The daylight was crisp and clear that afternoon, and she was grateful. It would make things
a lot easier later on when she came back with help. They certainly wouldn't have to spend the better part of an hour searching
around in the dark for her stalled car in an already shadowy field. Come to think of it, she couldn't remember why she had
been driving there in the first place. Had there been a momentary road block that had caused her to make such a rash decision?
Or maybe her car hadn't stalled in the field at all; maybe it had stalled on the road and some strange force had moved it
to the field. Regardless, she would have to find it again. She couldn't count on the old standby that perhaps it would just
be sitting in her driveway when she made it back to the place that looked nothing like home but somehow felt right.
She started walking along the road that had been gravel yesterday but was now entirely dirt. Cresting the small hill between
her stationery car and home, she spared a moment to glance over the neighbors' place. Today, the land around their house jutted
down in a series of odd cliffs, giving the house a Castle of All Evil motif. They had also apparently added another floor
to the house sometime in the last few days, and slapped on a new coat of paint. The canyons surrounding the house were full
of ominous-looking trees, some sawed off halfway up and bearing nasty, wooden points waiting to impale any person who slipped
on the attempted climb upwards. Perhaps that was overdramatic. You'd have to fall pretty methodically to land on one of them,
and even then, you'd likely just slide down one side of the point and somersault to the dirt. The worst you could come out
of it was dirty.
She also made a mental note that the neighbor boys no longer had their battered
trucks, and instead must all be hoofing it like her today. The only vehicles in sight were several red dots on the horizon
where other cars were parked in the field, probably stalled like hers. She knew she should have checked to make sure her lights
were off when she went in to the....into the what? The furthest back she could remember was climbing out of the driver's seat
of her Dodge, scoffing at the battery light blinking arrogantly at her. She had neglected to carry her cell phone, too, which
meant walking the mile home and trying to muster up the help of someone who knew more about fixing a car than her. It also
meant not knowing what time it was, since she never wore a watch. She hated the way it fit around the oddly-alligned bones
in her wrist and the way it sucked at her skin in such a threatening way.
Judging from the
quickly falling sun, it was mid-afternoon. She could see a light blue blur in the distance that was meant to represent her
house, and knew it would be only seconds before she was there, if she ever got there at all. Instead, she was suddenly standing
in the middle of a dirt road at full-dark. Time had lapsed significantly while she was staring at that blue blur with her
thoughts of confidence. "So there," the blur said to her in her mind. "Thought you could outsmart your own house?" When it
had finished taunting, it dissolved into the air and she felt her feet turning her around again, back the way she came. It
was obvious that she couldn't continue to a home that wasn't there, right?
Now there were
more cars in the field. All of them were red, and all of them were Dodges. She could no longer determine where she had left
hers, but she knew she would recognize it when she saw it. All of these were small, round-looking cars...probably economy
cars of some kind. The color of red they chose to be was more of a neon ruby red...almost faded-looking in appearance. The
symbols that should have been a striking chrome were a plastic, dull gray. She would surely find hers easily if she could
only see well in the dark.
She remembered the way the hill crested right before the place
where she stalled. Unfortunately, the terrain had changed quite a bit since she began her walk. Now, it seemed the whole world
climbed to the point where the neighbor's house stuck out above the gaping canyons, and then fell again sharply to where her
Dodge lay. Everything between here and there was treacherous. How on earth was she going to get all the way back there in
the dark...and what would she do when she got there? More cars were springing up in the fields surrounding her, and she stomped
in frustration. "Stop it," she spoke seriously. They didn't listen, but continued to multiply. Now there were various shades
of red, and some other makes, too. A Pontiac Sunfire materialized in the ditch next to her as she walked by, blocking out
this new advancement. She would just find her way back to the neighbors' house and ask one of the boys for help. They were
always willing to help a lady, and they wouldn't take any backtalk from any blurs.
to make it to their back door, somehow. After several knocks that seemed to echo into the night, as if there was no house
at all, but only a large, hollow door standing before her, she heard the sound of voices coming from the other side of the
house. It became very clear to her all at once that the glowing light she had seen coming from their yard on the way by had
been a fire. They were having a little family gathering and roasting hot dogs, she guessed. Maybe there were even some other
members of the neighborhood there, and one of them could help her find and fix her long-lost car.
Glancing all around her, she took in a breath of surprise. The canyons surrounding the house were now surrounding her, mere
feet from HER feet. There was nowhere else to go but inside. No one came when she knocked, but a memory suddenly filled her
to the brim and she had to pursue it. She yanked open the door much harder than necessary and stepped inside to the dark entryway.
There seemed to be a blockade in every open doorway...you know, the kinds people put up to keep small children or dogs out
of certain rooms. It seemed strange to her, and it wasn't until a few minutes later when she was stepping into the kitchen,
shivering with nervousness of being caught, that this family had no dogs or small children. It was as if these blockades had
been put up...RIGHT THEN...to hinder her path through the house. Maybe they wanted her to trip on something and make a loud
noise, rousing the attention of the owners. She really had just broken in. She hoped they would understand.
On the far side of the kitchen was a sliding glass door that lead out onto a wooden deck that hadn't been there the day before.
She supposed when a whole family throws their effort into a total home makeover, it can happen quickly. She stepped through
the glass door without opening it, feeling the knot at the base of her stomach dissolve and her nervousness resign. The neighbors
were all circled around a fire, sitting in perfectly matched lawnchairs, drinking beers and eating grilled food. She took
a chair for herself and weaved her way into the conversation.
She was greeted on her left
by a good-looking man with a Corona in his hand... she assumed it was a friend of the family. He introduced himself with a
cool, confident smile and asked if they had met before. She told him no, and introduced herself as Kate. His eyes lit up momentarily
and he smiled again, this time with a knowing secrecy that stirred in her blood.
said, with a new familiarity. "I found your car."