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Programmer, Writer, Whatever Else

Street Race

Esta stepped through the crowd, out onto the street. The sign of "Dolbruck Ave." shone down onto them. The cars stood still as they were examined and awed over. Hers was fourth from the front, facing down the avenue. All the others were a wide range of colours, some looking fancy, some looking as if they were taken from a car show. Markers and barriers were set up with holograms. A clever way to avoid unwanted traffic, and easy to dispose of in a hurry.

Approaching her car, Esta noticed someone kneeling in front of it. She let out a light sigh, no matter how many times she has to shoo off meddling of her car, it won't seem to get mundane. Reaching the figure, she leaned against the door, watching out of curiosity more than anything else.

"As flattered as I am of you staring, I am just finishing up." The voice came just a moment before the man in front of the car rose. Esta couldn't help but let out a chuckle.

"You know," she finally said, "you should really wear one of those high-vis vests saying 'race staff'." Stepping forward, she bent to catch sight of the front bumper.

"First time?" he asked. Regardless of the answer he wanted, Esta's annoyed eyes said it all. "Do not worry, simple GPS. We can watch the whole race from here."

Esta looked to the sky, watching a set of lights coast through the night sky. She pointed to them saying, "too cheap for a drone?"

"Drones are easier to catch," he patted her on the shoulder as he passed by. A horn blared through the street. Esta rounded her car, and entered like all the others. As she sat in her seat, she stretched her limbs, listening to engines rev around her. A light hung from a nearby pedestrian-way. She shifted her car from park, holding the brakes down. Quickly the light changed from red to yellow. Esta squeezed the wheel, her foot resting on the gas pedal. Her cabin was coated in the golden glow. Hollering from outside pierced through the doors. Her eyes reflected the shine, as it suddenly changed to the emerald of go.[15]

Tires screeched and engines roared while all the cars shot forward. Esta's start was just as she wanted. Instantly being able to pass the racer right in front of her. The first turn. Hitting the brakes. Moving to the left. Moving to the inside. A tight turn with others nearly scraping the paint off.

Esta cursed under her breath. A right turn already, and she was on the outside. She pushed as far as she could to the right, but two cars already took the chance. She was in fifth. She kept pushing. Everyone turned further to the right. It was a wide turn into a long stretch. Esta watched the cars in front switch through all kinds of colours, the lively neon lights above shining their narcissistic signs.[16]

The turn ahead was left, Esta knew this was an opportunity. She leaned her car to the left, cutting off the racer behind. It was a very tight turn. She stepped on the brake pedal. Hand over hand, she furiously spun the wheel. Clearing the turn, she let out a sigh and put all her force onto the gas. In front of her was only one car now. The race was almost halfway done, and she couldn't afford to let up for a second.

The intersection ahead had a makeshift block, but a car ran through it and slammed into the first car. "What the hell?!" she shouted. Blue lights instantly lit up in the new car, and several more came from the street and ahead. Esta hit the brakes and slid to a left turn and through the race barrier without a scratch. Her eyes darted to the mirrors, to the street in front, and back. Sirens shrieked in front of her as more cars sprinted in her direction. She looked to the blocks on either side of her. And she found what she needed. Pulling the e-brake, she sharply skidded a turn into the nearby alley. Esta slowed her pace, but the manuveur wasn't enough. The chasers followed her in. Weaving through the narrow way, she crossed through traffic as screeching rubber and horns sounded around her.

She squeezed into another alley. Knocking over bins and feeling the bumps of trash. She caught one chaser left in her eye behind her. Immediately out of the alley, she veered onto the street and into the parking under a block. She flew over the ramp down. Her mouth let in a sharp inhale as the landing kicked up sparks. She murmured an apology to the car, racing to the exit. Driving out, she merged into traffic.

The intersection light ahead of her shone red. Taking the break, Esta let herself a moment to take some deep breaths. Still red, she looked around, she couldn't find any sign of anyone or anything to avoid. Could she really be in the clear that easily, she thought.

At the green, she moved to drive back to the finish line. She smirked knowing the GPS will get her the win. When she signed up, she read of two uses for it. Measuring a close finish being the more common one. But this was the other. If the race somehow gets broken up, the first one to cross the finish wins. The track didn't matter anymore. All that did matter was crossing, and without any enforcer eyes catching you.

