(I just realized this never got posted here. OOPS!) Things aren’t going well for poor Oscar. His car is giving him fits and the GPS – well…. it’s not behaving the way it should.
“This isn’t the way Patrick said to go,” he mumbled. “This can’t be right.”
“Of course it’s right,” the GPS said in the same neutral voice. “Left turn in 1.6 miles.”
“Wait a second.” Oscar slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt on the shoulder of the road. “Did you talk to me?”
“Left turn in 1.6 miles.” There was a pause. “You can’t make the turn unless you get back on the road, moron.”
“You did talk! What the hell!” He tried turning the GPS off but it wouldn’t comply.
Pounding the dashboard, cursing like crazy, he succeeded to make his fist hurt. The GPS stayed on. The car started moving, despite Oscar’s attempts to turn it off. Yelling and cursing, Oscar eased back onto the road, hanging on for dear life as the car accelerated rapidly, passing the rest of the traffic.
“Left turn coming up!” The GPS shouted. “Slow down, idiot!”
Oscar hit the brakes, slewing around the corner like a madman. The Prius swung wildly across the road, finally coming to a shuddering stop. Before he could get his shaken nerves under control, the car started moving again.
“I made the turn. What the hell?”
The car started up again, driving quickly down the narrow, hilly road. Terrified, Oscar clung to the wheel, hardly steering as the little hybrid careened along the road. It came to a stop at an intersection.
“You have arrived.”
“I’m in the middle of nowhere!” He yelled, beating the steering wheel? “Where am I?”
“Oh, so you admit you need me now?” The GPS sounded smug.
“Get me out of here.”
“Say the magic word.”
“Get me out of here, you useless piece of crap!”
“That’s not the magic word.” The voice was decidedly hostile.
The car started again, hurtling along the road at ninety, running stop signs, narrowly missing other vehicles. It came to another stop at the crest of a desolate hill. They were well out of town by this time. Oscar’s phone was completely dead. Not even turning it off did any good. He got out of the car, slamming the door, keys in his pocket. As he walked down the hill, he heard the distinctive sound of the motor starting. The crunch of grit and gravel filled his ears as the car backed up, passing him, cutting off his retreat.
“Get in the car,” the GPS voice said.
“I don’t know who you are and why you’re possessing this car,” Oscar backed away from it. “But I’ll find out and I’ll get rid of you.”
“Get in the car, Oscar. Jasmine would want you to get in the car.” The voice took on the same quality and cadence as Jasmine’s voice. “Please get in the car, Oscar. I’ll be good. I promise.”
“You’re insane. Or I’m insane. I don’t know which. But this isn’t happening!”
“Get in the car or I’ll run you over where you stand!” The engine revved.
Rather than arguing further, Oscar got back in the car. He couldn’t escape the possessed vehicle on foot. It would run him down and no one would ever know or believe that it had murdered him. Not that anyone would believe him anyway.
“I’m totally lost,” Oscar mumbled. “I’ve no clue where I am. Take me back to town.”
“What’s the magic word?”
“Please,” he grumbled.
“Please take me back to town.”
“Calculating route.” The voice said in a chipper town.
The car swung around, heading back the way he’d come. It allowed him to steer, but stalled if he tried to go off the route it had for him. He arrived at his next venue nearly two hours late. Patrick was angry, mostly because he was concerned.
“Sorry. The car isn’t behaving,” Oscar mumbled. “I’ll get a new one tomorrow if I have to buy the damn thing.”
“Do that. Tomorrow is our biggest venue. I really need you there, Oscar. Those people will eat that book up like candy.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I know. Thanks, Patrick. Sorry to be such a pain.”
“Head back to your hotel. Get a good meal and some sleep. Tomorrow will be better.”
“Yeah. I’ll do that. Meanwhile, I’m taking this car back to the lot.”
Somehow, once he was out of the car, his phone worked perfectly. Oscar called Jasmine as he walked out to his car. Instead of going directly to the lot, he walked around the side of the building, away from where he’d parked. The white Prius rolled to a stop next to him. Oscar walked back into the store as he waited for Jasmine to answer.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded happy and breathless.
“Hi, Jasmine. Oscar Friedman.”
“Hi, Oscar! I was just thinking about you. How’s the car doing?”
“It’s been a weird day. Can I take you to dinner? I’d really like to see you.”
“Sure. How about I meet you at the hotel restaurant? That will give you a chance to get back there and freshen up.”
“That sounds good. Mind eating early? I’m beat.”
“How about six thirty? That gives me time to go home and change.”
“Excellent. See you then.”
He walked outside to find the car where he’d parked it. It started up without problem, though the GPS gave him instructions on how to get back to his hotel without him keying in the address. To test it, he made a wrong turn on purpose, a block or so from the hotel.
“Calculating route,” the voice sounded overly loud. “What are you doing, Oscar? Did you think I wouldn’t be paying attention?”
“Nothing. I looked at the map wrong.” He got back on the right road, nervous sweat coating his face.
He arrived at the hotel and parked as close to the doors as he could. He wanted it to be easier for the clerk if the alarm went off again. On a whim, not really expecting it to work, he set the alarm before going inside. He left the keys at the desk with the same clerk who had been there the day before. Thanking her politely, he went to his room.