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Driving Montage



Driving Montage At various moments in time, three cars were heading to one singular destination. Most of these parties involved had no idea where they were headed. But call it fate or plot convenience, all of them would end up in the exact same place. One of these cars was a Ford Falcon, which was only driven at night. This, of course, made it very difficult to navigate. “Cindy,” Marcell said from the passenger’s seat. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think we might be lost.” “I could have told you that two hours ago,” she replied calmly. She heard the shuffling of papers as Marcell flipped through his atlas. “It’s these damned maps. They don’t make any sense. It seems like everything just... breaks down after Olym Corners.” “Okay, I’m sorry, I’m going to ruin your manly pride. Here.” Cindy reached into her purse and handed him her cellphone. “Bring up maps. Then we’ll see where we are.” “I told you. I don’t need Sisi or whatever her name is to tell me where I’m going.” “Just do it.” He sighed, a deep, heavy, emasculated sigh, and took her phone. There was silence for a second. “Cindy, there’s no bars.” “No bars? What do you mean there’s no bars?” “I can’t open the maps. There’s no bars. No signal.” “We’ve lost the internet?” Cindy fought a sickening feeling of rising panic. “We’re doomed.” Marcell just laughed. “I’ve survived nearly two-thousand years without the internet. We’ll be fine.” “What if we run out of gas?” “Then we walk.” “What if the sun comes up before we find a town or something?” He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Sweetheart, this is the rural Midwest. There is no end to the trees. Worst case scenario, I can hide in the corn.” “Have you had to do that before?”

“You really don’t want to know. Just focus on the road. It’s dark out. Let me know if you see any identifying signs.” He turned back to his maps, rustling through them again. After only a minute, Cindy saw the green of a road sign. “Oh,” she said, “there’s a town in a few miles.” “What’s it called?” he muttered, eyeing a piece of paper. “Uh, Anaxi? That’s an... unusual name.” “That’s A-n-a-x-i?” “Yeah.” “Huh.” “What is it?” “Probably nothing. Let’s head in and check it out.” Cindy sighed. Even after all this time, it still nagged at her when he didn’t tell her everything. But it was something that she just had to deal with. “Alright,” she said, hoping that they weren’t driving into something dangerous. You should know by now, dear reader, that they most definitely were. But you’ve heard about those two far too much. You want to hear about the crazies, the weirdos. That’s what this story is all about, after all. So, the second car. The second car was a beat up Oldsmobile that looked like it had been saved from the fate of being crushed for scrap metal in a junkyard. It puttered along a different back-road, but it was headed to much the same place. Perhaps just more directly. “Where exactly is this place?” Doug was getting pretty steamed. They had been driving for the last two days, Kei had still told him nothing, and she made him drive. “Hmm...” she glanced out the window, past where her bare feet were resting on the dashboard. “I guess we’re almost there, so I can tell you a little.” Finally! Some answers. Doug leaned forward a little in anticipation and waited. “We’re going to a very dangerous, very delusional place.” Doug couldn’t help breathing out a heavy sigh as Kei cackled next to him. “That tells me nothing!” he nearly shouted, shaking all the way down his arms. “Less than nothing! Telling me it’s dangerous is not helpful. I have no idea what I’m supposed to look out for. You say you’re got this ‘plan’ but if I don’t know what it is, how can I not fuck it up?”

“You just do exactly what I say, when I say it. Simple enough. You’re my dog. Now bark.” The tires screeching, Doug yanked the car over to the side of the road, the front wheel dangling into the ditch. “I am no one’s damn dog. Not anymore.” He wheeled around to face her. “You forget, I don’t have to do shit for you until you hold up your end of the bargain. That’s how this crossroads shit works, right?” His whole body was shaking now, and Kei looked visibly startled at his outburst, though only for a moment. “If I wanted, I could just get out of this car and walk away right now. But you don’t want that, do you? You need me for something, whatever the fuck it is.” She cut him off with a sharp laugh. “You won’t do it. We’re in the middle of nowhere. You’d die of dehydration before you got back to civilization.” “Perfect,” he stared her dead in the eye. “A perfectly pathetic end to my perfectly pathetic shitshow of a life.” She opened her mouth, then closed it again. “Don’t fuck with someone who has nothing to lose.” “Jilli wouldn’t want you to end it like that,” Kei said finally. Doug whipped around and pinned her to the car window. “You don’t get to use her like that.” “It’s true, though.” Kei remained perfectly calm, smiling even. “I don’t know if she would necessarily condone killing Abigail either, but she certainly wouldn’t want you to die. That seems a terrible waste of the life she’s given you.” For a moment, they just stared at each other. Then Doug let her go and flopped back in his seat. And Kei kept talking. “She’d want you to keep living, and I know that right now, there’s only one thing you’re living for. You want revenge? I’m the best chance you have. Maybe I’ve been a little too... reticent with my information, and I promise to tell you more when the time is right. But for now, I need you to trust me.” Doug sighed. He hated her more than anyone he’d ever met, but she was right. “Fine,” he said, before pulling the keys out of the ignition and handing them to her. “But you’re driving.” She didn’t take them. “I... can’t,” she said finally. “What do you mean ‘you can’t’? Can’t drive?” “I never learned,” she admitted.

