Saturday, May 14, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
Sam sat in the passenger seat watching houses, hills, and empty buildings roll by. It had turned out to be more a dune buggy than a car, and it was completely electric. The back seat was filled with weapons and supplies, more ammo than food and a handful of cd’s. A pair of extra car batteries sat in the trunk, along with the rest of Gina’s worldly possessions. A few sets of clothes and a beaten photo album were all she had left.
“New York was a mess.”
Gina and Sam had been on the road for three days, trading pleasantries and small talk to fill the time. Two days ago, Sam tried to pry a little of the thick exterior of the hunter of off Gina by asking what she had done before the world went to shit, but she had resisted, instead stopping the car outside of a shopping mall and going in. She found and shot three Others inside, and came out with a new pair of shoes for herself and a whole box of cigars two hours later.
While Gina was in the mall, Sam looked around and found a pawn shop that he decided looked worth raiding. Inside he found one Other, playing along to show-tunes on an old player piano. He caught the hollow look in the woman’s eyes and shot her, aiming so as to miss the piano. The store was picked over and Sam left without finding anything to add to his chance of survival.
Back in the car, the mall miles behind them, Gina had struck a match and was puffing on one of the cigars, a coughing fit behind her.
“What did you say?” Sam asked.
“New York was a mess. That’s where I was.” She pulled the fat roll of tobacco from her mouth and hung it out the window to shake ashes off, then returned it to her lips. Another puff, and she looked at him while she exhaled, the smoke curling back at her as the wind from the open road poured in through the windows. “Most of the buildings fell that first day.” Her eyes were glossy as she thought back to her initial struggle to survive.
“Pull over, let me drive for a bit.” Sam had been itching to drive, but every time he asked, she had told him no. Striking while she was near tears worked though, and as the vehicle slowed to a halt, she continued to tell her tale.
“I tried to walk through Times Square the next day but it was just rubble. That was the first time I encountered one of them.” She paused as she unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the car door, the buggy rolling the last few feet before it came to a complete stop.
Sam got out and watched as Gina hopped into the passenger seat and buckled herself in. Rounding the car, he got in and did the same. He thought the seatbelt was a weird affectation, seeing as their were no other vehicles on the road, but Gina insisted on it, siting how often they relied on off-road routes.
The wind once again whipping his sun-bleached hair, which had grown long in his time alone, he bade Gina continue.
“He was trapped underneath one of the video screens. I saw him moving and I called out to him. He just stared at me.” She shuddered, and Sam could not blame herm having seen the gaze on many of the Others himself.
“I tried to help him but couldn’t, I just could not lift the screen. He didn’t say a word to me all the while, just stared at me with those eyes.”
Sam nodded, pushing the pedal down further and watching the needle climb passed fifty miles an hour.
“I lived in the subway for about three weeks, going out to scrounge for food during the day, and cowering in the ticket booths at night.”
The thought of Gina, who normally shot first and did not bother to ask questions, made Sam chuckle, and the sound brought Gina out of her reverie.
“Yeah, I know. I was a fucking accountant though. It wasn’t until I made to leave the island that I even needed a gun. I hid from them, or ran if they saw me, and then I left through the tunnels. I walked for about a week before I came to some college, and found this thing.” She patted the dash in front of her.
“And all of the guns?”
“Souvenirs,” She grinned, dabbing a lone tear from her left eye. “Geez, slow down!” She snapped, looking at the speedometer, which read almost eighty.
“Sorry,” Sam said, backing off on the accelerator before realizing that his knuckles were white, gripped around the steering wheel.
“You alright?” Gina asked, noting his glance at his hands.”
“I just realized that I am driving a car. I mean, back a few months ago, I never thought I would want to be behind a wheel again, but here I am, and I have wanted to.”
“Yeah, that thought struck me while I was driving through Memphis. Took me a whole day to get though that city, just to find out the bridge over the Mississippi was resting in the river.”
“Ouch, what did you end up doing?”
“I backtracked, and spent an extra day there scrounging for supplies. Glad I did too, found a whole gun store that hadn’t been touched.
Sam glanced at the small arsenal in the back seat. “I believe it,” he said, smiling. The automatic transmission shifted down another gear as he slowed even further, the signs for Amarillo coming into view. The tires crushed an empty can as they drove past a sign that labeled the population as fourteen. Long into it’s descent, the sun shown in through the windshield, causing Sam to raise his hand to shade his eyes. “We probably ought to find a place to stay for the night,” he said to Gina.
She nodded, and then vocalized her agreement, realizing that Sam’s eyes were on the road ahead of him.
He started to weave up a side street and found a motel that still had all of it’s windows intact. “This do?” He asked.
“Sure,” she said opening the door before the car had finished rolling. Once it stopped, she reached in to the back seat and grabbed a shotgun, grinning. “Be right back.”