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Translation

Amy SutphinMar 2, 2021, 11:45:56 PM
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Quick Intro. I'm playing around with this blog feature and I want to share this story I wrote because I've tried blogging and I'm not good at it. Anyway here is the first part of my short story Translation.

 A larger silver oval glided down the highway at 350 kilometers per hour, inhaling street rubble and trash. Inside, two sharp, heavy blades pulverize everything into powder. Compared to the rest of traffic, the egg-shaped vehicle traveled slowly. For me. clinging to its smooth metal shell by nothing more than super adhesive gloves developed by a terminally mad scientist, speed was relative.
 

The wind stream battered me relentlessly as I clung to the machine. Slowly, one hand after the other, making sure every sticky finger fused to the surface before unsticking my other hand, I climbed. The gloves worked impressively. The more force pulled against them the stronger they held on. Removing the adhesive was a simple matter of pushing them against the surface and then peeling them off. If the battering wind hadn’t kept my adrenaline rushing and my heart pounding painfully, I would have enjoyed the experience much more. Maybe I would speak on behalf of that crazy old inventor at his murder trial.

I was climbing up the rear end of the vehicle. If my timing had been better when I jumped on, I would have been closer to the front, where the access hatch was located. I made my way slowly over the top to where the egg shape dipped. The gloves were not as effective at that angle.

The hatch lay flush against the silver carapace, invisible except for a dark gray button. I pressed it firmly. A puff of dust wafted out as the hatch slid open. I fanned the dust away and peered into the dark. The sunlight above illuminated a tempest of dirt and debris below. A brain-scratching noise emanated from within as the grinder pulverized the contents. 
I dropped into the pool of trash. With every breath, dust assaulted my eyes, nose, and mouth. I coughed and sneezed and wiped my eyes for several moments until I could put my goggles on.
 

Somewhere buried beneath the flotsam was a small metal box containing something more valuable than my life. I had to retrieve it before the processor blades obliterated it. Taking out my flashlight I waded from one side to the other. The trash gently agitated around me as the grinder crushed it piece by piece. There was no sign of the silver case. Trash flew in as the machine sucked it up from the roadway below. I dodged a large piece of micro-friction road material aimed at my head.
 

In too little time I was standing on the edge of a vortex created by the whirling blades. A few steps more, and I would have met a gruesome and painful end. Then I saw it. A small silver case worth my life and ten thousand dollars being sucked closer and closer to the grinder. I was going to have to jump into the whirlpool of death after all.
 

The blades were a good distance below. I leaped onto the garbage, swimming on top of the pool. I stretched my hand out, reaching for the case. The blades pulled me down; I struggled to stay above the garbage. The case disappeared below the trash just as I wrapped my fingers around its handle.
 

I reared back, throwing myself away from the whirlpool, towards safety. My feet caught the bottom of the oval, and I stumbled sideways towards the wall. Slapping a sticky hand to the wall, I examined my prize. An anonymous silver case that could have belonged to anyone, except for the initials H.T. on the handle, as specified.
 

Clipping it to my belt, I climbed towards the hatch. Relying on one experimental sticky glove, I dangled from the domed ceiling, pushing the hatch upwards with my other hand. It proved tricky. The hatch was built to be opened from the inside only when the vehicle had stopped.

Something struck me hard on the back. The egg must have glided over an accident. I shielded my face with my elbow as well as I could as debris pelted me. A shard of glass sliced through my coat and skin. Blood trickled down the arm holding me to the ceiling. I inched the hatch open. A large chunk of metal socked me in the stomach, knocking the air from me. I gasp, desperately for air for several minutes. Then with strength mustered from desperation and annoyance, I pushed the hatch open the rest of the way. 

The wind died down as the oval slowed to a crawl, having returned to its dispatch. I tried to look nonchalant as I climbed out, watched by it three waiting maintenances men, each with the same expression of disbelief that anyone could be as stupid and crazy as me. A look I’m familiar with.

