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April 27, 2018

18. Outlier

The cars rushed through the scathing desert. The dust towered behind them. Heat scorched the rubber tires as engines roared at their strained capacity.

In the desert there was no law. Rules were as bleached and useless as the occasional skeleton across the endless sandscape.

There were two cars. One had a driver and a single passenger. The other had a driver and two passengers. Laughing and screaming and raucous, unlawful sounds could not be heard over the pistons pounding and pulling in the engines.

The cars wove in between each other, in and out of the other’s tire tracks. They spun and circled and roared off again in straight, unyielding lines, only to circle and repeat their joyride matinée.

Eventually they both stopped. Their cars taking a collective breath.

It was not a moment of rest but simply resetting. The cars again roared as the chassis rocked. They burst out again in chaotic furry, dust blinding vision and the hot sun crushing the landscape. 

One of the cars suddenly flipped. It’s tires caught some rocks and lost traction. It spun and rolled sideways and rolled—seemingly in slow motion and unending. What a nightmare, a disastrous wreck. What as left was mangled metal and a new plume of dust.

The accompanying car, full of its passengers, timidly rode up to the wreckage. A door opened and someone slowly stepped out.

“Oh no. We can’t tell anyone this.” The driver and both passengers agreed to never tell a soul what happened and move on with their lives. This wasn’t their fault and they weren’t going to live with it. So they drove away hastily and full of fear—every bump in the uneven, rocky desert was a reminder of the brevity of their lives. And they drove onward.

But the metal was still hot in the sun. There was no fire but a mixture of rising, black engine smoke was mingling with the settling brown dust.

From the heap of unrecognizable, mangled car a groan. An audible exhale in pain. The driver survived. He opened his blurry eyes in pain to see the other car—driver and passengers—moving quickly into the waves of heat on the horizon and disappearing forever.

His hand reach beyond the dislodged door and onto the hot desert floor. His body ached in pain. A heat was burning inside him, below him, and all around him. Sweat poured off his forehead, lip, and chin, down his neck.

And suddenly, still in the clutched hand of twisted metal, he felt a coolness, a sweet lightness in air as it lifted the weight of heat from all around him, from below him, and from inside him; calming him now. His sweat now seemed like a morning dew, a pleasantness to it.

He closed his eyes. He knew the end was near—how could it be otherwise. When he reopened his eyes the coolness had turned the flat, endless desert of dryness and monotony into lushness and greenery. Hills rolled around him. He turned his torso to observe his situation: his demolished car was nothing more than a collection of low hanging tree limbs that easily moved and relieved the weight he had felt. His body did not ache or sting with pain. The wetness of blood he felt was an innocent dew of water in his new terrain.

He rolled over and looked up into the sky. A new disc shone mercifully on him—this sun was not the demanding and punishing sun of earlier.

Where was his passenger? Did she survive? She had begged him to stop, turn around, go home. Now she was gone.

In keeping with a schedule I am publishing this before its truly finished. So this is part 1. More to follow.