The Black Maria

Author : Rae Walker

Dawn scrambled over the alley’s chain link fence, the ching ching ching of her climb ringing as loud as the siren had upon her escape.

Yes Dawn had killed the child; but how was she to know he was among the rubble? If it hadn’t been her then someone else would have brought the boy down; it was inevitable. Where had his Sitter been? What child was without one?

No matter now -the boy was dead- by her machinery and so by her hand. Dawn shuddered. The Black Maria had been waiting as She waited for every man, woman and child who dared deviate from the unyielding word of law. Unbiased. Without compassion or understanding of circumstance. Dawn was damned.

Joy rippled through the beast as She had come to life; activated to hunt down, try and judge the child-murderer. With gentle feet She had climbed over apartment dormitories, not making the slightest mark. That would be vandalism and so was forbidden. Long after the sun had set, when the stars shined with more than enough light She had spotted Dawn and galloped at her with hydraulic joints pumping, Her belly open to snare the deviant. In the belly of the Black Maria, Dawn would have been interrogated, tried, and found guilty. In Her belly she would have been executed, incinerated, ashy smoke rising from between the Black Maria’s shoulder blades and billowing into the night air. But Dawn had dashed into traffic, stumbling between vehicles and taking the chance of being sucked into an engine. The Black Maria had not followed; it was against the law to cross without permission, and so She waited. Her body rippled again as one more charge was brought against the child-murderer and She watched for the pedestrian crossing to light white. Two men huddled below Her drew away with hunted expressions but there was no law against fear -She ignored them.

Dawn toppled over the fence, scuffing her shoulder, tearing through her red wool sweater. She dared not go to friends, family, or they too would be charged. With assisting the deviant. With anything. There was always something. Dawn was alone as she dragged herself to her feet and forced them to run again, though her chest felt like bursting. No one had ever fought the Black Maria and won, let alone a diabetic construction worker.

The night’s silence and city-noises were drowned by the Black Maria’s siren, sounding like laughing, clapping hands. Clah hah hah claa claa clah hah hah. People in units above drew their blinds and bolted their doors. She was close. The siren blared, wearing on Her quarry’s nerve until she made a mistake and was trapped in that steel belly.

Dawn sobbed, her hand gripping the slow bleeding wound on her shoulder. With glistening eyes, Dawn limped onward, the hope having left her step. She wished she had killed the boy with her own hands, had slit his throat and watched him bleed. She wished she could have had that luxury.

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