Hopper: “What the hell is this? Where have you been?”
Eleven *internally*: oh you know… i hitch-hiked to my mothers house…stole from my aunt Becky… took a bus to chicago… met my “sister”… joined her murder gang… stole some eggo’s… asulted a man at a gas station… and almost killed another man for revenge…
There is a 450 mile stretch of road on Highway 16, between Prince George and Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada. This remote road has become known as “The Highway of Tears” due to the fact that 40+ young women have disappeared there in the past 30 years; many believe the work of multiple serial killers. 19 bodies, ranging in age from 12 to 33, have been been discovered on the road - many had been raped, beaten to death, or strangled, and many disappeared while hitch-hiking. The majority of the women are aboriginal, leading many to believe that this is why the police force on the task lack enthusiasm or interest in solving it.
“No, no, no, no!” Eric shouted, slamming his hands on his steering wheel with each exclamation. “No! This cannot be happening, dear Lord.”
Eric exhaled loudly, sitting back in his seat and closing his eyes. He’d thought he could make it back to the hotel, had underestimated the folks at his book signing when they told him Montreal blizzards were not to be messed with.
He had come to Montreal as part of his tour to promote his newest cookbook. Instead of filming for his show, he’d be doing vlogs on the road for the time being. He had one more stop in New York before he would be heading to California for the rest of the summer. If he ever survived being stranded on the side of the road in a Canadian snowstorm, that is.
Eric had no idea where he was. All he knew is that the hood of his car had started smoking the same time as he ran out of gas, and he had just enough time to pull over before his rental car refused to go any farther.
At least he had his phone. Sure, it was at 9% with one bar, but he could still make a call or two. Eric grabbed the travel brochure from his bag and dialed the one mechanic’s shop on the list of phone numbers.
“Bonjour, c'est Réparation Automobile,” the man on the phone said.
“Oh! I’m sorry, uh, Jay ne par-le pas French,” Eric tried. One semester of language in college had not prepared him at all.
“I am sorry,” the man said, his English heavily accented. “This is Auto Repair. Can we help you?”
“Yes, my car broke down right off of 117 and I am really lost,” Eric admitted.
He waited for a response for long enough that he started to wonder if the man had hung up. Eric pulled the phone from his ear and saw that the screen was black and– great. Now his phone was dead.
Eric tried not to panic. Surely the snow would stop soon. And his car was still warm! He had water and food in the back, and an extra blanket, though his portable charger was back at the hotel. And eventually, someone would have to come down this road and see him.
Deciding to brace the cold himself, Eric got out of the car and ran around to the front, lifting up the hood. Smoke billowed out, and though Eric had never been particularly apt at mechanics, he knew enough to tell he wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Eric resigned himself to waiting in the car. After locking all the doors and turning off the headlights, he climbed into the backseat of the car and wrapped himself in the blanket. He grabbed a granola bar from his bag and a bottle of water, trying to think of anything but the fact that he was currently stranded.
Just as he was drifting off to sleep, Eric heard the distinct sound of a car engine. He scrambled to unlock the car door and lunged outside, twisting himself in the blanket. He ended up falling face-first into the snow but managed to stand up in time to get the driver’s attention.
Though Eric was waving frantically and yelling at the car, it sped right past him, not even slowing down. Eric let out a frustrated groan as he watched the car disappear.
Eric turned back to his car and groaned when he saw his one blanket was being quickly soaked in the snow. Eric wrung it out the best he could, then set it on the passenger seat to dry.
He leaned his head against the car and let out a scream of frustration. He was alone, and lost, and so, so fucked.
“Euh, Bonjour? As-tu besoin d'aide?” Eric heard a voice say behind him.
Eric spun around to find a man leaning out of the window of his car, looking concerned. Relief flooded through him, melting the cold fear he’d been blanketed in.
“Yes! Yes, thank you! My car broke down and now I’m lost, I’m not from here if you couldn’t tell, and oh gosh I don’t even know if you speak English, pardon me! And as I’m talking I’m just now thinkin about how dangerous this is, with me being in another country talking and all, to a stranger from the side of the road!” Eric flushed. “Sorry, I ramble when I’m nervous. Do you ever do that? I get it from my mama. I’ll stop now.”
