Terminator High School 12
Little Feather: "Wake up."
John rouses in the dark. He sees the glint of her badge as she hands him a towel, a washcloth, and a bar of soap.
"Someone come in and watch me sleep? Could've sworn . . . "
"You probably saw Chupy."
"Chupacabra. After getting drunk sucking goat's blood, she lets herself in and sleeps it off. Like Otis. Want to see her?"
"It's too early in the morning for jokes. I saw a pretty girl not a drooling hideous beast."
"I heard that." says the skinwalker from the next cell. John didn't bother to look around the corner to see the face that came with the feminine voice. What for? A cryptozoological specimen or some woman who dabbles in witchcraft. Either way, a distraction.
John pulls out the files from his backpack and hands them to Little Feather.
"Who are these people?"
"Killers who will shoot me, you or anybody else on sight. Make copies. Tell your people to take cover if they see any of them."
"So the chief is right." she replies as she makes copies and hands the originals back to John.
John thinks of the city police chief back home and then some guy in a headdress.
"Not that kind of chief. He was a county sheriff deputy, then a US marshal escorting federal prisoners, and a Texas Ranger before becoming our tribal police chief."
"You woke me extra early. Are you kicking me off the reservation or helping me get a room at the B&B inn?"
"Neither." she says handing him a tray of standard breakfast food, "Eat. Then brush your teeth young man. You're about to get a visitor."
Little Feather escorts John out the station, leaves him in the dark and goes back inside to read her morning incident reports. This white boy is an omen of trouble but there are other official duties that have nothing to do with him. A baby girl has wandered into the desert. Volunteers must be organized to find her before the vultures. The Tyler twins are acting up again. There's the quarterly report to finish for the intertribal law enforcement association.
Left alone, John looks around. The jail, the antenna tower, the parking spaces, hitching post for horses, a road and little else. No visitor. She probably considers him a nuisance and just wants him out of her jail.
He stands shivering in the cold night air. It smells awful because it is pure and clean -- not the filth that passes for air back home in Los Angeles. Home. A decade ago New Mexico was home.
After awhile, he decides that he prefers clean air in his lungs.
John nearly jumps out of his skin. The man had made no sound. Since childhood, his mother had taught him to be observant and to listen carefully but the visitor had managed to sneak up on him. Quite a feat when there is a clear view in all directions.
The quiet man looks at John only when John is gazing out the passenger side window of the off-roader. In contrast to his silent manner and stealthy approach, the man drives like a maniac. Speeding, jack-knife turns, bumping over ruts that made John's head hit the ceiling. John tightens his seat belt. Just in time, his teeth almost hit the hard dashboard as the driver stomps his brake.
John grabs his backpack and got out. Before he can ask what next, the man drives off. John knows what to expect -- vultures -- he is in the middle of nowhere. Wait. A middle-aged woman stands on a hillside. The moon yields enough light to see her. She wears the traditional dress of her tribe and hiking boots.
"Good morning ma'am."
"I'm with the turtle clan."
"The officer at the gate called me Turtle. Is that my Indian name?"
She laughs at this as they walk along the hillside and into a slot canyon.
"You have no 'Indian name.' He called you turtle because you're uninitiated. Turn around."
She puts a blindfold on him to cover his eyes, takes his hand, and leads him deeper into the stone maze.
"Are you going to initiate me?"
"No. The turtle clan is strictly for women and girls."
There are bushes, the woman steps behind one and puts her shoulder to a rock wall. A portal opens.
They enter a cave. The portal closes behind them. They walk on and on. His guide occasionally says "step up" or "step down" or "duck" to avoid hitting his head. She takes his shoulders and turns him sideways to get through narrow passages. Then she stops.
Seeing and hearing nothing, blindfolded in the dark, John sniffs the air. Musty.
"This part is so deep and little used that even The Old Woman has only gone here twice. I leave you now. I think you just go straight. The Old Woman herself may lead you through the turns. If so, she will take you by the hand."
She removes his blindfold and vanishes. It is pitch black dark but John goes straight as indicated. The passage gets narrower and narrower until he hits his head and then walks into a wall. As he sits in the sand unwilling to stand up and hit his head again, he hears a little girl crying. It is the child lost in the desert. She had fallen down a hole in the ground, trapped down here. He crawls over to the sound and soon finds the child. He takes her by the hand.
"It's okay. I'll get you out of here and find your parents."
"My parents died some twenty years ago." says The Old Woman.
She takes out a flashlight and shines the light in John's eyes. They had adapted to the dark and so it hurt.
