The car had been harder to hotwire than the pods suggested. Understandable when Brendan thought about it, it’s not like there’s a wealth of information just lying around about seventy-year-old cars. Not anymore, anyway.
The engine coughed once, then roared to life. The noise much louder than anticipated in the enclosed space. Brendan expected his uncle’s appearance in the doorway of workshop, weapon in hand, before he’d manage to get the vehicle outside. But that had been two hours ago and nearly 150 miles behind them. Now, the first orange rays of sun yawned over the scorched horizon and the nuclear winds blew through the broken windscreen to whip the remaining strands of Marcy’s bleached hair. She howled with delight and Brendan reached out a sore-pocked hand towards her.
She took it and give it a gentle squeeze. “How much further?” She asked.
“Another half-hour maybe,” he said and steered slowly around the upended husk of an abandoned ‘Less.
Since leaving the city proper, Brendan had seen more and more Pre-Burn detritus. Fewer people meant less need for salvage, he guessed, and more remained out on the open road than would have survived in the narrow urban streets. He’d even seen an actual ‘Less Truck. They were things of legend, hinted at by his late father, but never really believed in until one had risen up into view from the blistered tarmac. If they hadn’t been in such a hurry, he’d have stopped for a closer look.
“Have you ever been to the beach?” Marcy said. He’d noticed the dreamy, sing-song quality creeping into her voice, had known its meaning but tried to ignore it. Even so, he pressed his foot down a little harder on the pedal.
“Oh yeah,” he teased. “I go all the time. You’re gonna love it.”
Marcy gave him a weak, toothless smile and he risked taking his eyes off the road for a moment to plant a kiss on the corner of her sweet mouth.
“Thank you,” she said and he nodded his reply, not trusting the strength of his voice.
* * *
She was asleep when Brendan rolled the car to a halt at the foot of the cliff. He contemplated waking her, but let her be while he dragged a worn blanket and a shovel from the back seat.
The heat from the blast had turned the sand to glass in places and the motion of the sea had buffed it to a dull shine. Despite this and with careful steps, he managed to find a large enough patch of loose sand with relative ease.
He’d laid out the blanket and dug the hole to the dimensions the pods had said (she didn’t want to be burnt as everything else had burnt) before he’d returned to lift her gently from the seat.
They sat together in the morning sun, Marcy’s head rested heavy upon his shoulder, and stared out across the fathomless sea.
“You’re welcome,” he finally whispered.