Saturday, September 24, 2016

Frenzy: There is No Sanctuary (Part XI)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

I’m leading the small pack, but Ace is directing me where to go. He says that we need to get to the other side of the river, and at some point, find a vehicle. Our final destination is too far away to run. Rather, it’s too far away for him to run. I would be just fine, but I have to recognize other people’s limitations. And time is of the essence. We first head for the loopway and run alongside it for a while, letting it take us across the Missouri. Less than an hour in, we make a stop at the huge railroad junction. In this part of the metro, you can always find a classic car just waiting for be stolen. These things don’t have GPS, and they certainly don’t have driverless features. The obvious benefit to this is that they can’t as easily be traced. First off, it’ll be awhile before anyone reports it missing, but the police are also not going to be spending a ton of resources looking for something like that. It’s too much work, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
I spot a little red Japanese truck built all the way back in 2002. “It’s missing the passenger seat,” Ace says.
“That’s fine.”
“You’re not sitting there. Look at all that exposed metal and rust. No, we’re finding something else.”
“Who says you’ll be the one driving?”
“That creature is your responsibility. Besides, you’ve been out of the loop today. I know what’s going on, and how to get to the FBI building from here. And I have more experience as a driver.”
“Those are all good points. We’re still using the truck. I like it.” I take a peek at the bed. It doesn’t look too bad; a little dirty, maybe. “We can sit back here.”
He sighs. “I suppose it will have to do. I do already know how to hotwire it, and we better trust the devil we know.”
While he’s working his magic, I’m feeding Crispin some grass I picked from nearby. He’s eating it up, and man does he love it. I can literally feel energy surge through his fur as he begins to digest it. His body was somehow engineered to convert food energy to electricity. “What are you?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer.
We hear the engine rev and then Ace closes the door behind him before speeding off on the gravel. Twice in one day I’ve ridden in the open air in a vehicle piloted by a human. That’s got to be a record. That reminds me of Krakken. “We have to go find out if Krakken is okay!” I cut through the wind with my yell, into the little window in the back of the cab.
“We go to the FBI first!” he yells back.
“No, I brought him into this! He’s my responsibility!”
“And you are my responsibility!”
“What the hell does that mean?”
Then the truck starts to make that clinking sound and starts to slow down dramatically. Ace musters enough strength to pull over to the side of the highway. I can see him massaging his eyes. “I didn’t even look at the gas gauge,” he says. “Rookie mistake, Horace.”
I hop out the back. “It’s okay. We’ll find something else. There’s a junkyard within spitting distance of us.”
“You really do know this city, don’t you?” He asks rhetorically while stepping out.
“It’s my job.”
This time we just start walking, wanting to gather and conserve some energy. I’ve never been to the junkyard, but maybe someone will have a candy bar, or something, that we can pay them for. I know of no restaurants or stores in the area.
We walk the short distance to the junkyard, hoping to find something just this side of good enough to get us to where we’re going. It can crap out on us after that, but we do need to get to the FBI building. They’re the only ones who will know what to do with Crispin, and the people chasing us. As I’m wondering again who they are, as if I summoned them with my mind, they just appear again out of nowhere. I can’t tell whether they’re the same ones as before in the parking lot, but they’re still intent on retrieving their rabbit dog. How do they keep finding us? If he has some kind of tracking chip, or radiation signature, then they would have been able to find him long ago when he was with Krakken. Why now and how? I shake it off, realizing it doesn’t matter. We just have to run.
Our journey takes us into the maze of cars piled on each other. It seems to me like it would be better if you stripped the cars to their smallest components, cataloged them, and just sold them like that. Why take up all this room if most of these cars can’t run on their own? And how are they staying in business at all? No one needs this crap anyway. It’s 2026, get with the program. I shake that off too, because we’re in the middle of playing a deadly game of hide and seek. We’re not just trying to avoid capture, though. We’re methodically heading towards the outer edge of the premises. We don’t have time to find a car that works, so our only chance is to head in the general direction of the FBI building.
