The Jockey of Yuggoth
By Erik McHatton
As he leaned into the handle-bars of his Venusian coaster, Elrond Estelburry felt positively alive in the atomized ozone filtering through his helmet. Smoking atmospheric debris raced past him, alight in his accelerator’s wake. Stroking the controls ever so gently, Elrond dug in his heels and urged the coaster toward its limits, frantically trying to stay ahead of his fellow jockeys, who wrangled for position just behind.
Looking back, he saw Reaver break away from the pack. The glow of his afterburners formed an aurora around his black helmeted head as he dropped low and sped past Elrond in a flash.
Snarling, Elrond thumbed over the booster button and resisted the temptation to exhaust its one-time use. No, there was a better way. Pulling the coaster sharply to the side, Elrond thrust out his boot and kicked hard against the track’s interference shield. The resulting pushback threw him into the eye of Reaver’s wake, and he soon found himself gaining on his rival once again. He cursed mightily, however, as he felt the jarring motion of the track’s auto-ref as it pulled him out of his newly won position and realigned him in his lane. He would have sworn he heard Reaver laugh, if he didn’t know it was impossible.
Taking another tack, Elrond recalled an old trick he’d learned during his rookie season and pulled his hands from the controls. Thrusting his arms down, he knocked the bulky blow-vent covers off the sides of the vehicle. Shifting his weight all at once toward the back end of the machine, he shot upward into the shielding matrix’s natural mag-field. Suspended in the field momentarily, the coaster shivering dangerously, Elrond waited until just the right moment before placing both hands firmly onto the track’s invisible ceiling. Aiming carefully, he used all his strength to dislodge the bike before throwing himself violently back into the pilot’s cradle. His stomach lurched as the coaster flew towards Reaver at great speed… directly into the clutches of the hated auto-ref, who waited below like an outfielder standing under a looping pop fly; he was realigned once again.
Frustrated, Elrond clenched his teeth and steeled himself, pressing flush against the interior of the coaster’s carbonite chassis. He’d be damned if he’d lose another race to Reaver. Closing his eyes he pushed down hard with his thumb, saying a small prayer while activating the Yuggothian Booster, an experimental, secret (and illegal) late addition to his ride. Everything went black, and with a squeal of a void-like pitch, Elrond Estelburry, three-time winner of the Venusian Coaster Series, vanished just short of the finish of his last ever Venusian Cup.
He now lies on the shore of an obsidian lake situated on the black planet of Yuggoth, transported there accidentally by desperate, ill-gotten technology. He stares out with deathly eyes from inside his tinted helmet, whose polished surface shimmers with the suggestion of titanous, black obelisks. Vacuously, he beholds the shoggoths as they splash.
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