They drove for a half hour by the car’s clock, though it felt like hours. The sun was getting too low in the sky for Ben’s liking. It was going to make navigation difficult without using the headlights, and increased the chances they’d attract unwanted attention if he turned the headlights on. Even the running lights were iffy.
“Hey,” he said suddenly. “Did we miss a turn back there?” He wasn’t looking at street signs; there were so few intact that there was little point.
“I have no idea. Where are you trying to get to?”
“I was trying to head back west so we could get north. I remember the streets in that area better. Or at least I thought I did,” he said.
“Do you really want to risk running right back into that mob?” Her voice was low but incredulous.
“No, but still, I’m not seeing ANY open paths to the west, no matter how far we—” he slowed the car. Now north was blocked. “I’m so confused.” He turned east.
The roads were a bit better here, fewer cars strewn to the sides. Instead they all seemed to be blocking side-streets, forming one relatively clear path. They could go forward or back, but couldn’t turn aside.
This continued for several blocks, Ben and Claire both keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of an alternate route anywhere without success. Finally they came to what had been a major intersection, with the northbound route unblocked—but now the path further east was closed off.
“This had to have been intentional,” he growled. He tried to relax; time and time again he’d seen what happened to people who let the stress get to them. He stretched and worked his bad ankle. Could be worse; they could still be on foot.
“Let’s just keep going, the sun’s almost down. Maybe it was part of the containment plans?”
“Maybe… I never heard of any long paths like this though, just streets blocked off all grid-like to try and keep them from moving around or grouping up at all.” They continued north a short way before they were again shunted onto a different path; an on-ramp to a major highway running across the city. It had been a toll route once upon a time. A string of lights lit a strip of pavement across the ramp where once cameras and sensors had detected cars ramping onto the highway and photographing their plates. “The lights are still lit.”
“Why would anyone bother keeping power going out here? What a waste,” Claire groused.
He started forward again, rolling up the ramp. The cameras were all in place, as far as he could tell. “No way to know if those cameras are still working,” he said. At the top of the ramp they found the route east blocked once more, while the west was clear.
“This’ll take us back closer to the Core.” Claire didn’t sound especially overjoyed.
“Yeah. No thanks. I’m tired of being railroaded.” He eyed the line of wrecked cars. Most of them were rusted piles of junk after years of exposure. “We can probably push our way through that. There must not have been enough cars on this part of the road to block all 4 lanes heavily. This is going to make some noise though.”
Claire nodded in agreement, going more alert.
None of the cars used in the barricade had been occupied, he noticed, or at least none still were. He picked a spot where the only wreck in the way had been a smaller car. He aimed theirs at it.