Life Is Hell
A Nevada state trooper of fifteen years eases his newly detailed cruiser off a stretch of lonely, moonlit highway, coming to a halt on the dusty shoulder of Interstate 15. He is tense and weary, with deep-set pneumonia bubbling in his chest. His disheveled hair, as black as lava rock, contrasts starkly against his yellow-tinged pallor, and deeply-etched worry lines lie like trenches across his clammy brow. He adjusts the radio, pausing when he feels Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz” reverberate through the car. The trooper reaches to the glove box, opens it, and removes a pint of cheap bourbon, a cigarette, and a foil pack of powerful antibiotics. He places a pink horse pill in his mouth and uncaps the booze. There follows a long swallow, then a longer one, and he moves the half-empty bottle to the vacant seat beside him. A moment passes before he wheezes, coughs violently, and stares, unblinking, into the darkness.
The trooper is thinking of the six month extramarital affair he had with a Las Vegas transvestite, recently deceased from AIDS, and how this infidelity resulted in both his HIV infection and the unintentional passing of the virus to his wife and their recently born twin boys. His left forefinger, wet with perspiration, traces the flat-black steel of his Glock 9mm. He is considering heaven, hell, and suicide when a midnight blue, late model supercar streaks past him.
The vehicle, equipped with the latest electromagnetic reactive armor and bullet-proof aluminum oxynitride/glass hybrid, is heading directly toward Sin City. He gauges it to be well in excess of the speed limit. If for no other reason than to serve as a momentary distraction from his thoughts, he decides to pull it over.
Inside the car sit two professional women in their mid-thirties. They are slender, silent, and identical twins. They have shoulder length hair, fiery crimson and expertly styled. Both have cloudy brown eyes and matching emerald studs in opposing orbital sockets. Their skin is fine and unblemished, and drawn tight against strikingly pointed features. Their constant smiles reveal unusually white teeth and sharpened lateral incisors holding polished ruby implants. Each of them wears new running shoes, name brand and expensive, as well as bright purple hospital scrubs. Dark leather gloves cover slight hands as they every so often adjust the bright red surgical masks hanging loosely from their delicately pale necks.
Although both women were born deaf, their sight is preternatural and they have their own, unique method of communication. As the driver focuses intently on the highway, the passenger touches her arm with precise, delicate strokes varying in speed, frequency and tempo. Periodically, the actions are reversed. The driver is thinking of both the story being told to her, and how much she enjoys the smoothness of her sister’s touch. The passenger is thinking of both the story she is telling, and how much she enjoys the suppleness of her sister’s skin.
As they pass a car parked on the shoulder of the road the driver’s gaze penetrates the darkness, revealing the identity of the occupant, a state trooper. She immediately veers off the road and then comes to a standstill directly in front of him, cutting the engine before he engages his lights. The trooper, surprised and amused with the impressive display of swift obedience, smiles slightly, flips on his headlights, and enters their plate number into the computer. As the sisters sit in silent darkness, a mutually understood succession of touches verifies an objective. In a single movement, each of them slips the bright red surgical masks over their faces. A minute passes.
The trooper finds the car registered to an international import/export company, grabs his flashlight, and then opens his driver’s door. As he walks in the direction of the twins, a mere thirty yards away, he reaches to his right pants pocket, retrieves his shamrock Zippo, and ignites the cigarette between his lips. The blast of menthol clears his head.
Within the secure confines of the discretely armored vehicle the passenger reaches to the glove compartment, opens it, and removes both a small metallic aerosol can and an unremarkable bottle of transparent eye drop solution. In familiar fashion she places several drops of fast acting anti-psychotic medication into each eye and then hands the bottle to her sister, who repeats this before palming the aerosol can. A moment later she touches a button to electronically manipulate the driver’s window. As the thick, transparent armor descends, the trooper’s hefty flashlight illuminates the interior.
He is greeted with a strange sight. Instinctually, he wonders for a split second whether or not an absence of sleep and excess of stress are tricking his eyes, causing double vision. Then a cloud of odorless mist meets his face. Before he can react the trooper collapses to the ground, helpless and in toxic shock. His heart and lungs seize as his limbs flail wildly under the twinkling desert stars. Thick white foam flecks from blue lips as blood pours from his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. His last thought is, again, of hell.
After the can is replaced, the driver, still masked, reaches out the window, casually activates a flash and uses her Polaroid to take his picture. She then presses the ignition button and hits the accelerator. Both sisters feel the anger of a 1350 hp, twin-turbo, V-12 engine roaring to life. While the slick Italian tires smoke on asphalt, their eyes notice dawn cracking on the horizon, leaving them smiling as they think of their impressive photograph collection, chocolate ice cream, and the miles of sun-baked highway leading them home.