Esta looked up at the next street sign: "Dolbruck Ave." It was perfect, that was the road where it started. But she was one the wrong side. She had to cross the line from the south. Peering around the intersection for more enforcers, she let out a slow and emphasized "shit." She recognized the car. It was one of the others from the start line. Their light changed green, and the competition was back on as they started to turn.

Esta started to lift off the brakes, but she forced the foot back down. She couldn't risk getting attention now. If the other racer didn't see her, she still had an advantage. Her light was green and she quickened to pass to the front of her block of traffic. She spotted another alleyway to use. She steered into the narrow way, accelerating down it, coming out on the other side. Just one more turn then it's a straightaway.

Checking her mirrors, the other car was getting closer. Esta was definitely noticed now. She stepped on the gas. She weaved between cars and through the turn. Tires screeched behind her and headlights filled the interior. So close. She could see the walkway the race lights hung from. She veered in front of her opponent. Her eyes stayed on the mirrors. Esta's car stayed in front of the other. And with the shadow passing over her, she let out a sigh. Turning away to let herself be passed, she eased the brakes. The street was empty, the crowd that filled the gap between the city blocks was scared away a good while ago. She finished the race, and she felt she had won, that she was the first. But how could she tell, everybody else was gone. And with sirens still howling in the distance, she had to be gone too. She could celebrate later. She closed her eyes and let the flow of traffic guide her back home.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The refrigerator illuminated Esta's face as she eyed her selection. Without much else thought, she grabbed a bottle of water, opening it with a crack. Water dribbled from the sides of her mouth before she sighed deep and put the bottle down. She fell onto her bed with a thud. Esta's eyes closed as she let her mind ease.

Only a few minutes passed before her wrist started to beep. She held her forearm in front of her face, a teal light became visible with a transparent GUI. A new box sat on top of the list. "CAMERA ALERT: garage" it read. Lifting her other hand to tap the square of light, the box expanded to view a monochromatic video of someone at her parked car. She rolled out of the bed and threw a jacket on, walking out her front door.

As Esta approached her private garage, all the doors appeared to be closed. She slowly and quietly made her way to the side door. Placing her hand on the handle, she found it unlocked. She cracked the door open, peering in as her vision of the interior grew. They're probably still by the car, she thought as she stepped through. Right by the door was a workbench where she reached under. Her posture relaxed in the slightest, and she pulled her personal gun from underneath. She turned the handle of the door while easing it closed with a silent thump.

Esta readied her weapon and gradually tip-toed through the garage until the main area was in sight. There they were. As she viewed the intruder, she got a clearer look than the camera. "You know, you could've texted," she noted while still holding her gun.

The figure glanced over to Esta, standing up taller. "Well, if you were arrested at home I did not want to risk anyone following the text back to me." He gestured to where he was searching. "Besides, I had no idea if you knew where I put the thing."

She nodded with a smirk, of course he would be back. Installing that invasive GPS wasn't enough in the first place, she thought to herself. "I saw you put it in. And besides, I know my car," she said while reaching into her pocket. Only a second later, she pulled out the man's tracker for him to see. The man rolled his eyes and walked toward Esta, outreaching his hand. Before he could grab it, she pulled it back. "Wait, wait," she began. "I'm not giving this back without even knowing a name."

He sighed and slumped his shoulders down. "Really," he asked with a cocked head. He glanced at her clenched hand, standing in silence for a while. With a deep breath he finally spoke, "It is Renno."

Esta smiled at Renno, pushing her hand forward and opening it for him. He swiped it into his own grasp, examining it closely. "So," she started, "Did I win?" Renno looked at her, gently nodding.

"Yep, once we finish collecting bets they will be wired to you." He pocketed his device, pulling up his arm's screen to tap a few spots. He started for the door before stopping himself. "Oh additionally, we got a request to pass on," Renno mentioned, "Someone from a local business wants to hire the winner for a job." Esta's eyes wondered, clearly not looking anywhere in particular. He continued, "Think about it. If you want to talk to them about the specifics, come find me and I can forward you the contact information."

Renno opened the door, pausing to examine the lock before he continued out. With a click of the door, Esta was alone in the quiet garage. She sat at one of her workbenches. Her mind wandered to the kind of work they might want her for. Whatever it was, it would pay well. But if it was a running job. She knew the danger to those.