Author : Frank Ruiz

“We got a call. Yates again,” said a voice from the black. Gear clicked, clanked, and rustled as someone dressed. When he hummed, I knew it was Tim because he mumbled the lyrics to Move, Bitch. He gave that old song soul. “Lights?” he asked.

“Nah.” I sighed. “You know I sleep in my gear.” Tim grunted assent.

The truck’s familiar creaking almost rocked me back to sleep as we drove. We picked up pirate stations as we bounced across the cracked roads, the radio fizzling as it scanned and found…

-We have any time travelers out there? If you’re a visitor to the blasted past, don’t be afraid to give us a call…-

-So one day I’m out playing in the rain, and my father says, ‘Dammit, will you come inside!’ and I said, ‘Dad, I’m Jesus Christ!’-

Bank Officer Yates met us at the Dusty Wood gated community, gave us the address to check for squatters, and retracted the barrier poles. “Good hunting!” A smile and a wave. He lived off our arrests.

I squinted as we went. Dusty Wood’s dark made me think of outer space and stars. Constellations of solar powered LEDs lined the gutters and roof lines, barely illuminating the abandoned middle class community. Every so often, a tower broke the foreclosed town’s skyline and the red tip of guards’ lit cigarettes paced back and forth like small clones of Mars. On major streets, tracker lights followed us until we cleared the sector, then another light would pick us up.

We opened the door of Seventeen Fifteen and threw in a S.E.I.Z.U.R.E. ball. Five minutes later, we walked through, safeties off, gun lights on. We found a father and son shaking under a red swiss cheese comforter. The father’s Rolex clattered as he shook. Tim reached down, yanked, and pocketed the watch.

“It’s a good night. There were no weapons,” said Tim. “Look, a toy.”

A few feet from the boy, a yellow construction crane reached up. I grabbed it, showed it to Tim, and squinted as his gun light hit my eyes.

“Nah. That’s the Big Dipper.” I said.

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