Hear her calling, come to me
Thoughts of her won’t let me be
Go to the valley, climb the hill
Whatever it takes darling, you know I will
He sees her stand upright and triumphant on the lift. She sees him, smiles slightly and nods acknowledgement. Of what? he wonders. Gratitude? Dismissal? He returns the nod, a last look and edges into the jubilant crowd. There was no question of whether to leave or stay. He had done what he’d set out to do, helped them get home. And he was free again. Nothing would induce him to go back into that place. This was as close as he would ever come to it again. So why did he keep feeling the urge to slow his steps, turn, look back? He shook his head sharply to clear a warning buzzing that usually heralded accusing voices. But his ghosts were silent for now.
He’s got all he needs, after a few hours’ silent work under the cover of darkness. He’s always had a knack for finding supplies, though it takes longer when he’s unwilling to kill for them. It’s been easy though – the Citadel has been decimated and those who remain are either in a state of celebration at Joe’s demise, or simply taking in the change of leadership. Either way, security isn’t a problem. Bike, guzz, water, food, tools, weapons. Leave. But where? He wants his car. It’s part of him, and he needs to fix it if he can, or mourn its passing if he can’t. He fires up the engine and heads east.
He evades the Buzzards. They know him of old and steer clear after the first warning shot. The sun climbs the sky as the first signs of wreckage appear, both human and mechanical. One white-painted figure lies in the sand with his head at an awkward angle. He’s been dead for days. Another, face and neck impaled with sharp barbs, is embedded in the wreckage of a spiked vehicle, a charred ruin. He buries the bodies, takes what salvage he can.
Further on, sand has thickly covered any signs of destruction. He sees nothing to slow his pace. He keeps his mind on the route ahead. He doesn’t think. The sun drops behind, casting a long shadow eastwards. The landscape unfolds in front of him. Foothills come into view. It would be dark by the time he reached the canyon. Good. He worked best in darkness, especially when hostiles were around.
It’s been a busy night. Silently scouting the rocky devastation, he sees the overturned shell of the War Rig. Nux’s steering wheel is easy to distinguish by feel among the wreckage scattered around. When it’s light enough, he’ll check the interior for a body. He hopes the kid survived, but hope is a mistake, he reminds himself. If Nux was alive, he wouldn’t have left his wheel lying around for scavs like him to pick up.
He hears voices beyond the wreckage.
He’s surprised, overall.
He’d stalked an unwary War Boy into the shadows and held a knife to his neck as he told him that Furiosa was in charge and Joe was dead, Understand? The Boy had nearly cut his own throat, with his vehement nod. Not the wisest response. But the last few days hadn't dulled his reactions; he’d pulled the knife away an inch just in time. He wondered if this one had been part of Furiosa’s crew. But they’d all been scattered by the sandstorm. It was a miracle he’d survived that, and Max was good at surviving.
Maybe the new leadership would be received more favourably than he’d expected...
And he’d let him go, to spread the word. The Boy knew better than to say how he’d really learned the news. Said he’d seen a flare go up.
He heard a range of reactions, throughout the night. These people were lost and leaderless. Many were phlegmatic about Furiosa’s takeover. She’d be the new Immortan. Even Joe could be killed, that wasn’t impossible. Finally, he’d made it to Valhalla, mcfeasting with the War Boys who’d gone before. They’d tramp home and offer their services to Immortan Furiosa.
There were some hostiles, true. Angry. Loudly denouncing Furiosa for traitoring the Immortan. He quietly dispatches them in the darkness.
He’d watched them trudge towards the Citadel, all those who would follow her. He’d listened to them all speak, and was confident that they meant what they said. He’d left them a canister of water by the foot of the rubble and saw them find it. They never knew he’d been watching, listening, killing when needed.
He’d explored the War Rig. Found what he’d been looking for. Buried the kid.
He moves on eastwards.
