Kino no Tabi:Volume5 Chapter8
 “Bodyguards” — Stand-bys —
There was a country with great, big gates.
Inside its gates, there was a facility built for the sole purpose of resupplying fuel and water. Right there an enormous trailer truck was parked.
A bumper guard was positioned in front of the protruding engine of the trailer head, whose job was to send flying and kill any living creature that happened to pass before it. Behind was the driver’s seat, as well as the makeshift sleeping cabin of several people. The workers were supplying this ‘mobile home’ with fuel, water and food.
Behind the trailer head were four long, box-shaped, pallet cars connected with each other. They were like train freight cars with eight wheels on each side, but without any windows.
At the center of the roof of the first pallet car, there were handrails and a passage for people to walk on. Over there, one woman was standing.
It was a youthful woman with long, black hair. She was comfortably, yet elegantly dressed, with a high-caliber revolver suspended from her right hip. A rifle-type persuader (Note: A gun) is also slung on her back.
On top of the next car, there was a man. It was a young man who was a bit on the short side, but with a handsome face. On his left hip was a slim automatic-type hand persuader, and he was holding a high-caliber rifle with a drum magazine.
“Master,” the man spoke to the woman, prompting her to look below, “It’s the young lady.”
Standing beside the trailer head was a small girl wearing a red dress. She looked up at the woman with a scowl.
The woman walked up to the roof of the trailer head and climbed down its ladder. She approached the girl who continued to glare at her, and crouched down until their eyes are at the same level.
“Hello,” the woman spoke.
“Are you two the bodyguards this time?” the girl asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” the woman said with a smile and a nod.
And then the girl spat out, “We don’t need bodyguards!”
“How come?” the woman asked gently.
The girl sputtered, looking straight ahead. “You see, a person’s life and destiny is decided by God. If we are supposed to die, that is something God has decided on, you know. And you see, you people are getting in the way——”
“Then is it okay with you if you and everybody here were to die?”
“If it is fated,” the girl said firmly.
“Even so, it is our job to protect your lives,” the woman replied without changing her kind expression.
The trailer ran through the wilderness. Looking around, one could see the glaring sun, the blue sky, and the dry, reddish earth and rocks sparsely covered by grass.
The driver was replaced while the trailer was running. It has been going on since morning without making a single stop. The dusty region continued far across the distance.
At the roof of the pallet cars, the two bodyguards looked around, still holding their persuaders. They were wearing goggles and lifelines hooked to the car handrails.
A little past noon,
“Master! Ten o’clock!” the male bodyguard cried to the woman. The man immediately positioned his rifle.
Twenty cars were approaching the front of the trailer diagonally from the left, raising dust behind them. The ones riding the small, modified buggies were all men, and of course, they all have persuaders.
The trailer sped up. A black smoke rose from its chimney and the trailer dashed forward ready to knock over any car standing on its way.
The attackers surrounded the trailer and started firing intermittently. The bullets bounced off the pallet cars. The male bodyguard placed his rifle on the rolled cushion atop the handrail, and positioned to fire.
An empty cartridge flied out along with the thunderous roar of the rifle. The man fired one shot. Steam sprayed up from one of the vehicles, and eventually stopped. Three cars were brought down in quick succession. The other vehicles distanced away to escape from the accurate snipes of the man.
At that time, the trailer dropped its speed to avoid a hole in the ground. Its huge form wriggled like a snake. One car took this opportunity to approach the trailer. As the sparks from the collision scattered, a man jumped towards the trailer head and grabbed the ladder.
“I’ll do something about it.” The female bodyguard went towards the trailer head, sliding down the hook of her lifeline.
The man climbed the ladder. The window of the trailer head opened and someone leaned out. The man was ready to defend himself when he realized that it was only a little girl.
He grabbed her roughly by the collar and dragged her with one hand through the window. The girl, with a distressed expression, was forcefully raised up the roof.
From the top of the pallet car, the female bodyguard, while aiming her revolver, spoke to the man who was holding the girl’s side with his right hand and pointing a revolver to her head with his left.
“You’re just in time. Woman! Go to the driver’s seat and stop this trailer!” the man shouted. The trailer sped up once again, and the wind’s noise became more intense.
“Hurry! Or else, I’ll blow up this brat’s head!” The man poked the girl’s head with the barrel. As if it was a signal, the expressionless girl’s face changed color. Her eyes widened and she turned pale.
“No—! I don’t want to die! No! No! I don’t want to die! Help me!” the girl screamed. She shook her head wildly, and teardrops fell from her face.
