Terror From Above
Highway 76, somewhere in Pennsylvania
February 12, 2006
It was hot. So very hot. I could barely see straight from the blistering heat waves that threatened to burn the fur off my skin. The small car in front of me was engulfed in flames, paint and plastic crackling and melting as they were consumed by the inferno. I heard a scream from inside the passenger cabin that made my blood run cold. The driver struggled to get out but was stuck in her seat; the seatbelt jammed in place. It was deja vu. I forced the door open and ripped the seatbelt apart but everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle against the fire. The driver was a woman, her face bloodied but her features strangely familiar. Who was she? As I worked to free the injured brunette, she gestured wildly at the back seat, where a screaming baby was strapped into a child safety seat. Only the baby didnt look quite normal. Instead of a typical human baby, I saw what almost looked like a scaled-down version of myself staring back with a terrified look in his eyes. Oh... my... God... I said, as time appeared to slow down almost to a complete stop. In the next split-second, I looked behind the rear seat and watched in horror as the rear cabin floor tore apart and a flame ball erupted from the ignited fuel tank. The force of the explosion instantly consumed what remained of the car and hurled me away from the tiny arms that looked to me for rescue. As I flew through the air away from the pillar of fire and oily black smoke, my fur and clothing painfully burning away to my blistering skin, I fought through the fog of agony and came to a horrific realization about the driver. She looked exactly like Diana. Then my body hit the pavement with a loud crack and...
...I woke up suddenly, panting heavily. It was cold. My eyes darted around and I found myself sitting in the drivers seat of the Subaru, looking up at the sunroof. A flickering Budweiser neon sign cast a reddish glow on the car. I felt around my body for injuries but found none. The cracking sound Id heard was the seatback rapidly falling backwards into the reclined position with my full weight on it. I must have accidentally pulled up on the release lever during my nightmare. Thats what it was, I told myself. A nightmare. Just a bad dream. Or was it? It seemed so real. Obviously it was based on the events of yesterday, but the people involved were different. Instead of Maryanne Fletcher I saw Diana. Instead of her son Joey I saw ... no. No. It couldnt be. No way. I tried to force it out of my mind, but the fact remained: there was only one thing that small fox could have represented. A child. My child.
All of this was very strange because Diana and I had never made love though I wouldnt be surprised if she had it on her mind at one point or another. I had never considered it because I felt it was too dangerous trying to bring another creature like myself into the world, and didnt know whether I was even capable of making it happen at all. At BioCon I was programmed not to have a sex drive, but I could probably figure it out if ever the time came. God, I hoped Diana was all right. Yes, I told myself. Shes fine. Shes safe at home, safe away from me.
Premonition or not, the dream was over and it was still dark outside. I was very much awake but did not feel fully rested to the point of being 100 percent yet. I pushed the recall button on the stereo and the time flashed up in green digital numbers. It was a little before 5 am. I had a couple of choices: try to sleep and hope for the best, or start my day in less than optimum condition. If I slept longer, I would risk detection as the sun rose and more people went through the truck stop. If I left now, I might fall asleep at the wheel or make a stupid mistake at a crucial moment that could get me killed. I weighed my options and chose to try to sleep some more.
Sometime after dawn a loud truck horn blast woke me. Big rigs were rumbling through the truck stop and my green Subaru was nothing if not in the way. I fumbled for the keys and found them already in the ignition. The engine buzzed to life, then settled to an idle as it warmed up in the frigid Pennsylvania air. Once the car was sufficiently warmed, I drove to the far side of the lot, away from the trucks, where there was a large clump of snow-covered bushes. The truck stop undoubtedly had restrooms, but as was frequently the case, I felt that going inside to relieve myself would be too risky. That meant braving the elements and venturing out of the car into the snow to take a leak in the bushes. I got out and took care of business, then returned to the car and cranked the heater up to thaw my freezing cold body. My stomach rumbled noisily, telling me it was time for breakfast. I rummaged through the center console for my last bag of trail mix and tore it open. Trail mix for breakfast may not sound appetizing to you, but it beats going hungry. Twenty minutes later, I was good to go.
