The Grid

“The Grid” by Darren Douglas.

Pictonaut challenge story for November 2012.

I walk out on to the grid. Loud clinks follow my footsteps. The echo of steel-tipped combat boots on the solid blast-resistant surface, reinforced and more than capable of supporting all the assembled craft and associated tech. Heavy duty gear and we’re all grounded beneath the scrapers of Skygate Port City but soon I’ll be lighter than air. Soon I’ll be breaking the stratospheric limits, strafing and soaring through outer space, freewheeling my way through dogfights against the best that the Glisean Empire has to offer.

I thrill at the thought of it. Smashing the sound barrier. Elevation, rising beyond the ozone layer for adrenalised life-and-death battle in the black starry beyond. Lights. Explosions. Achievement of the incredible, and my senses at one with the machine that moves to my every will and makes me a space god. I am the force of violent victory. I am the exulted angel, hero of the heavens, jet flames trailing in my wake.

I anticipate the thrum and throb of the engines and feel myself get harder as I see my own starfighter waiting. It’s flanked by technicians, all of them male and all of them handsome. That’s an understatement. Drawing near I realise that they are the most beautiful blue-collar brutes on the Military Tech Academy’s books and they’ve all been allocated to my craft. Raw rugged physicality frames itself and displays itself proudly, propped against my powerful weapon. They play with its parts to make it sing, polish it lovingly to make it shine. Animal lust and libido radiating, ricocheting off steel, glass and chrome. Pure desire burns beneath dirt-stained uniforms.

Energies surge and I get harder but, hold, flashes in my peripheral vision. Swells in my sight, cuts in perception. The roar of engines and the clangs, clatter and grid chatter mute down and dampen as the picture dizzies and drops to darkness…


Attention, Theta-11. Apologies for pulling you out of visualisation. You’ll be returned momentarily when we’ve recalibrated the data feed up here. Must have been last maintenance scans or something… deactivated a few drives. Usual snafus, so apologies again. Hang tight a sec and I’ll drop you back in… oh, good job by the way. You were yielding some serious serotonin levels there. We all good? Yeah? Ready with the visuals?  Connected and online? Okay we’re good. Theta-11, here we go again…


I walk out on to the grid. Loud clinks follow my footsteps. The echo of steel-tipped combat boots on the solid blast-resistant surface, reinforced and more than capable of supporting all the assembled craft and associated tech. Heavy duty gear and we’re all grounded beneath the scrapers of Skygate Port City but soon I’ll be lighter than air. Soon I’ll be breaking the stratospheric limits, strafing and soaring through outer space, freewheeling my way through dogfights against the best that the Glisean Empire has to offer.

I thrill at the thought of it. Smashing the sound barrier. Elevation, rising beyond the ozone layer for adrenalised life-and-death battle in the black starry beyond. Lights. Explosions. Achievement of the incredible, and my senses at one with the machine that moves to my every will and makes me a space god. I am the force of violent victory. I am the exulted angel, hero of the heavens, jet flames trailing in my wake.

I anticipate the thrum and throb of the engines and feel myself get harder as I see my own starfighter waiting. It’s flanked by droid technicians, all of them sleek, highly-dextrous, super-intelligent enhanced specimens more proficient and capable than…

Hey, wait. This isn’t right. Where are my rugged male mechanics team? Why aren’t the handsome heroes of the Military Tech Academy – the men who make my power weapons sing and shine – here? What the heck is this?

Exhilaration dropping. I’m let down. Uninspired. Main Control, I’m pulling out. Get me out Main Control. Do you read me? Theta-11, pulling out…


Attention, Theta-11. Are you hearing me? Can you hear me clearly again?

Yeah, Theta-11 here. Back with you. I hear you okay.

Would you care to explain your decision to abort?

Yeah, why’d you pull my technicians? Why’d you sub in droids when I was enjoying the men – you know, real, organic men – so much? You took ‘em away and they were getting me there!

I apologise Theta-11. It says here on your record that you respond well to high-tech AI and state of the art machinery. You’re listed as a techno-fetishist. We thought you might like them…

Heck no! Give me human man over robots any day! You want serotonin? Gimme the good stuff if you want to excite me! Go on, put me back in but this time fabricate more hot mechanics and I promise you I will get so hard and aroused you’ll be able to power the city off me for a week…

Theta-11 closed his eyes and waited for the sweet visions to manifest themselves once more. The immobile amputee felt his electrodes buzz, the wires and tubes linking him to the glass hub hanging over his private chamber surge with relayed energy and information. Senses now gathering impressions of the grid – his grid – he came to life again as an exulted angel of death, the space god, the hard-as-a-rock hero of the heavens with a powerful mega-weapon primed by adonises.

Serotonin levels skyrocketed and the feeds surged. The outcome of today’s session: both Main Control and Theta-11 very happy and certainly no chance of a powercut in the city tonight.

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