Saturday, December 9, 2006

One Step Closer

The other rule about power lines was that they almost always followed roads. If they didn't, they would soon reach one. It was common sense, really. Utility poles invariably broke down, either from the elements or from Jethro Redneck and his buddies playing a rousing game of "What's tougher? A truck or wood?" One way or another, lines needed servicing.

That's where the roads came in. It was a little known fact that most roads in rural areas were not built to connect houses. They were built to make to either support railroads or help run power and telephone lines. Transport trucks had to drive on something, after all.

This was important to know because rural roads could then be counted on to provide easy access to electricity, communications, and trains for someone on the run.

Every once in a while, having a 20-year fugitive from the law for a father came in handy.

Matt thought about his dad for a moment, then put his feelings away. Mourning his late parents wouldn't bring them back and he didn't have any time or strength to waste on memories. The Heracles enchantment had cost him plenty. A day of unconscious, comatose slumber in a drainage pipe and now advanced stages of dehydration and hunger.

He hadn't been prepared for this side-effect but he should have been. Of course it was going to take its power somewhere. "Nothing is free, not even magic. Especially not magic."

Kathrine had told him that and made him repeat it a hundred times before she would teach him anything. She and her entire coven were dead now, victims of the same bastards that had been hunting him. He tried to rationalize it as the Order catching up with witches they were bound to find anyway but he couldn't fool himself. He had been their target. Lady Moonwander and her friends had been in way of bullets meant for him. No pretty lies would change that fact.

Finally, though it was getting a little hard to see, he came upon a telephone pole with a junction box within arm's reach. Time for another of Dad's little tricks. First though, he'd need a rock. A rock and the strength to swing it as a lock.

Or, he grumbled at his hunger clouded brain, he could just use his bloody GUN.

*BLAM* One dead lock.

Inside was what he'd hoped to find. The universe had thrown him a small break, something he could never count on and doubted would happen again any time soon. The junction box was hollow, as most of them were, but it wasn't empty.

His father had taught him that when you were on the run, it was best to stick to the country and avoid big cities. There were lots of reasons for that but high on the list were golder opportunities like this phone box. Telecommunication companies rarely owned their own poles, his dad explained; they leased them from electric plants. Because power companies tended to use heavy equipment more frequently than telcos, most of the gray metal boxes were left unfurnished.

Out in the country, that meant they were like little treasure chests filled with whatever phone technicians felt like storing in them. It could be a long drive for workmen to come out to these poles; the more they could leave on site the less they'd have to bring with them. In his years as an escapee, Matt's dad had found money, tools, handsets, even porn in these things.

Matthew had found something even more valuable. MREs, just as he'd hoped for. This was obvious the south, where survivalists ruled and gun racks came standard on pick-up trucks. Ready-to-eat meals straight out of an Army/Navy surplus were practically fast food to these people. To Matt, they were a godsend.

A godsend, or the Devil looking after his own. Either way, he could eat. The six pack of beer in the junction box was tempting but he forced himself to ignore the cans. Alcohol would only hurt, not help, even if it was wet. There were sauces in the MREs and drink powders for sugar and electrolytes. Not the same as water, true, but better than nothing.

Sitting down to his ill-gotten feast, Matt considered his next move. The poles here ran east to west and they had a small orange metal tag on them with four numbers and the letter T. That meant Tennessee. Joy.

Also, with poles going east-west, it was a safe best the interstate nearby did the same. The only true interstate in Tennessee was I-40 and since he couldn't even see the shadow of mountains to the east, he was probably between Memphis and Nashville. The realization sent a cold chill down his spine.

Lady Kathy had only taught him a bit about the forces of magic but she'd given him a lot about the forces in the world of magic. For obvious reasons, he'd focused their discussions on the Order. Chief amongst her lessons had been places to avoid and chief amongst those was Memphis.

Memphis, Tennessee. Home of Elvis sightings, displaced blues singers, and Christian splinter sects as far as the eye could see. In the States, the Order of St. Michael had no greater stronghold than their compound south of the city, right on the riverfront.

It wasn't easy saying, "Well, fuck me..." around a mouthful of chicken ala king, but Matt managed it pretty damn well.

1 comment:

Erisraven said...

Sad Matt. Little breaks, just not big ones. Enough to keep him going, so it can hurt more. :/

Matt needs a hug.