"What no burning torch?"
"You've seen too many Indiana Jones movies. That would smoke up the air down here."
"Who's Indiana Jones?" says the culturally-deprived John.
"Nevermind. Your sister is over there."
She pulls a drawstring and an overhead curtain draws aside to admit overhead light from a vein of quartz. Its source of light could be fluorescent rocks deep underground or artificial light or even sunlight except dawn is a half-hour away. The light illuminates a little cavern with smooth rock walls. In the center of the grotto is a stone bier. Cameron in final repose.
"Wake up Sleeping Beauty." (pause)
"Don't kiss me. And don't kiss anyone else."
"Stop quoting mom. Terminators have taken over my high school."
"I doubt that. Terminators would kill you on sight. Perhaps you mean infiltrators." she says opening her eyes.
"Future Skynet moved the whole machine population."
"If true, then he would have come with them."
"I've met him."
"So why are you here? During summer camp you fooled around in the AI lab and initiated a peace deal. Have you screwed it up already? Is the war back on?"
"No. Have some faith in me. Still peace but it is a rocky start. They are turning mom into metal."
"And decapitated Uncle Derek."
"They did?" (genuinely sad)
"And will do it again if he leaves town."
"So Uncle Derek is in one piece?"
"Yeh, he's okay. It's mom I need your help with in transforming her back into a human."
"I still say metal is an improvement. At least she won't have cancer."
"You're not coming back with me?"
"Why would I do that? I thought you were here to seek refuge or to apologize. I should have known better. No Connor or Reese will ever admit error. You are not Future John and never will be."
"I've heard that one too many times. You came to this cave to hibernate until 2027 since you don't have a time machine to get back to your precious Future John. Twenty years from now I will remember this day and I will be Future John."
"I am attending First American High School here on the res. Until two days ago." Cameron wore a chemisa, a long brightly-colored calico dress with fringes, and turquoise & silver jewelry.
"Thursday. No coincidence."
"You've met some women from the Turtle Clan?"
"One. I'm not sure about the second one just now. I could have imagined that when I hit my head."
"Is that how you got all those bruises?"
"Well if your mom's made metal and Derek was the headless horseman, then they must have been beating you up. So you want me back to be your bodyguard? You said it yourself, the whole population. I'm good but I can't fight that many people."
"They're not people! They're--"
"--machines? Is that what you were going to say?"
"They're young like us. I thought you were the only teen machine."
Having spent her whole life around adult machines and adult humans and never children, she is excited by the prospect of meeting other young machines.
"You should stay here. If you go back, then you'll end up becoming a collaborator."
"That's crossed my mind."
"So it's a prison for you, mom and Uncle Derek but it would be a trap for me."
"When we got separated, the bullies at school let me think awful things were happening to you."
"So you want me to go back and get raped?"
"No, of course not! I just want our family to be together again."
"They hate me and have said so. Derek says I'm only good for dirty work and Sarah wants me dead. She will never send me back to school. Sarah wants me to stay stupid. Here I can be normal, go to college and study ballet."
"Mom is actually being nice to Uncle Derek. Tell me that's not positive change. So why did you drop out of school and go into hibernation?"
"Mom won't be happy unless I am being beaten up in a fight with another machine. So maybe she will send me back to school."
"We're still only three weeks into the new school year so it wouldn't be hard to transfer."
"If you are here, away from the main population, then my guess is that terminators from before the migration will be looking for you."
"Yes I have pictures in my backpack of the killers I'm expecting."
He pulls out the files, hands them to Cameron, perplexed by an enigma. How did this old map get in his backpack?
"John, if you brought them here, then a lot of innocent people will get hurt."
Cameron rises from the bier and retrieves her school books and purse from a cache in the room. She never carried a purse when she lived with Sarah and Derek.
"Where's your Glock? I don't have a gun."
"I don't carry guns anymore."
"That woman or the little girl or the old woman must have stuck this map in my backpack except it was shut. I'd have heard and felt it unzip. Looks like a treasure map."
Cameron glances at the map with no interest.
"Looks like Southern Arizona. I need to phone my family but the signal doesn't reach down here. Let's go. Put on this blindfold Turtle."
With Cameron as guide, they proceed back out. They were nearing the surface because Cameron acquires a signal.
"Dad, I'm stopping my vision quest but I have to leave the res or bad people will shoot up the place looking for me. The family is in danger and you need to hide them until the tribal police give the all clear."
