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The Leftovers - Chapter One, Part Four
The next few moments inside the car were intense as we kept on the lookout for anymore Leftovers, but once we reached the city limits, it seemed we had lost them.
?I peered back at the boy. “What you did back there,” I complimented, “was totally amazing!”
?He didn’t say anything, but nodded in my direction.
?“Where do we go?” Janet offered. “Airport? Train station? Seaport? Or should I just keep driving?”
?“Train station!” I suggested before my great-aunt could even take another breath.
?I assumed the boy had a quizzical expression underneath the black mask. “What?! Trains are useless!”
?“Well, it’s closer than the airport, and…this place is landlocked! There are no seaports here!” I explained.
?Great-Aunt Janet shrugged bashfully. “Right.”
?“Fine,” the subject groaned.
?I tapped at Janet’s shoulder forcefully when I saw the sign for the train station a few seconds later. “Turn here now!” She swerved into the lane to exit the interstate.
?God, my great-aunt was a horrible driver.
?It was silent in the car again for several moments straight. When we pulled up next to the train station, Janet turned the ignition off and opened the driver’s side front door. “I’ll get some tickets. There should be an engine coming in soon.”
?When she shut the door and rounded the corner, the boy hopped over the console and into her seat. “Seriously, who uses trains anymore?”
?I frowned at him, unsure if he could even see anything but silhouettes through that thick black fabric. “Trains are very important to this town!”
?“Is this place ancient or something?”
?“Stop it! They’re great!”
?“Nobody in this country rides trains anymore. Except hobos. Are you a hobo?”
?“No!” I was getting really aggravated with the guy. Then I took a deep breath and calmed myself. He saved our lives, and I figured it was no use arguing with someone who could easily kill me. “If you’re so anti-train, then don’t get on with us.”
?“Nah, I think I’ll stick around. Your mom’s pretty cool.” He leaned back comfortably.
?I swallowed. “She’s, uh, not my mom. She’s my great-aunt.”
?He looked at me at an angle. “Oh. Well, then…”
?“Yeah. My dad’s been dead for four years, and my mom’s probably dead now, too.”
?“That sucks. You live with that woman?”
?“No, I used to live with my mom, but she’s been missing for a few days. It was…” I paused. I couldn’t bring myself to say it.
?“‘It was…’?” His voice, rather deep, was muffled greatly.
?“It was my responsibility to take care of my little sister, Laurent, but…a Leftover kidnapped her. Right from under my nose.”
?He picked a dagger up from the backseat and tossed it up in the air, then caught it, and repeated this action several times. “You should be more vigilant, kid. Leftovers are nasty little bastards.”
?“I know that!” I corrected him. “My parents were both Leftover Hunters, and so is my great-aunt, and I’m studying under them.”
?He didn’t say anything; because of that, I looked at him. He was too occupied with his dagger, and I stared. This went on for several minutes.
?“You know, you can’t be too comfortable in that,” I said. “You must be really cold with the air conditioner and you’re soaking wet. Plus I can imagine it being kind of hard to see and hear.”
?“Hey, I’ve managed,” he shrugged. He caught the dagger again, but instead of throwing it back up, he began to twirl it between his fingers.
?There were a few more moments of silence before we started another short conversation. “Once we get off whatever train we catch, I’m sure we’ll find an LHA headquarters. We’ll be able to reload and stuff there.”
?“Cool. I figured we’d head there.”
?More silence. Awkward. Extremely awkward.
?Suddenly, he sat up arrow-straight and stuck his head up in the air, like a wolf howling at the moon. “You’re great-aunt’s in trouble,” he said calmly after a few seconds. He plucked everything off the backseat. “Grab the guns and let’s go.”
?I was amazed that he could be so unnaturally calm in this situation. This was my beloved great-aunt, and he really had no respect for that. He opened the door and stepped out, but stared back in at me when I didn’t come out.
?“Come on,” he coaxed. “Do you want to help your great-aunt or not?”