“It can’t be helped,” the woman said calmly.
She returned the revolver in her holster. She removed her lifeline hook and moved to the roof of the trailer head. And then, she passed right beside the two.
“Please save me…” were the only words the girl whose face was soggy with tears managed to say. The woman smiled sweetly.
“Hurry up!” The man changed the aim of his revolver from the girl’s head to the woman.
In the next moment, the woman was holding the revolver’s cylinder. The gun wouldn’t fire even if he pulled the trigger because the hammer wouldn’t raise. At the same time as the man’s expression changed, several holes opened up in his shoulder. Deep red liquid oozed from the holes.
The man looked at his right shoulder with a dumbstruck expression. The woman took back the girl from the man’s powerless arms with ease. Located two cars behind, the male bodyguard was aiming his square-barreled automatic-type hand persuader. He fired one more time.
The bullet followed its aim to the man’s knee. His body staggered as his leg lost its bending force. And then the man slipped and fell down from the roof of the trailer head. The man’s face registered disbelief in what just happened for nearly two seconds before he was smashed on the ground.
The fallen man’s legs and arms rotated and bent into a strange angle before he disappeared into the dust.
The woman leered at the attackers’ cars as they all escaped, while the girl sobbed bitterly in her arms.
The next morning.
The trailer safely passed through the gates of a big country. It stopped beside a square near the gates.
Soon, one worker began to unload the luggage. The doors of the pallet cars opened, and a chain was pulled out by a small car. What came out were humans who were tied together with their necks and arms, like a string of beads.
All were covered with vomit and feces. Another worker sprayed water on their heads using a hose. The chains were skillfully removed from the ones who can no longer walk, and they were dragged towards the edge of an enormous hole on the side. The back of their heads were shot with a persuader, and they were rolled and dropped into the hole.
The two travelers received their luggage as they spoke to the married couple who owned the trailer, along with their only daughter.
The owner thanked the two, smiling from ear-to-ear and shaking their hands.
The small girl wearing a red dress shyly pressed against her mother’s back.
The girl spoke to the female bodyguard who crouched before her. “… Thank you for saving me,” she said with a small, but clear voice.
The female bodyguard replied with the same gentle expression as before. “You’re welcome. However, it’s not because of me. I’m sure your God thought that it was yet too early for you to die.”
The girl threw her arms around the female bodyguard. The woman put her arms around her small back, and gently patted it. A gunshot was heard.
The female bodyguard asked the owner if they wanted to be escorted home. The owner said that there will be no problem as they will be taking a detour unknown to the attackers after emptying their cargo. Then he asked the two if they wanted to hitch a ride.
The woman asked about the route, but turned down his offer, with the excuse that they have to return right away.
“I understand the route. I thank you in advance.”
A man was speaking to the two ex-bodyguards.
This man, along with all the others who were glaring at the two, was part of the group that attacked the trailer. The man who stepped up was their leader, and this place hidden in the mountains was their hideout.
“Then, we will be taking the payment,” the woman said.
“Wait,” said the leader. “You killed one of our comrades. Why?” he asked, glaring at the woman.
“Because the job I accepted was to find out the homeward route of that trailer. It was necessary. Besides, things didn’t work out as planned,” the woman said matter-of-factly. They could almost hear the sound of molar-grinding from the men around them.
The leader spoke. “He was a brave man, loved by everybody. My younger brother, the only family I have left after they were killed by those bastards.”
“Is that so?” The woman said without hesitation, and the men around them raised the weapons in their hands. While all of them glared at the woman, the male bodyguard beside her removed his jacket.
“Phew, it’s so hot in here,” the man said, revealing his body covered with a number of square, clay-like, plastic explosives. The place became quiet all of a sudden.
“That’s enough…. Take this with you. We were supposed to anyway.”
After examining the payment handed to her, the woman turned away.
The man and the woman were riding on a small, battered car through the wilderness. The barrel of the rifle, which couldn’t fit inside the car, was protruding through the window.
The woman was driving while the man was eating the unsavory clay-like portable rations wrapped around his body earlier. He offered them to the woman, who shook her head in reply.
“Master,” said the man.
“What is it?”
The man hesitated for a few seconds before asking, “That trailer will be attacked again, won’t it?”
“That is very likely,” the woman answered in an extremely natural manner.
“Is that all right?” The man asked.
The woman did not answer.
 Translator’s Notes
- If this was confusing to you, you’re not alone. Here I thought the little girl was shot. I had to reread the previous paragraphs to realize that it was probably one of the slaves being thrown into the hole…
|Back to Chapter 7||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 9|