“Uh,” the man said.
“I’m Eric,” he tried, walking close enough to reach out his hand for the man to shake.
“Jack,” the man said, “And yes, I speak English. Your car broke down?”
“Yeah,” Eric sighed, looking back at the thing. “It’s actually a rental. My phone died when I tried to call for help, which was just my luck, really.”
“Do you want me to take a look?” Jack offered.
Eric hesitated. Really, this was dangerous. A strange man, from the side of the road? He’d normally never do this, but he figured it was either die from the cold or chance Jack being some sort of crazy ax-murderer. And the snow didn’t have silky black hair or icy blue eyes, so.
Eric nodded. “Yes, please.”
Jack drove up a few feet to park his car, then got out and jogged back to Eric. As he popped the hood of the car and leaned in to take a look, Eric couldn’t even pretend to ignore the size of the guy. Jack was gorgeous, from his broad shoulders to his trim waist to his big, big thighs–
“Engine is busted,” Jack confirmed, wiping his hands on his (unfortunately loose) jeans. “I can call someone, but it’ll be a while before they get here. Or I could take you back into town?”
“Oh, um, how long would it take for someone to come by?” Eric asked.
“Honestly? Two hours if you’re lucky. Traffic is brutal right now.”
Eric hummed in understanding. Traffic had been awful. That’s why he took this route in the first place. He debated it in his head: wait it out, or risk taking a ride with a stranger.
“And how do I know you’re not some killer, Jack?” Eric tried for teasing, pushing him lightly. Jack’s face pulled into a frown.
“You don’t know who I am?” Jack asked. Eric shook his head.
“Well… no, I guess not. I just thought, since you have that Falconers hat–”
“Oh, this is my roommate’s! He’s a real big hockey fan. Canada boy born and bred, and all that.”
“Huh. Well, if it makes a difference, I’m their starter,” Jack deadpanned. Eric waited for any signs of a give, for Jack to admit he was fibbing, but he just kept looking at Eric expectantly.
“Hardy-har-har,” Eric mocked, rolling his eyes. “I know this is Quebec, but claiming to be a professional hockey player isn’t exactly helping your credibility here, Mister– oh.”
Eric stared at the screen of Jack’s phone that Jack had thrust in his hands. Looking closer, he could make out an article entitled, “JACK ZIMMERMANN TRADED TO PVD FALCONERS, 8.9M CONTRACT DEAL,” dated a year ago. Right below was a picture of Jack in a baseball cap standing next to the Stanley Cup.
“You’re– sweet Lord, I stand corrected,” Eric said, handing Jack back his phone. “Well, it’s not every day I get offered some quality time with a beautiful professional athlete,” Eric teased, blushing when he realized what he’d said. Jack’s smile was only growing, though, reassuring Eric that he hadn’t crossed a line. “Alright then, Mr. Zimmermann, I suppose I’ll have to accept that ride from you if only to brag about it to my roommate– who, quite honestly, needs taking down a notch or two.”
Jack’s smile widened. “Great. Do you need help with your things?”
“Thank you sugar, but I’m okay. I just have a few bags. I’ll be over in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
Eric all but dashed back to his car and hastily unlocked the front seat. He grabbed the still-wet blanket and threw it in his bag, along with the rest of his things he’d taken out during the drive. Eric then popped the trunk and pulled out his suitcase before locking the car back up and lugging his things towards Jack.
Jack was standing on the passenger door side and took Eric’s things from him, setting them down in the back seat. Before Eric had a chance to move, Jack had opened his door, too.
“After you,” Jack smirked, his cheeks flushed.
Eric chided himself. Jack was cute, yes, and maybe even a little bit flirty, but he was a jock. And Eric had enough experience with jocks to know the likelihood of being friends, let alone dating one, was close to zero for him.
They lapsed into an awkward silence the first few miles, with Eric’s phone charging and Jack focusing mostly on the road. It struck Eric once again that he was hitch-hiking with a multi-millionaire professional athlete who was easily twice Eric’s size.
