Click to Subscribe
First Contact #7
MTA Mike
© 2013 James LaFond
The Man on the Scene
His grandmother had always said this might happen, that one day he might be ‘The Man on the Scene’. This, she had said, would be preferable to being ‘The Man who was the Scene’. Then Grandpa would chime in and say, “Yep, in case you become ‘the Scene’ is why you wear clean underwear. You don’t want the emergency room people cutting stained up underwear off of you!”
For once this horrible day Mike smiled. The thought of Grandpa’s voice advising him out of his past from behind that smug yet kind smile comforted him somehow.
'I miss you Pop—glad you passed before this.'
That thought just brought him back to Negative One, Grandma’s wagging finger of admonishment, her lifelong warning that one day he would be ‘The Man on the Scene’ and that it would all, everything he had worked for, come down to him making that one decision, giving that one positive impression.
'Somehow I think Ma-Mom meant a board meeting—oh look out left!'
He splattered an infested churchgoer—one of the scores that were spilling out of the church to pray away the problem—pray it back to wherever it had come from. The head careened off across the street toward the hospital, which he was passing again, avoiding it like it was the Pit of Doom itself, as he headed up to the college campus.
Poor Miss Kendra wanted him to save the world.
Whacked out Nick wanted to let everyone on foot die and just look out for the passengers—well, unless they looked like Hot Stuff there.
The rest of them just wanted him to be the steady hand—'Oh God the fat kid has got a bug in his ear.'
'Don’t kill him Nick please?'
A big fat man in a suit with two bibles, one in each hand, trying to swat away the flying spiders that danced on his head and shoulders, stepped right out in front of him.
Mike had the turbine engine wound out to 50 MPH. He did not want to risk losing the windshield. He also could not risk getting too ‘Steve McQueen’ with this mayflower-size bus, so he sliced into the poor guy with the right fender, hoping the bumper would do most of the work —'Jesus!'
Mike’s life, as pilot of The Last Bus on Earth, had now become a full blown horror story. The man’s head and shoulders somehow got tangled up on the bike rack before him. The passengers did not seem to notice as they operated on Fat Boy, extracting the thing from his ear. The man’s torso had somehow liquefied all down the left hand side of the bus. What really set him back was the hollow clomp of the hard leather shoes flying up onto the roof as the mangled face jiggled on the bike rack and the bugs abandoned that face like rats leaping off of a sinking ship.
He could no longer help himself. He had been holding it together for these people all afternoon. On top of that he was sick. He had the flu—cold chills, fever, cold symptoms. He had only been able to keep all of this at bay and remain so calm from the immense pressure of events and the remembered admonishments from Ma-Mom about being ‘The Man on the Scene’.
He cursed words he did not even know, words he had never uttered before, put his peddle to the floor, and tore down Rossville Blvd right past the campus entrance. It had been his idea to go to the campus, to find safety on a Sunday at the huge deserted facility in that big empty lot. But he could not stop, could not turn; could not imagine doing anything but making this eco-friendly hybrid-fueled biggest-damn-machine-on-the-road fly!
He felt a hard hand on his shoulder and looked at it. It was Nick’s hand, and just past it he could still see the dead head of the parishioner wiggling on the bike rack on the other side of the windshield. Nick’s insanely intense voice was, for once, calming, “What’s up Big Mike? What is with the campus; no campus?”
Just then a small economy car stopped cross-ways before them, on the bridge over the interstate, and one of the two people got out. Someone remained in the car. The other young person, a thin blonde girl, stepped up on the walk and then began climbing the fence to leap to her death as she was swarmed by bugs. Whoever sat within the vehicle pleading with her turned to tomato sauce as Mike hit the smart car at about 70 MPH.
Nick went flying into the door with a shout as the others screamed and the sound of an explosion, it seemed, rocked the fence to the right. He clenched his teeth and gave it more gas, clearing the wreckage from under the bumper with the only card he had to play in this game—speed: blinding, grinding, road-pizza making speed!
'Yes, the head is at least gone—the windshield still intact.'
'The passengers are no longer fighting back there.'
He was surprised when Nick slapped him on the back, “Hell yeah brotherman! This is a no parking zone! Strap in people, Captain My Captain has got a change of plans!”
'Am I as insane as he is?'
'Have we all lost it?'
He then felt those frightening fingers from earlier on the back of his neck, the iron grip of the man who had been killing infested folks with his bare hands and had leaped on board with 300-hundred pound Miss Betty flopped over his shoulder and told them all about the infestations. The voice though was calm and friendly, “You are coming into your own brotherman—a true captain. Look, let’s pull up in that side street down there. We need a course of action. You got but so much fuel. We need to plan.”
