When the electricity inexplicably goes out nationwide, the mundanities of life gradually shift to the rigours of survival. In this post-apocalyptic setting, an unnamed mechanic jumps into his beat-up car and drives east, journeying 4,736 kilometres to reach his dying father.
As the narrator’s journey becomes one of essentials – gasoline, fresh water only in bottles, and gas-station food – and as the crisis engulfing his surroundings begins to weigh on him ever more, he seeks refuge in a woman, and later, with a fellow traveller he meets on the road. These two kindred souls join him on his path, though they seem to seek a different sort of redemption.
As the road grows longer, and the narrator’s exhaustion grows in kind, parallels are drawn between his own journey and Thesus’s journey through the primeval Labyrinth. However, the beast that our narrator seeks to slay might not be one of flesh and horn and blood; instead, it is his own failing mental state and his thirst for the apocalypse around him. In the end, the obsession with which he pursues this beast will be his undoing.
Running on Fumes, is a road novel that carries with it influences of the genre, with its storylines of redemption through distance travelled, often in a failing world that reflects the protagonist’s interior. It is a hazy line that delineates whether the world is reflecting the narrator’s state or whether the narrator’s mindset is reflected by the world, and there remains a level of uncertainty on the truths the narrator speaks.