Over the years, I’d developed a foolproof method for dispelling any belief in my sanity. I waved at them with the most shit-eating grin I could muster. They could tell I was not a man to be reasoned with.

“Hello,” I said cheerfully, “My name's Dyson. Can I get a lift?”

***

“If you call us, next time, we can recall the truck. Turn off the grinder remotely. You don’t have to endanger yourself like that,” The maintenance guy said as I climbed out of his car in front of Gordan Tribbit’s estate. He’d not said a word the whole ride over. If I hadn’t mentioned Mr. Tribbit, he would have had me arrested.

“I’ll do that next time,” I said, pushing the car door shut. They would find out soon enough, once they completed the routine diagnostic, that the wireless communications were shot, and the trash egg was running on a preprogrammed backup route that kicked in when communication was cut off. Had the coms been working, Mr. Tribbit could have turned off the grinder himself and routed the egg to a convenient location. People do not hire me for jobs they can do themselves.

I trudged up the Tribbit estate driveway, blood dripping down my arm, trash in my hair, and dust covering every inch of me. I was a distressing sight to the security guards monitoring the gates. The cameras were so well disguised few people were sure where they really were. I took tremendous satisfaction in looking one right in the lens and waving.

The gates opened enough to let me in, and a groundskeeper in a hover- cart drove me up to the mansion. The butler met me at the door. I say Butler; he's really a bouncer who carries a tea tray. Six and a half feet, muscles bulging under his suit suggested more brawn than brain but there was intelligence in his eyes. To his credit, he didn't flinch as I tracked dirt onto the immaculately clean floor. I sneezed.

"Bless you, sir," the Butler said.

"Thanks, I’m Dyson Macon.”

“Samuel.”

He shook my filthy hand.

Samuel led me up some stairs and ushered me into a lounge, where Gordon Tribbit sat reading the newspaper, old-fashioned that way.

"Mr. Macon," Mr. Tribbit said lightly, eyeing me up and down. "That was, timely."

"I try," I said, not mentioning that when he'd contacted me two hours ago he'd told me to leave town if I didn't get to the trash egg within thirty minutes. Gordon nodded to Samuel, who held out his hand. I relinquished the case, glad to be rid of it. Gordon examined it, then glanced at me. He expected a counterfeit, I knew. He wouldn't be the first to suspect me of foul play. I couldn't blame him. I’d been known to do the right thing now and again if it turned out a job was dirty. This job was dirty, but the case seemed innocent enough.

Gordon reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, silver laser. It melted the seal along the seam, cleaving it in two like a clamshell. Impressive security, overkill even. He checked the contents of the case. Apparently satisfied, he closed it and looked at me a little more kindly.

"Holly." He called. A little girl scampered in. She was tiny, maybe five years old with wispy blond curls and large blue eyes. She wore a puffy pink dress that was a little too fancy for every day. A dress-up tea party with her dolls I suspected.

Gordon held out the contents of the case to her. She gasped and smiled.

"Tallulah!" She cried, daintily taking a doll that looked just like her out of the case. "Thank you, dad!"

"Don't thank me. Mr. Macon found her." He nodded to me. Holly gave me a shy smile.

"Thank you, Mr. Macon." She said with a heart-melting, dimpled smile.

"You are most welcome," I said. I’m a sucker for kids.

Holly fled from the room, giggling.

"I choose the people I trust very carefully Mr. Macon." He said, "People I trust do not betray me. Do you know why?"

I shrugged, imagining the answer involved hot, pointy objects.

"Because they are good people, and I pay well." He smiled.

"Works for me," I said, pleasantly surprised.

"Then I shall call upon you again if I need you. Samuel, see him out please."

With a polite good-bye from Mr. Tribbit, a crisp paper check stashed in my pocket, and a light bounce in my step, Samuel saw me off in one of Tribbit’s private cars.

Part 2