Friday, June 17, 2011

Taxi Driver of the Apocalypse - The Setup

In case you missed it, here's a link to the first part of this story.
Part One: The Intro

Part Two: The Setup

It was a gray day in North Texas. Grayer than normal, and that's saying something. I was in what was left of Sundance Square, which used to be a bar-hopping tourist trap in Fort Worth but was now a handful of barricaded buildings and burned-out storefronts. My last fare had been unusually accommodating, and left me a fat tip on top of the hefty fee it had cost him to get a ride through the wasteland of the Mid Cities. Maybe he was just feeling guilty because we got attacked by drug-addled bandits outside Six Flags, but I didn't much care why. I was just glad I was going to have enough cash to fix up the bullet holes.

So there I was, idling outside a diner offering seriously overpriced chili that was almost certainly made of diseased cats, and trying to decide if I should go inside and grab a hot meal before I had to fight my way back through Grand Prairie. Motion in my rearview mirror made me look up, and I saw a six-foot-tall, long-legged pile of trouble running right for the car.

She was stunning. Long red hair bounced in curls around her head and shoulders, and her clothes would have been stylish and expensive even before the oil shortage shut down international trade. Her slinky tight dress showed off every curve, highlighting the parts I knew I wanted and hiding them just out of sight, all at the same time. How she ran in those heels, I couldn't begin to guess, especially since she was also carrying a big oversized purse in both arms. For a couple seconds, I couldn't think at all, just stare at this incredibly unlikely vision as she ran toward me, yelling at the top of her lungs.

I finally snapped back when I realized she was hollering to hail my cab, and she was pretty intent on it. I unlocked the back doors just as she reached the car, and she slid in and pulled the door shut in one liquid move.

"Dallas," she panted, "and step on it."

I turned around and fell right into her eyes. She was gorgeous, alright, the kind of girl a guy like me could only hope to spot on the cover of some pre-crash fashion magazine. Green eyes, wet red lips, and a smoky look that said mayhem followed this girl around like a fan club. Even through the bulletproof plexi, I could see she was the hottest female I had ever met.

"Can we drive?" she asked, a little insistent. She broke my gaze and glanced behind her, nervously clutching her giant bag and scanning the street.

I came to my senses. "You got money? This ride ain't free, sister."

She turned back and looked at me with a stare that could melt steel. "No, I don't. But I can pay in trade."

That figured. A dame this gorgeous was likely to do just fine selling the one thing she did better than everyone else. And from her clothes and jewelry and makeup, she was pretty damned good.

I shrugged. What can I say, I'm a man. It was this, or kick her out of my cab and drive home empty. Besides, this was the best offer I was ever going to get for a woman this hot. I turned around and killed the 'available' sign on the top of the car.

That's when I saw the heavies rounding the corner, tugging guns from inside their camo jackets and yelling for me to stop.

The girl saw them, too, and let out a little shriek. "Oh God Drive!!!"

For just a second, I thought about throwing open the back door and kicking her to the curb. No sex was worth a bullet. Maybe, just for a second, I had a premonition of how bad things were going to get. Maybe, for that split second, the universe slapped the back of my head and said, "what are you thinking?" as if to let me know that the leggy package in the back seat was more trouble than I ever wanted.

But then she whimpered a little and said, "Please," all quiet and scared, and suddenly I was furious at the two gun-toting thugs rushing my cab. They weren't getting my prize! This girl was going home with me! I shut down the voice in the back of my head that told me how stupid I was about to be and dropped the hammer.

My foot slammed to the floor, and while one hand was busy twisting the wheel away from the curb, the other was flicking the switches to drop steel shutters over the windows. Sure, the windows are bulletproof glass, but that stuff still chips like a bastard, and it's nearly impossible to replace. I was just in time, too, because bullets started spattering off the shutters and body armor as I pulled away, tires smoking.

"I hope you're worth all this, lady." Looking through the little slit in the windscreen, I could see a couple more goons running out into the road with two-by-fours. I didn't need to get close up on them to know there were nails sticking up through them, and while my tires are armored against gunfire, driving over a pile of rusted nails was going to leave me riding on the rims.

"If you get me out of this, you can spend the night," she replied, and that was enough for me. I pulled a lever under the dash, and the pointed armor on the front of the car lowered to scrape the asphalt. I barreled past the roadblock as the tire traps went skittering past, caught and thrown by my improvised snow plow.

After that, it was pretty clear sailing. A few more bullets pinged off the armor, and I invented a few new curses as I thought about how long I was going to spend banging the dents out of the metal slats. Then we were clear, on the freeway, headed for home. I retracted the shutters and settled in for the drive.

She didn't talk much on the way, at least not to me. Every now and then she would open her purse and mutter something I couldn't hear, and I wondered what she might have stolen that got the locals so riled up. But it didn't really matter to me - this was a business transaction, and that purse was none of my business.

The drive home was a lot smoother than the drive out. I looped north through Irving, and only had to stop once at a toll booth set up by a few enterprising survivors in the middle of the freeway. They were smart enough not to overcharge, making it worth more to just pay a few bucks than have to replace the underarmor if they happened to blow a claymore under the car. Aside from that, the drive was delightfully uneventful, and after an hour or so, we got through the western gate and into Home Sweet Dallas.

"Where to?"

"The Adolphus," she said, and now I knew that this dame had some pull. Before the crash, the Adolphus was a swanky hotel, and after Waites took over, he turned it into the most expensive high-rise apartments in Dallas. He didn't live there - he had his penthouse at the Hyatt Regency - but the Adolphus was the highest-rent address in the city. I had dropped lots of fares outside, but never been through the doors. I would have been tossed on my ear if I tried to deliver flowers.

We pulled up outside the hotel and a doorman stepped up, opened the back door, and offered his hand. I turned around, wondering how we were going to work this. I couldn't exactly leave the cab on the sidewalk, and I was damned sure not planning on having her over to my bombed-out garage.

She pulled out a card and passed it through the slot in the plexiglass. "Give this to the doorman. He'll bring you to my apartment." The card just said, ‘Eva’, and had her apartment number.

She stepped out of the cab and waltzed into the hotel as if nothing had ever ruffled her feathers, casually holding that huge purse under one arm and swinging her hips with a motion that would make grown men break down and cry.

I didn't waste any time getting back to the garage. I parked the car, washed up with the fastest bath I ever took, and double-checked all the locks before I waved down a rickshaw and headed back to the Adolphus. The card worked like a charm - the doorman waved me inside and walked me up to the eighth floor in an elevator so plush, you might never know the world had come to an end. He took me down a hallway and knocked on a door, and when the door opened, there she was again, smiling and inviting me in.

I don't need to bore you with details, and I never was a kiss-and-tell kind of guy. I'll just say it was a hell of a night, and when I finally passed out between her silk sheets, I slept like a dead man.

Which, it turns out, was almost an ironic turn of phrase.

Come back Monday for the next piece of Taxi Driver of the Apocalypse. I'll announce the winners in The Spoils contest Sunday.


Roothgard said...

Wow ! You are a skillfull writer ! Damn you ! I want the next part badly !

Seriously, 'gratz ! This is amazing !

Shawn said...


You inbox is full from the contest. I have tried to submit several times but I cant...

Could you empty it so the rest of us can submit?


Matt Drake said...

It's my Blackberry. It says it's killing the message on the server, but it lies.

Anyway, it's all clear. I'll wait to decide the winner until Sunday, to make up for clogging my email.