I checked to make sure I had everything packed up properly, then pulled out of the truck stop and out onto the turnpike. Early morning traffic on the turnpike consisted mainly of large trucks driving with their lights on in the pale morning light. I looked down at my fuel gauge and saw that it was about half full. Maybe I should have bought some more gas at that truck stop, I thought. Oh well, like they say, hindsight is always 20/20. The other realization that hit me was that I had no water left to drink. This made itself evident when I reached for my water bottle from the Sunoco in Pittsburgh and found it to be empty. Given the choice, I preferred not to have to eat snow to avoid dehydration. However, if need be like if I couldnt find another place along the highway to get water I could always pull over and scoop up some snow. Basic survival training.
I drove for the next two hours or so at about five to ten miles per hour above the speed limit, slowing only when I passed a Pennsylvania state trooper parked on the shoulder with a radar gun. My gas gauge read dangerously low when I pulled into the Carlisle Fuel Stop in Carlisle. Forty dollars convinced the skeptical cashier that I was legit enough for him to sell me some gas and food. That was one of the best hot dogs Ive ever eaten. With both the cars tank and my stomach full, or close to it, I set back out on the road.
I made the next uneventful hour pass by listening to the radio as I drove, WHKF 99.3 FM Kiss FM out of Harrisburg. At one point the DJ played a very unusual song by an artist Id previously never heard of, who went by the name of Weird Al Yankovic. The song was titled Amish Paradise, and while it wasnt really my type of music, it was sufficiently amusing to me that I paid enough attention to the lyrics to be able to sing along in the choruses. That song soon ended, though, and was replaced by a less exciting, overplayed Top-40 hit by some boy band I never cared for. Time went by. Song after song played and the miles racked up. The turnpike took me past town after town, and the state capital of Harrisburg, crossing over the Susquehanna River heading east. It was shortly after my car passed the Highway 283 junction that I began to hear a thumping sound. Fine time for a flat tire, I thought to myself angrily. But the car wasnt exhibiting any of the signs of a flat it wasnt leaning to one side or bouncing along. I checked my mirrors to see if any of the four tires had a problem. Nothing. The thumping sound got louder. As the noise became louder, the car became more difficult to control, like it was being buffeted by high wind. The trees to either side of the turnpike werent moving much. Where was the wind coming from? Then I looked up through the sunroof and saw the unmistakable cigar shape and whirling rotors of a helicopter, positioned directly above my car.
A loud voice came from the helicopter. Stop your car! Pull to the side and stop!
I could see a man hanging out of the side door, his foot resting on the landing skid, barking his commands into a bullhorn loudspeaker. I of course had no intention of stopping for some idiot in a chopper, so I continued without slowing one bit. This is your second warning, the man with the bullhorn said. Pull the vehicle over and stop!
I rolled my window down and stuck my head out. The chopper had no visible markings; the man sitting on the skid was dressed all in black. Who the hell were they? Who are you? I shouted up at the man.
He ignored me. Surrender or we will use deadly force! he ordered.
Who are you? I repeated, louder this time.
We were sent to bring you in, the man said.
Who sent you? I called out.
I cant tell you, he responded.
I want to know who sent you! I shouted, looking back at the road briefly to make sure I wasnt careening out of control.
Okay, fine, he said into the bullhorn. Were from the
Overpass, I interrupted quickly, pointing at the bridge ahead.
He shouted something unintelligible to the pilot and the helicopter soared upward, just clearing the highway overcrossing. The aircraft soon dipped back down and leveled out above my car.
You were saying? I said.
Just stop, dammit, he said irritably.
Well I like you, too, I said, flipping him off.
That last little stunt might have been too much. Another man inside the helicopter fired what must have been an automatic weapon into the pavement in front of my car. Small fragments of splintered concrete made rattling sounds as my Subaru ran over them. Close call. Wait, that was intentional. Those were warning shots. If I wasnt careful they might not give me a second chance.
