I ride. I ride until I can’t feel my tender toes hidden inside my beaten boots – they’re doing little to ward against the unwavering winds whipping my hair around my face. I ride until the huge shock of adrenaline gradually erodes away, like some imaginary cadaver dragged behind me by a sturdy length of chain, grating against the dirt, the rocks, and the broken patches of pavement here and there. I rode until I could see shocks of sunlight streak across the sky, radiating from a single focal point behind distant peaks. I ride until I see the dawn sun crest the horizon and with it, bring a new day with new challenges.
My ride ends in a dim alleyway that the sun’s rays have not yet reached. I remove the key from the dirt bike’s ignition and proceed to open the door to the adjacent garage. While the bay doors to the garage are, certainly, locked shut from the outside, the side door here was left open. Fortunate for me, this bike will walk its way inside without a problem where nobody will be the wiser to it.
Yes, this will do. I tip the bike over onto its side, gently, and pull a dusty blue tarp up and over the bike, then scatter a few empty cans of paint and some other garbage around to make it look natural. Perfect. Nobody will see it. This is just another bombed out building on the outskirts of just another ruined city. Not atypical for this world we live in.
Satisfied, I leave the building and shut the door behind me. I’m too tired to trot after riding for hours and so my tempo is not quite as lively as it normally is, but it is still spritely enough. After all, I know what is waiting for me – a clean, made bed to fall asleep on. I glance over my shoulder for a moment. Sure, I can still see the indigo thunderheads, but they’re now distant and hardly threatening. I’ll be able to get real sleep tonight. Finally. All the murder was worth it.
After a quick stroll, I arrive at an old apartment building a couple blocks away. I do not see or hear a single creature on my way there – and this is not unusual. Not here, close to my home, that is. I do not bother to walk to the front door of the four-story building. After all, there is no real way up to the top floor anymore. I’ve trapped the first two floors of the building and destroyed the stairwells. You aren’t getting up there unless you know the right way to approach it. Well, that or you’re impervious to tripwire shotgun traps.
Fortunately, I know the right way to approach it. After all, this is my home. I continue walking past the front entrance and around the outside, towards the adjacent brick building. Turning on my heel and rounding the corner, I spot my objective: an old fire escape ladder with several missing rungs. No problem. I simply muscle my way up past the missing rungs, as I’m accustomed to. I’m wearing gloves and so I don’t have to worry about the rusty iron too much.
Before long, I’m counting paces from the edge of the roof. One, two, three, four, five. Yes, that should be enough. I take a deep breath, steel myself, and spring forward to cross the distance in five bounds. After the fifth bound, I hurl myself across the chasm between the two buildings. I let momentum and gravity carry me into a graceful front roll as I pass through the open fourth floor window and land in my home, an old apartment that I’d appropriated and blockaded off.
Dark and sparse, just as it should be to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. Nothing unusual here. Nothing worth checking out. I glance over at the cupboards briefly, thinking to eat, but my bed looks too attractive at this point. I saunter over, spin on my heel once more, and allow myself to sink into the bed. I don’t even bother to burrow under the covers, but I manage to toe off my boots and kick them onto the ground.
Sleep comes for me now and with what to follow in its wake?
Where am I, exactly? I look around with misty eyes and find myself in a forgotten train yard where the carts have rusted in place, unused for decades. Three men clad in the usual scavenger uniform: old athletic equipment, improvised kilts and vests made of pans and pieces of road signs picked up from the side of the old highways. Their lone prey: a dancing phantom draped in garbs of cloud gray….