(I took Piccadilly’s Complete the Story journal literally and connected each of its prompts into one continuous narrative. Here’s what happened. As in the journal itself, prompts are in bold. Previous installments are tagged “completing the story.”)
The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about telling John to turn back. I thought about suggesting to Brett that we consume John’s brain, stuff his empty shell in the trunk, and use John’s car to start driving for Uber ourselves. It’s not as if Uber would ever know. But we had our futures to think about.
Getting that temp job at Sunglass Hut would be difficult. While the Salvation Army internship was paying Brett and me in valuable experience, both of us had done our graduate work in robot ethics and computer philosophy, not in customer service. Beating out a 48 year old graphic designer who knew how to Karen up a manager would be no easy feat.
Yet I had confidence in Brett, or so I told myself. But maybe I really was just running away from my own insecurities.
“You guys like Taylor Swift?” John asked.
Now there’s a brain I’d love to consume, I thought. Young, rich, an endless stream of former vampire lovers on speed dial. We’d have this mission finished in a week.
“Sure,” said Brett, when it became obvious I had once again forgotten how to work my larynx.
The sound that wafted from the speakers reminded me of sea kelks mating on the shores of Xal’goth. It reminded me of home.
Looking back, it could have gone either way. It didn’t work out, which makes it look like fate, or a stupid decision, or both. But at the time, I did have a few things in my favor. I had my health, my strength, and two pockets full of dryer lint and dreams. And I had Brett.
We consumed John’s brain together, trading sips of his sweet grey matter and smiling as his neurons fizzled on our meat tongues. We savored the white matter, reveling in our first glorious clear night on this godforsaken planet.
When nothing was left but John’s tough, chewy brain stem, Brett and I rolled John’s body into the river and piled into his car. We scuffled over who would drive until Brett threatened to roll down the windows and blast John’s entire discography of “Conway Twitty Covers Justin Bieber” if I didn’t let him take the wheel.
So I did, instead expressing my displeasure by sliding a CD of Celine Dion’s greatest hits into the stereo.
“In the morning,” Brett said, “you go stake out the Sunglass Hut. See if you can get that graphic designer alone.” The Uber app beeped.
“What will you be doing?” I asked.
“Picking up an extra shift at the Salvation Army. There’s a dead raccoon in one of the couches on the sales floor.” Brett stopped the car and rolled down his window.
“Y’all Uber?” a cheery voice asked.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was the graphic designer.
It flashed through the sky and then was gone. Lucy was sure she had seen a UFO and was equally sure aliens were here to secretly make contact with a human being. Maybe they would choose her. Maybe she would get to visit their ship. Maybe she would get in their car, right now, and end them.