He became fearful that creatures might lay in wait behind the dead vehicles. Seven vehicles he passed cautiously, finding no sign of anything lurking, before slinging the weapon. A sense of peace washed over him as he stood in the centre of the lanes. His mother took him across the bridge each week when they went to church. Never before had he seen it devoid of moving traffic. With sandstone pylons on its four corners and arched iron girder construction, it looked like a smaller version of the Sydney Harbour bridge.
Brad ventured over to the rails and looked down over the river 200 metres below. He could make out the dark shapes beneath the river’s surface in vivid detail.
I wouldn’t want to fall in there.
Craning his neck, he traced the rise of the bridge’s iron spine. How many times had he wondered what it would be like to walk up there as the car drove by? He refrained from climbing onto the pylon, fearing he might waste precious time reaching the next town before nightfall.
Another thought occurred to him as he resumed his trek among the vehicles. If something ambushed him close up, he’d have a hard time, adjusting the blurred image of his target on the scope before it engaged him. He opened a small compartment in the butt, and spilled its cleaning items and toolkit, much like a multi levered pocket knife. Removing the scope with an allen key, he placed it in his pack, squared away his tools, and resumed walking.
Now he could shoot the firearm impulsively. The scope he’d use for long distance hunting.
A nestle of shops spanned either side of the road, then thinned out, leaving a featureless road. The community the shops served remained out of view on the left in a housing estate. At the edge of town, he neared a sign stating the next town. Brad broke into a run. Not that he had ever ran 37 kilometres before, but he decided for the sake safety to reach the settlement, sooner rather than later.
According to his watch, he ran for about 40 minutes when he approached another sign announcing his destination as 32 kilometres away. That gave him cause for concern. Provided he maintained his pace, at this rate, he’d reach the town with enough time left over to forage for food; an unrealistic expectation. Not so fresh as when he started from the bridge, he knew his pace had slowed. As he hadn’t trained for such a distance, he expected to have to slow down to a walk sometimes.
The sun, still hours above the next ridge had moved since he began, at rate much swifter than he would have liked. Once it descended beyond the mountains, shadows would stretch and merge with the new night, then…
He gritted his teeth and lengthened his stride; not wanting to think of the horrors that might come. Time weighed heavily on his shoulders, along with the afternoon sun as he raced the fiery orb.