes current trends to a (hopefully) absurd and extreme end. I consider it a cross between the violent, eighties, cyberpunk anime I love and Ayn Rand. I highly recommend reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED if you have the time. They are unique books with a powerful, and some would say, terrifying world view. Lastly, as far as I know Rolls- Royce and its affiliates have no plans to actually release a FREEDOM EDITION as described. At least not so far…