Blood in The Gears

Blood in The Gears

It was four in the morning the truck was loaded and Robert was ready to drive.

And a hell of a ride it was shaping up to be, besides the usual worries.

The sweltering heat, the worries over breaking down.

Or the assholes looking to rob the truck for its precious cargo.

Robert buried the fears as he sat there waiting for dispatch to give him the green light.

He knew it was risky but the job paid well and in 4022.

You didn't want to be without a job.

The world was dead, crops had almost completely ceased to grow, the rich hid in their overpriced tombs.

And the poor just struggled to survive.

The cities were overrated prisons and the open highways were chaos and certain death.

"Okay 22 your clear to go, good luck drive safe."

The dispatcher said.

It was smooth sailing until you were outside the city slums.

And Robert was shifting gears building up speed.

Anything unlucky enough to get in his way was going to be crushed like a bug.

It was part of the protocol of driving.

Written in the rule book don't stop for anything.

And Robert understood.

You stop you die; it was simple as that.

He was a mile out of Austin the heat was already rising and it wasn't even sun up yet.

Robert just kept shifting gears and praying this old wreck didn't give out or begin to overheat.

And was grateful he hadn't run into any gangs looking to play bumper cars on this highway to hell.

He listened to the engine and wished to God this old wreck had some sort of radio.

Of course, with all the factories gone and only a few places inside the city walls, rebuilding the old wrecks he knew there wouldn't be anything such as new features and old sacks of shit.

These diesels were dinosaurs and fuel were as precious as gold and only the shipping companies had access to it or were supposed to that is.

The trip was largely uneventful aside from the usual camps of people beside the highway throwing anything they could.

They hated the companies and Robert knew if he broke down, they would rip him to shreds.

This world had no humanity left within it.

And all Robert cared about had either died or was well on its way to meet the reaper.

He had paid a hell of a price to secure this job.

And fuck selling your soul to Satan! He sold his to the Transwick Transportation years ago.

But least he lived in an apartment not a cage, he was deemed a citizen not a vagrant at least he didn't live outside what was left of humanity's walls.

And as he approached the city limits of Houston finally, he felt a tinge of relief.

The plant was another part of the job he hated; the smell alone almost made him vomit.

A slaughterhouse has the stench of dried blood and death in the air.

And as he parked and shut down the rig, he grabbed his clipboard and headphones.

It was the sounds that haunted him the most.

He never looked at the shipment.

He remembered the first time.

He remembered puking afterwards.

And why from now on sunglasses and headphones were a must.

Hey remembered the arms all reaching out from the trailer that once held cattle and pigs.

And since the world was in a death rattle now held people.

He remembered their cries.

He also could recall the cruel bastards that seemed to take great pleasure in unloading with brute force.

Using cattle prods and boot heels to rush these corralled doomed souls.

He also remembered the pleas of his family as they were whisked away to meet their death.

He saved his hide and sold his humanity for a job and a dingy apartment.

He understood population control far beyond the statistics.

He drank his dinner killing himself slowly.

Those cries haunted his thoughts, he was a cog in the machine and nothing more.

He led the lambs to slaughter.

He didn't fear hell he awoke to work in it every day.

Robert seldom had an appetite anymore.

John Patrick Robbins

John Patrick Robbins: Is the editor in chief of The Rye Whiskey Review, The Black Shamrock Magazine, Under the Bleachers and Drinkers Only.

His work has been published here at Ariel Chart, Punk Noir Magazine, The San Pedro River Review, San Antonio Review, Oddball Magazine, Blognostics, The Blue Nib and Red Fez.

His work is always unfiltered.

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  1. John Patrick Robbins, I applaud you for writing a story on a blood-curdling topic most of us tend to ignore. In the last episode of Strength to Be Human, you characterized your style as "dark." With dark brush strokes you paint a brutal reality and unveil the horrors of slaughterhouses and human cruelty. I felt sympathy for your protagonist who sold his soul to the Devil in order to make a decent living. Very moving!