“How is that even possible?” “I’m an extradimensional daemon,” she rolled her eyes, though she seemed a bit flustered. “I’m not from around here. We didn’t have cars where I came from, so I never learned.” Doug thought for a second. “Doubt there’d be any police around here, so... now’s as good a time as any to learn.” He popped open the door and went around to the passenger’s side. Kei hadn’t moved. “Well? Come on.” “You’re an idiot, you know that?” “Yes, I’m well aware. Though... not in this particular circumstance.” “I’m reliant on you for something, and you’re just going to give the one thing you have on me up completely?” “I know what it feels like to be powerless,” he shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” She shook her head. “I’ll never understand you people.” Finally, Kei stood and made her way over to the other side of the car. Of course, you may be thinking that Douglas Bailey would not make the best driving instructor, considering his past track record, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say that everything turned out alright. We must continue onwards to the last car. To be fair, it wasn’t really a car at all. It was actually a delivery van, one of those huge, white ones with the blacked-out windows. Its inhabitants needed the space, for various books and mechanical apparatuses; they didn’t travel particularly light. Various bits of metal clanged around in the back as they drove, but neither of them really seemed to mind. The noise was well worth it. “So...” Victor glanced over from the driver’s seat. The road ahead was out of the way and narrow, so he was easily able to look away towards his companion, who seemed a mile away in the wide van. “How do you know for sure that the piece is here?” Abigail looked up from her book, which was sitting on her crossed legs, a little bit dazed. “Uh... how do I know?” “Yeah.” He didn’t take her inattention poorly, he knew she didn’t mean anything by it. She was just one of those people who got caught up in reading. It was pretty cute, actually, that out of it, dazed expression she got from suddenly being wrenched forcefully out of the realm of knowledge unexpectedly. “Well, I tracked the basic trajectory of some of the larger chunks, did some calculations...” “You know what I mean.” She sighed. “Fine. The bit of the Truth that I split off from the rest and placed in my head told me.” “It’s getting worse, isn’t it?” “I’m managing it just fine,” she glanced back down at her book again. He knew her too well to fall for that. “You’re lying.” “Am I?” “You were talking in your sleep again last night.” What he didn’t say was that she’d also been shaking so badly that she’d almost fallen off the bed. “That’s why we’re going to Anaxi,” she gave him. “I’m not going to put the damn thing back together, I’m glad those idiots destroyed it, frankly. Why do you think I let them get near it? Now it’s just a matter of getting rid of this little hanger on.” “And you think this shady guy will know something about it?” “We’ll have to see.” “If I can do something to help—” he offered, trying to keep the worry in his gut down. She smiled and patted his cheek. “That’s why I brought you along in the first place. You always help.” Victor furrowed his eyebrows. He wasn’t sure how him just “being here” could help, but if she said so... “I’ll try.” “Thank you,” there was silence in the van for a second. “Okay, but I’m also incredibly excited,” her grin broadened and she began to giggle. “I’ve been doing some research and it’s actually quite fascinating. Imagine, all those people, entirely under the power of a single, charismatic figure. I’m just so curious how the whole thing actually functions.” Despite himself, Victor broke into an identical grin. Her energy was just infectious. “Okay, yeah, I’m over the moon. This is going to be really fun.” And as they drove onwards to their ultimate destination, Abigail told Victor all about her research into the macabre, and they discussed it all through the rest of the day, with an ease that only two people who know each other so well can...

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