“You live in Providence then? What brings you to Montreal?” Eric tried, desperate to pull a conversation out of Jack if it killed him.
“Visiting family,” was all Jack said.
“Well! I used to visit my folks all the time. We don’t speak much anymore, actually, but my mama is coming around I think. I’m from Georgia if you couldn’t tell.”
Jack hummed in acknowledgment. “I made some stupid mistakes when I was younger. I’m sure you can read all about them later, if you want. But after that, I’ve been really close with my parents. It’s… nice.”
Now it was Eric’s turn to fall silent. “Sounds like it.”
“So,” Jack cleared his throat, “What brings you to Canada?”
Eric tried to keep his smile to himself at Jack’s attempts at small talk. “Well! I think I mentioned this earlier, but I’m actually here as part of my book tour. To think I was posting vlogs just a year ago, and now I have my own cooking show!”
“I know,” Jack said slowly, glancing over at Eric. “I watch your show. It’s uh– it’s relaxing.”
“Oh! I didn’t peg you as particularly into Food Network shows,” Eric said, trying his best to calm the blush heating up his cheeks.
“The cute host helps,” Jack mumbled.
“Well!” Eric stumbled. He felt like his whole body was burning up, from his fingers to the tips of his ears. “You sure know how to make a boy feel special, Mr. Zimmermann.”
They carried on in their conversation, sharing playful quips and side glances the entire ride. After what felt like no time at all, Jack was pulling into a town. It was unrecognizable to Eric, but Jack seemed to know exactly where they were.
“Which hotel are you staying at?” Jack asked. Eric’s traitorous brain offered him images of inviting Jack to his room, of Jack laying him out on his too-large bed and taking him apart. Fuck.
“The Holiday Inn? It’s downtown,” Eric offered.
“Right. So, we’re about 15 minutes away.”
“Oh,” Eric said, suddenly at a loss for words. He didn’t want his time with Jack to be up. “Okay.”
They spent the rest of the drive in silence. Eric chided himself. We wanted to keep talking, to go back to whatever nonsense he’d been prattling on about, but the reality that he would have to say goodbye to Jack in just a few minutes was a heavy weight on his chest.
As Jack parked alongside the curb in front of Eric’s hotel, Eric decided, fuck it. He pulled a copy of his book and a sharpie out from his carryon.
To Jack, he wrote. Thanks for the ride. And not being a kidnapper. If you ever want to spend more time with your favorite cute host, call me. -ERB
Eric added his phone number below his signature and drew a few scattered hearts. He exhaled slowly before handing over the book.
“To remember me by,” Eric said as he stepped out of the car. “It was nice meeting you, Jack.”
They said their goodbyes, and soon Jack was driving away into Montreal traffic. The trip to his room was exhausting. Eric felt like he needed a large cheeseburger and three days worth of sleep. He settled on the nap, stripping to his boxers before slipping into bed.
When he woke up, the sky was dark. The digital clock on the nightstand read 4:39 am. Eric groaned, cursing his body for not just sleeping through the night. He blindly felt for his phone, resigning himself to a few hours of twitter before he had to get up.
When he unlocked his phone, Eric gasped. There were a string of texts from an unknown number.
This is Jack.
You said to text you.
You’re probably asleep. Sorry.
Text me when you’re up. I’d like to take you up on that offer.
Usually, I lie. At a party, someone asks the question. It’s someone who hasn’t smelled the rancid decay of week-dead flesh or heard the rattle of fluid flooding lungs. I shake the ice in my glass, smile, and lie. When they say, “I bet you always get that question,” I roll my eyes and agree.
There are plenty of in-between stories to delve into; icky, miraculous ones and reams of the hilarious and stupid. I did, after all, become a paramedic knowing it would stack my inner shelves with a library of human tragicomedy. I am a writer, and we are nothing if not tourists gawking at our own and other people’s misery. No?