I fumbled for the gun in the holster under Charlottes husbands leather jacket on the passenger seat. Thus far Id maintained my speed, as the car was set on cruise control. The chopper easily kept pace with my Subaru. The man with the bullhorn tossed a rope ladder out of the helicopter in preparation to climb down, presumably onto my car to force me to stop. I decided to play dumb with him until the time was right. I kept the car on cruise and waited for him to climb down until he was just about to land on my roof. I heard his boot hit the sheetmetal and at that instant I tapped on the brakes and then accelerated to make him lose his footing. The man fell forward onto the windshield and slid onto the hood, grabbing the windshield wipers to stop his deadly slide toward the road. I put my footpaw back on the gas pedal and switched on the wipers to their fastest setting to keep him from holding on. His deeply treaded boots somehow found traction on the front bumper and hood, and he slowly crawled up toward my windshield. He balled his gloved fist, wound up, and was about to punch through the glass when I turned on the washer squirters and the wipers splashed the soapy mixture into his eyes. My would-be attacker howled in pain. I hit the brakes and swerved into the left lane; the man rolled off the hood and hit the freeway surface with an audible smack, rolling like a rag doll from 60 mph. If the impact didnt kill him, hed have a case of road rash to tell his grandkids about. I didnt want to wait around to find out which of the two happened.
More gunfire came my way from the other goon in the helicopter. Chunks of pavement flew up on my hood and crunched under the tires. I swerved from lane to lane to avoid the bullets. Up ahead was a large eighteen-wheeler towing what appeared to be a refrigerated trailer. I accelerated quickly, the small four cylinder buzzing at high rpm to propel the Subaru forward. The chopper kept a close following distance, barely thirty feet off the ground, fifty at most. Rain began to fall. My car was doing a good 80 mph and was quickly closing the gap between itself and the big rig. What the hell was I getting myself into? The men in the chopper hadnt identified themselves, but they obviously werent here for tea. I had to assume the worst and defend myself accordingly.
I pulled up alongside the big rig in the left lane. The helicopter dropped down impossibly low over the pavement to clear an overpass. The skids were maybe two feet off the road. The choppers rotor wash made the car difficult to control and I fought to keep the steering wheel straight. In my rearview mirror I watched the gunman train his sights on me, ready to shoot. Briefly I looked to my right, at the inviting space beneath the semis trailer. Dont try it, Fox, I told myself. Theres not enough clearance to pull some Fast and Furious maneuver. So I did the next best thing. I decelerated quickly and swung the car around behind the trucks rear end, into the emergency lane, and then accelerated hard to perform a slingshot pass. I flew past the truck and swerved in front of it to make the driver panic. The truck honked loudly and locked up its brakes, skidding into the left lane as the trailers inertia pushed the tractor partially around. The helicopter pilot had to act fast to avoid a crash, pulling up hard at the last possible second. I heard its engine race as it soared upward. Around that same moment, the gunman fired, his aim knocked horribly off by the jerking chopper. Bullets struck two of the truck trailers rear tires. The tires shredded off of their rims, slumping the trailer to one side, threatening to topple it over on the highway. The large truck fishtailed behind me, my own wild maneuver doing little to help its situation.
All this was made worse by another factor whose presence Id had little time to recognize until now. I saw brake lights blinking up ahead and a stationary white car on the right. A Pennsylvania state trooper was parked on the shoulder just down the road from where I was, and I was traveling at well over the posted speed limit. Slowing down to avoid a police pursuit would mean certain death from above. I kept the throttle open, blowing right past the parked cruiser. As expected, the state trooper flipped on his lights and siren and accelerated after me. My automatic transmission clicked into top gear as I sped past slower traffic at speeds approaching triple digits. The troopers white Crown Vic slowly closed the gap, and the chopper never lost any distance behind me. It began to rain harder. The roads surface became slicker, not much of a challenge for my all-wheel-drive Subaru. I looked up through my sunroof to see the underbelly of the helicopter, and the gunman, who had switched positions and was now leaning out of the door on the left side. He aimed the barrel of his gun at me again. When he reached for the trigger I jerked the wheel over and swerved around a rusted-out brown pickup truck. The pickups bed sides suffered the gunmans wrath as he tried to follow my car. The driver panicked and slammed on his brakes, nearly colliding with the trooper as he drove past.
My window was still open. Cold raindrops splashed down on my face and shoulder. I looked over briefly to see where my gun was. It had slid around a bit on the leather jacket, but still rested on the passenger seat. Maybe I could incapacitate the man shooting at me. The magazine held only a few shots more, the exact number unknown. To my right was a guardrail; beyond that, snowed-over fields. Above me was a deranged man with an automatic. Behind me, a cop with a 12-gauge shotgun clearly visible through his windshield. Ahead of me was light traffic and a wide, gently winding highway that would undoubtedly run for miles without an exit or any semblance of cover. Any exit I took, I would have to create.
