The Four Truck Drivers of the Apocalypse

This story was part of Four ChambersLiterary Flash Mob which means Troy Farah read it out loud on the light rail to a bunch of strangers. Then, he read it again in front of a bunch of strangers who also read poetry and prose to strangers on the light rail. It’s based on true rants from conspiracy theorists posing as truck drivers who picked up the author when he hitchhiked to SxSW in 2011.

Setting: Truck stop, outskirts, some Texas border town. Dawn still yet to burn. For trying to sleep in the trucker’s lounge, I’m kicked to the streets – unknown streets, flat streets, rural Texas streets, nothing but dust with raw winds that claw at the eyeballs. I shoulder my bag and head for the highway, shivering. The sky slowly transforms from deep blue to a light teal, molding as the sun starts to perk. Cardboard, caught in the bushes, a marker in my pocket and soon I have my flag. I write, WEST.

The road an endlessly flowing rapid, with pauses between ripples of cars, straining my eyes as they blur through the oncoming headlights and as the morning light comes, an 18-wheeler pulls to the side of the road and the driver waves me inside.


Driver 1, she says she’s headed to Amarillo and she can take me that far. We’re passing deep trenches dug for cotton and corn and soy beans, cluttered with gigantic bird-massacring wind power mills and hunchbacked pumpjacks humping the ground for oil.

She says she’s got a kid my age, says to call her Cosmic Mom and asks if I like conspiracy theories. I shrug, mutter that I haven’t heard many and she twists around in the truck, taking her eyes off the road in the worst way. She gets this grin that puts the Cheshire Cat to shame and jabs me in the ribs with a bony finger. Listen to this.

She takes a deep breath and her words spew out in endless waves, her tongue twisting like a chaotic rudder, so fast I can hardly keep up. She says, do you remember that tsunami that hit Japan, the big one, the one that killed 14,000 people and swept 13,000 more out into the limbo of the ocean, well, remember that nuclear power plant, Fukushima something Daiichi something, well that thing’s leaking like piss through cheese cloth, but they’re not telling us that, oh no, they don’t want anyone to panic, ya see, but already in California some people, not the mainstream scientists of course, they’re being paid off, have been reporting abnormally high radiation levels, bet you didn’t hear that on CNN, no, you didn’t, did ya, but I tell you what, when the fallout hits us, then it’ll be too late.

I bite my tongue, eyes flickering on the animated landscape, jagged with red peaks, the sunlight torching them up, reverse sunset, the desert brush ripe for fire, signs saying extinguish butts in ashtray, not saying please, but the sage begging for flames to rescue their seeds.

Listen, Cosmic Mom says, listen, there’s this nuclear power plant situated right on the San Andreas fault and it ran for a year with its security systems offline, can you just imagine what’ll happen when an earthquake, when the Big One, when it hits like a hammer to a cockroach, well, it’ll pour radiation like syrup, like a tsunami over the most populated state in the nation.

She nods and says, I’m worried, but not that worried, cuz I got a huge stockpile of potassium iodide and that’s used in nuclear emergencies to protect your thyroids. Wanna buy some?

She lets me off as promised and the road and I are one again and she disappears over a hill, like her favor was a myth, like she never existed at all.


Hungry, but not enough cash to get anything but a donut and coffee. When I step outside the truck stop and finish my cup, a tall blonde man sees me and nods toward his semi. I follow.

Driver 2 tells me he’s a Pollock, that he was there in the old times, the rise and fall of communism, says he used to trade Soviet soldiers alcohol for gasoline, wristwatches for AK-47’s. Driver 2 left before the Wall fell, came here and now he makes a decent living in the heartland. He asks if I’m hungry, hands me a hotdog wrapped in aluminum foil, smothered in relish, onions, sauerkraut, the works. Eagerly, I accept it.

He nods, sympathetic and says, the way the price of food is increasing, like a strongman against a carnival test of strength, we’re all gonna be starving soon. People have forgotten how to grow their own provisions and practically everything we eat is imported. Made in Mexico, Made in Taiwan, Made in Wherever, our dependency is going to be on Red China, he says, and we’ll be slaves to our mouths, slaves to our dollar. Trust me, he says, I know what it’s like to be starving.

