Riding to Extinction
by Linda Courtland
When gas prices reached $937 a gallon, Mason parked his car for the last time. His neighbors had long since converted their SUV’s into spare bedrooms, storage facilities, and entertainment centers with surround sound.
“Wanna watch a movie?” Sally called from her minivan. “There’s a third row seat still available.”
But Mason had work to do. He had spent his career manipulating international oil prices, and now he couldn’t even afford to drive. At night, petroleum poltergeists swirled through his bedroom, keeping him awake and blaming him for global warming.
Months later, Mason negotiated an unprecedented deal between domestic food and car companies. Soon, every household had a new motorcycle powered entirely by partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Mason hit the road each night. When he did stumble home, he was far too tired to think about phantom memories.
But when the country’s reserve of oily vegetables was finally exhausted, the economy collapsed. Grown men staggered down empty carpool lanes, longing for the glory days of soybeans and safflower, of corn syrup and abnormal carbon chains.
And Mason’s long-ignored ghosts seemed unforgiving. They woke him each night with I-told-you-so stories about the dangers of trans fats. One night, they terrorized him with a singing ensemble of feelings he had buried.
Mason quickly retrieved the tub of contraband margarine he’d hidden for emergencies. He slid the sticky substance into his motorcycle’s empty tank and sped off into darkness, trying to outrun ancient fossil-fueled memories that he feared could still destroy him.