Wow everyone, I'm really excited!
From the stats there are readers from all over the world reading this (or at least who have taken a moment to check it out!) USA, Canada (represent!), England, Australia, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Germany and Sweden. How fantastic! I'm hoping more readers from other areas pile on too!
Thank you for reading and I hope that each of you continues to do so!
It is just 'getting good' (if I can say that without sounding arrogant!) What I mean is the real story is about to start! The real story is even better than everything that has happened so far. Yay!
Without added ado, I give you chapter 4!
Uploaded May 30, 2016
Do not copy or distribute, this is the intellectual property of Love is A Ring Toss Game
There was a time when I would have been panicked after my brother charged off. Back then, I might have fretted, rang my hands with worry for half an hour before I'd have asked friends and neighbours if they'd seen him. Now I tended to react more mildly, he'd be back when he was ready and that was all there was to it.
After all, when I was his age, I was talking to loan sharks just to try to pay our rent. I'd lived through it all and there were few troubles he could get himself into that I hadn't already hazarded myself. The nice thing about trouble was that once you'd solved for a scenario, you knew the tactics to fix it in the future. For better or for worse, there were few remaining challenges left that I didn't have the keys too. And if he needed me, he knew where I'd be.
Instead of getting frazzled, I pulled our old family photo album out and started flipping through it. We had never been the type of family that had professional pictures taken or took photos regularly, and when we had, we weren't even all that photogenic. Yet, in the candid pictures we did have, the memories were captured well.
One of the pictures that always made me smile was one of Lucas as a baby, covered head to toe in chocolate pudding. His eyes sparkled as he beamed up at the camera, clearly pleased with himself. His eyes were characteristically brilliant, while I had strange eyes, inherited from my father's side, emerald greens— spattered with indigo flecks and flares of coppery brown around the pupil—my brother had the same bright shining baby blue eyes that my mom had. Growing up, his face was constantly filled with laughter; he was practical a cherub.
Anyone would have labeled Lucas 'the happy child', whereas I was 'the practical one', more to the somber side of the spectrum, and while I was deeply aware of my emotions, they were typically well in hand and rarely revealed without thought or careful consideration.
I flipped to another photo, Lucas age four, painting with my mother using pieces of raw potato—paint on his cheek and hair looking like it was styled courtesy of a bug zapper. To this very day Lucas' blond hair was a force to be reckoned with—it matched my own in unruliness, if not in colour. My hair colour was about the only thing I inherited from my mother. Although she always kept hers cropped short, my warm brown tone with hints of brass was exactly the way I remember hers looking.
I flipped to a picture of me smiling, missing my two front teeth and holding up a petting zoo rabbit towards the camera. We'd been decently happy once. It seemed so strange to consider that but it was true. There was a time before the fallout that everything had been softer, lighter, happier and far more predictable.
The day of the fallout was the strangest day. Even when I think about it now it seems almost fictional, too awful to ever have really happened—like a terrible nightmare that can't quite be edged out of one's mind. I guarantee that you've never seen or heard of chaos like it. The whole world came to a standstill. Ever battery or electricity powered thing stopped in one single moment. Batteries and electrically sources weren't just empty or stalled, they were completely fried.
Communications failed, aircraft, satellites and personal shuttles alike plummeted from the sky, and the world's commerce skidded to a halt—all in a matter of seconds.
Everything was chaos.
Media coverage was nonexistence and fears and anxiety ran higher than ever—partly because no one was explaining anything or telling the world what to think, or how to react. If there had been media coverage in the early days of the disaster, the buzz words would have been: war triage, pandemonium, body bags, riots and mass panic.
It was abundantly clear how reliant everyone was on energy and electronics; everything from water treatment to prison cell doors to radio communication required power. There were no fail-safes, everything crashed.
It was six weeks before the first broadcast were possible. Scientist and engineers work tirelessly to remodel an old relay station, it allowed for radio broadcast only–and as remedial as that sounds it was a huge achievement as they had to design and create a new form of chemical battery large enough to power it.
It was as if the six week silence enhanced the accusations. We first blamed the Russians and the Chinese; but it became clear that they too had faced the same tragedy. Hundreds of thousands were dead; tens of thousands seriously injured and billions more were without the necessities of life. Everyone experienced varying degrees of crisis and trauma.
Scientist talked about solar flares, weather patterns and geophysical forms of electromagnetic pulse. Statesmen talked about possible enemies, terrorist agendas and needing to be prepared for the worst and for mob mentality within our own society.
Fear ran high; the powers at be were greatly concerned about the state of society and state security. The education system was turned on its head. Students would be trained in the fields most needed by their government.
It was on that note that I entered my first year of high school. For the first time in American history, when we talked about civil war, we didn't talk about Abe Lincoln at all. Instead we were given civic defense classes (including the handling of military grade weaponry), we took notes on preventing civil unrest, discussed the importance of loyalty of our current government and learned how to put down a mob.
The door slammed again, my brother had returned.
"It's colder than death outside," he hissed out upon entering the tiny living room area, his rosy cheeks brightly accenting his pale skin.
