The original, 3-page short story version of


Copyright © 1978 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began 19-February-1978)
The original draft was written on a mechanical typewriter, single-spaced, with no right margin, on both sides of the paper. You can probably guess what movie inspired this particular story. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, colors, etc. are as in the original. Unfortunately, without scanning it in and presenting an image, I can't really convey all the typewriter overstrikes and formatting oddities I had to slog through in the original.

You have been warned.

Chapter P: Preface...

Welcome to the world of the 26th century. Peaceful; tranquil. The only thing not allowed is your days after your 35th birthday. At the day of your 35th birthday, you are given 1 week in a confined room from which you must make up a stunt, which the odds must be 90% or above from which you could die.
    If, however, you couldn't or wouldn't make one up, then you must face the firing squad. If you make it through "stunts" or the firing squad, you get to live another year. Otherwise ... too bad!
    The people who are trained to chase these "runners" (those who run away from stunts) are called "officials", & their "motorcycles" are called "official vehicles". These vehicles, like all others in Tunnel City, have no back wheels. They only have front ones (in the case of official vehicles, 1 front wheel). They make a noise like a motorcycle, but are rocket-powered. Their rear is supported by air current power (more than 5 m.p.h.) They have twin guns on the front (that are separable for firing squads & other things), & a crossfire on the windshield. The firings are in green laser pulses....

Chapter 1: One Runner Terminated...

    Dawn came, but how should those confined in tunnel city know? How should they even know about the sun?
    Their time was 8:17. The place; stunt field. 3 others had gone, & it was Sait 4's turn. He was 40, & had gotten away w/ padding the bottom of a 100 Meter gorge for 5 years, & this was his 6th try.
    He survived for another year. But next year, his friend, Smith 7, said, "Hey, Sait! What's happenin' w/ your trick of escapin' from stunts?"
    "Just great! I've survived again, & for another year. There's nothing that can stop me now!"
    "Oh, yeah? Well I just happen to know that the officials have found out about your padded pit, & have replaced it w/ spikes, poison-tipped ones at that! You'd better run!!"
    "That's just what I'm gonna do!"
    Immediately, he grabbed his rocket skateboard & sped off (NO one in Tunnel City could walk, run, or swim). After some looking, Sait finally found the tunnel out, only to be pursued by official vehicles.
    He zapped around, only to be let down by the officials' expertise handling. Finally, he was shot dead. The officials reported the runner's termination, & headed back to the city....

Drawings I made by hand on the first page

Chapter 2: Escaping Run...

    This information was found by Smith 7, only to encourage him to run next year.
    The next year, Smith's birthday, he had devised a clever pedal-powered vehicle. The only problem w/ that was that nobody could walk, so Smith obviously couldn't pedal a vehicle. So Smith put rockets on the pedals to help in propulsion.
    The rest of his time was spent looking for the way out, but to no avail. However, just when Smith 7 was going to give up, he noticed a tunnel no one had been told about. It was in sector 9, quadrant 4.
    When he arrived at sector 9, he noticed no tunnels leading into quadrant 4. He looked for another way, but there was none.
    In desparation, he aimed the gun at the walls of quadrant 4 & fired. Immediately after that, an alarm sounded, signaling all the officials of the intrusion.
    Smith wasn't surprised to see dozens of official vehicles in pursuit of himself. He immediately headed for the tunnel out.
    Looking everywhere, he finally found the tunnel. The tunnel soon turned into a winding path upward.
    'They can't get me if I'm around a curve,' thought Smith 7, 'So I'll duck around here.'
    It was the only way to go, so, of course, Smith 7 did it. He had outwitted them pretty far, but in what seemed like the middle of this spiral, upward path, he just dissappeared.
    When he reappeared, he was out of the city & outside. Immediately, all the official vehicles in pursuit appeared in the same spot he had.
    He then turned around, & fired at the official vehicles. There were 9 in total, & 8 were killed & destroyed. The other, manned by Quadro 6, was sent flying off to the same spot Smith 7 had dissappeared. He was reappeared at the top of a gerased slide, & fell like greased lightning....

Chapter 3: Casm; Earth

    Out along the desert, one gest a thirst very quickly, & Smith 7 is no exception. He was as thirsty as the dickens, & not getting any better.
    When all-of-a-sudden, he came to a vast ledge.
    This ledge was no ordinary ledge; it went off endlessly into space. He puzzled for a moment, & was immediately sucked off into endless space.
    When he landed, he found himself on a planet of cold & wind. Then he realized it; he was on Earth; it was thrown off by the holocost. The tunnel city was on a block of 100 sq. kilometers of flat land. And this was Earth.
    He was immediately torn to "Earth-block", & headed back to the city....

Chapter 4: A-Mazing Building...

    Coming back to the city, still thirsty, Smith 7 came across a building appearing right before his eyes. He didn't know why it appeared, but what the hay, it might have water.
    He went in, & immediately after, the hall door closed, & a voice sounded. It said, "Welcome to our complex. I mean you no harm. This building is actually a giant maze. It has officials all around. There are traps everywhere, closing doors, & Turning Tunnels. If you get through 1 maze, you will come to an elevator. There are 7 stories in all, & at the end you'll find total peace & tranquility. To help you through, I am giving you a gun w/ 3 settings -- stun, blast, & kill. Good luck -- you're gonna need it!"
    Smith was given a 13" black gun, & the door behind him closed. Startled, Smith put the gun on blast, & fired at the door. Flame spurted out of the front in 5 places, but the door remained in tact. 'I believe that this gun won't blast doors or walls,' I thought to myself (thought Smith 7)
    He started through the maze, & all-of-a-sudden 17 officials jumped out at him.
    Time passed. He was going through the 2nd story, when the building disappeared. But not his gun....

Chapter 5: Return to Tunnel City...

...With this new weapon, he decided to go back to Tunnel City. As he approached the city, an official approached him. Smith 7 gave 1 killing blast on his gun, & the official fell down dead on the ground.
    He raced back to the tunnel & entered. He confronted several officials, but killed them all.
    At the end of the tunnel, he confronted a large computer (put there by officials). He was put in a chamber that forced him to tell the truth. He told of his adventures, but they did not compute. Just for that, he fired a blasting shot at the computer's nerve center.
    The computer blew up, & everyone ran out of the tunnel city complex. There they saw it -- life after 35 years.

          TTTTTTTTT   H       H   EEEEEEEEEE
              T       H       H   E
              T       H       H   E
              T       HHHHHHHHH   EEEEEE
              T       H       H   E
              T       H       H   EEEEEEEEEE

          EEEEEEEEEE   N     N    DDDDDD
          E            NN    N    D     D
          E            N N   N    D     D
          EEEE         N  N  N    D     D
          E            N   N N    D     D
          E            N    NN    D     D
          EEEEEEEEEE   N     N    DDDDDD

Author's notes from 2013:

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