But how to shake my pursuers? I had to knock out the cop car before backup arrived. That would be relatively easy if I didnt care what happened to my car a quick hit to the Crown Vic could probably spin it out. However, that could really screw up my Subaru, and at this point, the car was my only chance at survival. I passed a minivan in the right lane and stuck close to it, hoping that my proximity to the family car would deter the cop and the chopper guys from trying anything stupid. A neatly stitched line of bullet holes appeared in the pavement between my car and the van as if to signal how wrong I was. I tapped my brakes to allow the van to pass, not wanting to risk the lives of an innocent family. The troopers cruiser flew past my car, narrowly missing sideswiping me.
The cop slowed down and pulled alongside my car. I looked over and saw him pick up his radio. Over the loudspeaker he commanded, Driver, pull over!
The trooper and I briefly made eye contact. The look on his face was priceless. He dropped the radio and stared, his cruiser slowing slightly. I used the opportunity to accelerate past him at about the same moment the chopper swung across the roadway, gun blazing. My Subaru cut in front of the Crown Vic with just inches to spare. Those few inches werent enough for the cruiser. The gunman in the chopper failed to compensate for my sudden move and sprayed the police cars hood with bullets. Smoke poured from its engine compartment. In my rearview mirror I watched the cars front end dive as the cop braked sharply. He probably thought I shot at him. I doubt he heard me shout, Wasnt me! but you couldnt blame me for trying.
Rotor blades still whirred overhead. I soon heard more gunfire and again saw small chunks of pavement popping up next to the car. Traffic was becoming more dense up ahead, people slowing down a little because of the rain-soaked pavement that soon could become icy in the frigid weather. The moron in the chopper wouldnt take potshots at me near this many civilians, would he?
Apparently he would, because he did. After a short period of silence that spanned about the approximate amount of time required to reload an average submachine gun, bullets once again whizzed past my car and embedded themselves in the road. The gunner got a lucky shot off at the Subaru. I heard a cracking sound and a small thump. He had put a bullet cleanly through the rear window and into the back seat cushion. A small round hole in the glass with little cracks around it was visible in my rearview mirror. The gunman was lining up for a crippling and possibly fatal barrage on the car and very easily could have put that single bullet into my head or through the drivers seat into my back. An overhead highway sign mentioned some county called Lancaster, but what mattered most to me was a gap in the guard rail about twenty feet long an eighth of a mile ahead on the right.
My makeshift exit rushed up pretty fast at 90-plus. I waited until I was almost upon it, then swerved across all lanes of traffic and just cleared the far side, launching my car a good thirty feet over the hard shoulder and into a snowy field. All four wheels spun freely in the cold air, the engine racing near redline with my foot buried in the gas pedal. The Legacys whole body shook violently upon its landing in the field. I was jolted forward in my seat, my inertia stopped by the seatbelts crash-sensing tensioner, which locked in place to protect me from injury. The ground had appeared soft but the snow must not have been very thick on the hard-packed soil. The car bounced a few times before the all-wheel-drive took over and the wheels found traction. I kept my foot down, clawing my way across the field. My wheels threw up clouds of slush and chunks of dirt in a large rooster tail behind me as I bumped over the snow-covered planting rows.
The helicopter stayed on me like a rash. Bullets impacted the snow, throwing up blobs of the white stuff around and onto my car. My progress was agonizingly slow, my patience wearing thin. I kept the car at full throttle across the bumpy, rutted field, the four cylinders buzzing at high rpm. I could hear pieces inside the dash threatening to shake themselves into oblivion. The rearview mirror vibrated so badly I couldnt see anything in it. At long last I reached the end of the field and smashed through a low wire fence, and soon found myself heading south on a two-lane road lined with trees. The trees were large, but bare, and provided minimal cover from my assailants in the chopper. The helicopter pilot maintained enough altitude to clear the trees, power lines, and other obstacles while still keeping the aircraft low so that the gunner could shoot accurately. These guys were good. I had to be better.
