The road lay before me like the body of an overdosed hooker; all valleys and plains and nameless geography. My hand stroked the air from the window of the pickup as the wind smoked my cigarette and left me with ash. This could work, she’d said. We can make this work.
Behind us, the dome shrank and shimmered in the ozone-laced sunset. My overeducated freelance cab driver droned on about something forgettable, something like music he’d liked as a child. Claire was five miles behind me and counting. By this point, I knew that the feds would have noticed my absence. I pictured her in a white interrogation room, angles and pale skin and cocky syllables in the face of bodily decommission. This had been her idea, of course. Everything good was her idea.
â€œ-totally captures the alienation of the human experience,â€ the driver said. The radio sputtered silence and noise. He’d gone to Yale. This was a rebellion, I’m sure. The type of rebellion that only the rich can afford. â€œSo what’s your story?â€ he finally asked when his thoughts on Bob Dylan had become less than captivating.
â€œDon’t have one,â€ I said, which wasn’t entirely a lie. Most people don’t have stories worth telling. The problem is that they very rarely recognize it.
â€œYou’re outside of the limits,â€ he said.
â€œSo are you.â€
â€œYeah, but I’m getting paid for it.â€
Seven miles, now. I pictured her blond hair traced with blood, her body curled up on the interrogation room floor. She wouldn’t tell them anything, of course. I wished that she would tell them something.
This isn’t how it should have been, I thought to her. Next time, I won’t let it won’t come down to this.
The cab driver flicked up his control panel, and I turned around to watch the last spark of the silver bowl disappear into the horizon. We were far enough away for the rockets. We were beneath their radar. Decades beneath their radar.
â€œAll strapped in?â€ he asked as he entered a code into the ancient keypad. I nodded. I was more strapped in than I’d ever been before.