- Road Kill
Reporting in. Got to the site.
Copy. Good luck. With this, the communication ended. Josah just turned off the microphone. Mao and I stared at each other, but we didn’t say anything. After all, Josah neglecting his duties wasn’t anything new. We got off the rail car and started to put together our equipment. At that moment, the number of carcasses was unknown. It would require a much longer time than you would think to collect the scattered remains. After checking the power of the vacuum, I looked up at the moon. Then I looked back at the road where the thick darkness had rolled in. The sound of an aperture opening and closing . . . this was to check the lens, following regulations, but it was considered an unnecessary procedure. Mao rarely followed this regulation. Rather than the arrogance of a person handling a two-lens model, it is more likely that Josah’s influence was behind this disobedience. While we’re on the subject, turning off the radio is a much worse violation of regulations than something like not checking the aperture. Check this out, Maksi! I could hear the voice of Mao, who had walked to the middle of the road. I started to walk toward him.
Mao was standing there, holding the end of some intestines. The oddly intact intestines curled and drooped on the road. They were about eight or nine meters in length. I have never seen such [End Page 135] intact intestines. I nodded. Without doubt, the animal’s body was dismembered. Bones and flesh in small pieces . . . scattered organs . . . and mostly . . . the things we call “squishy” . . . our job is to collect all these and clean the road. Mao and I carried out our duties in silence. First these “squishy” things. Then the smallest piece of flesh—in this order, the duties are carried out. This is because the smaller the piece of flesh, the faster it will dry up. But this is not always the case. I could see a thick piece of cloth. This is what was mainly responsible for the occasional clogging of the vacuum. I got rid of it and continued working. Wearing a piece of cloth . . . yes. This tells us that the animal was raised by a human. Mao and I know one thing: there are many abandoned animals in the world. We don’t know what kind of animal. All we see are pools of blood, pieces of flesh, and these “squishy” things.
Josah turned on the radio while we opened the collection tank of the rail car and emptied out our vacuums. Incoming car. Currently passing by area AECN154. Then gone. The communication stopped again. Without a word, we moved to the rail on the edge of the road. Then we stood, pressed up against the rail. It is quite a distance from here if it’s at 154, but considering the speed of the shuttle, early preparation is necessary. We locked the chains on the side bar of the rail, and Mao and I locked our joints. It would be safer to get on the rail car, but it was uncertain whether the shuttle would leave us enough time to unhook the vacuum. Sure enough, the moment we heard the loud sound and saw the light, that light was already disappearing far away down the road from us. Amazing speed. I’m realizing this again, but humanity is great. Just like that light . . . sound . . . and speed.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t see. After unlocking my joints and clearing my sight by waving my hands, I knew why. It was an intestine, which came flying because of the shuttle. While covered with this slippery intestine, I mumbled, “God damn it,” like a human. Mao laughed out loud, imitating Josah’s laughter. Stay there. Mao loaded the cutter, and started to cut the intestine. [End Page 136] Staring at the lights far beyond the road, I waited for Mao to finish cutting. Lights . . . of the city . . . of humans . . . humans . . . I thought about the humans who had to do this. What would they have felt...