Getting Away?!

Submitted by Christine Hungerford to Contest #6 in response to: Write a story about a road trip taking place 300 years from now.... view prompt

I have to get away. I have to escape!  

           Helena clambered into her jet car after opening its winged doors and sliding into her leather bound seat behind the steering wheel. She needed—no, had to—get away from the government and its officials with their black masks and guns that threaten and intimidate people into not throwing trash on the ground. I mean, what kind of government is it?! I know we live 300 years into the future, but that doesn’t make it dystopian!

           The blond, college-aged girl knew she lived in the future, but she felt like the government controlled her life. She didn’t want it to even go so far as to detect every little piece of trash littered by people who didn’t bother to throw it away. Then why didn’t the government detect trash in trashcans it could still have had without the obliteration? Why did it obliterate Earth that used to be? Why didn’t it just take the trashcans with it and advance them so that they could detect which trash was government information and real trash?

           Helena shook her head as she breathed in and out audibly. Here, she was, driving down a road, as she decided to take a road trip to keep her sanity. For what seemed like hours—she was listening to the radio and talking to herself to pass the time—Helena was driving from her home in Nanny to the outskirts of this new world, whatever that was or wherever that was, to get help for her government-being-too-nitpicky issue. Along the way, she would probably pass Mechanical World, which—she was told—exists from a flash of light. But Helena, as years went by, grew to believe that that flash of light was the light that obliterated Earth. Not that there was any light obliterating Earth; it was just that the people telling her the flash of light creating Mechanical World was actually the flash of light having obliterated Earth!  

           As the car zoomed along the road, Helena remembered this car could pack what she needed as her car drove her to the outskirts. So she looked back and pressed a button so as to be confident she was in the right car. It then popped out luggage, food bags and other car-friendly items. Satisfied, Helena then sat back but not for long as she saw swirls and twists and gyrations. She was about to panic when it occurred to her: her car was invented for this kind of stuff!

           Thanks, car, for being invented with jet fire that empowers me! And thanks for driving for me! She thought as the car zoomed up and down, careening crazily to the right and then veering off to the left, sometimes jerking Helena, other times making her grip the steering wheel and think that the car needed to slow down. Maybe not thank you, she thought as she tried not to vomit.

           But the car continued, and nighttime approached. The radio station still buzzed with news, but Helena didn’t hear any governmental information except for the occasional voice that came on at 6:00 pm and ended at 8. Helena decided to change the channel. She flipped the news, but as she was doing so, she started getting hungry. Helena freely turned around and reached into the back. She decided to go for the healthy stuff. So once having retrieved the food, Helena situated herself and enjoyed a fun meal of blueberries, cantaloupe and soup, all available on the pull-out table. At the touch of a button in the middle of the steering wheel, it could come out for her.

           Once the next morning hit, Helena saw something in the distance. It looked weird, like an arch, but it couldn’t be Same-Bend World, could it? Helena watched it get closer and then thought that maybe it was the world she was told: Mechanical World. She had seen it in pictures, but no one had ever really described it to her. All she saw was an overarching piece of metal. Maybe that Godzilla-sized hunk of metal was the one showing up right in front of her.

           The car turned and answered Helena’s wonderment about Mechanical World. It was overladen with metal, the shiny grey descending from the top of the dome-like framework of the building or whatever it is, and reaching just above a sidewalk covering the black asphalt Helena noticed as she looked all around while her car drove her into the parking lot. As she was pulled up, Helena noticed a woman working on a wooden plank board and banging something that is causing sparks to fly. There was another woman farther up ahead, on the opposite side of the first woman. She was sawing at something that couldn’t be anything but metal because sparks were flying out of that work project as well. Helena studied these two incidents and then looked afresh at all the clicking and clanking and screeching noises that were obviously coming from the metal-decorated building right in front of her. She didn’t notice the car hadn’t stopped moving into the parking lot. So when it stopped suddenly, Helena leaned forward on impact but then gazed all around the building again. She then reached under the passenger seat to get her stun gun, grabbed her black leather gloves from under her driver’s seat and climbed out of the car.   

           Once Helena was out and ready, she walked firmly up to the women on each side, starting with the one on the right.

           “Excuse me.” Helena held her gun by her side, always ready to defend herself or even shoot at the attacker when necessary.

           The woman turned from her work to Helena. “Yes?” She had a calm demeanor, but Helena could never be too sure.

