30 Stories in 30 Days #16 – “Future Tour”
With the pounding beat of The Poison Figs in his earbuds, Eric bounced across the rocky terrain on his dirt bike. The GPS Navigator in his visor was leading him to Station #17. Just as the Navigator flashed “You are nearing your destination” on his visor, Eric topped a rise and saw the fluttering marker flag.
He slowed down and came to a stop a dozen meters from the site. He turned off the bike and waited a minute for the song to finish. When it did, he turned off the player and got off the bike.
Walking towards the flag, he said, “Play,” out loud.
A pleasant female voice came out of the earbuds. “Welcome to Station #17 of your self-guided tour of the battlefield of Tora Bora. The centerpiece of this station are the remains of a Soviet-era ZPU-4, an anti-aircraft gun. This gun was destroyed by an American AGM-65 Maverick missile in December 2001.”
“Pause,” Eric said. The voice stopped and Eric took a minute or two to walk around the rusted pile of twisted metal. He took a picture of it, then said, “Play.”
The voice returned with, “The gun would have been operated by a crew of five men. All the crews would probably have lived in nearby tents.
“The original purpose of such guns were to keep aircraft – and their missiles – away from high value targets, such as the entrance to the cave complex at Station #18. However, when aircraft can fire missiles outside the range of the anti-aircraft guns, this is the result.”
After a slight pause, the voice said, “Please proceed to Station #18.”
His Navigator flashed a map of how to get there on his visor. Eric got back on his bike and began to follow the map. At the top of a rise, he turned to look at the rusty scrap heap on the rocky ground. Turning his back to it, he started the next track of The Poison Figs and gunned his engine.