The End: Story Two
By: David K. Montoya
We had been on the road for some time. No one had said a word for hours, the silence was defining. I guess it was our own way of with dealing with what had happened back at the farm. Everything that went on there was just odd. My mind drifted to what Fran had said earlier about how her and her father searched for a cure to the sickness. Once we get to Haven, I look forward to sitting down with her and hearing more about their research.
With a clunk of the motor, my mind popped back into the present. I quickly examined all of the gauges for any signs of problems, but there was nothing. Everything appeared all right; perhaps it was because of the incline we had come to. I prayed that the engine would hold up until we reached Haven. So far, so good. I continued up the road in the dead silence. A bitter feeling of loneliness began to eat at my nerve. I looked up to the rearview mirror and saw everyone hurdled up in the back, covered with whatever they could put over them. There was definitely a temperature change once we crossed over into Montana and the sun went down; it became flat out freezing! It didn't help matters that the driver's side windshield was busted out when those land pirates tried to kill Michael and loot our belongings. I tried to shut the cold out. At least I had the heat from the motor to keep me somewhat warm.
I tried to stop thinking about the weather, so my mind wandered to Haven, what it would be like and how life was going to be. I knew in my gut that we were now close to finding Haven. Never did I even think that we would have to go search for the place, I just thought it would be there in big neon lights that read: Welcome to Haven.
Some time had passed, when we came to a flat plateau. I couldn't drive any further, so I decided to get out and stretch my legs. I pulled over and told the others that we were going to take a five minute break, but they were flat asleep. I stepped off the bus and was met with the powerful Montana winds. I knew that being inside the vehicle protected me from the winter weather, but I didn't realize just how much it shielded out.
After a few minutes outside, I decided to reboard the bus. As I was coming up the steps, I noticed something. It appeared to be some sort of light that came out of the north. It was unbelievably bright. Whatever it was, it lit up the night's sky. Quickly, I got back into the driver's seat and headed off back down the road, straight for the mystery light.
I followed the light up a few miles until I came upon its origin, which was down in a small valley. I, once again, pulled over and got out of the bus. When I looked down into the basin, I was breathtaken; hundreds of lights covered the land. They all led to the center of the landscape where three enormous skyscrapers stood with large spot lights that surrounded the salvo of buildings. Entwined around the structures were, what appeared to be, freshly made roadswith what looked like vehicles, but more compact that traveled up and down the pavement.
I collapsed to my knees; I could not believe what was in front of me. There it was. There was Haven! As I sit there in complete awe, I realized that warm tears came down my face. I got back to my feet and wiped my eyes before I called out to the others to come outside and have a look at their new home. The half conscience gang unloaded from the bus. Michael was the first to reach where I was. In a mumbled voice he was able to push out his question of what was going on. The only thing I could do to answer his question was to simply point down into the valley. The six of us stood there in silence, as we each gazed down into the lights knowing our long journey was finally over.
It took fortyfive minutes to reach the lights. We were stopped by a large wooded barricade that was laced with a chain linked fence. At the top, was razor wire and if that wasn't enough security, there were two armed guards that stood on each side of the blockade.
They started to inspect the bus from top to bottom, but I was interested in what the men wore. Each of them was dressed in a standard issue of army combat fatigues. I opened the vehicle's doors to allow the guards to board, but they remained outside and welcomed me to the US Free Zone.
I asked him what was the Free Zone and he explained that it was the gateway to Haven created years after the construction of the city by survivors that were refused entry into the Promised Land. They secured the area from the Unlucky activity and begun to build the small town that was behind the huge wall. The two men heaved the huge blockade open and waved us to proceed into the town known as the Free Zone.
Once I drove inside I was, to say the least, shocked at what I saw. Everything was in shambles. It appeared to be an old run down town inhabited by the underclass and the homeless. The alleys were filled with sleeping bodies and the road sides were groups of transients huddled around a burning metal container. As we slowly moved along the road, everyone gave us an uneasy look to let us know just how unwelcome we were. I reached underneath my chair and pulled out my revolver. I placed it on top of my lap, in open view, to let everyone know that I wasn't playing around.
Further up the road, I found several roadside stands which offered a variety of different services, from having your picture taken with a real life Unlucky, to prostitution. Each stand appeared to be lit by candles or kerosene lamps. Interestingly enough, there was no sign of electricity throughout the entire town even though the city right next to them seemed to have more than enough.