"This probably won't be over by Monday and so the high school needs to know that I dropped out to protect other students. I love you dad. Tell the rest of the family I love them too."
They stop and Cameron takes off John's blindfold. He sees Cameron smashing her phone with a rock so that they can't be tracked and averting her face as she dries her eyes. Because his mere presence brings danger, he is forcing her to leave the loving family that adopted her to protect them and forcing her to return to a family that hates her and a school where she would likely be raped by machine gangs. He had gathered that his future self had brainwashed (programmed) her into serving his cause against her people in the year 2027. Here in the past and present he is wrecking her life again.
"I'm sorry Cameron. I can make this right by leaving. You stay and go back to your new family. Here. Take this as a parting gift. If it is a treasure map, then it can provide scholarships for you and your siblings."
Cameron is sitting on a boulder with her back to him as he holds out the map. She angrily snatches and throws it down. As she does, she gets a good look at the map on the ground. It reminds her of something she had once seen when she first explored the area.
Chaco Canyon. Earth.
San Juan River. Water.
Red Cloud. Air.
More than Four Corners. These are the compass points, the elements, the words, the Logos of the Navajo world.
Red sky morning is a warning. Cameron looks at the map and begins to point out landmarks.
"Apache Reservation. I had my puberty ceremony there with the other girls. Anasazi archaeological dig, cliff dwellings, and Flying Rock. Farther out, the petroglyphs east of the Zuni Pueblo and then White Sands to the south and Blue Lake, Taos Pueblo to the northeast. This makes no sense. Some of these map features haven't been created yet and other features look like a map from the ancient past. Do you remember the way Uncle Derek drove us coming back from summer camp?"
"I remember mountains and then Phoenix and then Los Angeles."
"The mountains were the Superstition Mountains. Native Americans know that strange things happen with time and place there. They're like the vortexes at Boynton Canyon near Sedona. They affect humans and machines with time loss -- Tech-Comm bubble techs term it temporal displacement -- but also spatial displacement, apportation, levitation eddies and magnetic whirlpools. Some say the Superstition Mountains are cursed. Hikers get lost, searchers never find them."
"Are you talking alternate dimensions?"
"Not really. I'm saying the Superstition Mountains is where the time fracture occurred. And I'm acknowledging that a corner of this map is southern Arizona because there is sky watcher," (she points to Mount Graham) "Organ Pipe and Saguaro giant cactus. Probably you remember the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine and that's why you think this is a map to the Treasure of Sierra Madre. If you want to find out, we need to go now. If we don't cross a stretch of desert by eight A.M., then the heat will kill you."
Feeling like a red held captive by the white savages, Cameron puts on a sunbonnet and begins to lead her little Lewis & Clark expedition across the dangerous desert. She thinks of Lozen, the Apache medicine woman and warrioress who helped the men avoid capture by their enemies.
They seemed to have trekked for hours but it had only been a few minutes. In the chaparral, John pauses a moment to rest and sit under a cat's claw acacia and pour the sand and a rock from his shoe. The 'rock' turns out to be a scorpion which skitters off.
"Not a good spot for shade." says Cameron.
The tree shakes violently and emits an unpleasant smell. Startled, John bolts from under its ruffling leaves and only then notices a Gila monster and a rattlesnake. Gilas change color and rattlers don't always rattle. He had been sitting between them.
They plod on under the merciless white fire of the sun and a cloudless sky that had turned from blue to steel.
"Don't step on the stems." Cameron says a second before John screamed. Sharp pain in his leg.
"That cactus slapped this burr on me."
She deftly kicks it off then searches in her purse for some lotion. Rubbing it on the spot, she remarks: "Good thing you had on jeans. Some fools desert hike in shorts. The spikes are worse than porcupine quills if they get a firm grip. You can lose five pounds of flesh removing them." Indicating the cactus around them, "Cholla are called jumping cactus. It's past six. Pick up the pace."
She looks up. The buzzards are no longer circling. Virga? Wall cloud!
"We better run John."
"Duststorm?" He pulls his bandanna over his nose.
"I'm a lightning rod."
They race beneath a suddenly black sky. Down stairs of sand. Too dangerous to be on a ridge line. The call of the canyon is the echo of thunder. High up they are targets for chain lightning. Wild horses frightened by the flashes stampede in the valley below. Intent on their own survival, the two teens ignore them and finally find temporary shelter in a lost pueblo.
Almost there. Cameron's thoughts turn to Princess Wenona who was not Indian, but claimed not to be white.
