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Man of Stone and Shadow - Chapter 3

Luyanda stepped into the garage and flipped on the light switch. His dad’s new hovercar was parked on the floor. It was pristine and gleamed white beneath the incandescent lighting. His mother’s beaten up rust bucket of a hovercar rested beside it. He pressed the button on the remote. The vehicle purred to life and floated gently off the ground. Its four propeller tubes puffed a warm, gentle breeze around the cold, dank room.

“Is your license valid?” Maddie snapped her purse shut and stuffed it into her handbag.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Luyanda muttered. “You ask me every single time.”

“You remember when they stopped you and it was expired?”

Luyanda didn’t need reminding. He swung open his hover door and stepped inside. His mother got into the back. Devon stalked into the garage.

“Is your license valid?”

Luyanda and his mother exchanged a look. She burst out laughing. Luyanda shook his head and smiled. Maddie strapped herself into her seat. Luyanda opened the garage door, and slowly hovered out into the driveway.

In a few minutes, they were hurtling along the flyway. He wondered how he would manage to get away from his parents. His PAD vibrated. It was an incoming call from Jabu. His mother threw him a look. He shrugged and flicked his wrist. Jabu’s face popped out of his PAD, suspended in mid-air to his left, as if he were in the car with him.

“Dude, where the hell are you? It’s crazy out here. I need a wingman.”

Luyanda wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole. His cheeks grew warm and the tips of his ears tingled.

“Err…I’m in the car. You’re on speaker. And I’m with my parents.” There was an awkward silence.

“Hi, Mrs. M. Hi, Mr—”

“Hi, Jabu,” Devon muttered.

“Hi, Jabu,” Maddie said. “How are you? Are you excited about your first day?”

“Yes, definitely. I’ll see you soon.” The display flickered off.

“How long have you known that Jabu boy again?” Devon asked.

“Since the third grade.”

“I hope you’ll find yourself some new friends in varsity. It’s about time you stopped hanging around with that guy.”

“Don’t be mean, Devon,” Maddie sighed. “Jabu’s a fine young man.”

“I have my doubts,” Devon grunted. “He’ll meet lots of new people in college. That’s what it’s all about.”

Luyanda grinned, then almost jumped out of his seat when a siren blared behind them.
“We’re being pulled over,” Devon said.

Their hovercar started slowing down, as if someone was dragging it back.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Lu, did you?” Maddie asked, panic edging her voice.

“Nothing, I swear! I was driving very carefully.”

The hovercar pulled out of the traffic and onto the shoulder lane beside the flyway.

“Let’s hope it’s just the local traffic cops,” Devon muttered, as he twisted round in his seat and snooped through the rear window.

Luyanda peered at the hoverbike that came to a halt behind them. A silver sticker adorned its narrow windscreen. Azania City Traffic Department. A blue-uniformed policeman in brown leather boots and a white helmet clambered off the bike. He over strode to Luyanda’s window as Luyanda rolled it down.

“Morning officer,” Luyanda beamed. “How are you today?”

“Fine, thanks. PAD, please?”

Luyanda flashed a brilliant set of pearly whites and stretched his arm out the window. The policeman pulled a short, black bar from his belt, and swept it across the PAD on Luyanda’s wrist. The rod beeped, and a hologram popped out of its flat, upper end. It was a photo of Luyanda, along with his personal information.

“Luyanda Michaels?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Eighteen years. Driving for six months and you’ve got a few demerits already?”

“What can I say? We all make mistakes. The main thing though, officer, the important thing in life, is —”

“This car is too powerful for you,” the policeman interrupted, stepping back and examining the hover. “Is this the 2099 model?”

“2098.” Devon said, leaning across Luyanda and looking up at the policeman. “I bought it a few months ago. This year’s model isn’t out yet.”

“Who are these in the car with you?”

“We’re his parents,” Devon answered.

The policeman’s eyes widened in surprise. He looked from Luyanda, to Devon, to Maddie and back to Luyanda.

“Can I see your PAD, please?”

Devon rolled down his window and stretched his arm out of it. The policeman ran the scanner over Devon’s arm. Another holographic display of information popped up. The policeman gave it the once over, then frowned.

“So, you’re his parents?”

“Yes.”

“We adopted him,” Maddie added.

The policeman’s eyes narrowed. He stared at Maddie then at Devon. He scratched his chin, then nodded.

“You may go. Next time, please keep within the speed limit.”

“Was he speeding, officer?” Maddie asked.

“No. He was under the minimum limit. This is a minimum two hundred zone. He was doing one-eighty.” He turned to Luyanda. “But I won’t give you any demerits. I’m sure it’s because you were travelling with your parents.” He spun around, climbed onto his hover bike, and zoomed off.

“Did you see how he looked at us?” Maddie asked. “People can be so ignorant at times.”

“I guess some things never change,” Devon replied.

“Not even in the twenty second century,” Luyanda added with a sigh. They peeled back onto the flyway and drove on in silence.