Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Defying Destiny, Part I

Prompt

 You had planned to attend a friend’s birthday party and plugged her address into your GPS system, but the system guided you to somewhere else. Oddly enough, there was a man waiting for you at this mysterious place. “Sorry I had to rig your GPS, but this is urgent,” said the person.

Now, write.

 I was already running late, typing a text message with one hand (On my way! Sorry I'm late!) and trying to put on my second shoe with the other while hopping down the hallway on one foot. I burst out the door with such force that it hits the wall, rebounds, and slams itself shut. I take the stairs two at a time and dash to the car. I'm already at the entrance to my apartment complex before I have my seat belt buckled, and I'm turning on the GPS system in my car.

Eighteen seconds later I'm flying down the road as fast as I dare; its pretty late, which means less traffic, but it will be harder to see a cop car waiting to give me a ticket. Normally I wouldn't be so worried about being on time to a social event, but things have been tense between Anna and I lately. This is not the first event I've been late to recently, in fact even arriving there today will be a miracle. I can't explain why I keep missing these engagements, I leave with enough time, but somewhere along the way hours will pass inexplicably. I think it must have to do with my insomnia lately, because what else could it be? When I think about it too hard, I start to get a migraine, and my head feels funny.

Flying down the highway, listening to the GPS system. In three miles, take exit 21 onto E 32nd Avenue. I try to remember which exit goes to Anna's new house. Her husband recently got promoted, and he celebrated by upgrading to a four bedroom house with enough square feet and extra rooms to house a small third world village. Four bedrooms? The man has ambition, I'll give him that. I try not to feel bitter about it, and usually I don't. What happened between Michael and I is in the past, and it does no one any good to dwell on it. I'm happy for Anna. Really. I try to think about something else, and check the GPS again. In two and a half miles, take exit 21 onto E 32nd Avenue.

For now, I just drive with the windows down. One thing about insomnia, is you're never fully awake. You may not be able to sleep but that doesn't mean you are running on all cylinders. The more I need to be awake, the more tired I feel, but if I try to sleep I find myself unable to keep my eyes closed. So I lean back, slouch down a bit in the seat, and just drive. I feel my eyes getting heavy, but there is no danger of sleeping at the wheel if I can't sleep at all, now is there? The road is a straight stretch of asphalt, and I have the cruise control on so I don't get caught speeding. I blink, then just for a second, I close my eyes and keep them closed.

Tires hit the fog line, and my eyes snap open. My hand jerks to the inside of the lane, pulling me off the fog line and close to the car next to me. It also swerves, and the driver communicates his surprise by leaning on his horn for a solid five or six seconds. A quick glance around and everything is intact, and I seem to still be on the highway. Right as I think about checking the GPS, I hear it respond, "Take the next exit, exit 19 onto E 26th Avenue." That doesn't sound right, wasn't the exit further down?

"Stupid computers." I don't like technology, to be honest. It needlessly complicates life, it moves too quickly to keep up with, and most of it all serves redundant purposes anyway. Between email, a phone call, text messages, Facebook, in-office messages and, heaven forbid, an actual face to face conversation, how many ways do you need to talk to someone?

Grumbling further about the decline of humanity, I pull off the exit and take the next set of directions, trying not to choke on the irony of a small electronic device dictating my every vehicular action. I don't recognize the route at all, but its probably shorter this way. I tend to take the longer, roundabout paths because I like sticking to the main roads and I know where I'm going that way.

The shortcut takes me through an industrial part of town, and turns me down a side street between a row of manufacturing warehouses. It tells me to keep driving straight, keep going... then it just stops. Looking around, I see nothing. I check the GPS again, tapping its screen and knowing its a waste of time. Batteries must have died or something. I let out a gruff sigh and lean back in my seat, debating if I should call Anna and admit I'm a little lost, or try to find it myself and get hopelessly lost.

That's when I see the man.

He's standing not ten feet away from my vehicle in the middle of the street. No one was there a moment ago, so I don't know how he got there so fast. This is definitely not normal behavior, and this is not the part of town where you buy lemonade from the neighbor kid's stand. I make sure the doors are locked and start rolling up the windows. They get halfway up, then stop. Now just the windows, the whole car turned off. Somehow the engine died without warning. I turn the key in the ignition, and nothing happens. Doesn't even turn over. I'm unarmed, and without power the windows won't roll all the way up. That wouldn't be a problem if I had manual windows, stupid technology.

I debate if I should run or start calling the police, when I hear something that pauses my heartbeat.

"Good evening, Alexis. Sorry I had to rig your GPS, but this is urgent," said the person.

The voice is familiar, but I can't place it. Now I'm really worried. I don't have any friends who would think this is funny, so it can't be a joke. Did I make someone mad at the office?

"Nice to see you again. You don't remember me yet, it takes a few minutes. Don't worry, over time it will come back to you faster. And I didn't mean to startle you. Things moved faster than I anticipated. I had no choice but to intervene."

He was standing directly outside my car now. I have no where to run. Maybe if I slam the door open hard enough it will knock him over and I can-

Wait.

"How do you know my name?" The weight of his words just started to dawn on me. I was only half-listening through the pounding of blood in my ears, and initially dismissed whatever he said as the ravings of a psychopathic serial killer who lures his victims to warehouses where he probably stores the bodies. Listening to what he said, though, it causes me pause, "What do you mean by intervene? What are you intervening in?"

The man simply shakes his head, and his shoulders slump a bit. He takes a deep breath, holding it for a moment. Waiting to make a decision. All I can hear is my heart beating a bruise into my ribs, and I'm not entirely sure he can't hear it, too. Then he made whatever choice he was mulling over.

"You were destined to die tonight."

~To Be Continued... ?



[Reflections]

So, I decided I need to write more. Even if its not Origins, I need to write something with some regularity. I've always looked down a bit on writing exercises and prompts. I'm not sure what exactly I had against them, it just seemed silly to write what someone else told me to, instead of writing my own ideas. Obviously, that's stupid. A prompt is meant to open up your ideas, give you a launching pad from which you can leap into a story. I can't promise this will be a daily occurrence, my work schedule can be too taxing to promise that right now, but I will try to keep on it more. If you leave comments, ask questions about the story, say where you would like to see it go, or provide new prompts/ideas, it will spur me on further and the updates will likely quicken in pace. Otherwise, its just whenever I can bring myself to sit long enough to write. I may continue this story, I may not. I haven't decided yet. What do you think?