In a world where self-driving cars are the norm, the last man to retain his skill behind the wheel has been called upon to ride again.
The year is 2050. Sixty-three year old Frank Wylder is coming to terms with a felling that all seniors eventually experience, namely the realization that the world has passed him by. Everything he knew in his youth is gone and all that has replaced it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
The rub? This isn’t just any ordinary late life crisis. The governments of every last nation on Earth have succumbed to the brutally efficient bureaucracy dubbed, “The One World Order.” A cunning dictatorship that makes George Orwell’s worst nightmares look like mere child’s play, the Order has achieved the unthinkable – the eradication of free will. People no longer decide what they want to do with their lives. Instead, the Order controls every last detail of an individual’s existence, from the job he holds, to the speech he’s allowed to use, the food he eats, even the person he marries. Big Brother isn’t just watching anymore. He’s getting involved.
In fact, the Order has been running people’s lives for so long that one the elderly remember what the world was like when a man had a say about what he did and didn’t do. Frank recalls his choices – a youth spent as a hotshot getaway driver for an organized crime family’s heist ring, followed by a middle age spent as a professional chauffeur (and occasional problem solver) for Hollywood’s most glamorous (and utterly scandalous) movie stars.
Those glory days are long gone now. As Frank’s health issues mount, he feels decrepitude closing in. He finds some solace in maintaining “Veronica” – his classic muscle car, a cherry red 1969 American Made Sidewinder that he once used to transport many a villain from a bank job to a safe house in no time flat. Meanwhile, his thirteen-year old granddaughter, Hannah, gives Frank a reason to go on, though her constant questions about how things used to be on Earth make Frank realize this is a world he just doesn’t belong in anymore.
Naturally, the One World Order is not without an enemy. The band of rebels known as the Nationalist Front seeks to annihilate the worldwide regime and return power back to individual countries. The methods of this group are severe, so terrifying in nature that at times, spectators are left to wonder whether the ones challenging power are any better than those currently holding it.
One such spectator is Frank, who’d prefer to be left alone to drink the six and only six beers that the Order will allow a Class 7 citizen like him to pour down his gullet. Sure, he’ll glance at the coverage of the ongoing fracas on the state approved tele-web, but he has no interest in any cause other than self (and granddaughter) preservation. He’s content to stay out of the fray and on the sidelines. After all, staying put at home is the best way to avoid incurring a heft fine from the Order’s ever present, absurdly nosey Civil Society Monitor Drones.
Alas, when the Nationalist Front learns that Frank was once a badass with his foot on the gas, the old man is offered a deal he can’t refuse – be the wheelman on a series of operations designed to strike at the heart of the One World Order’s ability to rule effectively.
Technology is central to the lives of the masses and the One World Order controls all of it. From X-Pads that only show state approved content, to search engines that have wiped out any trace of world history, the Order is able to keep tabs on its billions of charges 24/7.
Self-Driving cars, once thought to be the saving grace of the modern commuter, are exploited by the global dictatorship. Sure, these marvels of engineering have cut down on travel times, allowed people to sleep and work on their way to their places of business, and have dropped the worldwide traffic accident rate to zero. However, the Order is able to pursue its surveillance objectives by tracking where people are going and who they are seeing, while maintaining the ultimate nanny state. That’s right. Each self-driving car is embedded with an artificial intelligence that will not, under any circumstances, allow the occupant one of these vehicles to stop for a greasy drive-thru hamburger if his BMI is not at optimal levels. Smoking, drinking, cheating on a spouse, nights of depraved debauchery – all things of the past as cars are now considered to be mobile adult babysitting machines instead of the transportation devices they once were.
Is free will all it’s cracked up to be? Is it a God given right that inspires man to dream big and soar to new heights, or is it an illusion, a source of a burning yet destructive desire to kick others down in a mad scramble to fight over precious, limited resources? The Nationalists have chosen option A, the Globalists argue for option B. Frank doesn’t care. He just wants his granddaughter back.
For a regime that assumed it had thought of everything, the insertion of Frank into the mayhem is a variable that was never anticipated. Self-driving cars are efficient – perhaps too efficient. They’re programmed to reach their assigned destinations in a prompt manner at a reasonable rate of speed. They follow all traffic laws, patiently yield to pedestrians, and avoid collisions.
In short, these automated four-wheel wonders are no match for an old drunk with a lead foot and nothing left to loose. Readers will delight as Frank zooms, vrooms, crashes and bashes his way to victory – if such a premise even exists. After all, as bad as life is under the One World Order, will the world be any better if it is carved back up into petty, constantly bickering nations again?
Bookshelf Q. Battler, a world renowned poindexter, an epic nerdventurer, a reviewer of pop cultural happenings and a champion yeti fighter is the geek behind this gearhead fest. Dubbing “The Last Driver” as the demon spawn produced from a hot night of steamy lovemaking between the “Fast and Furious” franchise and George Orwell’s 1984, BQB is hard at work on this ongoing serial. At this time, the world’s greatest dweeb can only promise that he will do everything within his power to release a new episode every six months. Readers who want their fix sooner are asked to send constructive (or destructive but only if its funny) criticism BQB’s way. His Twitter handle is @bookshelfbattle and he can be found on Facebook with @bookshelfqbattler. Don’t forget to check out bookshelfbattle.com for updates on the future of “The Last Driver’s” epic first season.
EPISODE 1 – OLD DOGS
Frank used to be better than this. In the earlier half of the Twenty-First Century, he was a bad ass baller who knew an adrenaline rush that could only be achieved during a high speed chase with a backseat full of bank robbers and a squadron of cop cars on his tail. Veronica, his beloved classic muscle car, never failed to perform, while his fixer, Bernie, never hesitated to exterminate loose ends with extreme prejudice.
But that time is gone and his good mood is over, not just as a result of his advanced age but also because the One World Order, in its efforts to regulate success, has determined that the lower classes should never know too much joy.
Frank is content to wallow away his golden years on the couch, watching state approved television and drinking the six and only six beers per week the global dictatorship will allow him to have until his old pal Bernie pesters him into taking Veronica on one last joyride. What starts with a vow to not take Veronica more than a mile away from home turns into a drunken high speed chase involving very confused self-driving cop cars and a team of flamethrower wielding shock troops with itchy trigger fingers.
Region A Traffic Enforcer Vaughn, one of the Order’s most ambitious officers, is not amused by Frank’s antics. Meanwhile, a frenemy from Frank’s past takes notice of the old man’s past, while the National Front angles to take charge of Frank’s limited future. Ultimately, the safety of Frank’s granddaughter, Hannah, hangs in the balance.
Will Frank give up and lie down on the couch and drink more beer? Will he don his leather jacket and mirrored shades for another ride? Will he ever punch one of those pesky, tattle tale drones out of the air? Answers to all these questions and more await BQB’s precious readers in the first episode of “The Last Driver.”