The dead don’t bother me. Even the near-dead, I’ve made my peace with. When we meet, there’s a very simple arrangement: Either they’re provably past their expiration date and I go about my business, RIP, or they’re not and I stay. A convenient set of criteria delineates the provable part: if they have begun to decay; if rigor mortis has set in; if the sedentary blood has begun to pool at their lowest point, discoloring the skin like a slowly gathering bruise. The vaguest criterion is called obvious death, and we use it in those bizarre special occasions that people are often sniffing for when they ask questions at parties: decapitations, dismemberments, incinera- tions, brains splattered across the sidewalk. Obvious death.
One of my first obvious deaths was a portly Mexican man who had been bicycling along the highway that links Brooklyn to Queens. He’d been hit by three cars and a dump truck, which was the only one that stopped. The man wasn’t torn apart or flattened, but his body had twisted into a pretzel; arms wrapped around legs. Somewhere in there was a shoulder. Obvious death. His bike lay a few feet away, gnarled like its owner. Packs and packs of Mexican cigarettes scattered across the highway. It was three a.m. and a light rain sprinkled the dead man, the bicycle, the cigarette packs, and me, made us all glow in the sparkle of police flares. I was brand new; cars kept rushing past, slowing down, rushing past.
Obvious death. Which means there’s nothing we can do, which means I keep moving with my day, with my life, with whatever I’ve been pondering until this once-alive-now-inanimate object fell into my path.If I can’t check off any of the boxes—if I can’t prove the person’s dead—I get to work and the resuscitation flowchart erupts into a tree of brand-new and complex options. Start CPR, intubate, find a vein, put an IV in it. If there’s no vein and you’ve tried twice, drill an even bigger needle into the flat part of the bone just below the knee. Twist till you feel a pop, attach the IV line. If the heart is jiggling, shock it; if it’s flatlined, fill it with drugs. If the family lingers, escort them out; if they look too hopeful, ease them toward despair. If time slips past and the dead stay dead, call it. Signs of life? Scoop ’em up and go.
You see? Simple.
Except then one day you find one that has a quiet smile on her face, her arms laying softly at her sides, her body relaxed. She is ancient, a crinkled flower, and was dying for weeks, years. The fam- ily cries foul: She had wanted to go in peace. A doctor, a social worker, a nurse—at some point all opted not to bother having that difficult conversation, perhaps because the family is Dominican and the Spanish translator wasn’t easily reachable and anyway, someone else would have it, surely, but no one did. And now she’s laid herself down, made all her quiet preparations and slipped gently away. Without that single piece of paper though, none of the lamentations matter, the peaceful smile doesn’t matter. You set to work, the tree of options fans out, your blade sweeps her tongue aside and you battle in an endotracheal tube; needles find their mark. Bumps emerge on the flat line, a slow march of tiny hills that resolve into tighter scribbles. Her pulse bounds against your fingers; she is alive.
But not awake, perhaps never to be again. You have brought not life but living death, and fuck what I’ve seen, because that, my friends at the party, my random interlocutor who doesn’t know the reek of decay, that is surely one of the craziest things I have ever done.
But that’s not what I say. I lie.
Which is odd because I did, after all, become a medic to fill the library stacks, yes? An endless collection of human frailty vignettes: disasters and the expanding ripple of trauma. No, that’s not quite true. There was something else, I’m sure of it.
And anyway, here at this party, surrounded by eager listeners with drinks in hand, mouths slightly open, ready to laugh or gasp, I, the storyteller, pause. In that pause, read my discomfort.
On the job, we literally laugh in the face of death. In our crass humor and easy flow between tragedy and lunch break, outsiders see callousness: We have built walls, ceased to feel. As one who laughs, I assure you that this is not the case. When you greet death on the daily, it shows you new sides of itself, it brings you into the fold. Gradually, or maybe quickly, depending on who you are, you make friends with it. It’s a wary kind of friendship at first, with the kind of stilted conversation you might have with a man who picked you up hitch- hiking and turns out to have a pet boa constrictor around his neck. Death smiles because death always wins, so you can relax. When you know you won’t win, it lets you focus on doing everything you can to try to win anyway, and really, that’s all there is: The Effort.
