Ben wiped the sweat from his forehead. The sun had already started heating up even though it was still morning.
He did his usual round around his truck and trailer, checking the condition of tires and lights while he let the engine run to warm up. He checked the locks on the short cargo container at the same time, making sure nothing had changed during the night.
The chance of something happening here during the night was remote, but he did check anyway.
When he saw all was good he took a look down the road toward the shipping yard and town near the horizon, stretched himself and climbed into the cabin.
All indicators were green, the fuel extractor had managed to pull enough out of the air during the night to keep the tank full and he turned on the stereo, playing his favorite ambient music. Revving the engine made it growl out to the silent desert landscape. He loved the menacing sound.
He shifted into gear and drove onto the road to Yard Three.
Just before reaching the entrance he saw one of the huge cargo ships approaching the yard on the tracks. No matter how often he saw these huge boxes stacked to the brim with containers they still made an impression every time. And there would be more as the decision was made to expand this continental route with two more tracks. With the discovery of several more deposits of popular ores and the growth in population worldwide transportation could only increase.
Another truck honked at him and he waved at the driver who was an aquantance. It wasn’t busy with only three trucks waiting in line at the gates.
‘Ben, how are you?’ asked the woman when he handed her the cargo papers through the window when he arrived at the booth.
‘Good. How are you doing Saar?’
‘Good, if it wasn’t for the airco malfunctioning all the time in here. It’s going to get warm today.’ she said as she entered the forms into the cargo system.
‘I feel you.’
‘Well,’ she said as she handed his papers back. ‘Rick said the parts would arrive today on the Clarence and he’d see if he can get our box unloaded with priority.’
‘Then I hope you won’t have to suffer too much.’ he said grinning.
‘Same here.’ she said and handed him a ticket. ‘You can unload at gate 23, and your new cargo is at 17.’
’23 and 17, thanks. See you next time.’ he said as he drove off to the gates.
The automated crane was already waiting so he got unloaded right away. At gate 17 he got out and met with the straddle carrier operator.
‘Short for Melloney?’ the man asked looking at his pad.
‘Yes.’ Ben said showing the ticket.
‘It’s already on the way. Not many drive that way?’
‘I’m the only one actually. I was already a driver when my uncle’s health prevented him from doing this and I took his place. It’s a small place that’s mostly a centre for the people living in the area. So I take supplies there and bring back mostly artwork and biological and geological samples for universities.’
‘I thought only natives lived there.’
Ben nodded. ‘There are a few humans. The rest are the native furs who have lived there all their lives.’
‘I’d feel out of place there. Didn’t you want to go back soon?’
‘No, it’s easy to get used to. I even got a lot of attention from the ladies when I came there.’
The man looked at him and laughed. ‘And then you also fell for their charms like most do, right?’
‘Perhaps.’ Ben said with a grin.
The automated carrier appeared from between the stacks and headed towards them. It halted at the rear of the trailer. The operator inspected the number of the short container and position of the carrier, then let the carrier drive forward, lower the container onto the trailer and drive off to pick up the next one.
Ben secured the container onto the trailer and signed off.
‘You’re clear. Have a good trip.’ the operator said.
‘Thanks.’ Ben said and he drove off to the exit for the final check.
As he turned back onto the road he looked forward to going back to his girl.