But besides that, he shrugs, our food is poison anyway, coated in plastics, injected with hormones, mutant, artificial things, we swallow it like candy. I gulp my hotdog, my anonymous meat cylinder and I suppress a laugh. I suppress my starvation for chemicals that kill me, addictions to additives, my synthetic bondage. Driver 2 offers me a cigarette and I accept it, fingering it from the pack with delicacy.

Driver 2 says energy prices are escalating in the same way as food and the cost of shipping, (just like we’re doing now – crisscrossing the country with fruit from South America), that’s gonna make the cost of everything explode. You’ll be working all day for a sack of flour. You know, if you can even find a job. Before he lets me out, Driver 2 says, I’ve seen Communism firsthand and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s coming here next.


Driver 3 says if I didn’t hurry my ass up, he’d leave my sorry butt in Moriarty. I climb into the cab, gushing a hundred apologies. He asks me, are you one of them damn liberals?

I say, I don’t believe in a political solution.

He snorts. You better believe it. You hear how the Fed is shitting all over the states? Ain’t gonna be long now before there’s a second Civil War. And when the shit hits the fan, you better fucking choose which side you’ll be on!

Which side are you on?

Driver 3 points to a ball cap on the dashboard with the word RANGER printed above the bill. That’s the fucking side I’m gonna be on!

Did you serve?

Yes sir! Good ol’ ‘Nam. I got no regrets, none whatsoever. I was a Huey pilot, crashed twice, killed my co-pilot. We’d walk miles in rice paddies and you couldn’t wear underwear because it’d chaff the hell out of your balls. So you’d get leeches, big fat suckers, crawling all over your ass. And that’s a perfect metaphor for a lawyer. Leeches.

Government, he says, is like a giant pig with a thousand teats, stretching over the horizon. And everyone, all these little interest groups, are suckling at these nipples. He grinned, like this was the best metaphor anyone had ever come up with. We drive for hours as he tells me his version of history, which, of course, I had no idea about and how the whole ship’s going down and it’ll be every man for himself and he asks, do I own a gun?

I shake my head and this makes him sigh.

Where should I let you off? He asks.


Driver 4 says I’m lucky he saw me, lucky I didn’t get mashed on the interstate in the dark. Talk about all the accidents on the roads, caused by dumbfucks like me. In the 25 years I’ve been trucking, I’ve seen a lot of bloodshed, a lot of eyes rolling back into the head and never coming back up.


This one time, this couple in a four-door Sedan come flying up behind this 18-wheeler and I suppose they were arguing because they didn’t see this trucker brake. Well, they jammed up under the trailer and bam! Both of them decapitated.

Driver 4 leans in close to me, saying, didn’t feel a thing.

This one time, a little Toyota truck braked in front of this 18-wheeler and the driver crushed the whole thing up against this overpass wall. So I see this and I pull over to see what I can do. Guy in the truck is completely dead, his face nothing but brains. Now, the truck’s engine was still whining and there’s gas leaking everywhere and my fat hands can’t reach far enough inside to turn the key off. So I ask this woman standing nearby, gawking at the death, can you reach in?

She shrieks, Driver 4 says. No way was she gonna touch a dead man.

So I darted to the cab, snatched my fire extinguisher, and doused the Toyota’s whole engine. I drowned that thing. Probably mere moments away from exploding.

I sit in silence the rest of the drive, staring out the windshield, darkness embracing the entire cab and I embrace it back. The headlights are drills, cutting into a dark so deep there are no stars and nothing in front of us but an endless river of road. And I think about flames coming from the sky and war on the horizon and poison in the water, pestilence in the air, toxins in the food. And death. Everywhere is death.

But for right now, I’m still heading west – safe for the moment. I think I see the lights of a city, but then it’s gone again and we’ve got nothing but dark again and we keep puncturing through it in absolute silence.