The Effort cleanses. It wards off the gathering demons of doubt. When people wonder how we go home and sleep easy after bearing witness to so much pain, so much death, the answer is that we’re not bearing witness. We’re working. Not in the paycheck sense, but in the sense of The Effort. When it’s real, not one of the endless parade of chronic runny noses and vague hip discomforts, but a true, soon- to-be-dead emergency? Everything falls away. There is the patient, the family, the door. Out the door is the ambulance and then farther down the road, the hospital. That’s it. That’s all there is.
Awkward text messages from exes, career uncertainties, generalized aches and pains: They all disintegrate beneath the hugeness that is someone else’s life in your hands. The guy’s heart is failing; fluid backs up in those feebly pumping chambers, erupts into his lungs, climbs higher and higher, and now all you hear is the raspy clatter every time he breathes. Is his blood pressure too high or too low? You wrap the cuff on him as your partner finds an IV. The monitor goes on. A thousand possibilities open up before you: He might start getting better, he might code right there, the ambulance might stall, the medicine might not work, the elevator could never come. You cast off the ones you can’t do anything about, see about another IV because the one your partner got already blew. You’re sweating when you step back and realize nothing you’ve done has helped, and then everything becomes even simpler, because all you can do is take him to the hospital as fast as you can move without totaling the rig.
He doesn’t make it. You sweated and struggled and calculated and he doesn’t make it, and dammit if that ain’t the way shit goes, but also, you’re hungry. And you’re alive, and you’ve wracked your body and mind for the past hour trying to make this guy live. Death won, but death always wins, the ultimate spoiler alert. You can only be that humbled so many times and then you know: Death always wins. It’s a warm Thursday evening and grayish orange streaks the horizon. There’s a pizza place around the corner; their slices are just the right amount of doughy. You check inside yourself to see if anything’s shattered and it’s not, it’s not. You are alive. You have not shattered.
You have not shattered because of The Effort. The Effort cleanses because you have become a part of the story, you are not passive, the very opposite of passive, in fact. Having been humbled, you feel amazing. Every moment is precise and the sky ripples with delight as you head off to the pizza place, having hurled headlong into the game and given every inch of yourself, if only for a moment, to a losing struggle.
It’s not adrenaline, although they’ll say that it is, again and again. It is the grim, heartbroken joy of having taken part. It is the difference between shaking your head at the nightly news and taking to the streets. It’s when you finally tell her how you really feel, the moment you craft all your useless repetitive thoughts into a prayer.
At the party, as they look on expectantly, I draft one of the lesser moments of horror as a stand-in. The evisceration, that will do. That single strand of intestine just sitting on the man’s belly like a lost worm. He was dying too, but he lived. It was a good story, a terrible night.
I was new and I didn’t know if I’d done anything right. He lived, but only by a hair. I magnified each tiny decision to see if I’d erred and came up empty. There was no way to know. Eventually I stopped taking jobs home with me. I released the ghosts of what I’d done or hadn’t done, let The Effort do what it does and cleanse me in the very moment of crisis. And then one night I met a tiny three-year old girl in overalls, all smiles and high-fives and curly hair. We were there because a neighbor had called it in as a burn, but the burns were old. Called out on his abuse, the father had fled the scene. The emergency, which had been going on for years, had ended and only just begun.
The story unraveled as we drove to the hospital; I heard it from the front seat. The mother knew all along, explained it in jittery, sobbing replies as the police filled out their forms. It wasn’t just the burns; the abuse was sexual too. There’d been other hospital visits, which means that people who should’ve seen it didn’t, or didn’t bother setting the gears in motion to stop it. I parked, gave the kid another high five, watched her walk into the ER holding a cop’s hand.
Then we had our own forms to fill out. Bureaucracy’s response to unspeakable tragedy is more paperwork. Squeeze the horror into easy-to-fathom boxes, cull the rising tide of rage inside and check and recheck the data, complete the forms, sign, date, stamp, insert into a metal box and then begin the difficult task of forgetting.
The job followed me down Gun Hill Road; it laughed when I pretended I was okay. I stopped on a corner and felt it rise in me like it was my own heart failing this time, backing fluids into my lungs, breaking my breath. I texted a friend, walked another block. A sob came out of somewhere, just one. It was summer. The breeze felt nice and nice felt shitty.
