by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Weekly SCREAMS!!! win
In May’s imagination, Scipio, Utah, wasn’t a truck stop town teetering on the edge of nowhere. All the world came and stopped here. She’d met men and, surprise, women truckers, who wanted nothing more than what she had to offer. Sleep. The grueling miles of travel could be abandoned for a while.
Peace and rest from the worries of the road. No more having to get that extra mile in. That would come, but not until it’s time. There was talk of things changing. Restless talk of self driving semi trucks. No need for a driver. These babies never had to stop to rest. Gas them up and they kept going 24/7. Every day of the week.
The first of her sleepers putting themselves into sleep forever made her rest unstable. There was a strangeness in the air portending something worse. Things don’t happen alone. They occur in waves. In normal times bad things don’t escalate. They ripple into three’s back into normalcy. This time? They did not.
The arrival of the automatic rig along with its nervous human trucker sparked the second event. No-one slept. The rig had to be inspected, poked and discussed with muted foreboding irony. May’s skin crawled. With approaching darkness, it was as if the truckers became one murderous thought.
They distracted the rider without his being swayed. The man knew something was up and stayed glued to the inside of the tight confines of the cab with his shotgun visible. Not a threat. A warning. He knew if the worst came he would be overrun. The fear in his eyes was his undoing.
Young Jamey Stewart took a blast in his chest, mad with passion, thinking he was invincible, could outrun a shotgun charge. The roar of the explosion was nothing compared with that of his mates.
The auto-rig rider didn’t have a chance. Men and women truckers, it didn’t matter the sex. If anything the women got to him first and tore him limb from limb. May watched the whole thing, not reporting it on her phone held in her numb fingertips until the deed was done.
Everyone acted asleep when the highway patrol showed up. May said it was too dark for her to know anything other than the sound of gunfire going off. She’d been too filled with fear to investigate other than to report the autorig going up in a gasoline blaze that lit the sky. That part was true. She’d learned from the stories the truckers told during sleep-overs never to tell a lie without including truth before leading listener’s on over the cliff edge of disbelief.
It was hard waiting for the third tidal wave to wash things clean. You can’t push fate or it pushes back even more. May didn’t count the increasing trucker suicides at her stopover as more of the robot carriers hummed in for gas and left without pause. No need. They never slept.
Corporate had learned not to use human cargo even as protection. Speed was the thing. There were rumors of the independent truckers still frequenting her of other automatic rigs filled with gas not stopping at places like hers where trouble had occurred. Her’s was not alone in that sad fact. These second string of semi-intelligent road hogs knew how to refuel the carriers on the road. It was cheaper and faster than hauling gas to a storage tank and slowing down productivity, their god.
Do you know how many truckers there once were, working their trade in a network across the country? An army. All with the familiarity of knowing the road. Where cargo went and how often. All with CB’s talking to each other outside the frequencies of normal forms of communication. It wasn’t a tidal wave. It was a tsunami.
There was no hint of its coming. One day the shelves of the mega stores were full. That night all destinations reported burning cargo and rigs. The inferno was immense, lighting fires of their own, feeding off each other. The carnage was too great to know, except on a personal level.
May had more company wiping the cobwebs from her beds than ever before. Her isolated location became a haven. Whole families wearily and finally slept. Farmer neighbors found their produce and slaughtered animals making them rich with whatever stolen goods they wanted.
The small establishment threatened to explode with the wave of new population. More than she could bear. That was when the quota system started and the festering piles of humanity rose into human walls of the dead warning others away. Unless they had something more than their lives and need to barter.
The cold of winter killed off many wanderers. The freeze kept the dead from infecting the living. The wave faded. CB’s continued to talk. People found foot travel and barter became the new norm.
Nature and climate welcomed mankind’s new position in the order of things. Until spring. With the thaw, came the multiple attacks from other countries. Scavengers greedy to pick apart what remained of the richest country on earth, to remake America in their own image.
May’s shop lays vacant and abandoned now. She and her cohorts survive in one of the labor camps. She and they sleep exhausted on bare ground, but good. People make do as they always have done, for as long as they can, every day of the week.