Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fiction - Part III - Hoofin' it.

This is part 3 of a fictional account of Yours Truly in an catastrophic event where all power was taken out. Part one can be found here, and part two can be found here. I hope your enjoying these, as they do take a lot of effort to write. The primary goal of these is to entertain, but I'm using these as a mental exercise on what I've got right, and what needs improvement. I actually have most of the next post written, this section was son long I figured I ought to break it into smaller chunks for easier digestion. Enjoy!
The commuter rail meandered its way through the suburbs of Boston, occasionally stopping so the conductors could manually switch the tracks. Progress was slow, and in several locations abandoned cars could be seen that were pushed out of the way because they were blocking the tracks.

Al and Natog rode in silence inside the last vestibule of the train. The normal hum of conversation on the trains was hushed, as the weary riders stood mutely waiting to go to their dark homes. With the winter storm of freezing rain and snow, visibility was limited into the communities the train rolled through. Dorchester, Milton, Canton were all dark. Traffic lights were out wherever they were close enough to the tracks to see.

The train slowed to a snail’s pace several times when crossing roads, as the crossing light system was inoperative. There weren't many cars running at all, but those that were seemed hell-bent on getting to wherever they wanted too, blowing through traffic signals at full speed.

The train made it’s normal stop at Brockton. The city is yet another Massachusetts mill town that never recovered from the loss of that industry. Higher crime rates, lower average income and lower education. Such is the legacy of betting all your money on the textile and shoe making mills. Brockton, like everywhere else was dark. The train continued on after disgorging its load of passengers.

A few minutes after leaving the Brockton station, the conductor stuck his head in the vestibule “The next stop is the last folks, the tracks are blocked farther down.”

Al snapped back into focus from looking out the windows, “Whaddayamean last stop?”

The conductor sighed. “Look pal, the last train derailed when the automatic switch fried when the power went out. Thank Christ it had just left the station and wasn’t going fast. It was going fast enough that the cars that jumped had enough speed to wreck the other set of tracks. So last stop, see if you can get a taxi or something.”

“What if we can’t?”

Natog grabbed his friend by the shoulder to get his attention, “Then we walk.”

Natog turned to the conductor, “What time is it? I used to use my cellphone.”

The conductor looked at his wristwatch, “Three-thirty. Never did like digital watches myself.”

Natog turned to Al, “Shit. That took us three hours? Felt like ten.”

Al looked out the window, “At least the storm blew itself out. It’s not raining anymore.”

“Well that’s the way to stay optimistic. Let’s see how long a walk we have.”

Natog rummaged in his messenger bag to open his mini-BOB. Pulling out a map of eastern Massachusetts he started figuring out how far they were from Middleboro.

While Natog was checking the map, he glanced down at Al’s feet. “How are your feet doing?”

“Pretty toasty, why?”

“Well we got about an 11 mile walk ahead of us.”

Al lost it. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Nope. Five miles to Bridgewater, and then about six more to Middleboro. At least you live on the north side of town. I got about a mile walk longer than you do.”

Natog folded up the map and put it away as the train pulled into the station. As they filed out of the train, they were struck by the sheer volume of people on the train platforms. Most were aimlessly milling about, trying to get dead cellphones to work, or occasionally trying the lone payphone at the end of the platform. Most were dressed like officeworkers, but a few tradesmen were mixed in as well.

Al leaned in to whisper to Natog “What the fuck they waiting for?”

“Someone to come and help them.”

Natog grabbed Alby the sleeve and they jostled and pushed their way through the crowd, out of the station. There a lone Brockton Crown Vic was there with it lights on. A crowd had gathered around the car and the two police officers were trying to placate the crowd.

Some were shouting, some were begging and pleading to get a ride home. The officers were shouting over the crowd that they were here to keep order and not run a taxi service.

Natog pulled Al through the crowd while Al was gawking at the cops.

Al turned and caught up as they broke through the edge of the crowd. Referring to his map, Natog headed off across Plain Street and down Meadowbrook Road. The wind had died down considerably, but the temperature had dropped a lot as well. Both men had their hats pulled low, and their breath swirled in the air.

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t just go down 28, it might even be plowed.”

“You’re the boss, I’d be still in Boston without you.”

Natog laughed, “Nah I bet you’d be in Dorchester wondering if you’re the only white guy in the whole city right about now.”

“I hate to say it but your right. I’ve been thinking…”

“Don’t, it will give you a brain cramp.”