My phone buzzed. Do you want to talk about it?
I did. I wanted to talk about it and more than that I wanted to never have seen it and even more than that I wanted to have done something about it and most of all, I wanted it never to have hap- pened, never to happen again. The body remembers. We carry each trauma and ecstasy with us and they mark our stride and posture, contort our rhythm until we release them into the summer night over Gun Hill Road. I knew it wasn’t time to release just yet; you can’t force these things. I tapped the word no into my phone and got on the train.
I don’t tell that one either. Stories with trigger warnings don’t go over well at parties. But when the question is asked, the little girl’s smile and her small, bruised arms appear in my mind.
The worst tragedies don’t usually get 911 calls, because they are patient, unravel over centuries. While we obsess over the hyperviolent mayhem, they seep into our subconscious, poison our sense of self, upend communities, and gnaw away at family trees with intergenerational trauma.I didn’t pick up my pen just to bear witness. None of us did. And I didn’t become a medic to get a front-row seat to other people’s tragedies. I did it because I knew the world was bleeding and so was I, and somewhere inside I knew the only way to stop my own bleeding was to learn how to stop someone else’s. Another call crackles over the radio, we pick up the mic and push the button and drive off. Death always wins, but there is power in our tiniest moments, humanity in shedding petty concerns to make room for compassion. We witness, take part, heal. The work of healing in turn heals us and we begin again, laughing mournfully, and put pen to paper.
***This story is written from the perspective of an alien, trying to contend with a hitchhiking Terran. Certain terms used are translated into their Terran equivalents for clarity’s sake.***
Part 1: The Hitch-hiking Space Australian
I had thought refueling the ship and off-loading the cargo would be the biggest things I would have to deal with this cycle. I was wrong. In the midst of checking the manifest for nitrogen scrubbers, I felt heavy footsteps behind me.
“Excuse me, but where is this ship going?” A voice asked, in almost perfect Durvian, my native language.
A chill went down my spine, all the way to my tail-tip. Terran. It couldn’t be anything else. I spoke over 50 different languages and had a translator for the rest, but very few knew my native language, let alone a perfect stranger. Let alone a Terran.
Steeling myself, I turned to meet the terrifying creature head on.
“S-Sol 236a…Why do ask?” I said trying to keep the shiver out of my voice.
The Terran bared its teeth, “Oh! Perfect! That’s just where I wanted to go! Thanks!”
The Terran then handed me a few Platinum credit chips, before making their way on board. No one questioned why there was a Terran on board- Ok A LOT of people questioned, but never while the Terran was around. My response was always the same: “You’ve seen what they can do! Are YOU going to tell them to leave?!”
To my people, and to most of the Galactic Federation, humans were scary. They came from a world on the border of Galactic Space, known as Terra, or more commonly: Earth. Even though my species comes from a planet of similar climate, I still consider their planet, a Death World; a genetic crucible, that every day, forges new and exciting ways to kill them. Yet for as bad as their planet was, the “humans” (as they were sometimes known) seemed worse!
Their skin was a veritable disease factory, their bones healed stronger after breaking, and instead of special coagulating chemicals in their blood to prevent infections, they had a symbiotic relationship with microorganisms that ATE the infectors. They drank poisons…for FUN. If they had a medical issue that removed a limb, they either created a mechanical version (usually with a weapon installed) or they edited their genetic code, to be able to regrow it. FULLY. In fact, editing your DNA was fashionable for many Terrans!
On top of that, no one in the Federation knew how their “magic” worked. This species had only barely achieved spaceflight 100 years ago, (almost as primitive now as it was then), and yet somehow, they had the ability create fire with a word, speak any language in an instant, and even change their forms at will, without any obvious technology aiding them. It was as if even the Universe was at their beck and call.
In response, the Federation created a simple set of rules to follow when interacting with Terrans:
- Limit conversations, as they might enchant you with their words.
- Avoid angering them. They are capable of destructive acts beyond imagination.
