In the wastes of the once great United States of America, in the ash fields of what was once called Kansas – in the rubble of what was once a town with a name and was now a collection of crumbling bricks, burnt out car frames, and doll heads with their dirty matted hair and their unblinking eyes – the little amount of life that kept on in these parts collected on what people might have once said was a regular basis for a brief moment in their pitiful existence and scrapped together what food and unkilling water they had for the celebration that was what had came to be known as the Great Last Race. Pox marked peoples, universally suffering from malnutrition, skin diseases, oral cancers, and sexually transmitted aliments, came to the skeleton town carrying bits and pieces of the past and, in two great piles at what would have been the edge of town, they dropped the pieces and then found some place to hunker down until the time of drawing was upon them. There was nothing that marked the time of drawing. There was just a sense of when the two piles were big enough, and then the lasts of humanity pooled together around the piles – one by one they made their mark in the dirt in a square the length and breath of a man lying on his side. When the marks had been made and everyone had stepped away, the chosen one was brought out and the chant went up from the mass of dregs.
“Co-Ka-Cola! Calvin Klein! Ex-lax! DOR-EE-TOES!”
The chosen one this time was a blind man with a gimp arm and open sores on both of his legs. Two of those assembled pulled him along and forced him to his knees before the drawn dirt square as the crowd continued the holy proclamation.
“Jiffy Lube! Captain Crunch! Say No to Dish!”
The chanting built and as collected bodies shouted and threw their withered limbs into the air there was a sense of something that came upon them. A learned man of the now dead world, of the world before, might have thought it some kind of genetic memory or psychic residue, but for those that gathered, for those that chanted and thrust and gyrated, they could hear more than just what their raspy voices could produce. They could see more than just the desolate waste in which they found themselves slowly dying. For those that partook in this Last Great Race, they were part of something greater.
“Tampax! Cool-Aid! Chevrolet! Unlimited Texting!” they called to the barren world, and around them a great phantom world replied. A great stadium of people with its Klieg lights and bountiful food stuffs on sticks, in paper wraps, and plastic cups answered their call. Like an echo, the old world could be heard cheering them on. The ghosts and specters of sportsmanship called up in the rush of their blood surrounded, infusing them and promising them: “Instant relief from burning sensations! A good night’s sleep! All you can eat!” they screamed and thrashed and wailed around the two great piles until, when all their prayers were in the wind and something shifted in them, a call from the ether that said, “Let’s have a clean fight!” or “They’ve won the flip!” and en masse they fell upon the Chosen One. Their chant having changed, they now shouted randomly: “Home of the Free! Rocket’s Red Glare! The Last Gleaming!” – scrambling over one another to find a piece of the Chosen One to bite off. He died horribly, like he lived, and when he was dead and everyone had bitten from him, they would look across the dirt square with their mark scratched in it and they would see what team they played for. If their mark was wiped away or covered by the blood of the Chosen One they would play for Team Blood. If they could still see all or a part of their mark the played for Team Dirt.
Split into their teams they would work without rest until the sun rose again and in that time they would build themselves into the Dream. Taken from their great pile of parts they would use wire or strapping and bind the pieces to themselves. Rocker panels and rear view mirrors. Hub caps and steering wheels. Through the night the teams would pull the pieces onto themselves and bind themselves to it and to each other, until, when the unforgiving sun would crest the horizon of the barren ash wastes, they would begin to race. Off towards the sun the two teams carried themselves and their Dream until, one of them, the Blood or the Dirt, would crash in a pile degraded bodies and rusted American steel, a spent thing that had lived briefly and then ran itself into the ground, sacrificed to the Gods of Consumption.
Then, if the other team had the mind to do so, they would eat them and wait for the next race to begin.