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The Fury of Greed: an American Truck Simulator Fanfiction

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It was 6:00 in the morning and the sun was just starting to rise. Still, at this early hour the truck stop was already busy. Other truckers were waking up at the same time and making their way through their morning routines. Bathroom, coffee, pre-trip inspection. Pepperoni Stevens, for one, can’t stand cold coffee. That’s why he waits until he’s done with his pre-trip before he goes into the diner, and he keep his thermos handy. It was a sort of pricey thermos, but it gets the job done.
Pepperoni walked back out toward his truck, steaming coffee in hand. Seeing his truck’s wine-red paint reflect the fiery light of the young day, he couldn’t help but think it looked like a scene from an advertisement. The lighting happened to be at such a level that the glossiness of the paint was visible, but he wasn’t blinded by the chrome exhaust stack, and he could plainly make out the text imprinted vertically on stack’s glistening heatshield: KENWORTH. It was little moments like this that made Pepperoni truly believe that this job was worth it. Sure, the traffic can be annoying, and the DOT officers can be strict, but taking in the beauty of this serene sunrise made nothing else matter at the moment.
As he climbed in and started up the rig, his mind was slowly wandering. The trailer and load were nothing out of the ordinary: a dry van, loaded with 40,000 lbs of canned food. They needed to be delivered from Nogales, Arizona to Elko, Nevada. What stood out about this job was the price: $90,000. It was a strange situation, but for money like that Pepperoni wasn’t going to question it. By the time his mind stopped wandering he was already on the freeway, heading north.
After a few hours of uneventful driving, Pepperoni found himself following the guidance of his GPS on a small, two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. According to the GPS, he was somewhere north of Las Vegas. In the distance he saw a stranger by the side of the road and as he approached and slowed down he noticed that the stranger’s arm was stretched outward, his thumb was extended, and his eyes were eagerly watching the truck slow gradually. As soon as Pepperoni came to a stop, the man climbed the steps and into the passenger-side door.
“Where ya headed?” Pepperoni inquired.
The hitchhiker replied loudly, over the sound of the idling engine: “Ely”.
“Come on in”, Pepperoni told him, “I’ll be passing through there later today”.
“Thanks”, the stranger said as he sat down and buckled his seatbelt.
Pepperomi asked his new passenger what he was doing in the middle of the desert and he said he was a vagabond, hiking and riding all over the country. Pepperoni continued asking questions: “but isn’t it dangerous, being out here all alone?”
The hitchhiker smiled a bit as he watched out the windshield and replied, “after travelling as long as I have, I learned that being alone is the safest, because then you have only yourself to rely on. When you have to count on somebody else, that’s the real danger”.
A little bit after noon, the duo stopped at a rest area for lunch and a stretch break. After coming back from a small walk, Pepperoni checked over the truck one more time just to be safe. His vagabond passenger was away from the truck, taking pictures of the scenery.
“Almost ready”, Pepperoni told him as he walked past. “Just one more thing I need to do”. He made his way to the tourism center to fill his thermos with another load of fresh, hot coffee. When he returned, he saw his passenger still examining the desert. “All set?”, Pepperoni asked.
“Sure am”, the vagabond replied, and with that, they both climbed back into the cab. The two were moving along the small, empty highway surrounded by seemingly endless miles of desert, making conversation and getting to know each other. Pepperoni had picked up a few hitchhikers in his time, and most were unmemorable. But I this time, Pepperoni felt that he was really going to miss this one when he disembarked in Ely.
As a short moment of silence fell upon the cab of the truck, Pepperoni asked, “so what convinced you to take up the vagabond lifestyle?”
The passenger, gesturing subtly with his hands, replied “they say the world is like a mountain range. And everything you will experience in your lifetime is like looking at the range through a keyhole. I wanted to make that keyhole as large as I could, so I gave up my job and my apartment, and hit the road with only the contents of my duffel bag, the clothes on my back, and the wisdom in my mind”.
Pepperoni opened his mouth to respond when he was alerted by an indication on his dashboard. The engine was running much too hot. He pulled over on the sandy shoulder of the road and shut off the engine, while at the same time explaining the situation to his passenger. The men stepped outside and Pepperoni opened the long hood of the truck, searching for the cause of the issue. He noticed something wrong with the radiator coolant line. As he looked closer, he saw a clean slit cut into the hose.
