Out here in the fields...among small mountains of debris, shattered concrete and rusted metal wreckage rising out of the tire-tracked ground. My assignment: making sure nobody tampers with the construction equipment that makes this enormous mess possible.
Dirt roads snake among the junk piles. The roads are rutted and potholed and paved here and there with fine crushed stone, that crunches under tires and footsteps like the sound of small bones breaking. The skeletons of sparrows, perhaps, or the delicate wing-structures of bats. Every so often, a rat scampers across the narrow road, pale in the headlight beams, fast and alert in this world of truck tires and night predators.
The predators are active here at the dump. In the distance, among the twisted branches of gnarled trees and unhealthy brittle bushes, the patrol vehicle's high-beams reflect their yellow eyes. They keep their distance. I have never met the owners of the eyes, except for a large coyote one early morning standing by the side of the road, keeping a sentry duty of his own. I pass the night without incident in their company. Thanks to my lack of sleep, I also keep company with hunched black shapes crouched at the corners of my vision. I'm glad I can rationalize these shapes away. They are much more threatening than the natural inhabitants of this apocalyptic domain.
This security job brings me back home. I grew up here in Johnston, two miles from Shun Pike. I spent my childhood hearing rumors of what's supposed to be buried here, beneath the garbage of this suburban wasteland. But these are just stories, and if I find myself thinking about them, sitting here staring at the 3 am darkness, it's only because solitude breeds strange thoughts.
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