A long, broad avenue runs right through the middle of the Muldoon fair grounds. During fair time—when “fair time” used to exist—the avenue would be filled with crowds of people and flanked by stalls selling everything from cheap t-shirts and fake cigarettes to Indian tacos to organic lemonade.
Now, the wide avenue was totally empty. Stalls stood abandoned, raided of every last hot dog bun and flauta. The expanse of pavement was gathering a thin layer of slowly-drifting snow.
In the distance, beyond the fog, came the rumble of a large vehicle.
I’d agreed with Chris to meet at the fairgrounds before dark. Dusk was nearing, so whoever it was that I heard approaching must have been him. The sound of a large engine grew louder. I hoped this was a good sign; if Chris was driving some kind of big truck, maybe he’d somehow gotten ahold of a large supply of food.
A big, black semi appeared through the snow and fog, its headlights off. It rumbled slowly, right down the center of the avenue.
When the semi drew closer, I could see that it was pulling a long cattle trailer, which I hadn’t expected.
I was already keeping out of view behind the abandoned Slushy Hut, but now I pulled back a little farther.
The semi stopped right across from where I crouched. Now I could see the driver: an overweight trucker type with day-old stubble. On his jacket’s sleeve was a bright yellow Home Guard logo.
Chris wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I pulled back even further. What was this cattle truck doing at the fair grounds? I was pretty sure the driver hadn’t seen me, but why had he stopped right in front of me? And where the fuck was Chris?
The driver called out my name loud enough to be clearly heard. But, strangely, he just kept staring straight through the windshield. His voice had had an odd, laconic tone; he’d said my name almost as if he were calling role.
What was going on? Why would a cattle truck driver wearing a Home Guard logo drive the fair grounds and call my name?
I glanced up and down the avenue, careful to keep concealed. Still no sign of Chris.
The truck idled in the falling snow. I shivered. An uneasy feeling crept into my gut.