It was as far as I could go. Every man has his breaking point.
We were about 40 miles west of Los Alamos, New Mexico. We had driven for hours in the pouring rain. The sky was dark gray at noon. The 30 mile an hour gusts shoved my rig toward the gravel shoulder of the road. The drive required my constant attention and I was bone tired.
I was driving with Moira, a woman I met at a bar in Austin called Jake’s. She seemed like she was in trouble and I was always a sucker for a great looking woman with a bowie knife strapped to her leg. She asked me for a ride and I said yes. It didn’t seem to matter too much which direction I was headed.
The cab was cozy, bathed in gentle light from the monitors. Moria had her reading light on. She had laid her book on her lap and I could see an inverted pentagram on the worn leather cover. I would never have guessed she was into that sort of thing – crystals and witchcraft. But, I was often misled by first impressions.
“I can influence the weather,” Moira said.
“I wish you’d hurry up and get around to it then. I could use a break from this wind,” I replied, “According to my weather radar I should be clear of this storm…well…never.” Weather was just one of the things that had turned odd since the Takeover.
“Thanks for taking the back roads. I know you’d have an easier time on the toll roads,” she said.
“I got the impression at Jake’s that you were in some sort of trouble.” All the toll roads were privately owned now, and heavily monitored. We were on the old state roads – two lanes, narrow, not the best choice for a rig this size.
I looked over at her, but she was staring out the window, looking out at the gray, barren New Mexico high desert. “It might help if I knew what kind of trouble.”
I had to strain to hear her response over the soft piano of Thelonius Monk. “I saw something and I shouldn’t have.”
A gust hit the rig hard and almost blew me into the gravel shoulder. I fought the wheel and brought it back into the road. Normally I would stop in these driving conditions, nap in the bunk in the back and wait out a storm like this. But, my gut told me I had better keep moving.
“And now… you’re on the run? From who?”
“I’m not sure. Sometimes I’m sure I’ve lost them, but they seem to always find me.”
“Maybe I should have asked a few more questions before agreeing to haul you west.”
I saw her smile reflected in her window. I also noticed headlights in the passenger side mirror. Out of habit, I reached down on my left and felt the comfort of cold steel. Be prepared – I learned that as a scout. And, if there’s trouble coming, a Mossberg 590 Persuader is pretty good preparation.