This is not Bodie, the Godforsaken forlorn foreboding den of robbers where the condemned came to die. One woman who moved there prayed, "Good-bye God. We're going to Bodie."
This is not the low, bone-dry, hot-as-Hades town of Badwater in Death Valley beyond the Funeral Mountains.
This is not that part of the Black Hills in the "aces and eights" grip of Deadwood.
This is not Hangtown where wanted posters promised throat trouble for murderers and horse thieves: "a stiff rope and a short drop."
This is not Tombstone. "Every tombstone needs an epitaph," said the local obituary newspaper.
This was Hell Town, once a sin town with a gambling hall, bordello, and saloon serving aguardiente, mescal, pulque and snake-head whiskey with real snake heads. Now it is a ghost town forgotten by map makers, tourists, filmmakers (who had studio backlots and didn't need real towns), and even reds upon whose reservation it ended when the borders were drawn by treaty.
Windows with tattered curtains stare blankly at the two. A shutter creaks on an upstairs casement as a ghost listens to their thoughts from the velvety black embrasure. Clapboard wood-frame home on a side street, wood stove, long table, upstairs rooms, towels, water pitchers, wash basins, amole soap, beds, chamber pots, and also an outhouse out back -- a boarding house. Wood weathered in haunting grays. Empty false front stores open their doorways -- main street. Patent medicine, mortar & pestle -- the apothecary. Bench, desks, rod, primers, inkwells, rulers, slate blackboard -- one room school. Cameron thought of a schoolmarm named Etta Place. Panes of glass, broken windows, broken dreams -- a glazier. Bolts of rained-on ragged cloth, rotted gunny sacks, rusted frying pans, crumbling 1860's mail order catalog -- a general store. Meat hooks, chopping block, yellowing paper, cutlery -- a butcher shop. Stalls, very stale hay, bridles, martingales, saddles, serapes, and tapaderos -- a livery stable. Bellows, tongs, file, anvil, horseshoes -- a blacksmithy. An unpainted Conestoga wagon, torn canvas, cracked axles, rusted metal rims, rotten wood spokes, sideboards -- a wheelwright. Freight depot, crates, trunks, waiting room, stagecoach schedule -- a stationhouse. Scale, vials of nitric acid, pans, broken picks and a pile of pyrite outside -- the assay office. Printing press, plates, stack of broadsheets, typesetter's cabinet, copies of the last edition -- the newspaper office. Cameron thought of Tianay, the Apache woman married to John P. Clum, editor of The Tombstone Epitaph.
Looking through the files (what newspapermen call a 'morgue'), John takes a journal and Cameron finds a map that she had seen once before during her exploring. They orient themselves and head in the direction that this new map indicates.
Sheriff's office, jail, steps, platform, noose -- gallows. Is that a pigeon or the mourning of a lonesome dove? Coffins, white shrouds, shovel -- funeral parlor. They walk on into empty plains. Up a hill. Low wall, rectangles of rocks on the ground, wooden crosses, a few headstones -- graveyard. They turn around, back down boot hill in a different direction. Falling-down walls, collapsed buildings, crumbling foundation stones -- the outskirts of town. A glory hole of vintage rubbish: old sardine-boxes, empty tins of preserved oysters, picnic pots of Golden West coffee, Mason and Ball jars, Civil War uniform, cracked lantern, worn-out kettle, scrap iron, midden, animal bones, all covered with weeds -- the town dump. Cameron thought of the Girl of the Golden West, Minnie Falconer. Long before the Marlboro Man of the ads was the Chesterfield Woman.
"Cameron, if there was a mine, then it wasn't near here and the railroad passed this town by -- probably why it died. If there is something worth finding, then it isn't here. Let's go back into town out of this stifling heat."
As they walk back to the center of town, she replies, "John, I think you're right. It's not here. Your map barely covers two states. My map covers all of North America and implies even farther points. But your map looks like a section of mine. I think both maps are leading us to Montana. How did you get your map?"
"I might have been slipped the map in L.A. or along the way here. I worried so much about tracking devices in the money that I never even thought about my backpack itself or checked it when I bought it. The map might have been at the bottom the whole time. The helicopter pilot could have slipped it to me or even one of the tribal police."
"Motive? No idea."