?I thought for a moment about why I wanted to stay here. It was another random impulse I had that day, but I couldn’t say that - the boy seemed like the type of person that would think I was nuts if I gave him that reason. “If you need a getaway car, I’ll stand by for you.”
?He sighed and shrugged. “I guess that makes sense.” He knew his guns were useless but instructed me to keep them anyway so we could get bullets later, and he gave me his seven daggers and told me he’d be back.
?The intensity in the interior of the car was far more concentrated with just me in there. I moved across the console to sit in the driver’s seat. I only had my permit, but I could drive if I had to; I was considerably better than Janet. I was bored and excited at the same time for a short while.
?Suddenly I saw a pitch black humanoid figure racing towards the car. I could hear his screaming through the window. “Drive!!”
?“Thank God Great-Aunt Janet didn’t take the keys out,” I thought as I started the car and revved it up. By the time I put it in Drive, I saw that the boy was nearing the car at light speed, and he was being pursued by a gang of Leftovers. He held three white slips of paper in his hand and waved them about erratically as he ran.
?He raced around the back of the car, threw himself into the front passenger seat, and shouted, “Go!” My foot slammed down on the accelerator like a block of lead.
?I had buckled up but he hadn’t, and he held onto the dashboard tightly as I swerved in and out of the parking lot, trying to weave my way out of the place without coming in contact with any of the Leftovers.
?“I got the tickets,” he breathed.
?“And Great-Aunt Janet?” I asked. I forgot that I hadn’t told him her name, but I guessed he’d figure it out.
?He didn’t say anything. He just held onto the dashboard like his life depended on it.
?“Well?!” I yelled impatiently.
?“I’m sorry. I couldn’t save her in time.”
?He was very grim and solemn at uttering these words. The Leftovers got her. The emotions in me were too strong to even describe.
?I had no idea I was slowing down until the boy yelled in my ear. “Drive, Woman! God!”
?He had no idea I was angrier than a bull facing a matador. “My name is not ‘Woman’!” I shrieked, accelerating so hard the car jerked forward and he was melted butter in the seat.
?“Well, I’m sorry!” he shouted back just as angrily. “You never told me your name!”
?I rolled over a curb in my rage and drove straight through the busy road outside the parking lot in front of the train station. People slammed on their brakes and honked at me, but I didn’t care. “My name,” I replied, gritting my teeth, “Is Renegade Temple.” I had crashed through a gate and was now rumbling along through somebody’s lawn. “But everyone calls me Rene.”
?The boy said nothing, probably because he was concentrating on not being jiggled around by the rough terrain.
?Cops were coming up behind us - I could hear their sirens blaring loud and clear. This was not an ideal situation, especially now that we knew there were Leftovers in the area and they knew we were here. But I dared not stop. I bashed through the fence and off the property, onto another street. This time I went down the real road, but I was well above the speed limit.
?“Renegade is an awesome name,” the subject awed as he tried to lose the queasy feeling in his stomach from being jerked around so much.
?I frowned and didn’t care if he could see it or not. “If you’re trying to make nice now, you are failing.”
?He fell silent again.
?I drove and drove and drove, silent from the thrill of being chased that filled the void of Great-Aunt Janet’s death at the time. Before I could even think, I had driven us several miles. The police were doggedly following us.
?“We should stop, Rene,” the subject suggested, finally breaking the silence.
?I listened to him but I didn’t respond. The sirens of the cop cars fueled my wild streak and I couldn’t stop it. I refused to let go of the wheel, refused to step off the accelerator, refused to give up now. We were a few miles into the next city! I wasn’t going to stop.
?I was really crazy.
?Suddenly the subject reached across the console and pushed my arm away, releasing my grip on the steering wheel. He grabbed it before I had the chance to get it back.
?“If you’re so dead set on getting away from the fuzz, then let me do this!” He careened through lawn after lawn, narrowly missing a dog, and we plunged into a lake.