Afflictions: Part Thirty Eight

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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Safety disclaimer: Be careful opening the hood of a car. If it was on recently it may be extremely hot.

Jude looked out the window as the highway passed by. They were finally in Wyoming, so they were getting pretty close to their destination. Detached from his experience of the past few hours, it was absolutely gorgeous. Flat land stretched out for miles, with occasional clusters of trees. The sun warmed his face, and the AC cooled him off. The road carried on as far as the eye could see, and the view was only interrupted by occasional hills.

Taking his experience of the past few hours into account, it was physically painful to look at. There was nothing, and there had been nothing for hours. There wasn’t much conversation, and the radio was off, so he’d taken to playing on his phone. A problem had arisen, however. It was almost dead. Jude pocketed it and sighed.

“I think we’re just about there…” Guillermo muttered. “Yeah, this is our exit.”

“Wow, really?” Relief washed over Jude, replacing the stiffness he had felt in his back and legs for a moment, only for a moment though. “I know I’ve asked this before, but remind me how you know this guy again? He was your boss right?”

“Yeah, back when I worked at Quiznos.” Guillermo nodded. “It was before Zoey was born, so I didn’t have much to keep me straight. This guy was probably the best boss I’ve ever had. I think he owned the place, but was pretty hands on, so I guess that’s how he has land out here. He just lives by himself.” Guillermo took the off ramp, made a left, and they were now on a two lane road.

“What’s Quiznos again?” Zoey asked. She seemed a lot more upbeat recently, so it looked like the vacation was treating her well. He was relieved that rest seemed to be doing the job.

“It’s a chain sandwich shop. A pretty decent one at that. There’s not that many in Georgia really, but there’s more in other places.” Guillermo smiled, looking into the rear-view mirror. It seemed like he noticed the difference too.

“Cool.” Zoey looked down at her phone for a bit, her curiosity about Quiznos seemingly satisfied.  She seemed worried, but not the same kind of expression that she’d had for most of the trip. “I’m starting to think Jessica might be mad at me. She’s been ignoring my texts for a while. They aren’t even marked read.”

“Really? Did something happen?” Jude turned to face her.

“I forgot to tell her before we left for the trip, so maybe that’s it?” She shrugged, but looked back down at her phone, clearly still concerned.

“I bet it’s fine. You can work it out when you get back.” Jude tried to think of another conversation starter to get her mind off of it, but his thoughts were cut short.

“Uh-oh…” Guillermo muttered.

Jude looked back to the front of the car and saw smoke pouring out of the hood. There was also some kind of sustained loud noise coming from it as well.

“That’s crappy timing too. We’re just far enough off the highway that I doubt anyone will see us to stop, and we’re kinda in the middle of nowhere.” He nodded, and seemed relatively unbothered by this.

He pulled over to the side of the road, turned off the car, and got out. Jude joined him at the front of the car. Guillermo reached his hand under the hood to open it, but pulled it back in pain.

“We’ll let it cool first.” He smiled, blowing on his fingers.

Jude looked off down the road, and saw a car coming their way. “Should we wave it over here? It might be the last one we see for a while.”

“Fair point.” He nodded, and raised an arm.

The truck slowly closed the distance between them, and once it was close, began to slow down and pull over. Out from it stepped a middle aged white guy with an unkempt beard, wearing a polo and overalls.

“You folks broke down?” He asks, looking at the wisps of smoke still coming out from under the hood.

“John…?” Guillermo looked confused for a moment.

“Oh, well, if it isn’t Rodriguez! Funny how timing works out.” He laughed and came in for a hug, then turned to Jude. “I’m John by the way. If I’m not mistaken, you’re Dayspring, right?”

Jude nodded, smiled, and shook the man’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“And I take it that that’s the famous Zoey I’ve heard about?” He peered through the windshield and waves at Zoey, who waves in return, and looks back down at her phone.

He steps up to the hood and opens it up. Guillermo was about to say something, presumably about it being hot, but John had no problems with it. With the hood propped open, he peered in. “Looks like you’ve got a belt that slipped.” He nodded, then went off to his truck and returned with a pair of gloves and a big bottle of water. He dumped the water on the engine, and steam came off at first, but then subsided. Once he’d done that, he reached his hands in and grunted, then pulled them out and turned back to Guillermo. “Alright, should be good now. Start her up, and I’ll drive with you back to the farm.”

Jude was slightly amazed by this guy’s prowess with cars, but then again, he slightly expected this kind of skill from people living in the middle of nowhere like this. If he was that good with cars, he presumably worked on them at his farm. Jude wasn’t that into cars himself, but he was always interested to see people’s hobbies.

They closed up the hood, piled back into the car, and started it up. Sure enough, it started up without any problems, and they followed John down some back roads up to his farm.

As the farm came into view, Jude had a better understanding of what John had meant by farm. It really seemed like more of a ranch. There were a couple of barns, with fenced areas around them, and a few cows, goats, and chickens milling around in their respective areas. The farmhouse was two stories and pretty large. Jude was told that John lived alone earlier, so really the size surprised him. He had a lurking feeling that the most interesting part of this trip had still yet to come.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

To be fully honest I’m typing this super quick in two minutes before I go to work today. Have a good one. If you’ll notice, I’m using the same blurb as last week for the same reason.

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