Thursday, November 10, 2011
The End Is Here 4: "The rest on gas. Pump five"
The sun was well swallowed by the ground, but a continuous burp of light emanated out of the uneven skyscraper buckteeth of [a big city in the middle of the American southwest]. The old killer stared longingly at flat, wide signs proselytizing the salvation offered to weary roadway travelers in the way of serviceable hotels, but knew that he did not have the time to close his eyes and count to tomorrow in a soft pillow embrace.
The traffic was becoming less sparse, and mortal terror started to force him to pay attention to the tons of ferric doom that clustered on the highway. His mouth was dry, his bowels were predictably belligerent, and he needed to use a telephone. He spotted the most modern of ports-of-call maneuvered to the exit. People driving trucks that could tow aircraft carriers made their displeasure most loudly known as he displayed the gall of following traffic regulations to leave one of the great American veins.
Pulling up to the gas station was slightly less eventful. He pulled in front of a pump scanned the front of the convenience store, finding exactly what he was looking for. With the ignition off, seat belt unbuckled, and stolen suit-case nestled behind him in the dark abyss between the driver's seat the upholstery-maiden of a back seat, he stepped out and walked to the door.
He opened it to see the rotund, pastel-yellow-dress donning matron of, he guessed, a prodigious clan, with one such member staring at the floor in condemnation for a trespass he didn't comprehend. She shrieked at the blemish-riddled teenage girl in a blue pseudo-uniform behind the counter. “And you sold this to a child?!” She held up a half-opened condom. “It's.. not like you need an ID to get those you s- ma'am.” He was thankful that there was a possibility that his dealings in this station would be significantly more legal. “Do you even know what this is young man?” The woman's spawn kept his head low as he responded. “It's a slimy balloon.” “And how did you learn about these?” The old killer was already at the bathroom door as he answered. “They're at the park. After music parties.”
The old killer put a pack of gum, an case of energy drinks, and a fifty dollar bill on the counter. “The rest on gas. Pump five,” he said. The young woman sighed and smiled the smile one knows when they know they can't win but they just don't care. “So you sold a kid a condom?” He said as the register beeped. “Yeah. I did.” He shrugged. “I'm not judging you. I just find it weird. Not that you sold it, just that his old lady got into such a piss fit.” The receipt was printing as she looked up at him. “It was hard not laughing. Especially when he said he made animals with the 'slimy balloons.' It's gross, but still.” He grabbed the minority of his purchase. “Yeah. Listen, do you have any paper towels? I need to use the phone there and-”
“Yeah, I get you. Hold on.” She ducked behind the counter and wasn't subject to assault. She stood back up, giving him the sheets. “Thanks, kid. Remember to use the slimy balloons, or you might end up like her.” She forced a shudder. “Ugh. I know, right?” He stepped out, ignored the bell, and stepped over to the sun-bleached and rusted payphone. He grabbed the receiver gently and wrapped both halves in the paper towel. He slipped in the exact change and dialed the number he was told to call when he acquired the suitcase that was not like the others.
He tapped his foot and clenched his jaw as ring after ring sounded through his ear. He started to count them just before he heard the 'it's time to talk to a person' click. He made sure he was alone. “To men of fortitude is fortune granted.” A gravely voice with an indeterminable accent replied. “Is that so? You must be very fortunate then.” The old killer's lips curved as the voice continued. “No matter. Do you have it?” “That depends entirely on what you mean by it. If you were after blow, you're S.O.L. If you're after a floating metal book with holographic pages – that floats – then yes, I have 'it.” There was a pause that lasted just long enough to make the old killer wonder if an ape bit through the phone line. “A what?” He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “A book. Made out of metal. With holographic pages. That does not have weight and thinks that Sir Isaac Newton is a chump, and floats because it can. I am not bullshitting you.”
“And you got this from the truck with the license plate number we gave you?” asked the other end. “Yes. And the face of the mook that wasn't blown through matched the photo you gave me. It's them, it's the case. So how do I give this to you so you can fulfill your end of the deal?” The other end spoke, but in a conversation that the old killer was only an accessory to. Nothing was intelligible. “If that's what you have, that is what you have. Call this number when you reach Los Angeles,” it said. “I'm going to get the operation, right?”
“Follow our commands, and you will.”