Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

hugi 32 header graphic

The Wake-Up Call (Written By TAD)

Chapter 46: The End...

Hours passed and the dark silhouette of Hetch stirred in the truck cab. Outside the scenery of the Monsoon Interchange was static and almost unchanged since he fell into a sudden lapse of sleep filled with old memories and violent images. His eyes scanned through each window, every possible gap looking for signs of movement. The ache in his neck from sleeping against a metal box convinced him that he had been there for some time.

Fresh emergency flares were scattered throughout the concrete vault and a square cleaning bot appeared along the sidewall. The front bumper hit the last remains of one of the swipe freaks. The automatic avoidance sensors were either fried or salvaged for something else because the bot continued to push against the human body parts. The four steering wheels jumped back and forth like random flippers on a broken pinball machine.

Apart from this event there was nothing, no bodies, no truckers and more importantly no police crime scene. He guessed that with all the recent bombings and suicide demonstration a fight in a forgotten truck stop wasn't worth investigating or reporting. None of the crowd involved would have stopped around to answer dumb questions when they had tonnes of cargo to ship around the city.

The hectic traffic continued to streak by the gaps in the concrete truck stop structure. Lights, smoke and high-speed metal went about their business but it seemed quieter than before as Hetch cautiously opened the emergency door and peered out. He moved quickly beneath the truck and chased after the unsteady bot that left a smeared trail of blood and soft organ fragments behind it. He punched the stop button twice before it stopped moving. His fingers ran underneath the side panel and with a few grunts the lid opened up. Inside the basic machine was the usual gears, hydro pumps and linkage working and a series of metal chutes and pipes. He searched inside and followed the still readable manufacturing diagrams to begin to remove the loose fitting screws with his fingernail. Inside the boxes were small, semi-sorted collections of objects. Coins, lost knives, broken vehicle parts, even a mangled finger and dead phone littered the bot's compartments. There was little time to sift through everything inside so Hetch filled his pockets with anything he thought could be useful and made his way outside and disappeared into the maelstrom of traffic.

Lights flew past him as he edged a dangerous path along the interchange junctions and service tunnels. The occasional high-speed freight juggernaut blasted him with choking fumes and almost peeled him off the side walls and into the path of the following vehicles. Scoot jockeys threw empty beer bottles at him sending glass fragments raining down. The scavenged parts in his pockets would snare his trousers against the broken crawls of metal fencing but nothing stopped Hetch from continuing on his improvised path.

He climbed up a post and onto the top of a tunnel junction and paused for a moment to watch the torrents of traffics split and merge at incredible speed. The complex spaghetti of road network systems twisted and turned in every direction. Whether he was going in the right direction wasn't important, he just needed to keep on moving. For a moment he thought about letting go and being consumed in the endless lanes of motorised death beneath him. It would be a quick and painless way out of this situation.

He had to face facts. The empty promise of finding safety beyond the south border was a false hope and he knew it.

The McKaff brothers would never rest until he was dead. The stewardess was never likely to regain consciousness from her coma, the credits were gone, his arm was fried and almost everyone he had ever known was either dead or missing.

He was alone with these thoughts.

The sound of the traffic called out to him. The low frequency symphony played him a finale, a last curtain call. He convinced himself it would be a fitting death. A forgotten street kid swept away as another fatal road statistic. There would be no mention of the event on any Global News Channel. Even the unsuspecting driver would soon forget what was about to happen.

He fooled himself he was a survivor. He didn't survive he existed and this wasn't enough for him or anyone.

He removed his artificial arm and watched as it dropped from his grip and ricocheted from traffic lane to traffic lane in the grey, smoky river of traffic below him. He rubbed the burn on his side and prepared himself for what was about to happen next. There would be no going back. Gravity would soon take control and in a fraction of a second it would all be over, the end, for good. At least he would cheat the McKaff out of a slow, painful tortured death and save that hit man the cost of another bullet. Maybe it would have been quicker to walk into that red laser beam back at the sleazy hotel.

He closed his eyes, felt the wind on his face and leaned forward.