J's eyes pop open as Bigurl downshifts, some forty tons of steel and composite sucking through a tank of rarefied earth pus, muscling up the grade over the mountains. Passed the border between Great Basin and the Unified Plains States some seventy miles back, forty-five minutes ago according to Tablet in the glasshield mount. Used to be a river, or a city, or some shit.
J's not supposed to sleep of course, but withdrawal is starting to clench up his neck, and he's got his googly eye on. The randomized headband reflector pushed up his sweaty forehead fools Bigurl into thinking he's paying attention so he can close his eyes for more than a blink. Cost one scrap in the lot. The headband hurts, even the subtle hint of elastic feels like it's squeezing his brain. J rips it off and adjusts the seat back to get his blood flowing.
Just one bump would do it right now, push everything that's coming back down his spine. Big Clock on Tablet is counting down to resstop: another two hours in the box, another two hours until scrap and score.