“No, I was thinking when you said this country was on the road to ruin, about the federal reserve and such and I made fun of you.”

“Yeah, I remember”

“That bag you keep pulling stuff out of is part of what you were trying to tell me, isn’t it.”

“Well yeah, but there’s more to it than that.”

“You’ve bought a shitload of guns, and you haven’t had much money for going out. You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you.”

“Well not exactly.”

“Bullshit. How did you know to bring your bag of goodies in?”

They two of them had already made the turn onto Sergents Way, and now turned south on Rt. 28. The two friends set a brisk pace down the street. The road was clear, and had been salted at least a few times before the power went out. There was no traffic at all, save but a few clumps of people walking south down the empty road.

“I bring it with me every day.”


“Yeah, you never know when the power might go out and keep us stranded in Boston. Although I wish work would let us carry, I’d feel a lot better if I was armed right now.”

“So you have that with you all the time?”

“It’s with me or in the Jeep. I like to be prepared.”

“Huh. Like always having a condom on you.”

“Er, yeah like that you lech.”

“Man it’s fucking cold out here.”

“Just keep your feet dry. I don’t have any more feet warmers.”

“Well what else do you have in there?”

“Um, stuff.”

“Well there isn’t a lot going on, and I rather have something to talk about to keep my mind off of how fucking cold it is.”

“Ok, ok. I got a pocketknife, some flashlights, a few first aid supplies, two…”

“First aid supplies? You kidding?”

“No, it’s handy to have if you dice your finger racking a server or something. It’s not like work keeps band-aids for us.”

“Oh, Right. Well go on.”

“Where was I? Oh yeah, two days of food and water purification tablets.”

“Why would you need to purify water?”

“Well to drink it, dumbass”

Al gave Natog a dirty look, “No I meant why would we need to purify it?”

“Well how do you think the water you drink gets purified in the first place?”

“Well the town does it. I dunno.”

“Yeah well the town has no electricity, so it cannot make clean water, or pump it to us now can it?”

“Aw fuck, how are we going to get drinking water?”

“You’re going to have to boil it before you drink it.”

“But we have an electric stove!”

“And now you see why I have matches. Your beast of a grill has a burner on it, right?”

“Yeah it does!”

“Well there you go.”

“I don’t know how much propane I have left from the summer, though.”

“Dammit I told you to fill it in case a hurricane comes”

“Well I didn’t listen to you.”

“That reminds me.” Natog dug in his pack and pulled out the water bottle. It was ice cold. Grimacing against the cold, Natog stuck the bottle inside his sweatshirt and pinned it against his side with his arm. “Damn that’s cold.”
“What the fuck you doing?”

“Keeping the water from freezing.”

They walked on. Occasionally they passed other groups with the fast pace the two men were walking. Both were lost in their own thoughts as they made their way out of town. Gradually the water warmed up.

The miles slowly rolled past. After a couple hours of walking, they crossed the center of Bridgewater, a sleepy Boston bedroom community. All the stores were dark, and here and there people were walking around town.

Al and Natog took a break in the little park in the center of town. A rotary ran around the park, and it was surrounded by small shops.

Al looked over, “Shit man I’m freaking tired NOW, and we only half way there.”

“Yeah, my feet are killing me. Not used to walking this much.”

“Never mind how much they have to carry.”

“Pfft, this is all stored energy.”

“Stored beer more like it!”

“Damn Skippy!”

Natog pulled out the bottle from under his sweatshirt and took a few swigs, then passed it to Al. Gratefully, Al took a drink from the bottle.

“I got to give you credit,” as Al handed back the bottle, “You got this shit wired tight.”

“I hope your right. Let’s get a move on before we cool off too much.”

With that, the two friends pulled themselves onto their feet, and started walking down route 28 once again.


Lweson said...

You mean I gotta wait another 2-4 weeks for another Fix i mean another installment. Man I can actually visualize the conversations. Awesome writing. Keep it up!!!

irishdutchuncle said...

i guess it's safe to assume the train is a diesel? or does the railroad make its own power?

sanjac said...

Great writing Natog, the dialogue flows well and I'm looking forward to part IV.

Natog said...

Remember, some cars were working... so it's not a 100% power down situation.

And yes, the purple line is a diesel.

I'm working on part IV now, it's gong to end after they get to Al's place. I got it 90% done so it should be up in a few days or so.

After everyone's home, then it will get a bit more episodic, if there is such a word, where the chapters will be shorter, and more self-contained.