CATEGORY: 24-hour Challenge - PQL AU
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended.
NOTE: 24-hour Challenge #4:  Offered by SuBethJimBob, How would our guys (well, one of them) react if they came back from a conference or something (modern AU, probably ATF, would work best, but idea could be adapted to most anything) to discover they'd been "Surprise by Design'ed" or "While You Were Out'ed"?  The moderator adds:  If you don't want to use the TV shows, just have one of the guys return to find that one (or more) of the other guys has 'improved' his living space in one way or another.
SUMMARY: Ezra returns from a LEAP to PQL headquarters
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments and suggestions  are greatly appreciated.
DATE:  June 27, 2003, some housekeeping done January 3, 2010

PQL: Keep On
By NotTasha...who keeps on whenever she can.

Yawning, Ezra Standish moved through the hallway of PQL Headquarters. Larabee had greeted him upon his return from his latest Leap, had let him know of the mission's success and briefly filled him in on the whereabouts of his compatriots.  Josiah and JD were both off on Leaps with Nathan and Buck acting as their Observers. Vin -- well, he would be in the limbo that existed between leaps… 'Tweening' they called it.  If Ezra believed in luck, then he might be given a day or two of rest before he had to play the part of Observer again.

After his debriefing, Standish waved off Larabee's offer of 'a free dinner' and headed to his quarters.  He'd had his fill of chili dogs, biscuits and gravy, and chicken-fried steaks. Nothing sounded appetizing to him. He was worn out, tired, ready for sleep.  After spending the past four days as a truck driver, he never wanted to look at an eighteen-wheeler again.  Lord, what monstrosities!  Now that he'd actually driven one of those behemoths, he figured he'd steer clear of them on the road from now on.

Ezra, well, he never really fit in at that leap.  He never really became ‘Big Joe’.  Anyone with any sense could have seen it.  Thank God he wasn’t discovered. Ezra was used to being the master of any situation he found, but that particular lifestyle would never be for him. He'd felt out of place, ill at ease, incompetent.  He was an idiot as he learned how to drive that thing. How had he kept that rig on the road?  How had Vin managed to stay so patient with his ineptitude? It was a mystery.  At least he'd learned how to control that vehicle in time.  At least they'd been successful and had kept Sweet Lou-Lou from marrying Ike, Big Joe’s best friend who just happened to be Lou-Lou’s long-lost brother -- thus averting her future suicide and Ike’s plunge into alcohol and despair.

Cause we gotta great big convoy, rockin' through the night.  Yeah we gotta great big convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight? 

Why Vin wasn't the Leaper on that particular mission?  The ex-bush pilot seemed quite at home in that scenario, hovering around that cab, offering his helpful suggestions and pointed advice.  He was the one that had kept them on the road. Yes, Tanner seemed to like the shag-rug-covered interior of the rig -- saw nothing wrong with the avocado-green and tangerine-orange color scheme, and the day-glow smiley face air freshener. "Lord," Standish muttered, "How did anyone survive the 70's?"  It was an appalling time for anyone with good taste.

Come on an' join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna git in our way.

The melody of that timeless ballad, "Convoy", continue to torment him as he rounded the corner and came closer to his room.

We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy, cross the USA. Convoy... Convoy...

What was the matter with people? How could anyone consider that little ditty worthy of airtime? 

Was the dark of the moon, on the sixth of June in a Kenworth, pullin' logs. Cabover Pete with a reefer on and a Jimmy haulin' hogs. 

He'd heard it twenty-seven times over four days on that crackling little AM radio.

We 'as headin' fer bear on I-One-Oh ‘bout a mile outta Shaky-Town.  I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck an' I'm about to put the hammer on down

It seemed that every station he came across was playing that tune endlessly. It was either that or put up the amateur CB operators calling themselves "Big Daddy" or "Ratchet-Jaw", calling him "Good Buddy" and eager to hear if he'd seen any "Smokeys in plain brown wrappers" or “Bears in the Air”.  He shuddered, glad to have leapt from that hygienically-challenged life, happy to be away from the greasy-spoons, the stench of engine exhaust, the underwear washed in service station bathrooms.

By the time we got into Tulsa-Town we had eighty-five trucks in all.  But there's a road block up on the clover leaf An' them bears 'as wall to wall

But they'd done good, hadn't they?  They saved the lives of those two confused people, hadn't they?  Sweet Lou-Lou would go on to marry a Piggly-Wiggly manager and raise a brood of happy children. Ike would just keep on truckin'.  He'd look after his sister and her family, marry twice and divorce twice and keep on moving.  It was the life of a trucker, Ezra figured.  Freight had to move and someone had to do it.

