september 19, 2021: escape velocity

shorts.

kyungsoo, undisclosed character, chanyeol


This story is based on the game Titan Chaser (2021) by Stas Shostak and the whole of 65daysofstatic's album No Man's Sky: Music For An Infinite Universe (2016.)

 


The warm evening air was whispering around his ears and playing with his hair while he was speeding down the empty highway with an open window; his eyes scanning the horizon for any signs of something. His job description for that assignment had been vague as usual, if not a little more. Lead them home by shining their opposite. But he had a hunch what was implied; he used the roof-mounted flooding light a lot during the nights, sometimes for work, sometimes just to light the way ahead.

He was sure he saw something peering through the fog, a short flicker of light. He slowed down on the highway until his car stopped. He let his face be illuminated by the flickering light of his lighter and the soft wind brushing his fringe out of his face as to caress him. Standing still reminded him how warm the night was. He checked his compass and the map, seeing if he was still on the right way or if he had to leave the street along the way.

He engaged the gear again and his car started again, quickly building up speed. The wind wisping around him tugged at his hair again, the humidity forgotten in the thrill of speed. He saw the flickering light again and went on his way.

The light was closer to him now, closing in on him. He took the next chance to get on a bridge crossing over the highway. With the cigarette in hand, he turned off the engine, exiting the car before pulling himself on the roof of the car, crouching down by the floodlight. With practised difficulty, he turned the bulb and switched it on, the humming of the lamp and electricity filling his ears immediately. An electrical occurrence made the hairs on his arms stand, sending a pleasant shiver down his spine. An equally shuddering breath broke over his lips. His mind wandered to his past before he shook his head to get rid of those thoughts: this was in the past for a reason.

With a well-aimed swing, he turned the light up and right, hitting the titan right in the eye. They were gentle creatures; he already had the fortune of meeting them. He drove alongside them when they went back home, accompanying them until he couldn’t go further. That time, he had sat on the roof of his car, smoking his cigarettes and watching them vanish in the ocean at the breaking of dawn. He never remembered how he got home after that.

He saw his caretaker every day, even spoken to him, but they never answered and stood as still as a doll. To him, it was fine: he had already started to talk to himself aloud to fill the void of silence, even speaking to his car. He had no idea when he spoke to an actual human being the last time.

He had left the city during the last lockdown when a sudden job offer landed in his mailbox. He went on his way, leaving everyone and everything behind in a dawn raid. And if it was a fluke? Well, he didn’t think that far now that he thinks back on it.

Sometimes he broke down, wailing under the shower, hiccupping in the driver’s seat, choking up when he led a titan home. But it was the worst when he listened to the audio cassettes. He didn’t know where they were coming from. Sometimes they just appeared out of nowhere on the passenger seat when he stepped into the car, sometimes they came together with his instructions. But he hit his lowest when he was at the city gates after he had led a sky whale away from the city, and he felt a tug in his guts to go back. The sky whale had put the city under another lockdown once again, but it was gentle, and easily led by warm light. But one would never know how the citizens would react, seeing a giant whale passing by their 32nd story window. He lived there long enough, and lockdowns were a common procedure, but he never knew why, and no one ever questioned it. He knew why now. The government must’ve some tricks up its sleeve, so no one saw what’s really happening on the outside.

But that day he had stood at the barricades: watching the brightly lit but sleeping city, not hearing anything. Apart from the wind brushing through the pine trees, that was, the waves sloshing against the cliff closest to him. And the cassette that was play music. He had broken down, frustrated, depressed and just so tired while screaming out with fat tears coiling down his cheeks. He had radioed his caretaker to evacuate him. Shortly thereafter, a blinding light flashed, and when he came back to his senses, he found himself back in the parking lot of the inn. The cassette was ejected, sitting idly in its slot. With shivering fingers, he reached for it, cursing it as if it wasn’t just another reason to pull him down into the void once more.

The knowledge that someone knew how to get to his weakest spots using just music was frightening, to say the least. And not even the giant squid was that frightening. Although it brought down the tornado sirens, he had to start manually. He had to get over his fear of heights. And lost his caretaker after it and was now on his own.

He pulled the cassette out and turned it around—Tape #23: For Kyungsoo, with Love.

A knock on his window in the silence of the parking lot made him almost shriek and grab his chest in fear. He turned around just to get his breath stolen away.

 

“’Soo, I got a job offer as a caretaker, for you.” Chanyeol leant against his car, a carton full of audio cassettes under his arm and a smile so wide it could rival the sun.

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Thank you!
buriedphoenix
also, if you want, maybe you can drop an exo member/ship (or not) and maybe a teeny tiny prompt? but i won't promise anything ;)
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