March 12, 2019


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Fernanda Rabten shivered in the fog of deep night, the damp cold penetrating through her nylon jacket.

Yeshi Uehara said, his voice hoarse in the cold, “Did you see that coming?”

“See what?”

“The car. It was heading straight at us.”

“What do you mean?”

“They car. You were driving.”

“I wasn’t...” Fernanda began.

Headlights appeared in the distance as the sound of a high horsepower engine muttered, rolling toward them like miniature thunder. Yeshi said, “I think we’re dead.”

“What?” Fernanda exclaimed. The sound of the engine grew, the headlights sharpened. “We have to run!” She turned and started down the incline and suddenly stopped.

Yeshi tried to follow but found that his feet would not move. Fernanda was returning to the shoulder of the road in jerky motions, as if she were being manipulated, pulled to stop beside Yeshi.

“Stop that!” she screamed at him, swinging wildly. “We’re not dead!”

Yeshi squeezed his eyes shut, unable to back away or run into the road – the highway.

The roar of the engine grew until the headlights were bright as twin suns, and the shadows of the two humans stood behind them like holes in the road.

Like the prow of a yacht, a silver grill coalesced out of the fog, pushing it aside to be followed by a car so black it seemed to soak up what dim light dripped from the dark gray sky.

“We can’t...” Fernanda whispered.

The car was so long that the rear wheels were invisible. Feet suddenly released from the ground, Yeshi slammed the open passenger door and went to a door farther back. “This is a limo. We don’t have to ride up in front with the chauffer!”

He reached for the door and opened it to find that he was looking into the passenger side door. “What?” he exclaimed. He looked back along the side of the car. He slammed the passenger  door and stalked to the rear compartment door, reached and jerked it open again.

He was standing at the passenger seat at the front of the limo. This time he looked back at Fernanda. She was leaning away from him. “I can’t move my feet,” she whispered. He looked into the limo, leaned down to see the chauffer.

There was nothing there – not exactly. He stared hard and suddenly found he couldn’t breathe and heard a hollow voice say, “You and your friend. Get in.”

He tried to back away. Tried to slam the door. Tried to scream. Instead he found himself saying, “Fernanda! The chauffer said he’d take us back home!” He knew he was lying; knew he was not speaking his own words. He was being manipulated by the chauffer – or whatever it was. He stood back while his old friend, her feet free, ran to the door, shouldering him aside.

When he looked in again, she was bouncing on the seat, looking at the chauffer then back at him. She said, “Yeshi, this is my old next-door-neighbor! He was old when I met him and he had this old car…” she kept on while Yeshi was drawn into the car though he tried to step back. He squirmed, struggling and felt the invisible bond holding him begin to slip.

Fernanda spun then and lunged, grabbing him by the front of his shirt. She screamed, “You’re coming with me whether you want to or not!”

Yeshi staggered backward, shouting, “But what if I’m not dead yet?” For an instant, he thought he saw the sky overhead lighten...

Names: ♀Bolivia, Tibet ; ♂ Tibet, Alaska 

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