The trees ended and I was once again out in the open. Time for some creative maneuvering. I pulled up on the handbrake and locked up the rear wheels to drift into a gravel driveway by a farmhouse. My cars tail swung out and smashed a mailbox on the roadside, then straightened out as I headed for an old carport at the end of the driveway. The carport was more like a lean-to, just a flimsy shack really, but it was better than nothing. I drove the Subaru inside the carport and saw that it extended into a small shed with a rusty old tractor in it. There was just enough space to fit the Legacy in next to it, and I hoped my car couldnt be seen from the air. I heard the chopper circling overhead, its droning engine whipping the trees around and scattering half-rotten leaves across the ground outside. I came to the realization that I had just driven myself into a dead end, and the only way out was to back up and exit the way I came in.
The helicopter circled over again. I picked up my gun and quickly checked the magazine. Three shots left. Shit. Wasting ammo for any reason wasnt an option. I pushed the shifter forward into reverse. The guy in the chopper must have seen my backup lights come on, because the thing suddenly turned and zeroed in on my position. Gunner Guy opened up on me with what was probably a fresh clip, peppering the shed with rounds. I watched in horror as small holes appeared in the roof above my head. Bullets embedded themselves in the walls and ricocheted off of the tractor, breaking glass and smashing things I couldnt even see in the dark corners of the shed. I took my foot off of the brake and floored the gas in reverse, all four tires instantly grabbing the sheds hard-packed dirt and propelling me backward, straight through the opposite wall of the carport, which was thankfully made of rather poor-quality particle board and splintered when I hit it. I spun an easy 180 turn on the slick ground outside, shifted back into Drive and accelerated around the back of the farmhouse. Much to my shock, a man emerged from the screen door on the back porch brandishing a shotgun. I intentionally swerved as I passed him and sprayed him with snow from underneath my tires. I swore repeatedly under my breath, keeping the pedal down until I was out of his range. My wheels cut a swath across the front yard and bounced over a lumpy berm, launching me back onto the road in front of an oncoming truck. The pickup skidded on the wet pavement and just missed my left quarter panel as I flew past.
Suddenly the chopper wasnt visible in my rearview mirror. I looked up through the sunroof and didnt see it there either. Then I glanced out my drivers side window and there it was, coming directly at me from the side like he was going to buzz the car. I saw muzzle flash from the gunmans automatic and instinctively ducked. His shots missed but the copter damn near took my roof off when it crossed over the road at crazy low altitude. Cautiously I peeked over the steering wheel to see that I was not only on the wrong side of the road but also headed straight for a very large oak tree. Right at the tree was an intersection. I decided to go left. Since the quickest route between two points is a straight line, avoiding the tree and saving distance meant cutting around it. My bumper made short work of a white picket fence while the all-wheel-drive system and all-season tires took care of the terrain. The chopper soared upward and maneuvered into my blind spot. The road ahead was more or less flat and straight. Chances were I couldnt outrun my pursuers. That didnt mean I couldnt try.
I decided to go for broke. The Subaru gave all the power its four pistons could produce at full throttle, reaching triple-digit speeds before long. No dice. The chopper was still right behind me. One thing was different, though. The gun that should have been spraying my car with bullets was quiet. The blissful silence was not to last for long. I heard the screech of loudspeaker feedback and flattened my ears, wincing. Stop your car now! commanded the gunman, now holding the bullhorn. If you continue to run, we will resume using deadly force and you will not likely survive it!
I stuck my head out the window and looked up at the chopper. All I ask is that you leave me alone! I cried. Just go away and leave me the fuck alone!
Faintly I could hear the pilots voice in the background saying, Forget it. Boss says cap him.
The gunman held the bullhorn up to his mouth again. Looks like youre shit outta luck, Fox Boy.
Well see about that, I mumbled to myself.
The gunner set the bullhorn down inside the chopper and picked up his submachine gun. I looked back forward through the windshield and saw something in the road ahead. It was fairly large and black and looked like it was approaching pretty fast. As the distance between myself and the unknown object rapidly decreased, I saw that it wasnt coming toward me, I was catching up to it. Quite rapidly, in fact. I maintained my speed but drifted over into the opposite lane to pass what turned out to be ... a horse-drawn buggy. Of all the inopportune times for the chopper gunner to commence firing, he chose that moment. My car blasted past the buggy doing more than 100 mph, followed by a string of rounds impacting the pavement. All that noise terrified the horses. I saw the rapidly shrinking buggy lurching all over the place in my mirror and looked back just in time to see a gasoline tanker truck coming at me. The driver blew his air horn and flipped on his headlights to warn me to get out of his way; I was, after all, in his lane. I happily moved over and gave the forty-ton big rig his lane back. Thankfully the gunner had enough sense not to fire in such close proximity to a hundred-thousand gallon rolling bomb.