Rose described it best when she said the town reminded her of a California skid row after a nuclear holocaust. I wanted to drive straight through without stopping. The only thing more dangerous than a pack of Unluckys is large group of treacherous nomads. And from the looks of things, it's more than just a large group; it's a whole damn city full! As we drove down the main road that divided the town, I told the others to grab a firearm, of some sort, just in case of an attack. Each person that we passed gave us a wild look, one of hatred and envy. Michael came up to the front of the bus and handed me a sawed off shotgun. Then he sat behind me to cover the door just in case one of those nomads tried to get inside.
But we drove through the entire town of the Free Zone, and much to my surprise, not one person made any sort of an attempt to attack us. Perhaps they knew all of us aboard the bus were armed or maybe I had misjudged the nomads altogether. Instead of being ruthless, blood lusting savages; they were good people that appeared to be hard on their luck. Either way, they stayed put and I was able to exhale a sigh of relief until I reached the checkpoint into Haven.
I pulled up to another checkpoint. This time there were several armed guards. As I came to a complete stop, I killed the motor and waited for the men to approach me. While I waited, I looked out pass the barrier and saw the city lights of Haven. My stomach turned with excitement at the sight that was before me. Soon our problems of Unluckys, out for our blood, would be no more. So many things crossed my mind, as I sat there. Finally one of the armed guards walked up to the bus, but he approached me from the driver's side and visibly had his finger resting on the trigger. The man looked at me for some time before he actually spoke. He asked of my name and where I was headed. I replied to who I was and explained that my family and I were on our way to Haven.
Before I could finish, the guard turned away and rejoined his group. He and another soldier, holding a metal clipboard, conversed while they looked through the pages that were attached to the board. Eventually, they appeared to have come to an agreement with whatever they were discussing. The guard returned to my side of the vehicle, now this time he had his rifle readied to fire.
The soldier explained that only people that were on the clipboard would be allowed to enter Haven. A feeling of anger rushed over me. I started to yell in frustration; after everything we had been through, how could they deny us entry? I noticed that the third guard walked in front of the bus with his weapon ready to fire. They were moving into position to attack.
I had to bite my tongue and think of something to get us inside. I sat there in the dark for a short time. Eventually, I asked who the people on the clipboard were. The guard, at my side, explained that the remaining governing body of the United States and the ultrarich were the only ones that would have their names on the list.
I turned toward Michael and told him to wake the others and have them lie down on the floor of the bus, cover up with whatever they could find, and let me know when they were done. As they moved around the vehicle, gathering what they could find to cover with, I continued to sit there as the third guard moved next to the door with his rifle shouldered and ready. The soldier that was next to me, yelled to start my engine and turn around. They didn't want trouble.
Without a word, I started the motor and let it idle. I looked out the window and told the guard that I would comply with their order and turn around. I started to race the engine which made the soldiers panic. They began to yell out commands, but by this time, I had the bus' RPM's so high that I could not make out what they were saying.
Just when tension was at its highest, I heard my son say that they were ready. Then all in one motion, I downshifted and punched the accelerator. Before anyone was sure what was going on, the bus was moving forward. I hit the guard that was in front of me dead on. He never knew what hit him as his blood splattered the front end of the vehicle. The sound of rapid gunfire echoed out from behind me. I yelled for everyone to stay down.
I saw a chainlinked fence that divided the Free Zone and Haven. I pushed the accelerator a bit more and headed straight for the fourth guard that held the metal clipboard. I motioned to him to move out of the way, but he was frozen with fear. When he realized what was happening, it was too late. The soldier let out a blood curdling squeal before the bus toppled over him. It was like hitting an oversized speed bump.
The vehicle shifted up and down while bullets zinged through its metal frame. I realized that they were now more people firing at us. I looked up at my rearview and watched the speeding projectiles slice through the bus' fake leather seats as its content was spewed all over the place.
I screamed out in pain as one of the stray bullets hit my left shoulder. My second yell came when another bullet forced its way through the driver's seat into my abdomen. I was struck three more times before I crashed through the fence that led into Haven. I fought with all my might to remain conscious. When the bus finally came to a stop, I wasn't able to move. I recall calling out to the others and, from what I could tell, everyone was all right.
I remember thinking to myself that I had done it. We made it into Haven! Before I blacked out, the bus was raided. Several armed soldiers surrounded me, screaming and yelling, but then everything slipped away.