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Pipeline. Vivien's Story (cont.)

 
Hyle Troy's picture
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Pipeline.

 

The pile of supplies took up most of the centre of the open deck of the lorry. Two wooden benches up against the sides on each side formed the seating. The vehicle itself was far past it’s prime, but then the roadsides were littered with the skeletons of vehicles in a far worse state than this one, so, this old truck was by comparison, almost in showroom condition. And rare, and, most welcome.

 

Vivien took her place. There were five girls in all, including herself, all concentrating on nothing more that the pack in front of them. They gorged into the food as if, and as most likely, none of them had seen a meal like this for many days. Certainly this was the case for Vivien.

 

Two of the men pushed shut the tailgate, and all four took station at each corner of the deck, each carrying a rifle. Pescaud himself climbed into the cab with the driver. Vivien was vaguely aware of the engine starting and the lorry moved off, leaving in it’s wake a number of hopeful refugees who had spent some time trying to gain passage but had been dissuaded, sometimes it seemed with menaces, by the Traveller men. However that all seemed peripheral to Vivien as the food on her lap was more important than anything. And she was going North. That was everything.

 

The truck, belching blue smoke at times, bounced along the uneven road. If they were going 50 kmh. it would probably be downhill. When the grade tilted up, the speed dropped measurably. But it was still a damned sight faster than walking. And far safer. If they happened to pass some of the grotesque, oversized fauna, the men would cover the creature with their guns in case it decided to attack.

 

Far more peculiarly though. If a group of bandits were seen, the bandits would melt away out of sight, far from the roadside. Vivien was unsure, but there seemed to be grudging nods exchanged between the man on the truck and those beyond.

 

This was especially true about eight or so kilometres from Watchtower. It was at the scene where that mornings refugee column had met their end.

 

As they approached, Vivien saw the two guards at the front of the deck exchange words and they were pointing ahead. She could not hear what they said over the noise of the engine, except when she looked up herself, one of them told her to keep down. She and the other girls complied, except from her place, by looking through the back window of the cab and through, she could see what was ahead.

 

The road was strewn with the dead and their belongings. A fair number of Night Wolves were picking at the carnage, taking away whatever they deem of any worth. Most of the bodies were by now stripped and most of them had been pulled to the roadside.

As the lorry approached, the gaggle of bandits parted to give it way. She heard the Traveller men cocking their weapons just in case. Again, she saw mutual, suspicious nodding, as if the Traveller lorry had some given right of passage. Vivien felt the firm hand of the Traveller closer to her pushing her head down for safety. She saw no more than this.

 

About thirty minutes after they passes the scene of the massacre, the late morning sun was beating it’s dry heat onto the lorry. Even though it was uncomfortable, it was nowhere near as savage as the heat of the scorched desert below Pass Chris. In fact the roadsides were covered with brown dried grass rather than just sand and rock. The lorry bounced along on its grinding way North. Vivien noticed a road-sign which read ‘Spider Hill’ and the truck made a left turn as indicated.

 

The girls, having finished their food were beginning to make tentative eye contact with each other, taking stock, noting the similarities amongst them. They were, to a greater or lesser extent, all emaciated, all bruised. And all timidly cautious of each other, as if they all carried a secret which they did not want to divulge. As if knowledge of this secret would somehow damn them in the eyes of their peers.

 

Vivien looked away, down at the remains of her pack. Under the food was a small bundle of clothing, a couple of t-shirts, some jeans, and oh! Underwear!. A bra and a few pairs of pants.

Despite the fear of embarrassment. Vivien decided to break the silence between herself and the other girls. She held up the bra.

 

I won’t fill this.” She said, The other girls looked up.

 

Ok, there was a snort from one of the men, another glanced, but they immediately returned to their watch. Perhaps they were under orders not to talk to their cargo.

 

The other girls sorted through their pack. One held a bra towards Vivien.

 

This is better for you than me I guess.” She exchanged the bra and a brief smile with Vivien.

Ice broken, there was a flurry of activity as each girl exchanged items of clothing more fitting than the ones they had received.

The truck bounced into the parking lot at Spider Hill, the girls were let down for a short toilet break where they took the opportunity to put on the new clothing with privacy.

The sound of the truck’s horn marked the end of the break. Walking back to the truck in clean clothes and underwear… or any.. underwear. Vivien found herself smiling for the first time in a long while.

 

Things were looking up.

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

((I'm apprehensive and hopeful all at the same time because I still can't be sure where this is heading. can't wait to find out though :D

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

I think I know where it's heading, But I still have to join the dots and then, fill in the colours:)

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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