The Open Road

For a blissfully long period of time, the little beast managed to keep occupied, bobbing his head and mumbling with his music. I gazed out the window, watching a few wispy clouds traverse the horizon beyond the endless dual strips of highway that faded off into the late summer haze. My thoughts drifted back to school as I caught a glimpse of the clock. I almost felt bad for the suckers sitting in Mr. Roland's chemistry class right then… until Guy's voice brought me out of my driving stupor. He had apparently reached that point where all the radio stations had commercials at the same time, because a grocery store jingle now blared from the speakers.

"I just know they do this to me on purpose. Why must they have these anyway? It isn't as though anyone right in the head would want to listen to these flaming commercials. Oh, by the way, I added 93X and a couple of other stations to your favorites. I can't believe what you had on there for number one…"

"You deleted my stations?! That's it, don't touch the radio anymore. Your privileges have been revoked. " I reached for the knob, but received a sharp slap on the wrist. "Ow!"

Guy didn't say a word. He sat there, flexing his claws and glancing menacingly at my right hand, which was turning bright red from the recent assault. It was his dark glare that said it all, though. Try it. I dare you.

"Fine. I'll change them back later." I tried to sink into thought again, but the road was beginning to undulate between increasingly frequent hills. It wasn't until the radio fell silent that I brought my attention away from the road again. I sighed, preparing for an onslaught of annoyance, but the car was completely, eerily silent.

"What is it?" I glanced over at Guy. He had is nose pressed against the window like a little kid on a bus and was nervously coiling and uncoiling his tail.

"I require a rest stop."

I chuckled. "Well, the next bathrooms should be just about fifteen minutes down the road."

"No. I don't feel well."

I blanked out for a moment. "Huh?"

"Pull off the road!" Guy moaned.

"Oh. Crap. Don't you dare puke in my car!" I hastily pulled off the road, skidding to a halt halfway in the ditch. "Get out!"

Guy punched the sunroof button, and I watched in distress as the roof opened in slow motion. Then, to my horror Guy clapped his claws over his mouth.

"The door! THE DOOR!" I yelled desperately, reaching across and flinging it open. That was a mistake.

First I heard him hiccup. Then I felt blazing heat sear my back. I hurled myself back to my seat, but my timing was off. Instead I got another blast of fiery heat right in the side of my face. I yelled, Guy hiccoughed, and the smell of burnt hair began to fill the car. When the madness subsided, all I could do was sit there with a stunned look on my face as the smoke slowly receded through the half-open sunroof. It was Guy who recovered first.

"Sorry about that. No real harm done, though, eh? The radio still works!"

"Well, you know, that's the important thing isn't it!" I stammered angrily. My gaze fell to the stereo. The unit itself was indeed unharmed, but the edge of the windshield visor was blackened, along with a good section of the dashboard and the door. Then I glanced in the rear view mirror. One side of my face was black. My hair was smoking slightly, and my shirt had a large charred spot on the side. I jumped as Guy cranked on the music again. "What the heck was that?"

"Just a bit of indigestion. Probably brought on by the terrain. Nothing to worry about." He coughed a little and some smoke rose out the sunroof. "I'm feeling much better now."

"Nice to know that you are okay."

"Well, if you're going to get all huffy about a little thing-"

"A little thing?! Um, half my face is charred."

"Nonsense. It rubs right off."

"Lord, why?" I muttered, wiping my face on my shirt. Finally, I backed the car out of the ditch and pulled back onto the highway.

I received several odd looks from passing drivers, despite my attempts to hunch out of sight as they went by.