We finally manage to sneak past all the cars, but then we’re out in the open, so we have to keep moving. I’m not running as fast as I can, but I also don’t have to slow down too much. Ace can hold his own, and it makes me even more attracted to him. We run down into, and back out of, this part of the blue river that’s dried up. I’m not sure why they did that, but it does make it easier to cross. Not a mile later, we’re starting to head for a cemetery. I’ve seen a number of movies with standoffs in junkyards, and still more set in cemeteries. Have I fallen into an action film? Is this really happening? Is this real life? Yes, it is, and going through the cemetery is the best way to get where we’re going, as the crow flies. Until we break free from our pursuers, we don’t have time to find a more efficient means of travel. I mean, I love running, but this is ridiculous.
As I’m sprinting across the lawn, I look back to see how close they are. This was a bad idea. I don’t notice an open grave in front of me. Despite my prowess as a professional racer, I don’t have time make a course correction, or stop. Crispin flies out of my hands, and it appears that he’s going to land safely on the other side. I decidedly don’t, however. I crash face first into the grave, and for a few minutes, I can’t move. I try to convince my body that we’re in more danger if we stay put, but it doesn’t listen. “Move your big toe,” I say, invoking the spirit of Uma Thurman. I can’t see my toe through my shoe, but I do think it moves. The rest of my leg moves as well, because I’m not paralyzed, or anything. I regain the rest of my strength and crawl out of there, expecting to be surrounded by men in suits. There’s no one there, and I mean no one. Ace was a little behind me, so he should have stopped to help. Why didn’t he? Where did my rabbit dog go? Where did they all go? What the hell is going on?
I look up and around, first noticing that it’s much darker than it was when I first fell in. I lost consciousness? Oh, no. They took both Crispin, and Ace. Why did they leave me? That’s not cool. Sure, it sounds bad that would want to be captured, but at least we would all three be together. I still have no idea who these people are, so I have no chance of rescuing my friends. I’m completely lost, which is something I’ve never experienced before. “Hello?” I call out to the abyss.
“Hello?” A man slowly walks up to me holding a lantern, even though it’s not quite dark enough for that yet. “Good morning,” he says.
“It’s morning? What the hell time is it?”
The man looks at his watch. “Oh, pardon me, I get confused. It’s 7:13 at night. Sundown exactly.”
“I’ve been down for hours.”
He looks to the open grave. “Did you come from there?”
“Yeah, I fell in. Sorry if I messed up your work.”
“I’m sorry,” he almost laughs. “I have this weird brain thing. What’s the date?”
“It’s July 16, 2026.”
He looks back at his watch. “I’m afraid that’s wrong.”
“What? Is it already tomorrow? I could not have been there for more than a day. Someone would have found me.”
“Uh, no...it’s not the seventeenth either.”
“Something tells me that you’re not talking about two days.
“I’m sorry, Mister...”
“Demir. Serkan Demir.”
He doesn’t continue.
“Tell me the date. I can take it.”
“It’s September 24, 2022.”
I stop to think about it for a moment, but all that goes through my head are the words he just said. It reminds me of when I was a child. Analog clocks I could read just fine; it was digital clocks that gave me trouble. Something about going around in a circle made sense to me, but you give me numbers that are meant to represent a time of day, and its relation to surrounding events, and I have to concentrate on it. September 24, 2022 just runs through my head on repeat until I can fully recognize exactly what that means. “I went into the past.”
“Yes.”
“Is there any way back?”
He shakes his head in disappointment. “I can take salmon and choosers, but I can’t take humans. How you managed to slip through with the open grave is something for which I have no explanation.”
“A man named Lincoln Rutherford referred to me as a chosen one, or at least he thought that might be what I was.”
“I cannot speak to that,” he says. “I’m just The Gravedigger.”
“Could you direct me to someone who can help?”
“Well, I could try to—” He’s cut off by the simple fact that something causes him to  disappear before my eyes, but it doesn’t look like he did it on purpose. My only guess is that someone doesn’t want him to help me.
I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be here, but why? Is it to change my own past, to help Crispin escape the villain’s secret lair, to invent 3D printed human organs? I desperately want to go home, but I know that’s not possible. Right now, a 12-year-old version of me is running around the house, still learning about his own sexuality. No, I can’t interfere with myself. No one I know can help me, except for one person. He seemed to know more than he was letting on. I head for Ace’s apartment. Click here for the next installment...

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