The following morning Sergeant Gregory Hamelin skimmed along in his official State Police hover-car, above Route 6, going east through the woodlands between Hawley and Milford. He’d gotten up before sunrise. The sky ahead was just beginning to brighten, when he’d skimmed across the shallow stream of the upper Delaware River, then up the hill and on into New Jersey.
Yesterday afternoon, his Campaign Manager Jake Mitchell had objected to this journey.
“You can’t leave for the City Building now Greg. It’s less than two week’s ‘til Election Day.”
“I’m a police officer Jake. Not a politician. That’s your job. You take care of it.”
“Take care of it? I can’t ‘take care of it’ without a candidate.”
“It’s okay. I should be back in a day or two; with all the ‘murderous cannibal perpetrators’ in custody. That’ll be all you’ll need to get me elected.”
“But what if you come back without them?”
“Then I won’t deserve to be elected.”
Right, Greg thought as he skimmed along through the mountains of northwest New Jersey. I won’t.
“...back in a day or two...”?
I wish I could be as confident as I’d sounded.
“...all in custody”?
We’ll see when I get there.
When I get there, I’ll have to find them, somewhere inside the City Building of Manhattan. Find them in a day or two? Was that possible? Would that be possible in the less than two weeks before Election Day?
Then, if I ever do find them...?
Yesterday I asked Pastor Luzak for advice. He told me a lot of very useful things. I wrote it all down. Those notes should be helpful; but...
We’ll see what happens when I get there.
He continued on as the sun rose, going along the sparsely traveled road through the forests of the Kittatinny Mountains, continuing his journey to the City Building of Manhattan, passing small communities, farmland, lakes and streams.
He’d heard many stories about the goings on inside the CityBuilding. Many of them were obviously exaggerations. Some that weren’t exaggerated sounded bad enough. Deadly combat’s an actual high school team sport?
What about City Building People when they’re not participating in sports? What would they be like as individuals?
In the last few months, he’d met a few who’d come to the Poconos as tourists. They’d all been courteous. He’d seen news reports featuring Diplomats from the CityBuilding, who’d been working with our own “Wilderness Diplomats”. They’d all been diplomatic.
That’s how CityBuilding people behave when they’re out here, and wilderness people are watching. How do they behave when they’re back home, just being themselves inside the CityBuilding?
He’d seen other news reports. In the months since the unsealing, a few “Tourists from the Wilderness” had been killed while visiting the CityBuilding. Then they’d been eaten. According to the reports, most CityBuilding people couldn’t understand why the dead tourist’s relatives made a fuss, or why it was even a news story.
Now as Sergeant Hamelin continued traveling eastward, the place where he was headed came into sight. Beyond the trees and the hills, he saw the massive, rectangular, artificial mountain, rising high into the clouds, and above the clouds, where its 12 mile long roof was actually capped with snow, and its upper sides caked with ice.
The City Building of Manhattan. He wondered. What am I taking on?
With each mile that he approached the structure, its bulk appeared to increase in height and width, blocking more and more of the sky from his sight.
He came to the community of Little Falls, “The last outpost of civilization”. Here he left his own world of farms, small towns, and churches behind. He turned onto a road that was little more than a series of barely maintained ruts. The ruts went southeast, through a marshy plain, going in the general direction of the massive wall that now filled almost his entire field of vision, from top to bottom and side to side.
There were no communities beyond Little Falls. This was an actual wilderness, with no occupied structures. There were only the ancient ruins of structures that had been standing here, when the CityBuilding was completed. He understood that. Who’d want to live this close to anything as monstrous, as the CityBuilding’s wall that rose to the center of the sky, blocking out the sun for half the day?
He finally came to the end of the ruts, where a recently constructed, one story tall structure stood, with a sign above the entrance saying, “Rest Stop”. A brand new parking lot was laid out in front of the structure. Spaces for just over 100 cars were clearly marked out. Today, no more than twenty hover cars were set down, directly outside the structure’s front door. So was a yellow bus.
Greg Hamelin guided his vehicle into the parking lot, brought it up to the white stucco structure with large picture windows, and set it down beside the other cars.
