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The Google Car rolls on


I caress the key in the ignition; the engine purrs on command. A whir, a hubbub, a rumbling as I ease it into gear and push back from the curb. I feel the growl growing in my own chest. I control this machine. It is mine.

And then – as I pass – a flash of grey-on-white.

No head in window, no hands on the wheel.

A Google car. A real one. A driverless car.

‘Let’s play’, it soothes, as the chrome hubs roll past –

the logo-circles spinning like targets. My heart leaps

into my throat. Okay. Okay. I inhale.

Okay. Game on.

I sneak up to the bumper and peer inside the screen. How do you work? My wheel twitches, confused. Google car pulls away.

It’s coy.

I edge closer, blindside. My hands. It’s algorithm.

Will you always play by the rules?

Close enough to touch, we’re flirting, side by side.

The road is ours. You tug along, I follow. ‘Don’t let me go’; ‘Ill love you forever’. The first mile of our courtship.

But the lights are turning amber, Google car accelerates. Cold. It leaves me behind.

I snap. I’m changing the rules: this is my game now. Arms extended, I swerve sharply in front, cutting a knife-line across the lane. I expect a horn, a shaking fist, a passenger with lipstick ticked across her face. But Google car is polite. It slows, paralyzed by my move. I am the unexpected.

The road opens up, cars part, steering clear of our lovers’ tussle. I slowly sink my foot lower and lower towards the carpet. It follows my lead and we’re Scalextrics hurtling down the highway at a hundred clicks a second, licked

and pushed by the breeze, faster, faster, sucked forward,

a gravity pulling us unstoppably into the future.


I put on the brakes.

The Google car rolls on.

– Kate Wilson

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