Chapter II

Chapter II

A Chapter by Mounsell

With a roar like a lion, the truck made its way down the highway.  Kicking up clouds of dust behind it, the vehicle's navy exterior was hidden by layers of sand and dirt.  The driver, seemingly oblivious of any posted speed limits, was able to make quick progress along his route. 

               John gripped the wheel firmly and struggled to gaze far beyond his position.  The miles of road that lay in front of him appeared to fade into the distance much like the miles behind him had.  Each mile he saw the same landscape, the same mountains, and the same brilliant sun rising high above him.  The great distance he had covered and the great distance ahead began to worry him.

               The monotony of John's drive was broken only by brief periods in which music sounded from the radio.  The distance between John and the sending stations cut the duration of these periods to only a few seconds.  He was unable to determine the songs that were played.  These periods served to amuse John even after they were cut off.  With each short musical phrase, the driver's thoughts were drawn away from his present situation.

               The needle of the truck's fuel gauge had moved further and further towards the large red "E" with each passing mile.  John, upon seeing this, tapped at the gauge's glass cover, and frowned.  The drive he had undertaken had taken up over three quarters of his tank and no filling stations were in sight. 

               John pulled the atlas from the passenger seat and began to shift his eyes between its pages and the road ahead of him.  Looking at a chart in the back of the atlas, he determined that he had put over a hundred miles between him and the last town he passed through.  The gas he had in his tank would not be able to get him anywhere close to the next stop on his route.  He was sure that his truck would be running on fumes before he reached the town ahead.  Regardless, he slammed the gas pedal with his boot and shot across the desert.

               After what seemed another hour of driving, the truck's engine began to sputter.  John looked at the fuel gauge and saw that it was still above the "E."  He guided his faltering truck over to the side of the highway.   Once he had brought it to a complete stop it, John could see steam rising from the front of his truck.  He stepped out of the vehicle and lifted the hood.  At once, a cloud of steam blew into his face and he quickly pulled his head away.  The cloud of steam rising from the vehicle’s hood convinced John to abandon his truck for now and set off on foot.  He was wary to do so, though, due to the heat that bore down upon the desert and continued to rise.

               John opened the truck's passenger door and looked at the pile of materials in the seat.  A canteen, a wad of single bills, an atlas, a pair of sunglasses.  John weighed the importance of each item.  With some reservations, he left behind the road map.  He had studied its features enough to understand that the next town would lie somewhere along the highway.  Holding a canteen and a wad of cash, and tucking the temples of his sunglasses into his jacket pocket, John started walking towards the next town.

               After several hours of hiking, John was able to spy a cluster of small houses along the horizon.  Unable to make out the finer details of the structures, he took them to simply be mirages.  When he finally came close to them, John determined the houses to be real. 

               This realization quickened his pace.  He hoped that one their inhabitants would be able to give him a ride to the next filling station. 

               As he drew closer to the homes, John began to doubt whether any of them were occupied.  Looking carefully, he could tell that many of their windows were busted out, exposing the interiors to the elements.  Bushes had choked off the path to each home's door.  John treaded carefully through the shrubbery surrounding one house and peered in through a gritty window.  Wiping away the thick film of dirt with his sleeve, he was able to see the dilapidated state of the home.  Its blue wallpaper had chipped and cracked, revealing the rotting wood underneath. A few wooden chairs were scattered about the area that John was able to see.  A rotting sea green couch with its foam cushions exposed sat along the far wall.  Pictures hung from the walls that displayed images of more prosperous times: family reunions, children's birthdays, and barbecues, among other things.  Rusted utensils, shattered dishes, and crumbling books littered the floor.

               John pulled his face away from the window.  Stepping carefully around the bushes, he walked back to the road.  He checked his pockets to ensure that none of his supplies had fallen into the thick shrubbery.  He realized his sunglasses had fallen from his pocket.  He managed to retrieve them from the bushes with some difficulty.  John placed the sunglasses on his face and continued along the highway.


© 2012 Mounsell

Author's Note

Critiques would be greatly appreciated.

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Added on May 19, 2012
Last Updated on June 2, 2012
Tags: salt, city, sea, truck



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