He got out and walked along behind the line of cars, looking at their license plates. Most of them were New Jersey plates. A few were from New YorkState. One had Pennsylvania plates. So did the bus. Was this the one, he wondered, that the murderous cannibals had taken back to the CityBuilding, along with Charlene Luzak?
Now Sergeant Hamelin stepped inside the Rest Stop, hoping that Miss Luzak, Mrs. Margarita Ramierez, and the kids who’d stayed at Luzak’s Motel would be there.
Inside the Rest Stop he found a cafeteria with a few dozen tables. Few people were seated at them. The daughter of Henry Luzak was not among them. Neither were any high school kids.
A giant screen TV hung on the wall above the serving counter, tuned to an ancient movie that had been produced long before the construction of the CityBuilding, titled “Death Race 2000”. Sergeant Hamelin had seen it before.
A man and a woman in their mid forties, sat near the door, at a table to his right, watching the movie. They ate from plates on trays; a lunch of cold cut sandwiches with crinkle cut fried potatoes.
The man said, “I think this is what they call ‘beef’. It’s gonna be a while before they begin adding human meat to this wilderness cuisine.”
The woman nodded. Then she said, “At least this time it’s not ‘raining’ like it was last time we came out here. Now it’s colder. If it was raining and this cold, I don’t think I’d want to be out here at all.”
He told her, “I hear that ‘snow’ is even worse.”
At another table to the right, just beyond this couple, a man in a different blue uniform was seated, with three stripes on his sleeve and a badge on his shirt.
He called out. “Hello Sergeant!”
Gregory Hamelin called back, “Good noontime Sergeant!”
He walked over to the seated officer, and stretched out his hand.
“I’m Gregory Hamelin of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
“Lew Jacowski. Weehawken Constabulary. Please be seated.”
The two officers shook hands, and Sergeant Hamelin sat across the table from Sergeant Jacowski.
“So tell me Sergeant Hamelin, what brings you here all the way from Pennsylvania to the outpost of Weehawken?”
Gregory leaned forward and lowered his voice.
“I’ve come to seek the extradition of certain individuals who are believed to have committed an act of murder and cannibalism, within the borders of the State of Pennsylvania, and who have fled behind the walls of the City of Manhattan Building.”
The other man looked at the couple at the next table. Then he also spoke with a lowered voice.
“So someone’s finally filed a complaint?”
“Finally? You mean it’s happened before?”
“We don’t know for sure, but there are suspicions. You see Sergeant Hamelin, since the CityBuilding’s been unsealed; groups of its citizens have been coming out here, to spend vacation time in the Wilderness. When they’ve gone back inside, one or two members of some of those groups have not come back with them.”
“You suspect they’ve been murdered and cannibalized?”
“Just a suspicion, but there is no evidence, and so far no one’s filed any complaints. As long as they keep it among themselves, I suspect there won’t be any.”
“Sergeant Jacowski. One group of high school kids and their teacher have left some evidence. They’ve killed and eaten one of their own classmates. I’ve come to see that they’re brought to justice.”
“It won’t be as easy as that, Sergeant Hamelin. The Government of the City of Manhattan Building won’t allow any of its citizens to be extradited for any acts, that aren’t regarded as crimes within its walls.”
“I’ve heard that.” Sergeant Hamelin told the man, “But there is one person involved, who might not be one of their citizens.”
“A Pennsylvanian might have been involved?”
“Now that’s something they might take into consideration. On the other hand, this person who you suspect might be granted asylum.”
“Maybe not. The person I’m seeking is a minor. A 16 year old girl named Charlene Luzak.”
“Luzak?” Sergeant Jacowski asked, “Any relation to Pastor Domnick Luzak?”
“Yes Sergeant. She’s his niece.”
“Yes. I remember her. I was standing right beside the two of them, along with those two CityBuilding kids, when the airlock was unsealed from the inside. They were the first ‘people from the wilderness’, to be given the official authorization to enter the City of Manhattan Building, after 1,322 years.” He chuckled, “I think that since I was standing there, it might make me some kind of historical personage.
“I still have that authorization form, signed by Congressman Salinski, and other high government officials. That might become an historical document. It might actually be worth a lot of money someday.
“You think the Luzak girl had something to do with the killing?”
Greg told him, “I have to question her, and everyone else involved, to be sure.”
