Eventually some of the hairy-handed villagers did approach us but we couldn’t understand what they were saying at all. This feels like the twelfth different dialect we’ve encountered in less than a fifty mile radius. What is this, London? Can these people all understand each other? How the hell does it work?
I had a fantasy about the villagers being thankful for us saving their miserable sorry lives and bringing us crude wooden skewers laden with glistening chunks of duck dripping with honey – and not fatty duck, but juicy crispy duck – made with zucchini and red peppers. But instead we eventually figured out that they were asking us for food. We did give them some of our supplies, each of us taking turns being the one saying to the other that all we were doing was hurting ourselves but then feeling guilty and handing over more of our supplies anyway.
What they really needed was a doctor. Neither Martialla or I know much of anything about first aid and even if we did, we definitely don’t know anything about post-apocalyptic first aid. What do you do when you get smashed in the back with a chain by a guy on a motorcycle and there’s no such thing as hospital? I don’t care what the hippies say, you can’t just squeeze a plant and smear some natural bullshit on a motorcycle-chain smashed spine and be fine.
When I was thinking about that, I realized that being a doctor or a nurse or someone else with medical training waking up in this world would be about the worst thing ever. Everyone, literally everyone here, is sick or injured from what I’ve seen. You’d drive yourself insane because everyone needs your help. And without access to modern machines or pharmacology, what are you going to be able to do about it? Nothing, that’s what. That’s probably what medical people have nightmares about – everyone begging for their help and knowing they can’t do anything for even a fraction of the people crowding around them.
Since we couldn’t really talk to them or help them and we couldn’t seem to stop giving away our limited supplies, we got back on the move after maybe an hour. We couldn’t follow the raiders on their dirt track so we headed back to the road, which was a damn sight harder than getting off of it was. The grade actually didn’t seem as steep as when we were barreling down it, but it was enough that it took several tries, and a lot of pushing and cursing from Martialla, to get back up onto the ridge. Once we were back in position, instead of getting back in the car, Martialla sat on the edge of the road and looked out over the landscape.
I tapped her on the shoulder “Come on, let’s hit the road.”
She scowled over at me “Give me a minute, I think I pulled my quadratus lumborum.”
“What’s that? The boob? What do you have to pull there?”
Martialla scowled even harder “Why was I even the one pushing? You’re the one who drove us down there like a lunatic.”
I sat down beside her and held out my arms “Because my muscles are so puny, I don’t have big ropey manly arms like you.” Her only response was a sour grunt “You know what I’ve realized?”
She kicked a rock down the hill absently “Something about your butt I’m guessing?”
“No, sadly not everything is about my butt. We’re basically Superman here in this future land. Think about it, he was just going along living his normal life and then his parents tell him ‘oh, actually your planet blew up and you’re the only survivor’ and just like that his entire worldview changes. That’s like us waking up here in those tubes.”
She shook her head “That makes no sense, Superman grew up on earth, he didn’t find out about Krypton until later.”
“Hey, I was the one who was going to play Superman, I know what I’m talking about.”
“Supergirl, you mean.”
“No, I was going to play Superman in a reboot.”
She gave me a dubious look “How exactly were you going to play Superman in a movie?”
“I was going to be doing voice overs for the woman who was in control of Superman’s body. Something to do with solar flares and blue kryptonite. The production never got off the ground because that idiot Dean Cain wouldn’t shut up about the changes he wanted to the script. That guy’s lucky he even has a career and he’s shooting his mouth off?”
“Why would they do that? If they wanted to make a movie with a woman, why wouldn’t they just make Supergirl? Why do some kind of Freaky Friday Superman?”
“Why do scriptwriters to anything? They’re crazy. You’re just mad because you couldn’t stunt for me if I had gotten the part. Why are you always trying to take roles away from women? Especially when that woman is me? Also why is it that there’s a Supergirl and not a Superwoman?”
“What, are you working on a tight five for the Comedy Store? Anyway, we’re nothing like Superman, if we’re like anyone we’re like Buck Rogers.”
“The porn star?”
She threw a pebble at me “There is no porn star named Buck Rogers.”
I threw up my arm to ward off further attacks “Yes there is, I met him at the AVN awards!”
“Why were you at the AVN awards?!”
I shrugged “Leo wanted to go. It was more boring than anything.”
She snorted “Leo, that guy was a dick, why did you go out with him? Anyway, I’m talking about Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century not some dude with a freak penis. He was an astronaut that got frozen for five hundred years and then has to save the universe from Ming the Merciless.”
“Ming is from Flash Gordon.”
Martialla bit her lip “Oh right. Well Buck Rogers was frozen and then he was trying to do something. Erin Gray was there, I remember that.”
“That’s science fiction stuff either way, we’re more like Snake Plisken in Escape from New York, except you know, women, and also nothing like that is going on. But you know what I mean.”