He permitted his small train of cars to scrub off speed until it was almost stopped, and then gently pressed the brake pedal, encouraging a full stop.
Because he’s cautious, he opened several surveillance systems. Cameras and ground radar went up, scanning the remnants of I-5. Nothing else is untoward in this wasteland, but he picked up the AK-47 and looked around, watching his rear view mirrors and cameras as the engine idled. Selecting neutral, he set the hand brake and observed.
One of the packages moved again. It’s something that was alive or remained close to alive, or a ploy to invite him to stop and investigate. The wreckage was mostly cleared here. Rust, decaying plastic and rubber, and vegetation cracking through the pavement attested that more than a few months have passed since this crash or battle took place. Something alive is out of place. Manipulating a camera, he focused on the two packages. They appeared human, maybe females, adults.
Debating options and running scenarios through his head, he drummed his fingers on the console. He’d felt like Noah, building this vehicle. Sometimes he thinks of it as the vehicle, but other times, he calls it his train, an engine without a track, towing five cars. The instructions and scheme to build it reached him through nocturnal visions. He rejected referring to them as dreams. They were too cogent for dreams. The project, as he called it, trying to keep it abstract, ended up consuming money, energy and relationships. His marriage had already terminated, Mom and Dad were dead, and the children were forging their own paths of mistakes and successes, so it was pretty easy to burn those ties.
The thing was, though, the visions had never explained why this was being built. It seemed incredibly ridiculous and impractical to him, this “land train,” an absurd expression, since trains ran on land. People kept after him about why he was building it. He couldn’t explain it, not wanting to explain those nocturnal visions, falling back to weakly saying, “It’s just a whim.” He knew they thought he was crazy, an opinion he’d shared most of his waking hours. Then the sierra slathered the spinning fan blades onto a new wreck of a world, and here he was, a man alone with two cats and a dog, traveling destroyed America.
That’s what must have been behind the nocturnal visions, right? Why else have him build this thing? He was impressed that something had reached out to him with such guidance, even though it also scared him shitless about his sanity. Okay, but now, here he was, alive and on the road as the rest of humanity, at least in America, as far as he could discern, completed the cycle, dust to dust.
Yet, two people on the road, apparently needing help, were before him. How did that fit? As he watched, one progressed through the jerking motion of standing, confirming, it seemed to be a woman, small and white. He pulled his binocular to his eyes for a better image. Swaying, she straightened her back and squared her shoulders. Stooping, she pushed and pulled the other one, also a woman, until she stirred and rose to her knees.
The nocturnal visions hadn’t included others. Yet, he’d always wondered why his train was five cars. It was overkill for one person. Cursing cowardice and indecisiveness, he checked the time and watched the two. Holding on to one another, they minced across the road with staggered steps. Only two in the afternoon, it would be hours before night. Hours before his nocturnal visions came, unless he could close his eyes and sleep now. But if he did, they could leave. They could die.
The vision had brought him here. Now he needed to decide who he was. None of the others remained. These were the first living people he’d seen since he left his home after the fall.
Maybe their vision had brought them here, to meet him. If so, shouldn’t they be looking for him? They seemed oblivious to his vigil, even though the engine’s rumble probably carried to them.
He didn’t have a choice. The vision had brought him here.
It was up to him to finish the vision.