The Gun Wasn’t Hers

She hadn’t wanted it, but there it was, on the seat beside her. For your protection, they’d said. Just in case.

She was driving I-90: Seattle to Chicago, beat-up Beetle. Running a package out for this guy she knew. A delicate instrument, he’d said—didn’t trust UPS. The pay was good and she was between gigs. Lots of empty country out there, they’d said. True. Miles of nothing but dirt and sky flying by.

Out past Billings, a rock hit the windshield. Shattered it. She jerked at the wheel, nearly drove off the road. Where the hell did that come from? She slowed the car to a stop and sat til her breathing got down to near normal. The sun caught hold of the edges of exploded glass, turning her windshield into a web of rainbow colors.

She couldn’t see driving far with a slivered windshield and had no clue where she was going to get a new one in this wasteland.

In the rearview, she saw something move—back alongside the road, by the loose rocks. Her stomach lurched. Grabbing the gun, she found the safety, clicked it off, willed her legs out of the car, onto the pavement. Caffeine-alert, she walked down the road, scanning the horizon, hair whipping around her eyes.

But it wasn’t there anymore It was behind her.

Flash Frontier, 2012