Double Lines

Danny was getting frustrated. He was stuck behind a dark car going very slowly, which he could easily overtake, but there were solid yellow lines along the road. He would have to wait for dashes, or a free-for-all unmarked stretch. He could push ahead anyway, as you do with old ladies and tractors, but a dark car is different. It could be a cop car. Why was it doing steady fifty in an eighty zone? On the blind bends – ok; but on the straights too?

He’d been stuck behind this car for four kilometres. It was getting ridiculous. He considered making a call to say that he’d be late, but what if it was a cop car? Then they’d nab him for talk-driving. He already had a ticket for that, along with speeding, no-seatbelt, and no-lights infractions. He was the local cops’ best customer. Ever since good, god-fearing Albert Samson was elected Premier, no road was complete without them.

There seemed to be double solid lines right along the road. The few sections that didn’t have lines held road works, with, of course, no work going on there – just signs, boards, and cones. At least there was a reason for doing fifty here – because the little girl on the board says, “My mommy works here.” Maybe her mommy was still making her breakfast.

There used to be long stretches with just tarmac and common sense, meaning “You’re smart enough to know how to drive.” There were dashed sections meaning “Buddy, keep your eyes open.” Places with lines and dashes on alternate sides meant “You are members of a civilized society; this is a tricky curve, so please take your turn in an orderly manner.” But now there were double lines everywhere saying “We make the rules here, and you do what we say. Drive nice and easy along this laneway that we’ve made nice and smooth for you. Keep a steady speed. If someone before you is going slowly then you go slowly too. Why do you need to get ahead anyway? Take it slow. Good boy.”

Danny took an executive decision to overtake the dark car. It was probably just a foolish tourist overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lucerne Valley, or nervous about driving on the right and wanting to stick to the rules. Danny pulled out on a short straight stretch and pushed his Frontier forward. There was no battles of wills here, and it was over in five seconds. He was now the car in front.

A blue light began flashing somewhere. He was unsure where it came from. Then he saw it in his mirror, coming from the dark car behind. Shit! It was a cop car. They were signalling for him to stop. He indicated and pulled over, and the dark car crept in behind.

Danny sat in his car as per the protocol. Last summer he’d stepped out without thinking and almost been shot. Nothing happened for a while. Then the dark car’s door opened and a man stepped out, and walked towards his car.

“Hey, Danny, remember me?” said the bulky man with short orange beard. “Jim from the pole yard?”

“Sure I do!” said Danny, relieved. He’d had a few drinks with this guy. Why was he driving a cop car though?

“Did you want me to stop?” said Jim.

Danny said, “No, you were flashing me. I thought I’d better.”

“Flashing you?” Jim looked confused. “Oh! I see! You mean the blue lights? No, no, pal. Those are transceivers, front and back, aligning positions.”

“There wasn’t anything at the back,” said Danny. “Only the front. I thought you were signalling me.”

“Damn, that rear light must have broken again. I was having trouble with it yesterday. I thought it was fixed. I’d better take a look. You must have wondered why I was crawling along. Hell, you must have been cursing! Why didn’t you overtake me earlier?”

“There were double lines all along the road, and I thought you were a cop. What are you doing?”

“I’m working on the IQ project,” Danny recalled finding little white posts in the forest when hiking. They used to say IP – for Iron Point, indicating official property boundaries – but they now said IQ. He’d thought that this was the next level somehow, to be followed by IR. “It stands for Investment Quadrant, the new government model for land value, following Native traditions of respect for all land. Every feature is seen as equally precious – the road, river, swamp, forest, ancient sites, towns, and mountains.”

“How can everything be equal? What does that mean in practical terms?” It’s like everyone having to drive at the same speed, thought Danny. It’s false and frustrating.

“We use the ADAM apparatus – Advanced District Allocation Module – the blue light you saw flashing – to divide areas into EVEs – Equal Value Entities.”

“How’s that?” said Danny.

“We ensure that each EVE has equal assets. For example, Lucerne Valley West has Kalash subdivision, Mt Negra, and the Taxila ruins. Lucerne Valley East has Lucerne Village, Mt. Alba, and the Golden mines. ADAM is based on Biblical principles – to be stewards of the earth. The first step is to divide this land into fields for us to tend as holy guardians.”

“But how do you divide Lucerne Valley into East and West? It runs north to south.”

“We’re dividing it along the Lucerne Valley Road. The double lines are the boundary.” He winked at Danny. “Never to be crossed.”

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