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A Phoenix Fiction Writer Rising From The Ashes of Nonfiction




The Journey 
by Michael T. Martin

I didn't expect to be driving. I didn't even have a car. In one man's journey into night all I could see were taillights ahead of me with the occasional oncoming headlight passing. Dark desert landscape swept by as the engine droned vaguely in the background. I followed a car ahead of me in darkness so that I received advance warning of curves or dips in the road. Back far enough that I couldn't really see the car, just the taillights.

The only other light was the soft glow of the instruments marking my speed and gasoline tank. I had enough gas to get to the next town and hopefully there would be a gas station open this early in the morning.

As meaningless miles materialized I slowly came to realize that my gas would last until the next town but my bladder wouldn't. I slowed, allowing the car ahead to disappear before I stopped alongside the road in darkness. Outside the car amid the dusty smells of desert plants I looked for some screen to pee behind. My eyes began adjusting to the dark and silhouettes became apparent in the starlight. I chose a saguaro a short walk from the road.

Looking skyward as I spewed urine I was astounded at the gravelly streak of stars spread across the sky. I had heard of the Milky Way but living in a city I had never really seen this glorious expanse of stars visible in the abject darkness of the desert. I was used to only constellations like the Big Dipper or Orion being visible as a handful of bright stars in the urban night. I marveled at the enormity, the sheer vastness of the stars arrayed across the sky.

Alone in darkness on an empty road stretching unseen across the desert I was one of six billion people alive on Earth. I wondered how many that was, compared to the stars I could see in the Milky Way. I was as insignificant in the world as the world was in the galaxy. I was even insignificant in my own car considering my circumstances.

As I turned to walk to the car in the darkness I suddenly realized someone else standing there: a young woman in shorts and blouse hugging herself in the darkness. She was mostly a dark silhouette with a shroud of long hair.

"Can you take a passenger?" she asked. She had a pleasant voice which kept me from being alarmed at someone appearing here in the middle of nowhere.

"I suppose," I said, "where are you going?"

"Wherever," she replied, "does it matter?"

"The door's unlocked. I didn't expect anyone out here."

She said something but I didn't hear it as a tractor-trailer roared by, its lights illuminating her momentarily and the bow wave of air blowing her long red hair out behind her. Her face was attractive with a wan smile. She opened the passenger door and leaned inside to sit, but hesitated. I hurried to the driver's side and climbed in, clearing the passenger seat of debris from my trip. She sat beside me, putting on her seat restraint.

I started my car again and drove after the semi to use its distant taillights as my guide. I hadn't noticed the cold before seeing her hugging herself. I had lost my sense of feeling; the temperature inside the car had stabilized so I had been comfortable. I didn't think it was that cold but I asked her.

"You want the heat turned on?"

"No, I'm fine, it was just chilly and scary outside."

"How did you end up in the middle of nowhere at night?"

"It's a long story. Where are you headed?"

"I don't know yet. To be honest with you, I don't even know why I'm driving."

"Well, you don't have much choice out here," she said.

"True enough. I went through the glove compartment looking for a map. That was the stuff on the seat. No luck."

"Does it matter?"

"It's just I don't know where I'm at, I don't know where I'm going, I don't even know why I'm here, wherever I am."

"You're with me," she said with a smile I could just barely make out from the glow of the instrument lights.

"I don't know who you are either."

"Does it matter?" She put her hand on my thigh. That was unexpected. A woman hitch-hiking should be careful who picked her up. She shouldn't stimulate her unknown companion.

"What's your name?" I asked.


"Where are you from?"

"Does it matter?" she said leaning toward me, turning so her shoulders were across the seat instead of facing forward. I expected her to solicit me.

"Okay, maybe it doesn't." I stopped talking and she slowly leaned back into her passenger seat facing forward, also saying nothing. Her hand was still on my thigh. The subtle stimulating scent of a woman began to permeate the interior. My senses roiled at the provocation of her presence.

We drove across the desert in darkness that was fraying at the edges of the horizon. Morning would eventually turn the night into day. Silently, except for the drone of the engine, we drove on behind the dim lights of the invisible truck ahead of us. In the limited splotch of light in front of the car the desolate desert passed unrecognized. After a long while a sign ahead caught my attention. It read: Rest Area 4 miles.

"Would you like to stop at the rest area?" I asked.

"Yes. That would be nice."

The horizon had begun revealing an emerging light as we took the turn off. Driving into the parking area I noticed we were on a bluff overlooking an ocean a hundred feet below. The dimly illuminated horizon in the background was reflected in the waves crashing onto the beach. That surprised me. There shouldn't have been an ocean here. There shouldn't have been a sunrise behind an ocean here. The only nearby ocean was in the west, where there might be a sunset, but not a sunrise.

