The flux drive thrummed as the cruiser powered over the grassland, away from the stink and bustle of the city. Matt didn’t look back; he hadn’t even bothered to pack, just slung on his favourite jacket, thrown some clothes into the cruiser’s trunk and headed out. Holidays were few and far between in Matt’s line of work and it paid to get them underway quickly, before anyone could stop your plans in their tracks.
The sun was going down as he shot away from the brightly lit bio-sphere, shot away from deadlines, shot away from Theresa, who wouldn’t stop calling. He’d thrown his communicator into a sink full of water before he’d left. Let her try leaving a message on that, he thought. Laughing, he turned the radio on, but he couldn’t get a signal this far out. He glanced in the rear view mirror. The floodlights of the security checkpoint were receding into nothing but specks; stars below the thick cloud cover. He turned the radio off and hummed instead.
Grassland gave way to dark hills, bare trees throwing jagged shapes against a gradually darkening sky. There were no speed regulators out here and no lamp roads, so he made use of the cruiser’s headlights. They flickered to life cautiously – they hadn’t been used in months. The glass fronts threw weird shapes in light and shadow against the hedgerows and verges by the side of the broken tarmacked road. Sometimes Matt thought those shapes looked like skulls, leering at him in the night. He laughed again and flipped the cruiser up a gear, accelerating across a dry river bed and into the dead ground beyond.
He pulled the brake on and cut the engine, which whined like a dog pining through a door, and then the hiss of the hover pads was the only sound. The cruiser set down and Matt leaped over the door; he’d seen that in an old movie and rejoiced in doing it whenever he had leave. Smiling to himself, he looked around.
Buildings, or the remains of them, surrounded him on all four sides, but there were streets leading off and wide expanse in the middle. It would have been called a plaza back home, but he’d seen a sign on one of the buildings that had said it was a square. He sat on the back of a metal lion, which was missing half its head, and lit a double-filter. The smoke rose in delicate swirls and Matt watched them curl into the air until it seemed like they came from the nostrils of the statue on top of the column. Matt gazed up at him, the bronze man alone amongst the ruins of a city, and wondered for the fiftieth time who it was supposed to be.