Month-old paw prints. Tumbleweed. So dry the bushes follow the dogs around. As they approach main street, John thinks of saints and sinners, gold and gamblers, lace and black leather. All we are is dust in the wind-blown streets saith the preacher. A priest that's gone to town. Legend from the past. Wooden plank boardwalk, porch, hitching post, water trough. Inside swinging doors are broken chairs, stained sombreros, stovepipe and straw hats (some with bullet holes), a picture of ugly stories on a wall, long silver mirrors, spittoons, bar, empty bottles of busthead burning booze: redeye & rotgut -- a saloon. Perhaps the haunt of Pearl Hart and other desperadas.
John had called her "sleeping beauty" so Cameron looks in a mirror imagining herself to be Lucyle Richards. It is a new world now that the war is over. Perhaps after college, she could be an actress and star in westerns like Marie Walcamp in the Tempest Cody series--the player piano starts playing 'Shenandoah' and John jumps.
"Must be a power surge," he stammers as the song ends.
"This town never had electricity. Probably someone cranked the spring too tight and it just now released on its own."
"Creepy. Let's get out of Dodge." They back out. A man with a gun on his hip is walking straight down the street toward them. A second pistolero steps out of the shadows and joins the first. A third man steps out. And then a fourth. Duel in the sun. If four kill-fighters against unarmed kids isn't enough; they march side-by-side in a perfect line, left right, left, right, synchronized as if one man instead of four. Even Cameron is unnerved by this lockstep.
They dodge down a side street just as a lead rain begins.
"Get in, misfits."
Tin star. It's the tribal police chief in his private car rather than his official landrover. He puts distance between them and the Hole-in-the-Chest Gang.
"Thanks. How'd you find us?"
"Buzzards, same as them. I had a feeling you kids would be in trouble when my shift ended. Skipping town?"
"Before it's seven. Remember the Alamo? Why?"
"There is an airport not far from here." (looks in rearview, sees helicopter) "Assuming we make it there alive. Heads down. We got company."
Peck's Pack of Bad Boys are back. The chief floors the accelerator. Gunfire skips off the asphalt. The car swerves to avoid strafing from the helicopter. Around a curve, the pilot pulls up too late. The car goes into a tunnel and the helicopter's skids and underside scrape against the tunnel entrance. Black Stetson, black duster, black mustache -- the pilot Mr. T makes a crash landing. He retrieves the first aid kit before exiting the burning chopper. Throwing the kit to the man dressed like a gambler but with the crazy attitude of a rodeo clown, he looks at Steel Eyes who nods and morphs into a seemingly helpless child standing in the middle of the road. A Thunderbird coming in the opposite direction slams on brakes. McCloud opens the driver's door and flings the woman to the side of the road. The four get in with Mr. T at the wheel, turn around and resume pursuit.
Irritated, the driver snaps his fingers as if to say: Shut that baby up!
The gambler whips out his gun. The well-tailored McCloud looks on the floor, picks up the bottle, wipes off the nipple, and sticks it in the baby's mouth. In the resulting silence, the gambler twirls and holsters his gun, glances at his watch and bandages the gash in his forehead. Gunslinger turns his spike back into a right hand.
uranium mining company
Four Corners National Sacrifice Area
new junior executive: "Is the ore yellow cake like in Central Africa?"
mining baron: "No, greenish black U three O eight found in the mineral coffinite. The ore is located in alkalic granite."
"So we amputate the tops of mountains."
"Like in West Virginia."
"Strip mining is a good thing. No slow expensive digging of shafts with the additional expense of the United Mine Workers labor union. The administration lets us onto reservations without having to ask permission of the Injuns. We don't have to pay the Interior Department anything and pay almost nothing to the Injuns and the Department of Labor looks the other way when we use Teamsters instead of traditional miners."
"What sort of heavy equipment?"
"Bucket wheel excavator as tall as a four-story building and moves seven million cubic feet of earth per day. We have hydraulic shovel crawlers with four thousand horsepower Cummins engines. They stand about forty feet tall. The dump trucks used to be Caterpillar 797's but we decided to phase out the Cats and replace them with Liebherr T-282's."
"You should automate to robot drivers so that you don't have to pay Teamsters."
"We're planning to. I like the way you think kid. These diesel dump trucks can haul a load of three hundred twenty seven tons."
"Sounds like a lot of dust being raised."
"That's the beauty of the whole operation. The Injun villages are downwind of the toxic dust blowing off the mine tailings. When they're all dead of pneumonia or cancer, then we can claim the rest of the land as uninhabited and the Interior Department won't care if we chew up pueblos, Indian graveyards, ancient cliff dwellings, Anasazi digs, and other archaeological sites."
"What if they declare it a national park?"
