“THE FIELD IS SAFETY.”
Tom:Before we started on our Trojan horse run, Johnny had explained about another safety feature built into the cars that few knew about; there are recessed release levers on either side of the DiamondGlass dome, should extractions be necessary. It was another safeguard in the original plans that Johnson had eventually vetoed, so the current nexus of Sabers had them while future versions would not.
I run to the closest car with people it in, a family of five, reach under the ridge of the dome and quickly find the small lever. It pulls easily and the dome disengages. One good push and it moves aside. The family looks at me dumbfounded.
“Go right as fast as you can — the field is safety. But first, do what I did and free the occupants of at least one car on the way,” I tell them, already moving toward the next Saber with hostages. “Don’t go back to the city or you will die!”
The family follows my direction; the parents each take a child with them and rush to the nearest cars with hostages.
Warren, Johnny and The Wildcats, stationed across the city at various points of the ring road, do the same thing, and within minutes their actions — multiplied by those they’ve instructed to free others — have hundreds of citizens fleeing toward the safety of the fields.
I meet Warren and Johnny along the inner circle of cars.
“I can’t believe it. It’s going good!”
Johnny nods, also pleased that our plan is working, but his face betrays a growing concern.
“What’s bothering you?”
The car we’re standing on is turning black.
“They’re overriding their initial programming. They know something is wrong and their frustration — if you want to anthropomorphize what’s happening here — is showing.”
I grab Warren and Johnny each by an arm and begin to lead them to the next car, while calling out: “Everyone, get to the field now! Get moving now!”
Our solidarity doesn’t last long. I see a young guy trapped and move to help him. Warren helps an elderly man move a little quicker over the cars. Johnny hears a young woman calling for help and approaches.
Her son, about six years old, has fallen between cars and is caught on something that won’t let him move. Johnny lowers himself into the tight space between vehicles.
The boy’s pant leg is caught on the edge of a damaged wheel well and Johnny begins to rip it clear when all the cars suddenly travel forward about six inches. The boy is dragged and begins to panic.
Warren and I join Johnny as he speaks to the mother.
“It’s dangerous here,” he says. “Get to land, I’ll bring your boy.”
The woman refuses to leave her son. Warren tries to calm her as I join Johnny.
“We need to be quick.”
He rips away the bottom of the pant leg, and the boy is freed. I take him to his mother.
The cars move again. Johnny is climbing onto the car when the Saber behind it charges, driving up the car and onto him.
I direct Warren to get the woman and child to the field and move to Johnny.
He’s pinned under the car, and from his expression, is in great pain. Any attempt I make to free him makes it worse.
“You’ve got to go, kid.”
“I can’t leave you.”
Around us, all the Sabers, black as midnight, begin rock on their wheels. They want to move.
“You’ve got to Tom.”
The car moves backwards, shifting Johnny into a more uncomfortable position. He cries out.
“I need to get you out of there.”
“It’s no good, but you can do something for me.”
“What?” I ask.
“When the media starts to report all of this, don’t let them refer to my death as ‘carma’, you know with a “c”. Let them say that about Johnson. Not me.”
He starts to laugh, causing him more pain.
“I’ve been around you all day, and now you decide to get funny?”
Johnny looks at me, and I can tell he has more to say.
The cars are stirring and slowly starting to move. From my view in the field, Tom is trying to comfort Mr. Chu, but he’s being pushed away. Tom begins toward me. I climb atop the car nearest and move to meet him. As he gets closer, we rush across the cars and quickly embrace.
He nods, his expression a mixture of sadness and deep thought. For a moment, I wonder what the two of them talked about, but before I can ask him, the cars begin to pick up speed. We join hands and help each other from Saber to Saber until we reach the last one before the field. We take a moment for one last look.
Mr. Chu is still caught on the spoilers as his Saber begins to move away. The car is full-on funereal black.
“So that’s it? They just keep driving?”
“If The Wildcats were successful in closing all of the on and off ramps, most of them will be stuck on the ring road. At least anyone trapped in the city will be safer until this is all over.”
We jump onto the shoulder as the Sabers accelerate. Tom lands badly. The adrenaline rush of the last several hours is leaving him, and his many injuries and burns are taking hold.
I pull him away, so he’s not looking at the cars and hold him close. Logger to Logger.
“My father was a big fan of a musician. Last name Zevon. First name…”
“Warren,” he smiles. “Nice to meet you.”
I pull his arm around me and help him as we slowly walk into the field, away from the city.