The bike had been left back in northern Arizona, Kenn thinking longingly of past Super Bowls as they began to walk passed a town filled with sports bars and strip clubs advertising the event. Totally empty of fuel, with no refills in sight, the Honda was now just another rusting pile of metal on the side of an American road, and five long, hard days of walking into the strong, gritty wind had given them both red, squinted eyes, and rough, scratchy skin on their faces, the only part of their bodies not covered by the layers of mismatched shirts and coats they wore over their uniforms.
It was only three o’clock but the blanket of sky crap, as the boy called it, made it look like dusk and the two very tired males needed food, water, and shelter. It had rained nearly every day since the war but Kenn refuse to consider trying to sterilize it, sure it would still make them sick. They only had a few can goods left, had run out of water this morning, and towns around here seem nonexistent. This was the Southern Badlands, the Black Rock desert, and they were in trouble.
Kenn knew there had to be at least a gas station around here somewhere but with the sand blowing so thickly, he couldn’t see beyond the occasional dead car or body, or hear much but the blowing sand, and he had chosen not to leave the main road. Utah was a huge place and there would be no search parties sent after them if they got lost.
The lack of transportation had really hurt, Kenn thought, lighting a stale cigarette. They’d made great time on the bike but as soon as they hit 257, that had ended, the gas gone. This was an isolated area and he hadn’t seen a home or business of any kind since dawn, only the faint, gritty shadow of mountains to the east, north, and west. There was occasionally a vehicle, the battery dead, paint weather beaten, faded, with few windows and inches of dust inside but there were no outlines of structures, the thick wind allowing for almost zero visibility, just layers of sand and dirt that covered everything.
All in all, 257 was a surprisingly desolate stretch of highway, even the needle grass covered in sand. It was depressing and Marine forced his sore feet to keep moving and his scratchy eyes to keep looking. There had to be other normal people and they had to find them. Kenn was tired of being alone, really lonely for the first time in his life, and he hated it. Raised in a wealthy family where he’d been the clown and party favorite, being totally on his own was new to Kenn.
Even in the Corp, there were his fellow soldiers to rely on, be admired by, and the feeling of worry was not welcome. Kenn sighed. It didn’t help that the boy still wasn’t talking to him unless he had to. Their direction wasn’t due east and the teenager didn’t want to hear about Slavers or detours. He just wanted his mom.
Kenn’s eyes swung east, toward home, but his mind on NORAD. There had been smoke from that direction almost continuously and he’d moved them farther west to check the Dugway Proving Ground, thinking the area was so isolated, the looters may not have gotten out this far, and they hadn’t from what he could see, but without transportation, they were still in trouble…