From his bedroom to the highway was a seven minute walk, in the day light. It was easy, the field was wide open and you could see the holes, the wires, the ant hills. At night, it was not so easy. At night, you had to know the path or you could break an ankle, get sliced by the wires, fall into an any hill and, well, he had heard stories of people being covered by the ants. Having their skin eaten off. The pain, the screaming. The nightmare. There were few trees to hide behind, fews rocks to give you shelter from the probing headlights that washed across the field. You had to hit the ground running, time it perfectly, drop to the ground, wait for the car to pass, get up, run again. Little time to breath, little time to think. Even dressed in black there was a chance you would be caught. Being caught wasn’t a problem for most people. There were no laws against walking through the field. No one would stop you. The police wouldn’t give you a second look unless …
Josiah zipped his black hoodie up to his chin, pulled the hood up and tied it tight. He looked at himself in the mirror. Not much skin showing. The black gloves, the dark glasses, he would almost be invisible. He pulled his back pack on and slipped out the side door of the house. His mother would be asleep, he knew. She slept deeply. Seemed like lately, that’s all she did, sleep. Since his father had killed himself, she had no motivation to do anything. She barely made it to work each day. She never cooked dinner any more, he took over those duties. She didn’t come to the parent teacher conferences at school. She didn’t do much of anything. Her sadness filled then house, flowed across the floors and hung like curtains in the doorways. You almost had to push it aside to enter the house or move from room to room. Since his father had been replaced by the auto-driver, since he had lost his job, his self worth, his fight with depression, his mother seemed to be following his path. Josiah needed to do something. Something that would give her hope. Give her a reason to get up, to work, to live, to care again.
He stepped to the edge of the field, took a deep breath, looked toward the highway, watched as a few cars sped by, the headlights splashing across the field. He waited, counted to ten and then, he started to run. He was lithe, strong, a distance runner in school. A lonely activity but, he liked that. He liked being alone, working alone, thinking alone, running alone. He moved smooth and quick across the field. A car approached and he dropped to the earth. The car passed, immediately he stood and ran again. The highway seemed quiet tonight. He had to stop only twice on his way to the ditch. He knelt by the ditch and steadied his breathing. For three weeks he had been digging the ditch, deep enough for him to sit in with just the top of his head peaking out. Just off the highway, back enough that the convicts who were forced to clear the trash from the highways wouldn’t pay any attention to it and, if they did, it was just an empty ditch, why make a fuss. Josiah slipped the pack off his back and then dropped into the ditch. Inside, he pulled the small clip light from a pouch, turned it on and clipped it to his shirt. He opened the pack and pulled out the small, home made computer. He opened it, booted it up and waited. A car was approaching, he doused the light and closed the
computer. Headlights cut across the field, brushing over the top of his head. Off it went. Light back on, computer open. He hit a fews keys and the program appeared on the screen. Tonight was the first test. The first bit of field work. What he learned tonight he would take back to his room, analyze it, rework it and then, in a week, make another test. But tonight was important. In theory, everything should work. In theory the program would send the signal, jam the auto-driver and then … What?