           “I am on a road trip to the outskirts of Nanny, and stopped here. Maybe you can help me with the government that is going to capture me, and anything else I have will be discarded. I need your help to help me find a new place in the outskirts so that we can be safe.”   

           The woman looked right at her and said, “The government is not going to get you. Did you do something wrong? Did you litter the ground?”

           “No. I didn’t do anything.” Helena was confused. “Why would I … litter the ground?”

           “The government doesn’t want anyone to litter the ground. It thinks that it is being wiped away little by little so that it doesn’t have power anymore. This world, Nanny—”

           “Was the world that replaced Earth!” Helena realized her chance to show this woman, and everyone else in this metal world, the truth about the government! Why she had to flee, and so did they! Why she was on this road trip. But was she?  

           She spewed, “I’m not on this road trip after all! The government banished me from this world to who knows where, and I need to flee! I’m not on a road trip going to some destination.” Helena’s eyes blazed and her hands flew. “I’m leaving because some government decided to use that flash of light to destroy Earth—which could stay as it had trash cans or the government could’ve taken the trashcans—and replace the beautiful world with a stupid, empty one called Nanny. Like we’re kids, and the government’s our babysitter! Who can tell us what to throw away? Abominable! Outrageously uncontrollable mess!”

           Now Helena was heaving up and down from having expressed her belief about Nanny and its government so much. Her eyes were still wild with fury and hands whipped up and then slapped back to her sides. She took a huge breath after the woman said, “Please calm down—you’ll hurt yourself. Let me tell you something. The government did not banish you the way you think it did; it banished us, the women here working at this machine world, because we disobeyed it—”

           “By …“ Helena strived to answer despite her heavy breaths, but the woman told her to come on in the machine world. Helena stepped back and pointed her gun at her, still breathing but not as badly. “I’m not going in … with someone like you. You could be one of the officials!”

           The woman turned her face away and called out something. Helena whipped her head back and saw the other woman walk towards them with something in her closed fist. Helena then ducked down and aimed the stun gun at the fist. The woman stopped and put her free hand and the closed one up in surrender. Helena jerked her eyes over to the other woman. She too surrendered. They stood there like that for a little while, and then Closed Fist slowly opened her hand to reveal a bag. Helena watched stealthily.

           “This is us.” She kneeled down, and poured out the stuff which—to Helena—looked like little microcosms of beads the government possibly used to explode in its victim’s faces if they ever rebelled. Suddenly, Helena started spazzing out, shrieking that these women were indeed governmental officials and that she needed to stun them.

           “You better watch out! You better get out of here!” Helena darted her terrified eyes speedily from one woman to the next, holding her stun gun at the first woman’s forehead. She then moved it jerkily down towards the other woman and repeated these steps for a while as the two women slowly resumed their surrender positon, the kneeler staying where she was as she looked up understandingly at Helena.

           “We’re not here to hurt you.” One of the women said calmly, looking at her in the eye.  

           Helena had no interest in talking to these people. She had to get out of here before something happened. She dashed back to her car, flew the door open and revved the motor, causing the car to bolt out of the driveway, parking lot and the entire Mechanical World.

           Helena didn’t care if she burnt her jets out, as they were screaming with heat and fire, seemingly desperate to get away too from the puny little microcosms the woman spilled out in front of her on the sidewalk. She just wanted to trust someone. She wanted peace and stability, not this nightmare. She just wanted a nice road trip and, ultimately, utopia.

           By the time Helena had started thinking about how long she was driving, it was dark. She probably was being driven for hours now. She looked back after hearing hissing noises, and saw that her jet fuel was low; no, it was almost out! She needed more, but she could’ve forgotten it since she was in such a hurry to get out of Nanny.

           “Car, reboot yourself.” Maybe the car could refuel itself at a command.

           But the car dinged an X, which Helena processed as No can do. Soon, she’d be out of fuel, and then she’d be at the cruel intentions of those deceptive women.

           Great, Helena thought angrily as the car came to another lurch and stopped completely in the near pitch dark. I …

           Then she thought. I’m on a road trip going and going. If I go any further, I’ll keep going. Maybe the government has set this road up to make me think I’m … No, maybe that flash of light …

           Suddenly, Helena saw light up ahead. She immediately pulled her stun gun and started shooting.

           “Stop!” a voice commanded.

           But Helena fired in any direction, ignoring the command until she heard the desperation. “…it won’t work!”

