Oh, I’m not dead.
I’m floating about six inches off the ground, and I’m not dead.
Just to let you know, rocket boot protective wear is literally a lifesaver.
Using gravity propulsion technology I can’t begin to comprehend, while you’re in the magnetized zones set up in the rocket skating rinks (as well as most highways in Atlanta), you have free and untethered control of your rocket boots. With practice, you can fly around at high speeds.
Without practice, you do a lot of falling, but luckily you just bounce up and down a bit off an invisible barrier and float around a bit, thanks to whatever’s in the protective gear.
Rocket boots are incredibly difficult to control. I’ve fallen flat on my face about six times so far and my life flashed before my eyes every time. It has made me realize my subconscious really thinks my fondest memory is that time Karina and I debated over Alien vs. Aliens in the Peach Towers food court and it went on for two hours. Why would I flash back to that one when I failed so utterly at convincing Karina that the original is far superior?
Karina flies on by and skids to a stop, floating just above me. I look up at her as I try to finangle myself back onto my feet.
“Why don’t you think Alien is the best one?” I ask.
“Nevermind. How do I keep from not falling and dying all the time? I don’t get it.”
“It’s just practice, Morgan,” Karina says. At this, she lifts her left foot up and then begins spinning around rapidly like an ice skater. She even puts her hands on her head ballerina-style.
That proves to be her undoing, and she begins spinning at an increasing rate with no sign of momentum letting up to the point that I have to grab her and slow her down.
“Even… I… need practice… sometimes…” Karina says, her head still bobbing up and down.
“I get the point. But it’s still terrifying.”
“And… fun!” This time, Karina dashes away, entering a nearby magnetized half-pipe and rocketing up into the sky. She flashes a peace sign at me and lands back down, performing another spin as her boots hit the surface. Just one spin this time. “It’s not exactly useful for my job to do most of this stuff, but it’s way better than any video game.”
“You take that back.”
“Okay, until we play Genesis Crush, I will still make the claim. No promises after that.”
“Speaking of, I’m wondering how likely it is we won’t be harassed by auction robots the entire day again…”
Karina slides a good twenty feet just by crouching and extending one foot forwards. Don’t be a show-off. “We can ignore them. If it’s a problem, we can just go back to my Dad’s house, since it’s not like he’ll be home the entire weekend or anything.”
“Preparing for the tech expo already?”
“Who cares.” She hops in the air and does a half-somersault, bouncing off the wall to the half-pipe and propelling her back next to me. I’m still just floating here, mind you. “Who really friggin’ cares. Genesis Crush is way more important than any fathers.”
“You take that back.”
“Okay, your dad is apparently really cool but I just haven’t met the guy. I’m sorry for all these baseless claims, okay!”
“Damn straight.” My father is in the top ten percent of all human beings, easy. “Though, on the topic of rocket skating… what exactly do you do when you have to use them in your job?”
“Ah, glad you asked!” Karina gives a cheery smile as if she had been waiting for me to ask this for eons. “See, at Packard’s Pizzas, we have a pretty strict fifteen-minute time limit for our pizzas, or else they’re half-off and we don’t get any tips. Not that we get many tips anyway… So obviously we use the rocket lane on the highways to go from pizzeria to the closest hub point. And from there, you usually aren’t in a safe zone to be skating anywhere.”
“Because without the gravity stuff, you’re just strapped to two tiny missiles aimed at nothing?” Geez, that makes me feel great about wearing these rocket boots.
“When you put it like that, it sounds worse than it is. It’s not impossible if you’re good. Especially if you are in desperate need of parkour jumps and you need a bit of an extra boost…”
“Parkour… Karina, are you actually safe out there?”
“I only do it when I have to! If you activate the rockets for just a split-second at a time, you can climb way easier than if you were on your own. You just have to make sure there’s no pedestrians around. Or cops.”
“That’s not at all reassuring…”
“Do you want to learn how to do it?”
“N-no… That sounds like instant death.”
“Not for you! You’ll heal.”
She’s got a point.
But just before Karina can start to drag me over to the half-pipe for practice at this morbid climbing exercise–
Oh, that’s my cellular. It’s pretty rare people actually want to contact ME. I wonder who–
“Morgan, this is Chuck. I need to know if you’re okay.”
“Yeah? I’m fine. My friend and I–”
“You said you were at the rocket skate park, right? Pretty good place, but it’s a pretty big waste of electricity. I wish they’d turn it off at night, but since it’s connected to the highways I guess that’s a big safety hazard, and even if they blocked it off I imagine ruffians would still manage to break in. But yeah, about that skate park… Get out.”
Go hole yourself up somewhere safe because that Edd Rockatansky is not a normal manager. He’s a criminal.”
“I mean, I already know K-Store has lax hiring standards. So what?”
“I mean, he’s Cybermancer. That kind of criminal.”
“Whatever that means. But it’s not like he’s… he’s… he’s right in front of me.”
There he is, standing right in front of me, at the un-magnetized edge of the skating area, wearing a ridiculous getup. All-black with sunglasses and a huge trench coat. The classic Nintendo Power Glove peripheral strapped to his right arm. K-Store Supervisor Edd Rockatansky, apparently.
“Thanks Chuck, but I’ve got to… go.”
The man in front of us laughs. “You didn’t think you’d face me again, did you? Well, you didn’t realize that the man you humiliated was none other than… Moonslash.”