This is, more or less, slice of life as the world burns. The gas station guy came to me and I needed to give the story something of an end if not a beginning.
So here it is, Fae Apoc, early in the war so mid-2011.
“What do you mean,’no satellites found?’”. Hayley pounded the dashboard with her fist and glared at the GPS, her phone, and the road. “They’re up there, you idiots! They didn’t go away!”
“Well.” Tyler cleared her throat. “They might have, you know. The god-things took out Manhattan. A satellite is probably no big deal forgot them, you know?”
“I see a gas station. We should fill up while we can.” Lindsay pointed from the back seat. “There. Eddie’s Gas and Service.”
The three of them and everything they thought they might need were crammed into Tyler’s mom’s Prius — on the theory that the plug-in was running out of places to, well, plug in and Mom and Dad had taken the Range Rover “on vacation” to the family place in the Catskills weeks ago. They were technically playing hooky from SUNY Stony Brook, but since only one of their professors was still bothering to show up, they were pretty sure it wouldn’t count against their GPA.
If GPA mattered ever again. If anything they knew mattered ever again.
A man who might have been the original Eddie – he looked about a hundred, and he was wearing a greasy coverall that declared his name matched the sign – met them at the pump. None of them missed that he was holding a shotgun.
“Five dollars. That’s all I can give you. Five dollars of gas and, uh.” He smirked, a tired laconic expression. “Let’s see. Two maps, one of the area and one nearby, any of you know how to read them?”
They wanted to complain about his tone, but they had to look among the three of them. “Uh. I do,” Lindsay offered. “Grew up using them. Dad doesn’t trust GPS.”
“Smart man, your father. Let’s see. Here’s some jerky, some bottled water, and three cans of beans. And a can opener. All free, but you can only take five bucks’ worth of gas. There’s more people coming, you know.”
They took their two gallons, which came out a little more than $5 on the pump, but he took their five dollars and sent them on. “Don’t think I’ll be paying too many taxes, you know.”
“Thank you.” Hayley waved at him as they left. “Thanks, mister.”
“It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses,” Tyler muttered. “Hit it.”
Neither of her friends got the joke, but that was, after all, the nature of Tyler. Lindsay unfolded the map and a few minutes later they were navigating the twists and turns of the Catskills.
“I think we should go further,” Tyler opined, as the sun started to set. “Everyone from the City is going to be coming up here.”
“What do you mean, further? Like. The Adirondacks? They won’t be much better.” Hayley frowned. “The Green Mountains?”
“The White Mountains, maybe. Or Maine.”
“Tyler, I don’t think we can get to Maine on six bucks of gas, even if it is a Prius.” Lindsay considered the map. “How long do you want to drive tonight?”
“Until none of us can drive anymore.” Tyler’s jaw was set. “And I got a five-hour energy at the last stop.”
The two of them, Hayley and Lindsay, turned to look behind them. They couldn’t see the city anymore, not for real, but there was a creepy line of glow on the horizon.
“Sounds good. Let me know when you need me to drive, all right?”
Dawn found them exhausted, drooping, the Prius – after four more gas station stops that had netted a total of three gallons of gas – running low on gas again – staring at a cabin with a nice shiny “for rent” sign hanging from it.
“It’s breaking and entering,” Hayley complained.
“Only if we have to break. Or enter. Look, there’s a phone number. We find a land line, we call it.” Lindsay was the sort that got snippish when she was tired. “Right now, we lock the car and we sleep. Okay?”
“This is is, then?” Tyler looked at the place. It wasn’t much, but it was cute. It was cute – and they could no longer see the City on the horizon. “This is where we stay?”
The three of them shared a long look. They weren’t going back to Stony Brook. Maybe, maybe they’d go find some parents in the Catskills. But for now…
“This is where we stay.” Lindsay held her hand between the seats; the other two girls squeezed it tightly.
“This is where we stay.”