           Livid, Helena sat frozen with rage as the lights grew closer and then simply shone on the road. Two thumps were made, and Helena, too frightened and angry to speak, just stared at two women clad in metal stuff and iron chains. They were here!

           “We’re not here to attack. Please let us help you. We will get you more gas and fuel.” Their hands were up in surrender, but they didn’t move anymore now that they walked to and were standing in front of the car.

           Helena glared at them and then asked, stun gun pointed at them, “You’re not going to attack me? Chain me up?”

           One of the women spoke plainly. “No, we will speak to you. For we were banished by the government. We will exiled to this world because we littered and thought the government was too much for us as well. Come—we will restore your fuel, give you more than enough for the car and then help you realize that we need your help to prove to the government that we are not to be banished. That we can come back to Nanny after planning in the outskirts for trashcans can be updated so they track the difference between trash and government information.”

           This made Helena really think about what she wanted and, more importantly, wanted to do. So she stayed quiet and then slowly pulled her gun down but pointed directly at the women. She told them that she would allow them to take her back to Mechanical World.

           “Okay. We will do that. We will tow your car so you can be driven back to Mechanical World.” The women answered agreeably and then walked back, Helena watching their every move and hands surrendered in the air, not letting any movement escape her eyes.  

           She then felt a lurch and then grasped her gun like her hands were super-glued to it as the women towed her. When they returned, Helena stepped out of the car with extra precaution, pointing the gun at the two women who had their hands in surrender again and were walking away from Helena, as she could see from the glaring lights on the women’s Jeep. As soon as they were inside, Helena asked roughly what the women meant by “won’t work!”

           “The stun gun will not work if you do not listen to us. We need to help you. If you do not listen, we will not be able to help you.” That is all they said with their hands raised and voices serious and understanding.

           “How do I know nothing will happen to me?” Helena asked, stun gun ready regardless.

           “Because we are under the same misunderstanding as you. We have been banished unfairly. We are not going to hurt you because we are understanding. So we are not going to hurt you.” The woman didn’t smile, but her voice softened to a kindness Helena hasn’t heard before. Maybe they weren’t so bad after all.   

           Helena didn’t buy it immediately, but as she progressed through Mechanical world with the women, she lowered her stun gun unconsciously. Soon, Helena stopped glaring at the two main women whom she met before. Whether it was yesterday or this morning, Helena would never know. Rather, she would have to focus on continuing her road trip, or she would be here forever, striving against her desire to have a road trip and, more importantly, face a utopian world, or live in a dystopian world of her own making; that is, Helena would never realize the truth about the government as soon as possible so she could take more road trips but in peace as a result of having stopped the government’s threat to hurt people should they rebel against the litter situation.        

           The women all around her were soft, friendly, talkative and ready to even hug Helena. Although she kept her distance and the women agreed by dropping their arms and nodding, Helena allowed them to tell her to put the stun gun down and eventually took it from her. By the time Helena and the women were talking—putting one hand on one of Helena’s shoulders from time to time as they assured her she would have nothing to fear and therefore be able to help them—Helena had not only let them have the gloves, but also gave her stun gun back with the promise that she wouldn’t threaten and, more importantly, be able to use it in self-defense should any of these women turn on her.

           “Because we understand who you are and why you’re here.” The main woman who Helena saw had purple eyes—she was the leader, Helena found out after asking—started ticking off her fingers. “To start a new life in a utopian world, to have peaceful road trips.” She backed up, and other women put their arms around her and each other. “We are here to help, Helena. Don’t think we’re here to get you.”

           Helena nodded, processing all that she had seen and heard and now saw and heard, especially from the purple-eyed woman. Then she spoke, just saying it. “I know I am in a group of people whom I can trust and whom I can use with me to stop the government’s overthinking. Please help me do that. Let’s continue that road trip together!”

           Before she knew it, Helena’s car was stocked under the passenger seat with enough fuel probably for the rest of her life. Her jet engines were all fired up, and Helena even allowed some of the women to sit in her car save the passenger seat. “Not until you help me bring peace do I trust you completely.”

           The women promised.

           Now that Helena was in the car with women she felt she could at least be a part of her life for now, she didn’t feel the need to pull her stun gun on them anymore. Instead, she lay back and let the car take her down the same road, but not alone as a terrified, doubting, angry woman anymore. As a woman continuing the road trip she had planned from the beginning and knowing that she was going to defeat the government with help after all.   

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