"Yeah, bet you'll be glad when we have heat tomorrow after all," I was almost tempted to add, you little ingrate but chose not to.
Because of the length of time between the creation of our agreement and the first actions required by Davenport, I had been convinced that delays would typify the interactions between Davenport and I.
I hadn't expected to hear anything for a while. So, I'll admit I was more than a little surprised when the little white burner phone jostled.
Even more unexpected was that it wasn't a message coming in, but instead an inward bound call.
"Hello?" I asked, rubbing my eyes, I suppose I've forgotten to mention that it was also around 12:00AM.
"My flight is leaving a about 2 minutes; it was last minute and I need you to grab my car from Vera Tallis Pub on Lark Street and drive it to the parkade at Charleston Airport,"
He was flying somewhere? The airline industry had never recovered from the fallout. People were terrified by the idea of falling from the sky. Planes, personal air crafts, sky shuttles, everything that had the potential to cause mass death through full scale power loss had been almost completely phased out.
"You're flying somewhere?" I voiced my thoughts.
"Yes, don't worry your pretty little head, I've got a pilot's license and don't share your amped up paranoia,"
I must have sounded alarmed for him to tease me about my fears. Wasn't everyone nervous about air travel? I'd always assumed so, but to be fair, I haven't lived around people that had the disposable income to travel, regardless of the method.
"Speaking of licenses, I don't have a driver's license," I told him, unsure of how he'd respond.
"It's a green 1968 Chevy Chevelle," he told me.
"Is that supposed to 'mean' something to me? I wouldn't know a Chevy from a—"
"There are likely five, maybe six cars in the lot tops! This one looks like it was polished by an OCD case with a toothbrush," he laughed at his own joke, "The keys are in the ignition, you'll figure it out," he said, clearly not accepting 'no' as an answer.
"I don't know how to drive," I stated firmly.
"Find someone who does and do your thing—you seem like the type that is used to getting their way, " he encouraged as if that was no big deal at just after 12:00AM. "Oh and it's a standard transmission," he added almost as an afterthought.
"When do you need this done by?" I asked, maybe if it wasn't urgent I could get help moving the—
"East Clay is no place to leave one's things unattended after hours—who knows who might try to take it! I need it picked up in the next 30-45 minutes tops!" he informed me, cutting off my thoughts, "Clock's ticking, I'd better let you go, so that you can get to work," he said quickly.
"But—" I started to protest but he'd already hung up.
Well, that was unanticipated. I hadn't expected to become Davenport's errand runner, nor had I thought he would ask me to complete a task that I hadn't been trained in. Although in hindsight, he did seem to operate on a need-to-know-basis and his definition of the words need and know seemed vastly different than mine.
By 12:24AM, I was shivering and knocking loudly at the door of apartment 14B. The temperature rapidly reduced my concerns about the lateness of the hour. The building had originally been a motel, as a result, it had walk up access for apartments on the bottom floor. So far as I knew, the complex no longer rented anything for a duration shorter than a month and in doing so the kinds of people in proximity to the building after midnight was a better crowd than what it might have been a few years ago. That said, the tattooed hustlers still drew a wary eye from me.
My knocking stopped as I heard movement to the door.
It opened just a crack; surly an attempt to leave both the cold and riffraff out.
"I'm looking for Mic—Uh, Oslo McKesson," I told the girl, she looked about my age so that ruled out mother, leaving sister and girlfriend on the table. Mick was one that didn't take a lot about personal details, I was pretty sure I'd met his older brother once but couldn't remember him talking of other siblings or a significant other.
"It's past midnight," she told me, a slight edge of something that could possibly be taken as defensive in her tone—the slight inflection in her tone pushed my mind to classify her as a girlfriend rather than sister. But I left it open ended, as it wasn't decisive enough.
"Yea, sorry, I know. I just need his help real quick," I told her, pressing a strand of wind-blown hair back behind my ear and re-furling my scarf in an attempt to feel warmer.
She nodded, shutting the door and padding back down the hall.
Mick looked sleepy—as one just woken up often does, but, other than that, he seemed happy enough to see me.
"Girlfriend?" I asked him, nodding towards the apartment.
"Nah, my girlfriend lives in Harmondy—that's my Cousin. I've got a big extended family and my aunt just lost her job, asked if Kyla could room with us for a bit—take some of the pressure off,"
I nodded, still standing in the door way. I should really just get on with things; both of us knew I didn't just show up in the middle of the night for idle chit chat.
"I need your help, Mick. I got assigned an errand and I need to get a car from Mill Park area to Charleston Airport, I'm so sorry that I even am asking but can you help me—and by that I mean drive us?"
"Are you crazy? Even taking into account the fact that you woke me up, I'd never pass up the chance to drive a car somewhere. Seriously! It's like your job is too good to be true! Lemme grab my jacket –this is already like the best night of my life," He exclaimed excitedly from the hall of the apartment.
When he returned with headed off moving at a brisk pace because it was cold and because Davenport had wanted it done within a tight window of time.