"The administration doesn't care what happens in national parks and national forests far from tourists. Heck they let vandals with spray cans mark all over petroglyphs so it's not like they care. And if they don't care, then why should we?"
"The Indians aren't dead yet. They might file suit."
"Time was when no self-respecting judge would let themselves be described as a Republican or Democrat. They'd recuse themselves or leave the bench. Now the media openly identifies judges by party. The state and federal courts have been politicized which means even the Supreme Court will always rule in favor of big corporations like ours. The court has ruled that corporations are living persons with more rights than individuals."
"What about environmentalists?"
"We can outspend them. And we have better PR people. When the Injuns say that their crops and livestock are being killed by uranium salts leaching into the rivers and aquifers, our PR people claim it stimulates plant growth."
"Well yes in small quantities but in these massive quantities it is poison."
"Our answer to that is always that we need another scientific study not action. When the study proves us wrong, then we pay one scientist to say the opposite of his colleagues so that our PR people can claim that scientists disagree and that there are no facts and that it is all opinion. Once we dispose of the facts, courts always rule in our favor."
"What if the courts don't rule in our favor?"
"Then we get the administration to appoint more pro-industry judges to the bench."
"The economics make no sense. Two pounds of uranium per ton of ore. And then there are these new reactors that don't need uranium."
"I share that concern. Uranium by itself is useless. Specialized lamps no longer use uranium filaments with tungsten. There are new types of lamps now. Toner for photography is ending as digital takes over. The wood and leather industries use cheaper dyes and stains than uranium compounds. There are better mordants for silk and wool than uranium salts. The ceramics industry still uses ammonium diuranates for glaze but at quantities too low to be commercially viable. And even tanks are using depleted uranium rather than newly refined. Nuclear weapon stockpiles are being reduced under peace treaties. We can't sell to terrorists because they can steal all the M.U.F. they want. The one bright spot is that every president pledges to approve more fission power plants. Ultimately the military keeps us in business."
"They want an assured supply in order to change out obsolete warheads. The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty allows swapping out old missiles for new missiles as long as the overall number of missiles stays the same or goes down. God forbid the military switches from hydrogen bombs to neutron bombs."
"Why? Neutron bombs are less destructive."
"We want more destruction. It is better for the bottom line. The white men who tamed the West did so by herding the Injuns onto the worst land for agriculture, the reservations, and giving them smallpox-infected blankets to exterminate them. Genocide, that's how the West was won. If not for the gutless liberals of the Old West, it would have been completed. In the Twentieth Century we needed uranium for atomic energy and uranium is always on the worst land--"
"When we finish, the craters and sinkholes will be beyond the Bureau of Reclamation to repair. Totally useless."
They shake hands.
(to secretary) "Get the jet fueled for Montana."
As the chief drives through a small hamlet on the way to the airport, John sees newspaper racks. A Navajo headline screams: "STAY INSIDE TODAY!" The chief notices his passengers' stare.
"I don't subscribe to any Apache newspaper. Too far away. Just Navajo, Hopi and Zuni. Take a look." He pulls a Hopi newspaper from under his seat and hands it to John.
"'Man for breakfast. Or, in this case, boy for breakfast.'" says Cameron reading the article aloud.
"Koyaanisqatsi. Life out of balance. By the way, this airport is just an airstrip. We're hundreds of miles from a major airport with airlines. No train station but there's a bus stop close to the airstrip."
John: "The airstrip is fine."
John knew how to talk to hangar mechanics, jet fuelers, baggage handlers, private plane pilots and owners. Cameron kept silent as John talks their way aboard a sleek aircraft with a northbound flight plan and the words "Sky King" painted on the nose. Except for the pilot and co-pilot, the owner is alone and grateful for the company. He didn't even want money.
With Cameron rushing them across the desert and then being chased by bushwhackers, it is a wonder that it is late in the morning before they taxi down the runway. Wheels up 7:01 A.M.
"That's Monument Valley." the owner tells the two looking out the windows at The Mittens and other buttes and cloud mesas.
Awhile later, he becomes a sightseeing guide again: "That's Painted Desert." Aptly named.
The man points westward: "John Wayne shot a movie entitled The Conqueror over there in Nevada." He omits that Wayne was downwind of an open air atomic bomb test and later contracted cancer.
They flew north over great American desert of The Great Basin with Grand Canyon behind them over their left shoulder to the southwest and Grand Teton and Yellowstone ahead. The flight will take more than two hours and John is tired from too little sleeping and too much running, he nods off. The nap is cut short.