Why would you leave the house without money? Why even bother?
Mika didn’t appreciate the scolding tone that the blonde woman with dreadlocks and an ornate machine gun swung over her shoulders was taking with him, but there was little he could do but nod.
Do you want to end up like them?
She was pointing to a group of people sitting in a shelter just past the tank they had used to block the road. The tank was blurry and hard to focus on; there was some kind of visual distortion being employed. The checkpoint itself had seemed to emerge fully out of the drizzling rain, unseen before he stepped into it. The people in the shelter looked bored at worst; they were drinking hot liquid out of cups and eating pastries. Mika kind of wanted to join them, but something in the blonde’s tone told him no.
I tell you what. You do a little favor for us and we will let this slide. How does that sound?
Good I guess.
Mika felt okay agreeing. He felt the need to be pleasing in this situation.
Take this and our man will grab it from you on the other side. You will even get a little credit for it.
In her hand was a neatly wrapped package.
He nodded and took it. Depending on the next checkpoint this could mean death. But, he decided to be pleasing so he agreed to it.
The next checkpoint had two helicopters propped on the side of the road. Glaring blue lights shined from the bank of lights they had strung up over the road. Pilots encrusted in helmets and hoses sat still in each cockpit. Mika stood in the light and the drizzle and waited. He willed his body to not sweat, but it refused.
A child ran out from behind the helicopters and ran a scanner wand over him. The child paused after doing this, looked up at one of the helicopters, and then waved him through.
A man walked out of the shadows on the other side of the bank of lights and put his arm around Mika’s. The man’s face was blurred in similar fashion to the tank.
Just hand me the package and I will credit your mobile.
Mika complied. The man nodded his blurred head.
Okay walk away and don’t watch where I am going.
The third checkpoint cleaned out his mobile, but gifted him with a lumpy can of food cubes and a map to the nearest camp. They laughed when he asked if could sell the can for money but didn’t when he made a joke about their halftrack covered in pornographic graffiti. They just waved their guns and pointed in the direction of the camp in response to that.