X Marks the Spot

An incredibly strong individual is leaving a trail of broken-necked cops along U.S. highways. Who is he? Where is he going? What does he want?

He stood at the intersection of two bustling streets, eating something the vendor had called a "hot dog." The hot part he understood. The dog part was a mystery to him. The name was intriguing, but for now he was content to merely speculate. He would leave the investigation for another time.

The condiments were a mystery as well. Uncertain which ones he should use to adorn the strange food item, he had simply gone with colour preference: A little of the yellow substance and a little of the green substance.

The taste was not at all unpleasant. Everything was highly processed, he was certain, but it was still quite palatable. Next time he stopped, he would try another, perhaps with different toppings.

For the moment, however, this would suffice. His metabolism was strong, and his daily nutritional requirements were modest at best. He would finish the "hot dog" and continue with his mission.

He took the last bite and wiped his mouth with the soft paper square--"napkin?" Yes, "napkin"--the vendor had provided him. That done, he folded up the "napkin" and the more rigid paper container that had held the "hot dog" and deposited both into the nearest waste receptacle.

He noted with a certain wry amusement that he was being much more considerate of the environs than many of the indigenous inhabitants. There was a tremendous amount of litter on the sidewalk, despite the numerous waste receptacles available to the citizenry.

No matter. Going unnoticed was considerably easier when one followed the rules and used common sense. To toss his refuse haphazardly would have been stupid and careless. And he was neither of those things.

Dusting the last few crumbs off his fingers, he turned to his right and proceeded across the street. His destination lay just a few blocks ahead.

In a matter of minutes he had reached the shopping complex. Not for the first time, he wondered how so many individuals in such a massive population could each possess so much currency. The glut of available goods was nearly nauseating to him.

He shook his head. Focus, now.

He entered the shopping complex and immediately headed for the elevators. He was not interested in the shops. His destination lay beneath them.

With a cheerful "ding," the elevator deposited him in the vehicle storage area, or "Parkade," as the sign above his head called it. He smiled. He rather enjoyed this part. He never knew exactly what sort of vehicle would present itself to him, and that bit of randomness provided him with some small entertainment.

He pulled a device from the cloth bag he had slung over his shoulder and powered it up. A few of the lights on its surface flickered for a moment, and then the display indicated readiness.

Glancing around quickly to make sure no one was nearby, he pointed the device in the general direction of the vehicles directly in front of him and pressed one of the controls on the device. Seven or eight of the vehicles obediently chirped or clicked or honked in response. A couple of them even flashed their amber lights.

Ridiculously simple. The security systems on these vehicles were primitive, nearly childlike. He strode towards the nearest of the obedient vehicles to examine it more closely. If this one didn't have a remotely controlled ignition system, one of the others likely would.

***

A short time later he was driving out of the city on one of the main highways. He would take this vehicle to the next major city, abandon it, and find another. It was a time-consuming process, but he made up for it by driving his found vehicles rather faster than the posted speed limit.

His reflexes and coordination were excellent, so he had no trouble at all maneuvering the vehicles at high speeds. He wove deftly around slower traffic, and on long, unpopulated stretches, he pushed the engine to its limits.

He now found himself on one of those stretches.

After a few minutes of gratifying high speed--this particular vehicle was an exceptional specimen--he saw the expected red and blue flashing lights in the mirror and heard the expected wail of the siren. He smiled. This would be only a minor inconvenience.

As the law enforcement vehicle crept up behind him, he slowed and pulled over to the side of the road. Putting his hands on the top of the steering wheel, he waited. A moment later, the law enforcement officer exited his vehicle and stepped towards him.

The officer rapped on his window. He obediently rolled it down.

"Do you know how fast you were going?" the officer asked.

"No," he replied. "I was not observing the speed indicator."

"You were not observing the speed indicator," the officer repeated. "That's probably because you were having too much fun joyriding through my county."

"Joy-riding?" The word was unfamiliar.

"Yes, joyriding," the officer said, now sounding agitated.

"This particular ride was not providing me with a great amount of joy, so I do not see how it could be termed such."

The officer sniffed and grunted. "Oh, a smart-ass, huh?"

"I consider myself smart, but I believe the other word is some kind of beast of burden."

The officer held out his hand. "Give me your license and registration, please."

"I do not possess either of those things."

The officer straightened up and moved away from the door slightly. "Step out of the vehicle, please, sir."

He opened the door and exited the vehicle.

"Step away and close the door. Keep your hands at your sides."

He obeyed.

"Now, I'm going to search you, and I'm going to search your vehicle. Do you understand?"

"I understand, but I am afraid you will do neither of those things."

The officer stepped close to him. "And I suppose you're going to stop me, are you?" He could almost smell the officer's anger.

"Yes, I am."

There was barely a motion blur as his right hand whipped up from his side to the officer's neck. He grabbed and squeezed. The man's face turned red almost instantly.

He squeezed harder and twisted. The effort was rewarded with a satisfying crack. The officer's limbs suddenly went slack. Without even changing his grip, he hurled the now-deceased law enforcement officer over the parked vehicles and into the ditch beyond.

He dusted off his fingertips once again, got back into his vehicle, and resumed his journey to the next major city.

The End

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