“You want some gum?”
Kristine shakes her head, astonished at the question. I stuff my mouth with the whole packet. Spearmint flavoured strips. Not a favourite, but hey, you only live once.
Jumping from the cab frees a thousand pieces of cubed glass. They tinkle from folds of leather and are shaken, dog-like, from my hair. The prevailing hush aches to be broken. Even chewing sounds loud.
Sore, bleeding lips hurt.
The stab wound in my butt is sticky and sore from contact with seat.
My ear and cheek stings too.
Ribs? Yep, tender.
Other than that I’m great.
I shove a pistol in my belt.
“What’re you doing? Why’dya turn the truck off? Do we have to walk?”
“Be quiet woman. Stay there, I’m fixing a fuck up.”
The side locker gives up a dirty old a rag, tape, and a plastic bag. I wipe diesel from around the holes at the tanks bottom and press chewing gum into the commendable grouping. Tape holds the gum in place. The top holes will not be a problem.
I walk to the bus and pump five bullets into its fuel tank. The recent practise on our truck is rewarded. Three of the holes spill diesel. Enough litres are captured by the plastic bag and transported to splash into our tank. The quantity salvaged will have to do.
I resume my seat with wide-eyed innocence, pretending not to notice Kristine’s frightened face.
“You shot the fuel tank. That’s crazy, it could have blown up!”
“No it can’t. It’s diesel. You watch too much TV. Anyway you didn't complain when I shot ours?”
“Is that what you did? You shot our fuel tank?”
“Got it four times, this close together.”
I make a circle with forefinger and thumb.
Kristine isn’t impressed.
The motor cranks for a long time, the lazy man’s priming method. It finally fires and I rev hard. Babying this truck is a thing of the past.
Backing out of the blocked street with absent mirrors is a neck twisting manoeuvre.
Smeared blood opaques the windshield when low sun appears between towers of cloud. An early dusk threatens to bring the additional hardship of rain. Both wipers are proved to be broken, twitching sporadically when asked to clear away the mess. Water sprayers strike in sympathy.
Constantly recalculating fuel to kilometres occupies me long after the gauge is unable to give pertinent information. It bangs on empty again.
Kristine lapses into a semi-doze, leaving me to pull a long looping detour, fanatically begging the clouds to open. They take pity on us in a spectacular torrential downpour, instantly soaking me through the broken window.
I assure myself the storm is a license to head directly for home. The risk of pursuit drops in conjunction with my visual acuity. Driving in a storm with no wipers is nearly as bad as a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.
One headlight shows the tall fence and imposing gates of home-sweet-home running alongside Kristine’s window. I am inwardly joyful. All advancements from this point are cause for separate celebrations.
An incredibly uplifting arrival at the main gate. The ecstatic slap of the recovered swipe card against the promptly recognising scanner. The heavenly rattling of a gate that closes at our backs. The first relaxed breath I take in two hours.
We come to an abrupt stop against the loading dock rubber buffer. The jolt wakes Kristine in a gasp of hurtful reality. Wind-swept needles of rain spear me when I exit the cab to close the dock gate. The mesh doors snap together securely.
Kristine is in a bad way. I lift her from the cab. Climbing the dock steps with her weight dragging at my arms is laborious. Rain rattles the tin roof deafeningly. The desired storm will outstay its invitation this night.
Kristine’s fingernails dig into skin.
“Something moved, behind the truck!”
A brilliant flash of lightning reveals waving arms stretching towards us. I nearly drop my bundle when thunder booms, shaking the metal walls around us.
Something is moving. A man. A kid in his late teens. My gut freezes, realising I’ve brought a Creep into our fortress. We cling together like children.
The host malfunctions in his quest to maim us. Crushed between the dock and truck ramp he is no threat. I see blood from his inverted waist rising up soaked clothing.
Calm is a possibility in light of this information. He cannot hurt us and our remoteness from his fellows means he can’t inform on us.
I lower Kristine to an empty milk crate, never taking an eye from the silently writhing man. Two pistols appear in my fists, safety off. Ten rounds explode into his head and chest, the booming gunshots competing with another rolling crash of thunder.