It was supposed to be a sketch but my love for Furiosa could not be satisfied with a sketch, and suddenly I needed to paint all those belts and that damn mechanical arm, and then part of the Rig wanted to be in there too. Also I’m all for goggles+scarf Furiosa.
Chapter 19 “I went back,” Fitz whispered. “I went back, Jude.” “Back where?” “For the fifth tin,” he answered. “The one I missed. Ping Ping Ping Ping. Remember I missed the fifth tin?”
Chapter 24 “You never got that fifth tin,” Webb called to Fitz just before they disappeared through the trees. “Not to worry,” he said with a wave. “I’ll go back for a shot on another day.”
Epilogue He sat in the tree, his mind overwhelmed by the idea that growing inside Tate was their baby. The cat purred alongside him, a co-conspirator in his contentment. Through the branches he could see Fitz coming his way, his gun balanced on his shoulders, whistling a tune.
Chapter 25 The boy leans over and tells me to explain to the Hermit that there is nothing to forgive and I do, and the look on the Hermit’s face is one of pure joy. They reminisce about Tate and Narnie and Jude. They talk about the Prayer Tree and of the messages they wrote on the trunk. They tell me about the tunnel and how they once timed themselves getting from one end to the other and how Webb fainted because he had never seen the world that dark. “We saw the devil down there,” the Hermit tells me, and they laugh so hard that I’m jealous that I can’t join in.
- - -
Because coming home at 1:00 AM in a $10 ride gives you ideas. So I rolled with it. If I won’t write it, who will?
- - -
Astrid Hofferson slid into the back seat of the soft white car. “Harold?”
The auburn-haired man behind the wheel turned with a practiced grin. “That’s me. Astrid?”
“Mmhm.” Pulling in her luggage, she closed the door, sighing softly as her rear sank a bit into the lovely cushions. It was a welcome relief. “Is Harold your real name? You don’t look like a Harold to me. More like a Sean or a Bryan.”
“Bwyan, eh?” Harold grinned, turning to the map on his phone. “Am I a Woh-man?”
Astrid grinned, chuckling a bit. “No, no, a Roman.”
Harold grinned wider, and eased his foot off the brake. The car slid into gear, and Astrid found herself suddenly a bit queasy. Tequila and vehicular acceleration never mixed well for her. “Oog. Could you take it a bit slower? I think I partied too hard-y.”
“No problem.” The speedometer inched back from 40 to 30, and Astrid’s stomach thanked him. “It’s been a slow night anyway, which is surprising, given its a Friday evening on a three day weekend.”
Astrid shrugged. “It’s a lovely night, I guess. I’d be walking, but I don’t entirely trust my legs all the way home. No offense.”
“None taken, I appreciate every passenger I get,” he nodded. “So. Monty Python marathon, or just a lucky coincidence?”
“Just a coincidence.” She rolled down the window a bit, the fresh air clearing her head. “It was mostly noise and people, really. And alcohol.”
He shrugged. “Yup, that’s BU for you.”
Her eyes snapped to him. “How did you know I’m the University?”
He glanced back through the rear-view mirror. “It’s emblazoned pretty prominently on your shirt.”
She looked down and saw he was right. Maybe she had a bit too much…
It was a few minutes later when her stomach gave a sickening lurch, and she swallowed slowly. “Uhh…. Hey, I don’t mean to be any trouble… but could you pull to the side of the road? I'm…” She swallowed again. That was the last time Ruffnut was offering her alcohol. It would be Budweiser and Schnapps from now on… good lord….
They were by the side of the road a moment later, her driver having the forethought to decelerate slowly. She pulled open the door, quivering on suddenly watery ankles as she made a beeline for the ditch.
A horrific mixture of ravioli, tequila, and some black chaser bubbled up and out, but 5 minutes later and she was feeling significantly better, the 1 AM breeze doing much to calm her insides. Harold had the wherewithal to leave her with her privacy, so she made her way back up to the vehicle. He was holding out a water bottle with a wry, soft smile, and she distantly noted that it looked much more honest than his first grin. “I was in BU too, though only for a couple years. The parties can get very intense.”
Astrid took a slow sip, then a long mouthwash. She offered him the waterbottle but he shook his head. “Nah, I’m good. And, you did get your germs all over it.
Nodding gratefully, she gently finished it off, feeling a little hungry. “Thanks, and yeah, they still are.” She broke out her gum, the horrid taste of acid and alcohol slowly fading beneath the cool spearmint.
Standing there for a long moment, he let out a sharp breath, and headed back around the car. “….Feeling better?”
Astrid nodded, understanding that he wanted to get back on the road. “Yeah, yeah sorry. Didn’t mean to put you on the spot.”
He shrugged, sliding behind the wheel, even as she got back in with her purse. “It’s fine. First time for everything, you know?” Getting back on the road, they continued on the next leg of their trip, in almost complete silence, apart from the soft rumble of the car on the road.
When they were about 5 minutes out, Astrid asked, “How long have you been an Uber driver for? Just curious.”
Harold shrugged, fingers drumming their own tune on the steering wheel. “Eh, about 4 years or so. Took it up during my last month of school, and since then it’s paid the bills.” He patted the gearshift and clicked the button idly. “Uber makes you replace your cars after they get older than 5 years, so I had to get this car fresh off the lot back when I started. At least its been paying for itself, and then some.”
She heard something behind his words. “You have more than one car?”
He shrugged again. “I have a side project. It’s not really a car, at this point. Definitely not street legal,” he chuckled, “much less Uber-legal. Its rear fender is my current focus.”
By the way he shifted further in his seat, Astrid could tell this was a matter of great importance to him. “What’s wrong with the fender?”
“It broke. … accidentally.”
“…How do you accidentally break an entire fender?”
“I didn’t break it.”
“How do you accidentally have someone else break a stationary fender?” she asked, incredulous.
He eyed her carefully. His thumb slid slowly over the wheel, searching for something that wasn’t there. “… I said it wasn’t street legal. I didn’t say it was un-driveable.”
She opened her mouth again, but he slowed the car. “We’re here!” he talked over her, stopping with a bit too much force. “Thank you very much!”
Sighing, she got out of the car, her racing mind still a bit cottony. “Yeah, and thank you.” She was halfway out of the car when she stopped, and reached in her purse. “I’m sorry, I’m usually less nosy when I’m sober.” Scribbling on the empty water bottle, she set it beside him in the car. “Friday afternoons are free for me. Coffee is great at the cafe nearby.” Giving him a winning (if slightly lopsided and drunken) grin, she headed into her dorm apartment complex, leaving her Uber driver wondering exactly what just happened. The water bottle sat beside him, emblazoned with a sloppy but readable number, the letters a lipstick red.
It would only be another hour before he was behind the wheel of a different vehicle. In contrast to the relatively dull Uber, his ‘side project’ was all curves and lines. The motor rumbled, tuned within a hair of perfection. It made no unnecessary noise, purring with apparent satisfaction as it waited, a loaded bullet ready to be fired into the night it belonged to.
A flash of white, a smooth shift, and dust was all the evidence it had ever existed, it’s thunder already in the distance. It wouldn’t be long before it would return, though. And then it was back to work, in the still, murky hours of the dawn.