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Dawn Butter had pulled into a little fill station in the desert; her car’s gas gauge needle was hovering right above the E- which for most driver’s stood for Evil or Expensive and not for Empty. Dawn knew she had a few good miles to go, 25, 50 at least, before the car would sputter to an unmovable stop and then she would be beating on the wheel, as if that would somehow, magically, move the car towards her destination, home.

She got out of her car, stepping a pumped foot out onto the dusty concrete below her. Dawn grabbed the pump and began to fill her car, watching the gallons filled and money numbers go up and up and up. Once she filled her gas tank, $56.00 later, she got back into her car. Before Dawn could even start her car, the attendant came rushing out, waving his arms frantically. “Your card was declined! Your card was declined! Your card was declined!”

Fuck. She sank lower into the seat. That damn ex of hers! That damn human offshoot! Ugh. James fucking Yorba, the dumb hunky of her high school, she sneered a lip up in disgust. He moved out to middle of fucking nowhere, with only his GED and a bong. Seems like he got a job at a fill station. “You need to pay inside! You need to pay inside!”

Really, James, really? High on the job? The transaction clearly said complete and approved. James probably wanted what was between her legs again, wanted access to that secret garden. She started to get into her car and his tone changed at once. The kind of tone that would make anyone feel an odd, vague disquiet settle over them. “Come inside and pay or there will be trouble.”

Thoughts about why she had left him flashed into her brain. Her arm ached, her hand felt hot. From the gunshot wound and the stabbing. She did as told but she did demand the number, because employees should not threaten customers. He reached across the counter and clamped his hand over her mouth; a hand that was attached to an arm that was scrawled in tattoos, most done by an illegal alien in a garage with a dirty needle.

“For fuck’s sake, Dawn, listen carefully to me, okay?” he said. “While you were pumping gas, a guy slipped into your backseat, on the other side.”

Dawn gave him a wild look, a look of both fear, terror and wanting to get the fuck out of there. Contaminated with a bit of romance. “I’ve already called the police.”


She ran to the glass door and pressed her face to the windows, and saw her backseat door open up and a man get out.

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