Rating: M - Language, violence, sexual situations, sexual humor, possible smut.
Disclaimer: I am currently owned by my spouse, children, two dogs and a rabbit. Everything else is owned by someone other than me. I own Sira; she is a product of my insomnia. All people and events in this work of fiction are fictitious, except the lady in the housecoat. She is real, and I'll never tell where she lives.
Beta read by the wonderful I-love-me-some-leggypoo
A/N - Please Read - If this seems familiar, it is. This was formally posted as "Endangered Species". With the help of me Beta the first chapters have been cleaned up and corrected. I also, changed the title because I hated the original one. It had nothing to do with the final story. If you've read "Endangered Species", feel free to skip this. If you haven't, then continue forth.
A quiet town lay sleeping in the early morning hours as street lamps dotted the darkness in neat rows. On a distant hill, a lone figure watched the village while she contemplated her future. Above it all, the stars shimmered silently against the inky blackness of eternity.
The traveler turned her eyes away from the garish halogen of the town and bent to pick up the backpack at her feet. She loathed going into the town with its noise and people, but she had to. It was October and the northern wind carried the promising chill of winter to come. A home before the cold arrived would be a blessing. A shack with a wood stove and running water would also suffice.
As she walked down the two lane road, the traveler estimated her arrival in the town a couple of hours after sunrise. Perfect. Not so early that she was out of place, but not late enough that traffic clogged the roads.
"You'd better hope there is a truck stop with top-notch cheeseburgers," she said to the empty night air. A dry rattle was the only reply.
Onward she went. Her thoughts wondered to what kind of a town Tranquility could be. Hopefully it was full of soccer moms and corporate dads; people too wrapped up in their own lives to notice a new, quiet neighbor. Since the terrorist attacks on Mission City and the Hoover Dam, unfamiliar people attracted attention, and attention was something the traveler had spent a lifetime avoiding.
Tranquility looked promising. Tourist brochures showed a Norman Rockwell-ish charm, and touted about the quaint shopping district. Couldn't avoid that injection of "quaint" when describing a small town. The map placed the little 'burb in a wide valley, surrounded by countryside. A major plus, room to prowl. Close to a city, but also far enough away as to not have been consumed by the insatiable monster called urban sprawl.
Several other towns had also looked promising.
Paradise turned out to be a long row of bars, flanked with enough Mobil homes to spawn its own F-5 tornado. Happy Acres actually had a fair sized pig farm in the center of town. The stench of swine and waste assaulted the traveler's acute sense of smell, making her eyes water. And if that wasn't insult enough, some elderly woman came out of her house wearing a very short housecoat. When the matronly woman bent to retrieve the morning paper, she showed the world exactly what she was not wearing underneath. Why couldn't they give towns accurate names, like Alcoholic's Hell and Muddy Swine Flasher's Valley or Desperation Meadows and Wrinkled...well you know.
The traveler turned her eyes to the Heavens in silent prayer. Please let Tranquility at least be tranquil, and have a good coffee shop or book store. Something that resembled civilization.
The distant noise of an engine interrupted her thoughts. Cocking her head one way, then the other, the traveler pinpointed the location and direction of the vehicle. Behind and heading towards her. Stepping off the road and onto the gravel shoulder, the traveler continued her journey.
Company was not appreciated. To deter any troublemakers, or over zealous do-gooders, the traveler decided to display a deterrent. She adjusted her shirt, pulling the tail up to expose the grip of a handgun. This was only a deterrent though. The clip and bullets were at the bottom of a river in another state. Her real weapon was an antique blade, sheathed in her backpack. Few predators were as cunning and vicious as she, so fear of the approaching car and its occupants never crossed her mind. She just didn't want the company.
The vehicle was coming closer. It sounded tinny, with a high pitched whine, either foreign or ill, or both. She noticed the lack of running lights behind her. The traveler stepped further to the outer edge of the gravel shoulder and continued walking, never looking back.
Travis had spent the night out with his buddies. Their team stomped the Kansas City Chiefs, not that that was hard to do, but a win was a win. Gratuitous celebrating followed, and now it was way after last call and he was trying to make his way home.
Why didn't he insist that they party in Tranquility? Then he would only have to drive a few blocks instead of twenty miles through the dark countryside. The longer he spent on the road the more likely he was to find a cop. Another DUI was something ol' Travis could hardly afford. The first one cost him a shit load of money, the second one could cost him his license.
Navigating without headlights wasn't the smartest thing to do out here, but it helped to avoid the County Sheriff. Travis made his way through the dark to get home. If his woman found out he had been out all night, again, she would probably be out of his life and him definitely out of her apartment. He pushed the accelerator, making the little car speed beyond what was safe.
Rounding a curve the bald tires lost traction, and skidded on the asphalt. The right side tires crunched on the gravel. His overcorrection sent the car into the oncoming lane and almost onto the opposite shoulder.
The cell phone rang as Travis crossed back over the center line. The Nokia's display lit up the trash in his passenger side floorboard. He leaned over to retrieve the phone and felt the tires slip off the road once more.
An impact rocked the little car.
Travis slammed on the breaks, more reflex then conscious thought. He just sat there, eyes wide, hands shaking, as something human sized, slid off his car's hood and onto the ground, out of sight. An eternity was paced into mere seconds for Travis. His thoughts ran wildly in circles while his body sat frozen in shock. Finally, he reached out and turned on the headlights. The intricate lines of a cracked windshield and settling dust were all that was illuminated. The darkness beyond was empty.
Opening his door, he got out. Travis took two steps to the front of the car and saw the consequences of this evening's overindulgence. In the harsh relief of the car's headlights was a crumpled mass. Long, red hair was spilt on the ground like blood, hiding the person's face. A delicate, pale hand flexed involuntarily against the pebbles. The only sound was the Honda's laboring engine.
"No. Nononononono!" Stammered Travis, as panic seeped into his inebriated thoughts. Images of jail cells and depraved men flashed in his mind. He backed away from the form lying
motionless on the road. Jumping into his car, he threw it into reverse and drove away. Distance and denial were his only concerns.
Pain. Sharp, intense pain.
Through the pain and the haze, the traveler realized that she was hurt. She needed to move, to find help. Struggling out of the backpack brought more pain and left her exhausted. Lying under the indifferent stars, drawing ragged breaths, the traveler gathered her will about her. She staggered to her feet.
Looking towards the road, a black fog gathered on the edges of her vision. Each toilsome step helped the fog to spread and thicken.
Less than a dozen steps brought the traveler to the center of the blacktop. Her will gave out and the fog slammed shut. The lone figure collapsed. Overhead, countless stars kept their silent vigil.
I promise the big bots will be in the next chapter.