His moment of clarity was brief. We were approaching a small town, which would have indicated to the average person that innocent civilians were present, but apparently this guy didnt get that memo. I didnt want to risk the lives of innocent people any more than I wanted to risk my own. The pilot swooped down to give the gunner a better shot, and I just acted. I took both paws off the wheel, popped open the sunroof with one paw, and picked up the gun with the other. I watched the gunner train his crosshairs on me, and fired. Not at the gunner or the pilot, or the chopper fuselage itself, but at the rotor blades. Three bullets, all I had left. The gun clicked open when I pulled the trigger a fourth time without thinking. My shots made a weird metallic sound when they hit the choppers whirling steel rotors. The pilot yanked back on the stick to pull up quickly when he saw my guns muzzle flash. I let the car coast down the road as I watched the copter wobble in the air, its rotors damaged by my shots. Then it happened: one of the wobbly rotor blades sheared off and was flung a couple hundred feet into the field next to the road. The helicopter started to lose altitude and pitch wildly, the pilot unable to stabilize it. Another rotor blade snapped, taking with it several feet of a third blade. The pilots hasty decision to pull up was not working in his favor. Now the copter was losing altitude fast but still carrying speed. I turned around in my seat to look back at the road just a little too late. The car had wandered off of the road and, right when I glanced through the windshield, suddenly plowed into a snowbank. I was jolted forward, my seatbelt locking in place. Had the impact been much more severe, I probably would have had an airbag in my face.
I watched in a daze through my windshield as the mortally wounded chopper started to turn over in the air and then augured into the side of a barn. The aircraft crushed itself like an aluminum soda can and smashed through the barns wooden wall, then burst into flames. Aviation fuel ignited and set the rickety wood structure ablaze. Fire quickly consumed the barn and the helicopter. The barn burned for about ten minutes before its snow-covered roof collapsed and all but put the fire out.
I got out of the car and half ran toward the smoldering ruins of the barn. I told you! I said. I told you to leave me alone! I was on the verge of crying. Id most likely just killed two people. You just ... couldnt ... leave fucking well enough alone, could you?!
I heard no answer, only the crackling of burning timber. What a waste. I just couldnt understand why the government would send out agents to risk their lives to apprehend or kill me, when I was perfectly happy when I wasnt harming anybody? Now I was harming people to get them to stop trying to ruin my life. My problem wasnt with the low-level agents being sent out to intercept me; they were mostly just doing their jobs. No, I wanted to find out who was at the top of all this, calling the shots.
I looked back at the smoldering wreckage, angry and sad at the same time. I turned and trudged back through the snow to the car and sat down in the drivers seat with the door open and my feet hanging out. Tears soaked my fur, my first real emotional outburst since the night Diana saved my life in Las Vegas two weeks before. I just hung my head in my paws and cried for a while.
Hello friend, do you need some help?
The voice sounded like it was kind of far away, but getting closer. My car was angled away from the road so that the person speaking couldnt see me. All that could be seen was my car, lodged in a snowbank, with steam rising from the hood. I heard the metallic sound of horseshoes approaching on the asphalt and the creak of wooden parts under stress. Then those noises stopped and all I heard were footsteps.
I turned me head to see who it was. A man was walking toward my car, dressed very plainly in black with a white shirt underneath. He wore a wide-brimmed hat and had a dark beard. Behind him was the horse-drawn buggy Id nearly run off the road about half a mile back. Waitaminute. It all seemed very comical and out of place but it made sense now. The song Id heard on the radio, Amish Paradise. This was it! This dude was one of the Amish people Weird Al sang about. This would be interesting indeed...
The Amish guy was circling around the back of the car to the drivers side. Are you all right? It seemed like you were in some trouble back there
He stopped. He must have seen my digitigrade legs sticking out of the car from where I was sitting sideways on the seat. I wiped the tears off of my face, then leaned out and looked toward him. He looked me over and his voice took on an uneasy tone. I thought you were a tourist at first, but youre ... youre ... who are you? What are you?