We didn't chat much, it was a luxury of being friends with a guy like McKesson, he wasn't high maintenance and didn't require a lot of conversation but he was always there if you needed him.
It was as Davenport said, the car stood out in a relatively empty parking lot. Like the others in the lot, it was an American muscle car. The majority of cars on the road in today were older. It had to do with the kinds of technology that was used at the time they were created. After the fallout, anything that had technology crashed. Old cars, unlike newer varieties, had few technical features, most simply needed to be rewired and then fitted with a new power cell. It was clear the money saved was generally used to trick-out other features. The paints were always flashy and interiors were often refurbished with new vinyl or leather.
This car was no different, it was clear that Davenport had good tastes after all. It was a pretty forest green colour and gleaming even under the less than brilliant streetlights and missing stars. The keys were in the ignition, just like Davenport said they would be.
"Alright, let's go," I said to McKesson who was also standing quietly nearby also observing the car.
"You don't have to tell me twice," He said excitedly, rubbing his hand together in anticipation.
When the car started up the radio flew on, loud synth music filled the car, startling me and I frantically looked for the off button, "Apparently my boss has nice taste in cars and crappy taste in music," I offered to McKesson who started to reverse once the noise level reverted to normal.
We shared a laugh.
Our laughing mood was relatively short lived, within a few minutes of exiting the parking lot, McKesson jerked the rearview mirror, presumably in order to see better.
"Someone is following us," He told me, seeming fully convinced.
"You sure?" I asked craning backwards to confirm his assertion; I could see headlights and they were catching up.
"Hundred percent," he nodded, grinding the gears slightly going into 4th. "Sorry," he said with a wince, "I'm a little flustered by the tail," he admitted.
"Someone likely thinks we are Davenport," I acknowledged.
"Shit, I wonder if that's why he sent me to pick up his stupid car; he was probably hoping I'd fight his battles for him," I claimed with a growl.
"They are gaining on us," He said, adjusting the rearview again.
He looked a bit agitated.
"I'm not planning to fight anyone," I told McKesson, hoping that would ease his mind and allow him to relax and focus on driving.
"Okay, so what do we do?"
"Do you think we can out run them?" I asked.
"I don't know, I haven't been able to see what they are driving, but this car feels pretty peppy, I think it has a decent number of horses under the hood," he joked, which signified his relaxing into the idea, which in turn eased my mind. I couldn't have my driver stressing out—this whole thing was dead in the water without his help.
"So, let's try that! What do we have to lose?" I inquired, feeling ready to give them what we had.
It was almost as soon as I said that, that McKesson put the pedal down. We accelerated, sped down side streets and then across the east end tracks. We would be on the highway soon, the only way to the airport and I was really hoping we'd have lost our tail by then.
They closed the distance once, and Mckesson countered by taking us under Bevan Street Bridge, across another intersection and then under a train bridge—I felt my heart in my throat. While East Clay didn't have much for cars, we had a lot of train transportation and the tracks were active at all hours of the day and night.
"You're frightening me Mick!" I told him, as well shuttled out of the train tunnel.
"That tunnel closed a few years back, after too many unexplained derailments up the line from here," he told me,
I laughed then, how he knew that I wasn't sure, but it made me feel silly for being so filled with fear moments before.
"Or, at least I'm pretty sure it was that one," he offered—when he laughed again I knew he was only teasing me.
My phone jostled, indicating a message.
Time to ditch this phone, pull the key and throw it out.
In the side mirror I could clearly see our pursuers. Part of me wondered if this was all a set up by Davenport. Was he testing me, seeing if I still listened to him when under duress?
Consider it fried. I typed back before I pulled the pin, the plastic started to make a hissing sound barely audible over the noise of the engine. I tossed it out the window as we entered the highway.
I didn't think it was possible but once on the highway we seemed to go even faster. My mood changed with the increase in speed. I felt less nervous about the car making chase or what Davenport was playing at on this one.
I sighed in anticipatory relief. It was going to be alright, worst case scenario, we'd pull over and I'd kick ass, which was likely what Davenport had wanted in the first place.
"I never thought I'd ever be in an actual car chase!" Mick hollered excitedly, adrenaline teaming through his system.
"I'm just glad you still seem to be enjoying this! I'd hate for these tailgating losers to have ruined 'the best night of your life'," I laughed and then everything changed, we hit ice and spun out three full rotations before catching the side of the ditch and flipping, once and maybe more times but I'd blacked out after hearing crunching glass and my own startled scream.
Oh so yeah, I just did that! Bam, things just got real. Kay, I should dial it back. Sorry for the over-exuberance!
I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas & speculation!
I'm actually not sure if Mick survives this, feelings on this? Should I keep him alive? Do you care if he doesn't make it? I promise to take your thoughts and feelings on this to heart.
As always, if you have corrections, suggestions or see areas that are confusing writing wise, please don't hesitate to let me know!
Also, hugs sent your way if you take a second to review! Yeah, I mean they aren't free but they are close to free some maybe do that! Non-huggers welcome too, you folks can have an either an approving nod or happy wave. Your choice ;)
See you next week (or maybe later this week, but no promises!)