En route to BG-098
Tommy drove on through the afternoon while Careen and his parents slept. The landscape was unlike anything in his home quadrant, and he enjoyed navigating the curving, undulating road that led into the foothills of a mountain range. When the car crested a hill, he took in a vista that seemed to go on for miles, and was so awed by the sight of the earth’s granite crust jutting up at impossible angles on both sides of the road that he thought about waking everyone so they could enjoy it, too. But it was nice to be alone, with just the steering wheel, and the road that stretched out before him.
The massive layers of rock had outcroppings that looked like shelves placed here and there, and stirred a desire to test his strength and ingenuity to find his way from ledge to ledge, to defy the danger and the dizzying heights.
The majesty of the landscape was marred by ruined buildings and broken, ancient billboards on spindly wooden legs, the remaining sections weathered past the point of readability. He wondered how many had advertised gas stations, hotels, and other businesses that were now closed. The clusters of dilapidated houses, and stores that occasionally flanked the highway were all deserted. He figured they could hardly have been called towns even when people had lived there. The buildings were nestled into the cuts that rose up from the road, their backs literally against the wall. The only evidence of civilization he could see were the communication towers that rose over the hills. They, at least, appeared to be in remarkably good repair. That must mean someone lived out here. Somewhere. He pressed on.
He’d never thought much about the communication tower that loomed over the athletic fields behind his high school. In that suburban setting, the tower had fit into the landscape. Out here, in the wilderness, those towers served to remind him that he was never far from the OCSD’s watchful eye. He wondered if there were cameras, or maybe scanners on those towers, and hoped the license tag on Eduardo’s car wouldn’t arouse suspicion so far from his home quadrant.
He swerved to avoid a boulder lying in the road, and around the next curve, turned the wheel other way to skirt rubble from a rockslide. The natural walls that rose high above him looked indestructible and strong, but he realized that it could all change at any time. Who knew how much force it would take to dislodge something that seemed so permanent?
Tommy glanced down at the odometer and saw that he’d logged more than the seventy miles his dad had estimated. Where are the people? How in the hell are we supposed to find what we need out here in the middle of nowhere? The gas gauge hovered below the quarter-tank mark, and though he feared he’d missed the town he tried to contain his rising panic about running out of gas and being left stranded and helpless.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish