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A trans football player needs to make his dawn curfew or he will get kicked off the Meganomics Antigravity Football Team on the day of the Antigrav World Finals.
The uber lay in wait for Bobby Ferril on the corner. Loud music blared from the illegal club behind him. He opened the door and checked his iKron again. Shitballs, he was cutting it close.
“Miss, I really need to get home before sunrise,” said Bobby from the back seat of the hovering uber.
“Big game tomorrow?” she asked, making eye contact in the rearview cam screen. The door locks spun in quantum contemplation of the passenger’s identity.
“Yeah. The Antigrav World Finals. I’m the starting quarterback for Meganomics. I gotta make my dawn curfew.” Bobby swiped his hand over the scanner built into the back of the seat in front of him. The EezyCard microchip embedded in his palm gave the uber his destination and credits were deducted in advance. The uber almost drove itself. Technically it did drive itself, but for legal reasons it had to have a human driver as backup.
“Typical. You football players are all the same.” She chuckled and shook her head.
“Foot. Ball. Players. I dated one once. It didn’t end well. Big. Dumb. Ass. Hole. Left a bad taste in my mouth. He had dirty nails and these big meaty hands. As for his feet—”
“Oh. Sorry it didn’t work out, Miss. I don’t really date. Girls don’t like men like me. Lucky you arrived so quickly to pick me up.”
“Yeah.” The driver chuckled again. She hummed a catchy melody. Recorded music was forbidden in public.
“Nice tune, Miss.” Bobby looked at his manicured nails and sighed. He dug into his handbag, looking for a mint to mask the alcohol on his breath. He sniffed an armpit. “Coach is gonna kill me for sure this time,” he thought.
“Happy with your life as an elite and privileged athlete?” asked the driver.
“Pretty much, Miss. I got my superfans and I’m making big waves in this sport. I believe I’m a happy camper.” Bobby kept digging for the mint he knew was in there somewhere. Probably down in a corner with the lint.
“What’s your handicap, big boy?”
“I know elite athletes aren’t elite without a little help from someone or something. What gives you your edge?”
“My edge, Miss?”
“Don’t play dumb with me. And stop calling me Miss. I’m Kulamba. You got yourself something mechanical or a bit of chemical performance enhancement?”
“I’m drug free. They test us all regularly. I’m clean.”
“It’s all too easy to cheat on a drug test. Ah, then it’s an Outpacer for sure. Those pacemakers make you hard to beat.”
“I was born female. I transitioned three years ago, Miss Kulamba. I’m light on my feet and strong in my mind. That’s my edge. I’m a great athlete.”
The two rode in silence for a while. The stealthy vehicle was soundproof.
“You think there’s some kinda formula for happiness?” asked Kulamba. The uber turned without indicating.
“This right here is my formula.”
“This conversation. We’re talking to each other, making a connection. That’s the formula for sure. Humans don’t do well in isolation.”
“Right.” Kulamba stopped the uber. “And this is our stop, my good man.”
“Thanks, Miss Kulamba. I appreciate it. You saved me. Here.” Bobby handed over a precious mint.
“You’re tipping me a dinner mint?”
“Yeah, I got some leftover mints from a party I abandoned last week. I’m not much of a party person, if you know what I mean?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I need to sober up or I’m gonna be kicked off the team for sure. The coach is looking to fire me to make way for his loser son.”
“Thanks. I never met a recalcitrant football player like you before. You’re built differently from the others I’ve ferried to their final destinations over the years.”
“You got that right. As the first transgender player in the history of antigravity football I gotta set a good example. I’m a role model.”
“Hmm. I was gonna let you off easy, but first, the matter of the mint. Let’s see those pretty hands of yours.”
Kulamba grabbed Bobby’s hand and bit into his fingernail.
“Ow! What the hell? You just bit me. Stop! Shitballs, that hurts!”
“I’m gonna let you go after I’ve eaten every one of your twenty beautiful nails.”
“What the fuck man?” Bobby stared in disbelief. The nail had been ripped right off his forefinger. Blood splashed on the floor. Kulamba chewed on his nail.
“That’s the price you pay for being an antigravity football player.”
“Let me out of this uber right now! I don’t understand.”
Bobby kicked at the locked windows, but the transparent titanium glass couldn’t even be scratched. The uber rocked back and forth slightly on its antigrav cushion as Bobby grew more frantic.
“You nailed it, buddy! Big dumb jocks like you never understand anything. Curfews don’t mean anything to you. We gotta teach you ungrateful kids to be more responsible.”
“Coach Bradley pays me good money to make sure his players stick to the rules, Bobby Ferril. You didn’t follow the rules of the game. You break rules, you get broken. I just so happen to enjoy breaking things, and I got a thing for nails ripped fresh off a digit.”
By now Bobby had passed out. The uber drove off silently into the night’s final destination.
“This is my formula for my happiness. Finger food, to go. Yum.”
By then it was already dawn, and the day had only just begun.
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