It takes three days to gather up what remains of the Interceptor. He can at least try to piece her together again. And after that, think about trying to get her moving. He’s picked up tools on the way. Not great, but he can improvise. He strips the bike of parts when he gets desperate.
Just over a month later, she’s operational again. Held together with spit, blood and blind faith, but she’s running. He’s so grateful he finally buries the barbecued War Boy with staples in his face. He drives onwards. To the east.
Hear her calling, hurry home
Been so long since I been gone
I won’t get tired, won’t go astray
Hear her calling, call my name
He begins to think, now he’s behind a wheel again. Not his wheel, he never did find that. He had to strip one from a vehicle marginally less wrecked than his own.
He starts to wonder where he’s going. It’s not something he often considers. ‘Away’ is generally enough. The direction doesn’t matter.
He has one last job to do. He carries on eastwards until he finds them. He builds a cairn of rocks and collects their baggage. The bike too. It’s crushed, but still…
He wonders (fears) what new companions he’ll pick up along this Road. In the middle distance, he sees a group of women, dusty and windswept. Not accusing, not raging, just...looking curiously at him. Maybe not ghosts, then? But he shook his head. No. He'd seen them die. And he'd laid what still remained of them in the ground. On a sudden impulse, he reaches out, closes his fist and returns it to his chest.
They smile, nod and move on towards the Citadel.
He stops moving. He sits in his car, facing east. Doesn’t know how many times the sun has set and risen. He’s feels like a rogue planet trapped in the orbit of a bright star. Or maybe a black hole, he’s not sure. He feels cold, at the outer edge of his eccentric orbit. He wonders how badly he’ll burn up when he gets too close.
He thinks of her. Eyes that can see right through him. With her, silence is no barrier. He can’t hide no matter how he tries.
He sleeps. “Fool, where are you going?” He awakes with a start. It’s not a dream, he’s awake and he can see her. The pregnant wife, looking at him reproachfully. He shudders, eyes wide, hands twitching. Is she here to accuse him?
She kneels down awkwardly towards him, wincing as if in pain. He shuffles backwards in the dust. Her leg is still bleeding from his bullet. He’s frozen in terrified anticipation.
“Don’t be scared.” She smiles. His ghosts don’t smile like that, as a rule.
What was her name? The audio replay of his brain provides a chorus of sorrowful young voices…Angharad, Angharad, Angharad, Angharad. She had another name too, but he could only hear it spoken in Joe’s arrogant voice. Angharad, then.
“I’m sorry” he whispers.
He points at her leg. “Got you killed.”
She shrugs. “Not your fault. Should have held on tighter.”
“I’d rather be dead than caught by Joe, anyway.” She smiled sadly. “Besides, I slowed them down, didn’t I? Gave you all a bit of distance. Might not have got away otherwise.” She looks past him.
He turns to see what she’s looking at. Sees nothing behind him. He looks back towards her. She’s gone. He looks around. She’s walking away, towards the Citadel.
There’s one more. Ghosts come in threes, after all. Back towards the West, he sees a tall figure waving at him cheerily. His paint has worn off. He lopes off, towards the Citadel.
Just my colour, just my kind
Got a heavy soul, next to mine
Heart’s on fire, get no sleep
Drive all night, no relief
He sighs, starts the engine and takes a dusty u-turn. He knows he’s going back…just to drop off the salvage…the stuff they’d value, anyway. And to report. But not to stay…no, no way.
He runs out of guzz in Buzzard territory. Typical. He hides the Interceptor as best he can and takes cover in the dunes. He’s within scope range of the Citadel, its three towers on the horizon at the other end of a strip of asphalt.
He takes the opportunity to rest before attempting to signal, blanket shading him from the sun. When he wakes, it’s cooler. He scans the road.
There’s a lone bike approaching. He looks around for hostiles. No sign of Buzzards. A figure pulls up by the side of the road and drinks from a canteen. He knows who it is.
He signals with a piece of salvaged metal. F U R I
Pause. Reply. F O O L
Long pause. M A X