Hey, hey, I said, holding my paws up in front of me, trying to calm him down. Its okay, theres nothing to be afraid of.
But youre ... an animal, he said, gulping.
Yes, I am, I said. My name is
You dont really look like an animal though, the man said, furrowing his brow. Youre ... half human, like ... he paused, his eyes going wide. He started to back away from me. ...Like Satan!
No! I said loudly, standing up. Im not the devil! I assure you, sir, Im a good guy!
I saw you destroy that barn over there. Begone! he said in a deeper voice than before. We Amish are a godly people. We have no business with Satan or his minions.
Okay, that takes the cake, I said irritably. Ive been called a lot of things in my time, but I do not appreciate an accusation of being the devil incarnate. Im a traveler just like you, trying to get by in an unfriendly world, and my trip is a lot longer than yours.
The Amish man looked at me skeptically. But if you are not the Evil One, then who are you?
I looked straight into his nervous eyes. The only way to get through to him was to be honest and polite. My name is Fox; how I got this way is a very long story. How I got here is an even longer one. Im only here because I was attacked by the helicopter that crashed into that barn.
Barns require the labor of nearly all the men in the community to raise, the man said, looking sour. Winter is a very poor time of year for one to be lost.
I understand that, sir, and I apologize, I said. Im just passing through on my way east. Ill be gone for good in no time.
The man watched me as I sat back down in the drivers seat. I had shut the car off after I ran into the snowbank so it wouldnt risk causing damage to itself. I turned the key in the ignition. The starter ground for a few seconds, but the engine didnt start. I tried again. No dice. I looked up at him. I dont suppose I could borrow a phone to call a tow truck, could I? This thing wont start.
He solemnly shook his head. We do not use such luxuries as telephones or automobiles.
That wasnt so bad. I would prefer not to deal with a tow truck anyway. Umm ... can you by any chance help me get my car someplace where it can be repaired?
He shrugged. What do you mean?
I looked at his buggy. Do you have some rope? I have an idea. We can use your buggy like a tow truck.
Silently the man turned and walked back to the buggy to retrieve a coiled length of rope. He handed it to me carefully, watching my clawed paws to make sure I wouldnt attack him. I made every effort to appear non-threatening as I uncoiled the rope and attached it to the back of the buggy. Ill need to get my car out of this snowbank, I said. Can you please help me ... whats your name?
Ezekiel, I repeated. Would you please help me push the car out, Ezekiel?
He nodded. A significant effort was required but together we managed to push and pull the stuck Subaru free. I put the transmission in neutral and we rolled the car back behind the buggy, where I tied the rope to the Legacys frame. Once that was done, we were ready to go. I hoped that the horses would be able to pull the buggy plus nearly 3,000 pounds of dead weight. Ezekiel climbed up onto the buggy to drive, while I sat in my car to keep it under control while it was towed.
We made slow progress but after nearly an hour we reached Ezekiels Amish community. The horses ambled slowly into town, past small, old-looking houses, and people dressed similarly to Ezekiel. Some of them looked up from what they were doing to watch my car roll slowly by, then resumed their work. The Subaru was towed to the blacksmith shop and parked there. Who knew if the guy could figure out how to get it running again. I got out of the car and looked at Ezekiel, who had just gotten down off the buggy. Is there any place I can stay for the night? I asked.
Ezekiel shrugged. I imagine you may stay with my family tonight. Unfortunately we have no guest rooms. You will have to sleep in the barn. Will that do?
I nodded. Anything indoors is better than spending the night out in the cold. I was used to sleeping on less than comfortable surfaces. I could probably make do with the floor of a barn.
I locked my car and padded back to Ezekiels buggy. Hopefully it would be fine sitting overnight. Car theft didnt seem like much of a concern in a community with no cars, and it wouldnt run anyway if someone did try. I climbed up onto the buggy and Ezekiel drove me to his home. During the trip I weighed my options. The car wasnt currently operational. Setting out on foot would be suicide in this time of year. Stealing a vehicle from a tourist or nearby community was an option, but it was risky and stupid. Doing so would get the authorities all over my tail. It was looking like the Subaru was my only ticket out of town, and Id have to remain where I was until it was repaired. At this point, it was anyones guess how long that would be.
[ story by wannabemustangjockey (c) 2007 ]