Did you ever see that movie the Longest Yard? Me neither. Burt Reynolds? Give me a break. I assume that the producers of that movie were referring to some kind of metaphorical long yard for the characters with that title. Perhaps their longest yard is illiteracy. Or a lack of self-confidence. Or a stupid mustache. The longest yard in that movie is probably not a literal yard of ground covered with barbed wire and broken glass and acids and hornets and used syringes.
Martialla and I crawled a lot more than a yard, but it was still the longest X amount of distance I have ever covered. My left leg hurt too badly to stand up and my left arm hurt too badly to use for crawling so I slumped on Martialla and scrabbled along beside her like a sidecar as best I could as she scuttled along. With seven limbs on the ground we still could have been run circles around by a three-legged dog.
It didn’t take long before the dim light coming through the buggy-hole crevasse behind us was far enough away that it did absolutely nothing and we were skidding along in the pitch dark. We didn’t even think about it, we just started crawling down a dark tunnel that we had no reason to believe led anywhere. I wonder what we would have done if we weren’t both likely suffering from concussions. Waited until we thought the Invincible were gone and then tried to climb out the hole we fell through? Probably.
Every now and then I felt a little patch of carpet under my hand. Mostly I felt some kind of vinyl flooring tile which was jumbled up and cracked and ripped my skin open like paper cuts every two “steps”. Sometimes I felt mud, which was a nice change of pace because it was soft and was probably only giving me gangrene. Sometimes I felt rocks. The hallway or tunnel or whatever you want to call it was wide enough that you could stretch out your arms (not that I could) and not touch the sides from the middle but I still felt claustrophobic like I was wedged in a Shawshank shitpipe. The dark does funny things to your perception of space.
We crawled for ten minutes before we saw another light. Which doesn’t seem like a long time but I challenge you to crawl on any surface for ten minutes. Even on nice soft carpet. I double dog dare you. Just try it. Adults aren’t meant to be crawling around. While we were being ripped to shreds, I had this image pop into my head of a stripper crawling “sexily” along a strip club stage and then it extends out for miles and miles and she has to keep crawling and there are men lined up all along the entire thing throwing money at her and hooting while her hands and knees are sliced to bloody ribbons and she’s leaving a streaky red trail of blood with bits of flesh behind her.
We reached the light, which was coming from a large round area that reminded me of a car showroom without any cars. The ceiling was ripped open to the outside/above and so much debris and junk had washed in that there was a ring-shaped hill in the middle that was close to five feet high on the edges. An Invincible biker had driven right into the hole and smashed himself to bits against the far wall. I could see how that could happen. Even though the hole is a good fifteen feet in diameter, it’s grown up with weeds all around the edge so you wouldn’t see it until the last minute. It’s like how people used to fall in old wells all the time. Remember that from the eighties? People fell in wells every week in the eighties.
The biker had a ceramic canteen on him that was shattered by his death plummet, but the bottom part still had some water in it and we drank it like we were dying of thirst, which we probably were. He also had an ugly pipe gun that Martialla took and two smaller ceramic things like test tubes with a blue liquid in them. The bike looked like it might be functional but what were we going to do? Ride it around through pitch dark tunnels filled with debris? We sat against the wall on either side of the dead man and looked up at the clear not-blue sky through the hole. There didn’t seem to be any sounds of fighting from above anymore.
I looked over at the dead guy, knowing Martialla was on the other side of his head “Well. That didn’t pan out.”
“No, I shouldn’t say so.”
“Are we fucked?”
“Fucked proper you mean? Probably. But here’s something I’ve been thinking about. You can’t cryogenically freeze someone without killing them because the cell membranes . . .”
I groaned “Jesus, here we go with the cell membranes again. Can’t I die without listening to you winge on about cell membranes?”
“That remains to be seen. What I’m saying is that before they put us in those tubes, they injected us with something. What if that something was nano-robots? That would explain how we could survive being frozen without the rupturing of the membranes, they did rupture but the nanos would repair us as quickly as they did so, allowing us to live in stasis.”
I laughed “Nano-robots? Where do you get this science fiction shit? There aren’t even robot robots let alone microscopic robots that live inside you.”
“Maybe these Applied Cryogenics scientists invented them as part of their process and nobody knew yet because they hadn’t gone public. That would explain why we’re still alive with poison air and all the other stuff going on. It would probably also explain why you’re so sick to your stomach all the time.”
“I’m sick to my stomach because we’re literally eating rotten garbage and drinking dirty water every god damn day. What does this have to do with anything?”
“Well, if there are nanos inside us they might be able to repair our injuries, and that’s the only way we’re going to survive. So that’s the one way that we might not be fucked.”
I thought for a moment “They did inject us with something. Don’t robots, even little ones, need a power source? What would these nanobots run off?”
“Uh, kinetic energy?”
“So we’re fucked.”
“I mean . . . probably yeah.