Buckyboy's Sandbox

Cactus. Cactus. Yet another cactus. Oh, two cacti, at the same time! That was a pretty nice change of pace.

The sun-scorched Toyota sped aimlessly through the suffocatingly dark desert night. The road had long since vanished what little sight was available in the glare of the headlights, replaced instead with the crusty remains of seabeds having long since departed. Barely any of it was visible though, with only the occasionally jagged rock to break up the monotony of the journey.

Rachel checked the speedometer, fuel gauge and mileage meter. There had still been no change since the last time she checked. No matter. Keep marching on (well, driving on in this case), till a solution presents itself. No point crying over spilled milk and all that jazz. Her gaze had been fixed on the area of her vision just above the penetration of the high beams of her car. It was no very clear to her that she was making a monumental effort not to let her gaze drift to the rearview mirror. When was the last time she had done that again?

On cue, the her brain failed her, as if the mere effort of dredging up the meagre memory slowed her metabolism to speeds comparable to honey crystallizing. She should have known better at this point. It happened every time her mind wandered to things it shouldn't, like why she was out here, how long she had been out here and how the fuck to make this dream stop. She knew she couldn't be dreaming, because knowing you might be dreaming is one of the few things that simply does not occur until it was too late.

Just gotta keep driving. Always moving forward, never look back. That's the way to do it. A solution will present itself shortly.

Rachel rested her head against the fluff protruding from the head protector, vowing never to have that little detail fixed, no matter the cost. Words could not describe the adoration in her heart for this car and its various heartwarming flaws. The patches that resembled an anglerfish licking its own arse, the plastic that had been torn off the steering wheel by the previous owner, and finally, her groove. Her unique signature carved after years of intense sitting that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this car was hers, and her alone. It had been her escape after so many fights and skirmishes and knew that no human could possibly compare to its company. It's only real flaw was the broken radio antennae.

So content was she, that Rachel gradually neglected her foot off the worn accelerator pedal, until the sounds behind her. It was every sound a human being could possibly fear. Crunch, crack, hiss, slobber, snarl, scream, screech, growl, boom, whimper, rattle, roar; all rolled into one cacophonous menagerie of terrible resolve. Rachel woke from her all-too-temporary daydream, and slammed her foot with all her might into the accelerator. The rearview mirror hung enticingly above the dashboard, daring her to peak. The memories of what followed her was already fading out of her mind, like water through an oversized sieve. Rachel tried to calm her nerves by massaging her hands against the furry protective covering of the not-quite-but-very-almost mangled steering wheel.

Keep going forward. Keep going forward. Never look back.

257 cacti later, no change in any instruments. Not even the digital clock has changed, constantly blinking 23:12. Relaxed Rachel was starting to take a backseat for Indomitable-Bitch Rachel. She heaved a sigh that was all too familiar to anyone trapped in front of a screen for hours with no end in sight. The distant lights of isolated homes in the distance had remained unchanged since….at least a couple of thousand of cacti, give or take a few hundred. She angrily flicked the dashboard glass, but change seemed too good to be true. Desperate for some reprieve, she switched off Lou Reed's Transformers album that had been playing for the last few dozen cacti, and switched to the radio.

Static. Of course. Equal parts frustration and relief churned in her overzealous mind.

So deep in thought in fact, that she barely had any time to swerve and prevent Clarisse McGilligan from permanently becoming one with the bonnet.

The frizz was unmistakable. It was the only thing that registered before the car rushed past and left her to be absorbed by the encroaching darkness just behind. What in the name of all that was holy and wild was she doing out here?

The second body flashed by an hour later. This time, there was no recognizable features, just a ghost of an image that flickered in the corner of her eye for a malicious second. The third passed by in much the same manner, save for the fact that its face stayed dead trained on her. The lack of eyes unfortunately didn't faze its efforts in the least. Fucker. Didn't ghosts have anything better to do with their time that wander out to be killed by cars with no destination? What were they doing with themselves? If they wanted to get to her, they would have to think a little outside the box.

Still more chasing. Always more following.

Time seemed to slow for the fourth body, though delirium might have been setting in at this stage. That, or the blood flow was now having a very difficult time circulating from her uncomfortably numb ass to the parts that desperately needed it. This one felt…familiar. The dirty blonde hair. The bob cut. She instinctively ruffled her own locks, knotted from years of intentional neglect. The corner of her lip started to tremble , before being trampled once again.

Just keep going forward. Keep going forward. Never look fucking back.

Now the waterworks were looking for any damn excuse to burst the banks of her eyelids. Tremors wreaked through her body like seismic spasms. This couldn't go on. Her mind desperately grasped for reason, any reason, to go on with this pointless quest. What was she running from? why was it chasing? Why didn't the fucking car go anywhere? The sight of the frozen digital clock was enough to physically hurt. The crossroads was approaching fast. "Keep" and "going" and "forward" bounced around in her head like the mad mantra of a demented god.

Then the realization hit. The words no longer had meaning. She gripped the steering wheel with a new resolve and eased gently off the accelerator.

Snarls and growls and madness quickly followed, slowly at first, like the receding tide of a tsunami. And then it hit.

Wave after wave of memory regret and all the unpleasantness in-between crashed over her. Sensations waged war with each other for attention, whipping furiously in a storm of delusion and hysteria. Strands of suppressed memory boiled over, flooding her synapses. She never stopped shrieking until the car came to a gentle halt and stalled. A satisfied calm fell over the desert. Rachel summoned the last of her strength to open the door and collapse of the freezing floor of the world.

"You bitch" she hoarsely whispered to herself, her voice almost gone from that last burst. She remembered everything now. Why she was here, running away, never facing forward despite her insistence she was staring right in the face of progress, and never apologizing for it. The fourth body, that familiar hair. The things she had said, the horrible things she said, to it's owner. Broken ties and filthy lies, and for what? A night of terror and an uncertain future.

Rachel clambered on top of the bonnet and leveraged herself in the direction of home. The lazy lights of Santa Barbara shone hazily in the distance, a lot closer than it should have been. Her ordeal hardly mattered now in the face of context. There was work to do, apologizing and sucking up on a scale the old Rachel would have squinted and spat angrily at. But anything would be worth it. As long as they didn't want to go for a lonely drive in the desert.

She never even noticed the crickets chirping as she left.