One of the cool parts of serializing a novel on one's blog is being able to post deleted and alternate scenes. I had several of those for FAR Future, but the cast of White Pickups demanded that I start posting when I did. I might include them in the eBook or printed version when the time comes.
I wrote this part early on, before I understood what the trucks really were and when I thought they would be migrating to the coast (Charleston, SC was their destination). This scene takes place partway through the migration. If this were actually how things went, it would have replaced what became Episode 33. Of course, this was when I thought this story was going to run maybe 40 episodes total.
In the early going, Cody's girlfriend was named Karen and was actually a goth. I have no idea how or when she became Sondra. I don't quite remember who Ken and Stephen were; one of them may have become Max along the way.
Just goes to show, a story can take a turn when you don't listen to the people who are actually part of the story…
Another morning, another white pickup waiting in the motel parking lot. Charles and Karen started breakfast in the parking lot while Cody circled the pickup, glaring and muttering before jumping on a bicycle and riding away.
"Hey! Where are you going with that?" Karen yelled.
"Couple blocks!" I'll be back before you're done!" Cody yelled back, then disappeared.
"You have any idea what he's up to?" Charles asked. Karen shook her head.
Cody was right: he returned just as the others started milling around, raiding the motel restaurant for plates and silverware. Karen gave him a grin. "You almost didn't make it."
"Ha!" Cody said. "I know how long it takes to get everyone moving out here." He pulled a blowtorch out of the basket. "Does anyone object to hanging out here for a little while after breakfast?" he called to the others. "I want to wreak a little mayhem on our unwanted visitor here."
If anyone wanted to object, the general enthusiasm kept them quiet. Cody was surrounded by a large group, mostly the men (but Karen claimed her accustomed seat next to him), speculating about what they might find. They ate quickly, some even more eager than Cody to get started.
There were plenty of onlookers when Cody fired the torch. Standing to one side, he drew the flame down one side, window to grille, about where the hood would normally meet the fender on any other vehicle. With the first side finished, Ken held up the sagging corner with a pair of pliers as Cody cut down the other side.
"Don't reach underneath," he warned Stephen, glancing at Karen's white arm. "Use the pliers. Okay guys, pull it off!"
The hood peeled off, and everyone crowded around — even the objectors — to see what lay beneath.
"Looks like an electric motor."
"But where are the batteries?"
"Maybe under the seat. See those big cables?"
"Don't reach in!" Karen snapped at one who had a hand stretched out. "You don't know if it… you know." She rubbed her white arm, flexing her fingers.
"Then how do we get it out?" Stephen asked.
"We'll cut the front end off," Cody said. "It should be okay after that. But we'll need to put blocks or jacks under it."
"We went by an auto parts store on the way here," said Ken. "I'll get a couple jackstands from there." He jumped on a bicycle and rode off.
"Might as well cut off what we can while we're waiting," said Cody. He fired the torch again and cut away the fenders, stopping once to replace the spent fuel canister with a spare he had brought.
"Hey Cody," Charles asked, "where'd you find the torch anyway?"
"We went by a body shop," said Cody. "I figured they'd have what we needed."
This was where it ended, about 2/3 of the way down the fourth (handwritten 5x7 inch) page, but as I recall the cables ran all the way back to the bed. Under the rear bodywork there were antennas that became fractal in their complexity. Apparently, the trucks were picking up some kind of broadcast power and didn't require batteries. Cody was to surgically remove an entire drive system later on, harnessing the motors to run generators or other things.