'A sane voice in my ear at last.'
'Yes, a plan.'
'Pull over Mike.'
Cloud-Blue Afternoon
Right here there was little evidence of the insect plague—or whatever it was. The people all seemed to be home up the far side of the street, where the addresses were. He pulled over on the wooded side of the street. He looked up at Nick and had to unload, “Man, they are not eating us. They are parasites. As soon as that man died they jumped off of him. They want us alive Nick!”
The crazy Greek was un-phased, and just slapped him on the back, “Keep that between you and me. What does it matter though—infested POW or eaten alive. We are going to get through this Mike ‘cause we got you behind the wheel! Dude, good call!”
He followed Nick’s gaze and saw a State Trooper pull up besides them and then park in front of them. The people on board were excited, feeling like they were being rescued. Mike himself felt a rush of relief as the police officer fearlessly stepped out of his vehicle, wearing his trooper hat, dark sunglasses, and a tight-lipped expression.
Nick was excited, “Yeah Captain, a quiet sector; a quarantine over here maybe. I don’t see any bugs. Let the man on.”
Mike waited for the trooper to get to the glass before he opened the door. It seemed a million years for the door to close behind the tall silent trooper as Nick hovered in the egress area making sure no bugs got on. Indeed there were no bugs in sight. Mike let his eyes wander to the yard of the corner house where a tall poodle-like dog scratched at the backdoor—'No, that is not right.'
'Farther up the street.'
He then looked a few houses up and saw a pair of feet on a sidewalk, sticking out from behind some porch-side shrubs.
'This is all wrong.'
A sick chill went up his spine. He was feeling his flu symptoms coming back to the surface. The cold sweat beaded under his shirt and slacks. The people on the bus were clapping and Nick was saying something to the cop about ‘whatever he needed.’
Nick was shaking the trooper’s hand and stepping back into the coach with the rest. The trooper had yet to speak, just held up his hand for order and the calming of the applause. He felt a sick, sick chill run up his spine. But then he looked up into the reflective glasses of the trooper and felt safe; safe and secure that an authority figure, an official first responder, had finally materialized, taken over his scene, relived him of his terrible burden.
He placed his hands more easily on the wheel and smiled with some relief, “So officer, what do you need me to do?”
The officer indicated with his forefinger and a slight nod of his head that a whispered conversation was in order.
Mike winked and nodded, cocking his ear.
'Of course we don’t want to spook the passengers anymore.'
'Maybe it is not all clear.'
'Maybe it is all clear here, and he just wants calm and discipline while we head to the relief center.'
'You know the National Guard has something established at the armory.'
Where Nick’s hand had been hard and intense and hot through his jacket, the trooper’s hand was soft, calm and cool. As the trooper began to speak Mike felt the flu chill and queasiness one more time—'Oh that hurt, I’ve been penetrated.'
'No, I am being treated.'
Ah, I am the treatment.
A warm, welcoming echo reverberated through her mind, through her body, through the porous and hospitable structures of the sub-habitat.
The observation ports were fully integrated with audio, tactile and even chemical subroutines.
This is astounding!
Look at the atmospheric formations!
Is that water vapor?
The sub-habitat was fully operational—recovering from some bio-immunity glitch or another—and was easily capable of exiting the mobile observation platform.
When she emerged from the airlock and found herself free to roam the face of wonderful Blue she could not credit her good fortune. The bipedal locomotion format took some getting used to, but made the investigation of the flora that much more pleasing.
Listen to the inert solar collection panels rustle in the wind.
It is an integrated organic system.
They will be spontaneously replaced in sequence with the next solar flux.
I will not be required to integrate the collection array.
What then shall I busy myself with?
Just look at the sky.
Have you ever enjoyed a view like that?
Hurt Stoker [front matter]
Ever Less, Ever More
fiction anthology one
z-pill forever
into leviathan’s maw
broken dance
the combat space
solo boxing
the fighting edge
when you're food
advent america
the first boxers
let the world fend for itself
winter of a fighting life
the year the world took the z-pill
taboo you
on combat
within leviathan’s craw
the gods of boxing
logic of force
song of the secret gardener
the greatest lie ever sold
orphan nation
son of a lesser god
on the overton railroad
blue eyed daughter of zeus
the greatest boxer
masculine axis
your trojan whorse
dark, distant futures
menthol rampage
barbarism versus civilization
songs of aryas
night city
honor among men
time & cosmos
america the brutal
under the god of things
the sunset saga complete
book of nightmares
thriving in bad places
logic of steel
by the wine dark sea
the lesser angels of our nature
  Add a new comment below: