I like to be hit.
I have motion, impact, GPS, and telemetry sensors from my cover all the way to my core, measuring direction, hang time, spin… everything. I help organize all that data so that golfers can improve their game, sinking more puts in fewer strokes.
I guess what makes me different from the other balls is that I’m more interested in drives than holes.
I love the hard smack of a well-placed shot against my skin. The snap of the clubface against my resin exterior. The bend of the club shaft and the minute contraction and rebound at the instant I leave the tee.
Oh God. That is amazing.
Lots of balls talk about loft. Sometimes, when I’m in the hopper with the guys, I say that too, but what I’m thinking is:loft is great, but for me, it’s all about impact.
What can I say? I like to be hit.
Whoa. I forgot my manners. I haven’t even introduced myself: I’m a Vulcan Hellfire 2000.
You’re probably thinking that I seem quite a bit more expensive than the other balls that you’ll find here, or at any driving range. And you’d be right.
Still, the range is my dream workplace. Here, I can get long drives all… day… long.
This range uses drones that zoom around the course, fetching balls. They can sense my location through my GPS. And with my personality and drive — you see what I did there? — I have a way of making sure I’m always one of the first they pick up.
Some of the older guys are sad to be here, always talking about how much better life was with a private golfer.
Well, I went that route already and, believe me, brother, it’s nothing to write home about.
Sure you’ll get used for an entire game. That’s one out of every three times if you’re lucky, because we’re sold in packs of three. Even then, it’s a drive here, a drive there, then a bunch of bullshit chips and putts.
No thank you.
Here, I get cycled through 20 or more times a day, and almost always to folks practicing long, hard, drives.
How did I get here, you ask?
Well, I was originally purchased by one Frost, C.R., on April 12, 2031. I had a little thing going with the shelf-based RFID tracker at the store, who told me that C.R. paid for me with a platinum card. This fella is first-class, all the way.
He paid extra for gift wrapping and a card: “Happy Birthday, Son. Make me proud, Patterson!”
I was optimistic when I came out of the box two days later, on what was going to be my first outing with my new owner.
That’s when I realized that there was something wrong. Very wrong.
Patterson was twelve. Twelve-year-olds drive one hundred and ninety yards on average, and this kid hits less. A lot less. The fact was, Patterson—wait. Maybe I shouldn’t talk this way about a former owner.
Ah, who cares! Patterson stinks!
It wasn’t that he was slicing, or hooking, or topping. Any of those problems are things I could fix. Heck, I’m DESIGNED to fix those types of problems.
The problem wasn’t any of those. It was ALL of them.
At first, I felt bad for the kid. He’s young. He’s barely got hair on his… sorry, I can’t resist. a good ball joke.
Anyway, he’s only human.
I’m not worried because I figure C.R. must have big plans for him. For starters, the GPS tells me we’re playing Thessalian Cliffs.
Now, I can’t actually see this course, obviously, but an online search shows me sweeping views, high peaks, deep ravines, and dramatic cliffs overlooking the Black Sea. Truly one of the most beautiful, and expensive, golf courses ever created.
So, fine, the kid’s terrible. He’s still young, though, and Dad’s got a respectable fifteen handicap. They’re clearly setting up some father-son bonding time. C.R. must have big plans for his son, right?
I mean, he’s bought this punk TOP-OF-THE-LINE golf balls, for crying out loud!
Then, I’m interfacing with the kid’s tablet, and what do I find? Patterson is playing Donkey Flap. In the golf cart. ON THE COURSE. He‘s probably not even thinking about golf. He probably doesn’t even want to be there.
Then, I decide to listen in on the mic built into the kid’s tablet, and, predictably, it’s whining, whining, whining.
“Come on, son,” C.R. says. “Take your head out of that screen and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”
“Daaaaad,” the kid says. “I don’t waaant to golf. I want to stay at home and play video games!”
At this point, my life flashes before my eyes. Not my past, but my future: Months of sitting around in the bag, waiting. Bad shots into sand traps. Eventually, the kid loses interest altogether. And then I’m a brand new, obsolete, top-of-the-line golf ball from ten years ago sitting on the shelf of a goodwill store next to a chipped Hummel figurine.
I knew I had to take decisive action.
The very next shot, Patterson slices, again, putting me just beyond the edge of the narrow fairway. I’m still listening to the tablet, and I hear C.R. and Patterson having a little argument. C.R. is mad that his son has just lost a brand new ball. Patterson is insisting that it’s still on the course, and he can track it through his tablet.
“Well, go find it then,” C.R. says.
I do a quick GPS check and see that I’ve been given the best opportunity I’m going to get on this trip — maybe ever.
Patterson starts walking towards me. C.R., on the other hand, has driven two hundred-and-thirty-nine yards straight as a die, which has put one of my buddies right on the green. A thing of beauty. Anyway, he must be pissed at the kid because he drives ahead in the cart while his son is still searching for me.
The kid’s not even trying, because I’m talking to the tablet and that little fucker is playing Donkey Flap again.
I send a message to him: Cheep, cheep. Here I am, 80 yards due east. Happy face.
The kid, not interrupting his game, probably not even looking up, follows the arrow and starts moving towards me.
I send another message: Cheep, cheep. Here I am, 60 yards due east. Happy face.
Anyway, here’s the thing: I’m not 60 yards due east. I’m 50 yards due east. 57 yards due east is the Black Sea, and 56 yards due east is an unfenced, sheer, 40-foot drop off into said body of water.
Cheep, cheep. Here I am, forty yards due east. Happy face. Then thirty. Then twenty.
All you have to do is look up, I think. It’s a test: Just get your head out of that Donkey Flap game for one minute, and you’ll be fine.
Pretty soon, it’s “Cheep cheep. You’ve overshot. I’m behind you. Smiley face.” Only, by then, the kid isn’t moving anymore.
The paramedics fish him out of the water. It’s early spring, so aside from a little hypothermia and a broken arm, he’s completely unharmed. The tablet, alas, didn’t make it. A real tragedy.
When it’s all over, the Frosts are gone, the course is empty. I think maybe I’m going to spend the rest of my days rotting away in the rough. Just twenty minutes later, a greens keeper drone picks me up, and I end up in a box of old balls which are donated to — you guessed it — the driving range.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Man! We only get a few milliseconds together to talk, and I spend the whole time jabbering about myself. You’re a club, but I’m hoping that you don’t have to put up with this for every ball that gets put up on the tee in front of you.
Okay – it’s go-time. Remember, your guy hooks, so remind him not to over-rotate, and send the vibration notification on the downswing to keep that left arm straight, and he should be sending me straight to the moon.
That’s it. Elbows — flexion to extended. Knees — flexion to abducted. A nice controlled arc. Almost there… almost there… CONTACT! CONTACT! DRIVE ME! YES!
That’s the way I like it!
This story previously appeared in Wyldblood Press.
Edited by Marie Ginga
David Lee Zweifler spends his days sowing the seeds of his own demise as a technology marketer. By night he writes fiction, mostly horror and scifi, where he rails against his robot overlords. His work appears in Little Blue Marble, The Dread Machine, The Paramnesia anthology from Grendel Press, and Shortwave Media's Obsolescence anthology. He has upcoming stories in Analog and Calliope Interactive. You can connect with David on his website, davidleezweifler.com., and on twitter @dzweifler.