Well we rolled up interstate forty-four like a rocket sled on rails. We tore up all a our swindle sheets an' left 'em settin' on the scales

Not everyone was made for it, Ezra told himself, still feeling frazzled. Yes, he was made for different work than that. What would have happened if he'd utterly failed on this one?  He probably came close this time.

With a sigh, he touched the door to his quarters, glad to be back.  There were times, during his leaps, he considered the ramifications of failure, and wondered if he'd ever return to PQL.  Would he have been lost forever in time if he'd ruined this Leap?  This might have been his last.  He might never have seen the others again.

By the time we hit that Chi-Town, them bears was a gittin' smart. They'd brought up some reinforcements from the Illinois National Guard.  There 'as armored cars, and tanks, and Jeeps an' rigs of every size

He was sorry that the others were busy.  He would have liked to chat a bit with Buck and Nathan -- or JD and Josiah when they got back.  It was always good to see his teammates again, to shake their hands and ensure that he was truly home. He felt so disconnected sometimes.

Yeah them chicken coops 'as full a bears an' choppers filled the skies

Only his Observer, Vin, would evade him.  Yes, the one team-member he was closest to, the only one he could talk to during his Leaps, the one who kept him centered, was the one he would never actually be in contact with.

Well we shot the line, an' we went for broke with a thousand screamin' trucks and eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse microbus

"Irony," he said aloud.  He missed that ability to actually interact with Tanner.  He could see Vin as clear as day when they were together during a Leap, but the meetings were rather short lived, curtailed by the energy needed to run the Imaging Chamber.  With three Observers watching three Leapers, it often became a problem explaining that usage to the folks in charge.  There was rarely any time to just shoot the breeze.  He wanted to take the time to thank the Observer.  He certainly needed his help on this one -- would never have accomplished it without Vin.

He wondered what Vin thought of him after this one.  Certainly Tanner's opinion of him had gone down a notch or two after putting up with his incompetence.

Well we laid a strip fer the Jersey Shore an' prepared to cross the line.  I could see the bridge was lined with bears but I didn't have a doggone dime. I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck.  We just ain't a gonna pay no toll

Damn that song!  Damn it!  Damn it!  Standish rested his head on the doorframe to his quarters as he keyed in the pass-code.  I’ll kill the bastards who wrote it.  If I can step far enough back in time, I'll throttle the sons-of-bitches before they can put the notes to paper.   The locked bleeped, flashing a green light and releasing the latch to his little refuge.  After spending nearly a week of nights in the cold, cramped sleeping area of that Mac truck, Ezra was ready for his soft Serta Perfect-Sleeper and his silk sheets.

He smiled when the door swung open, glad to be home.  And then a frown tugged at his face as he took in what awaited him. 


Son of a bitch!  the southerner growled in his head.  Never should have given him my pass-code!

Carefully, he eased into the room and stared at the abomination.  Mud flaps -- with the silhouette of naked women arching on them --  had been attached to the foot of his bed.  Placed carefully across the middle of the bed -- over his down comforter -- was a beaded seat cover.  The ugliest lamp he'd ever observed graced his bedside table.  The shade was decorated with road-signs and the base appeared to be an actual tire.  He edged his way in, noting the Slim Jims and the bag of pork rinds on his bedside table.  Finally, his eyes caught the baseball cap, posed on his pillow -- declaring in bright colors "Keep on Truckin'."  He shifted his glance, noting that the horrible lamp was also sporting a slogan -- this one: "10-4 Good Buddy".  A smile caught him at that familiar sayings.  He chuckled and shook his head.

With a yawn, Ezra grabbed the beaded seat cover and tossed it onto his rocking chair, then sat down on the side of the bed.  With a weary exhale, he peeled off his shoes, leaving them positioned perfectly, and then leaned back on his elbows.

He pulled the baseball cap on and laid back on his pillows, and turned off the lamp, thankful that it removed a sickly yellow glow from the room.  He sighed as he relaxed into his own bed -- Keep on Truckin', indeed.  Now, to come up with an idea to use on Vin when he came home.

So we crashed the gate doin' ninety-eight.  I sez, let them truckers roll, 10-4


Yes, I know... I know.  As I was writing the story that song started playing in my head.  I had to force you to suffer through it as well.
p.s.  I stole the idea of the lamp from Jen  :-)



Hope you enjoyed the story   comments and suggestions

Back to Index