Now the woman at the next table spoke to her husband. “Oh. Here’s the scene.”
He, Greg and Sergeant Jacowski turned their attention to the TV screen.
The movie “Death Race 2000” was about a cross country auto race, where the drivers scored points by striking pedestrians. The drivers were Major Super Star Celebrities. They had very enthusiastic fans, all eager for their chosen heroes or heroines to score the highest number of casualties.
This scene focused on a local chapter of the hero driver’s fan club. They were sexy teenage girls, all dressed in very short shorts and tight tee shirts. As the hero’s car approached at maximum speed, the girls were all gathered in a group, in the middle of a rural community’s main road, apparently ready to help him score a very high number of hopefully fatal casualties, by being the casualties themselves.
Then his vehicle came into sight. The husband and wife from the City Building sat watching; expecting the girls to remain standing in place, along the center line, where their hero could slam into them, scoring as many screaming deaths and/or dismemberments as possible, off this chapter of his fan club. He’d then leave a large, blood soaked mass of sexy dead girls, spread out all over the road behind him.
However, as he sped up, aiming his vehicle straight at their long bare legs, sexy shorts and tight tee shirts, they separated into two groups who hurried to safety among the crowd of people, who stood along both sides of the road. Only one girl, who’d been chosen from among them, remained standing on the center line. She stood facing the oncoming vehicle, prepared to be killed by her hero. Her hero obliged. He slammed into her, causing her immediate screaming death, but he’d only scored one kill by doing so.
After he’d sped off down the road and out of sight, the other girls in his fan club came back out onto the pavement, where all they did was look at their dead fellow member.
In the Rest Stop, the couple from the CityBuilding both expressed annoyance.
“What a bunch of wussies.” The man said, “I see what you mean. I can’t believe they’d actually have the nerve to call themselves his ‘Fan Club’, when only one of them’s dead!”
The woman laughed. “I can’t imagine our daughter or any of her friends, being such a bunch of wussies. If she was, I’d be ashamed to look at her; and what would I possibly say to the neighbors?”
On the screen, the girls in their sexy fan club outfits remained gathered around the girl’s corpse.
The man at the table said, “She’s the only member who deserves to wear that outfit.”
On the screen at that moment, the girls’ hero’s car had turned around and came roaring back down the road, aiming at their shorts, legs and tight tee shirts.
Before they could move, he slammed his car into them. This time he finally caused most of the screaming deaths and/or dismemberments that a non-wussy fan club would have given him, the first time he’d roared through.
Then he immediately spun the car around and roared back. The few surviving fan club members finally did what they should done have all along. They stood together in the center of the road, waited for the fatal impact, and then died screaming as he plowed through them.
After their hero had finally scored all the fan club kills, he sped away, leaving the large mass of blood soaked sexy dead girls, spread out all over the road behind him. However, his having to come back for this second roar through, had cost their hero a good amount of time, and he was no longer in the lead.
The City Building Man said, “Now that’s just the way that you and the girls on your team would have handled it, when you were in high school. I’m sure our daughter and her friends would handle it the same way.”
His wife said, “Except for the Tee shirts. They’d be a pile of sexy dead girls, with blood on their naked boobs.”
He added, “They’d provide very satisfying holiday dinners for everybody standing in the watching crowd; just like you and the girls on your team would have done.”
“Right.” The woman agreed. “It’s too bad that they don’t have this kind of holiday recreation out here.”
Now Gregory Hamelin said to Sergeant Jacowski. “That movie’s a fantasy. It wasn’t intended to be taken seriously.”
Sergeant Jacowski told him, “That was when the movie was first produced, long before the CityBuilding was constructed. Now its citizens do take it seriously.”
Greg asked, “Do City Building people really want to bring that kind of “holiday recreation” out here among us?”
Sergeant Jacowski nodded.
Now the woman at the next table looked directly at Sergeant Hamelin.
“Excuse me Officer. That may not be the way things are out here in the wilderness, for now, but it will be, sooner than you think. You Wilderness People will all just have to get used to it!”
Now Sergeant Jacowski spoke.
“See what I mean?” He told Greg, “Getting anyone from the City Building extradited for murder’s gonna be a real problem.”