I puzzled about that as I walked with Sharon towards the restrooms. She moved closely against me and gave me a kiss on my cheek.

"I'll be right back," she said as her perfume cascaded around me.

I was surprised by the kiss. It was another puzzle. The night seemed comprised of pleasant enough puzzles, but I worried a little about what it all meant. She was a blazing fireball in the greyness of everything else. I walked over to a grey pipe fence on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the surf below. The ocean surged in shades of grey in the dim light. The barely audible snoring noise of the surf dominated the silence of everything else.

Alone, the greyness of my own existence dominated my thoughts. I seemed to have lost my memory, or at least it had greyed out in my thoughts. I had only the immediate memory of a desolate grey road I didn't understand yet strangely illuminated by an intruding presence of a woman. Nothing in the entire mix of this existence made sense. It seemed a twilight existence. Indeed, an ephemeral existence where everything seemed rather than was.

There was, at least, a brightening horizon, or so it seemed. It might have been my eyes just further adjusting to the darkness. I heard Sharon's steps approaching behind me. I turned to observe her walking over to stand beside me looking out at the ocean. She didn't react to me but just spoke.

"There's a path off to the right that goes down to the beach."

I looked and saw the trail.

"Can we go down to the beach?" she asked looking at me eagerly. The rest area was deserted except for us. The car would be safe. I nodded my head and walked toward the path. Sharon eagerly skipped to the path and started down to the beach. I followed, walking faster to keep up with her.

The sounds and smells of the surging ocean increased near the bottom. About fifty feet of beach, a light grey of almost white sand, stretched between the cliff and the water. In the dim light, the foam of the surf seemed to glow, the sound echoed off the cliffs, and somewhere sea gulls were calling. Sharon put her arm around my waist and pulled me toward the water.

"I like walking along the edge," she said.

We walked along the shoreline, turning quickly inland when the foam slid from the water toward our feet. Then we strolled back toward the water as the foam slid down into the water again. It was pleasant and distracting.

"Let's go swimming," she said suddenly.

"We don't have bathing suits."

"We don't need bathing suits," she replied, removing her blouse and shorts to stand nude before me. I was momentarily both shocked and excited by her freckled nudity. She had a slender body with bulbous breasts swaying below her big smile.

No one was there to see us and probably couldn't see us in the dim light from the rest area if they arrived. So I quickly joined her in shedding my clothes and we waded out into the water holding hands. I was surprised the water was lukewarm as the waves crested against my thighs, splashing up onto my body. We continued to wade in until at peak swells I was up to my neck. Sharon climbed onto my back, wrapping her legs around my waist.

Feeling her nudity against me set my blood racing. I quickly became much warmer than the water, and carnal feelings of wanting her began circulating in my body. Her face pressed against mine, wet strands of red hair cascading down my chest. Knowing I was between the thighs of a beautiful nude woman rubbing her body on me excited me.

I started walking toward the beach with her head next to mine and her arms around me. I puzzled a little about that too. She was certainly "forward" as they say. She seemed to have no reservations about her behavior with a strange man and I was entertaining thoughts of being forward myself. I wanted her.

I thought it was strange that I didn't have feeling in my arms and legs, I only felt her body rubbing against mine, her breasts rolling against my shoulder blades, my blood racing through my veins. I couldn't explain the water being warm, or it even being here in what should have been desert. Nothing made sense in the way I expected it, too much seemed to be a fantasy of my emotional desires. My overwhelming emotional desire at the moment was to have her on this beach. A more than obvious desire I knew she could see from her perch.

I walked well out of the water onto the sand and stopped. I expected her to dismount and then I would pull her face to face to make my gambit. I never had the chance. She grabbed my arm pulling me down to kneel with her on the sand. With her hand she grasped and stroked the obviousness of my desire.

"Fuck me," she said, leaning backward to lie on her back nude in the sand and spreading her upright knees. She had a mischievous smile with twinkling eyes. I took her up on her offer, entering her as she hugged me and excitedly raised her pelvis to meet my thrusts. I quickly blossomed into a frenzy increasing in exhilaration until I climaxed and collapsed on her. She wrapped her legs and arms around me, kissing me.

After several minutes of enjoying the bliss relaxing atop her, I attempted to roll off of her to one side but she rolled with me to end up on top with me still in her. Her face hovered inches above mine with her long red hair hanging like a curtain around us. Her eyes were demonic, staring at me over a satanic smirk. My body was still throbbing in ecstasy but my mind realized something that made me feel like an idiot: I had always assumed the grim reaper was a man.

"I'm already dead, aren't I," I said more than asked. Sharon leaned down pressing her lips softly against mine. The last thing I ever heard was her breathless whisper: "Does it matter?"


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