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Craters

Kristine Kathryn Rusch


What they don’t tell you when you sign up is that the work takes a certain amount of trust. The driver, head covered by a half-assed turban, smiles a little too much, and when he yes-ma’ams you and no ma’ams you, you can be lulled into thinking he actually works for you.

Then he opens the side door of his rusted jeep and nods at the dirt-covered seat. You don’t even hesitate as you slide in, backpack filled with water bottles and purifying pills, vitamins and six-days dry rations.

You sit in that jeep, and you’re grateful, because you never allow yourself to think that he could be one of them, taking you to some roadside bunker, getting paid an advance cut of the ransom they anticipate. Or worse, getting paid to leave you there so that they can all take turns until you’re bleeding and catatonic and don’t care when they put the fifty-year-old pistol to your head.

You can’t think about the risks, not as you’re getting in that jeep, or letting some so-called civilian lead you down sunlit streets that have seen war for centuries almost non-stop.

You trust, because if you don’t you can’t do your job.

You trust, and hope you get away from this place before your luck runs out.

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