Thoughts were racing through Pepperoni’s mind. “How could I be so stupid?”, he thought to himself. “Why would I ever trust a hitchhiker? What’s he got in that duffel bag? Is he going to rob me? Or murder me?” His heart began pounding as he started back towards the driver-side door. “Wait here”, he told his passenger, “I’ll get my cell phone”. Actually, Pepperoni intended to retrieve a large wrench to defend himself with.
Just as he stepped onto the running board he noticed a bobtailing semi coming up the road. He climbed into the cab anyway, and watched the other truck boisterously pass his own and come to a halt in front. Pepperoni thought he recognized the logo on the other truck’s door, but waited with shallow breath to confirm or deny his suspicion. Sure enough, his business rival, Salami Slim, climbed out of the Peterbilt’s cab. As he approached, Salami nonchalantly rolled up the sleeves of his turtleneck sweater. “Ah, Pepperoni Stevens. We meet again”, he said.
Pepperoni would have liked to see somebody else, but he was relieved that his situation no longer appeared dire. He retorted, “no time for small talk, Salami. Somebody-“
Salami Slim cut him off. “Cut your radiator hose? What a pain”.
Pepperoni’s blood ran cold. With a puzzled expression on his face, he stepped down from his truck and began slowly approaching Salami. “And uh, how did you know that?” he asked, as he suddenly realized who the real danger to him was.
“How do you think I know? I know your habits. I know you always leave your truck unattended after your pre-trip”, Salami replied, raising his voice.
“Alright, but then why did you do it?” Pepperoni’s voice grew louder and angrier as well.
“Because I was about to claim that 90k job before you butted in!” Salami shouted. “Besides, I’m gonna let you in on a little industry secret. What sort of idiot would pay a trucker ninety thousand dollars to haul a trailer of food? That’s no soup in that trailer. That’s cocaine”.
Pepperoni almost didn’t believe it. “So, you want to collect that pay for yourself, huh?”, he said.
“That’s right”, Salami replied as he reached into his pocket. He pulled out a knife. “So I’m going to need that trailer of yours”.
As Salami took a step towards Pepperoni he was suddenly knocked down as Pepperoni’s passenger’s fist met the side of Salami’s head. The knife came flying out of Salami’s hand and Pepperoni ran over to pick it up. Meanwhile, Salami scrambled to his feet and dashed back toward his truck.
The vagabond almost started to chase Salami, but Pepperoni interjected “Wait! Come this way!”. With that, the two ran back to Pepperoni’s truck. Pepperoni told the vagabond to get in as he himself ran to the back of the cab. In a hurry, he pulled the fifth wheel’s kingpin release handle and ran to the driver’s seat. As he started up the engine, he frantically told the vagabond, “It’s no use to chase him on foot”.
“But what about the engine?!”, the passenger asked.
Pepperoni dismissed the concern as he put the truck in gear and put the hammer down. “Don’t worry about that for now. We have to stop him!”. As the tractor pulled away, the trailer dropped onto the ground with a loud thud.
The two trucks thundered down the empty highway and Pepperoni was gaining on Salami. Pepperoni and his passenger were thinking about how they could stop Salami as the engine emitted ever-darkening smoke. Meanwhile, Salami glanced at the approaching truck in his mirror.
“Pull up on his side!”, commanded the vagabond. “I have an idea”. Seeing that Salami had his window rolled down, the vagabond did the same as Pepperoni drove next to Salami and matched speeds. In one motion, the vagabond took Pepperoni’s thermos out of the cupholder, removed the lid, and splashed the scalding contents across the narrow gap into Salami’s open window.
Salami instinctively clutched his burning face. As his truck hit a pothole, it careened off the side of the road. Pepperoni and the vagabond watched silently as the other truck turned sharply and tipped over in a cloud of dust. The outcome of the ordeal was much more severe than they had intended it to be. The pair did not have very much time to feel remorseful, however. Within seconds, the screaming, smoking engine burst into flames. The cab was engulfed before the two men could even let out a scream.