- Do not consume Terran food or media (videos, music, art, etc.), or you’ll never be satisfied with anything from your home world.
- Avoid direct contact with Terran skin, as they can carry any number of unknown diseases on them at any time.
- Do not let them take you to ANY of their colonies without a non-Terran way off world.
- And ESPECIALLY: DO NOT LET THEM TAKE YOU TO TERRA. IT IS A DEATH WORLD.
Most of the Federation lived by these rules almost religiously, and while a spark of curiosity burned within me, I knew there were VERY good reasons why the Rules existed. Those before us had found out the hard way, and the survivors wrote them to keep the rest of us safe.
It was 21 days until Sol 236a, and the rest of the crew was terrified. This was going to be a long three weeks…
Her ankles were sore and she was covered in a thin layer of dust , her skintight jeans were looser than they had been but she figured that was to be expected considering she hadn’t eaten a full meal in about two weeks. The road she was currently on seemed to go on for hours and there wasn’t a car in sight, like the last year of Betty Coopers life the beautiful blonde teenager was completely on her own, just her and the road. But.. she was so tired, so tired of hiding, of late nights sleeping in bus stations, 18 hour shifts at diners just to pay for the shotty motels in the dirty cities she kept company.
She was so tired of running.
Betty Cooper was sixteen years old, ”just a kid”, were the disappointed words uttered in her direction every time the run down, dirty blonde would beg for a waitress job or sign in at a motel, a black backpack holding all of her possessions. She was a fighter, small and stealthy, able to hide in the smallest places, a sense of “fight or flight” earned by years of abuse at the hands of multiple foster families. Her life had been..tough, but she was grateful, she was proud. She had survived, she was here and that had to mean something, it meant everything.
There was a low rumble coming from behind her, growing increasingly louder as she squinted, the sun beating down on her back. It was almost instinct for her thumb to stick out, hitch hiking came with the whole runaway thing, it was dangerous and there had been some.. not quite standup men who had offered her a ride but her body could only take so much more walking. Suddenly she was pushed back, Motorcycles, a gang, raced past her, her long blonde hair flying back as she tried desperately to make one of them stop, just a ride, not too far.
But no one stopped, they just kept riding, at least that what she thought as she watched helplessly, a disappointed huff leaving her lips. “whatever” she whispered, picking her backpack off the ground and hiking it over her shoulder.
“where ya headed?”
tThe low rumble of the unfamiliar voice had her whipping around, eyes widening at the bearded man seated on his Harley, a smile on his face as he stared at Betty expectantly.
“Oh! I’m so sorry I didn’t know you had stopped.” Betty apologized, remembering her manners instantly “ anywhere would be great, I’m just not sure where this road ends and Id love to get to a town before dark.”
The man stood from his bike
“ you do this a lot?” he questioned.
Betty cheeks flamed scarlet at the mans knowing eyes.
“ I…You could say that.” she answered, eyes looking anywhere but his.
“God, you’ve gotta be..what? fifteen?” he came to stand directly across from her, hands buried in his leather jacket, an intimidating snake tail curling over his shoulder, Southside Serpents written on the back.
“ I’m sixteen.” her eyes snapped back to the older mans, an undeniable fire sparking through her deep green eyes, she wasn’t going to let anyone mock her, make her feel small.
The bearded man smirked, enjoying the fire in her eyes
“I’ve got a boy your age. My son.. he reminds me a lot of you actually.”
Betty ran her fingers through her blonde curls, any talk of family always made her uncomfortable.
“ oh, I umm.. anyway about that ride? it doesn’t have to be far, maybe just a couple miles, I can rest my feet. my name is Betty by the way” she offered
“Fp Jones.” he pulled a helmet out of the bag on the side of his bike. “ you can come home with me..” he started
Betty stepped back, her eyes searching frantically, fingers coming to grip the hunting knife in the side pocket of her backpack.
Fp noticed the fear racing through Bettys body, he quickly shook his head.
“ No!.. god no! I didn’t mean it like that, I’m sorry, I just meant.. listen one of our trailers is open, we had one of our own run off with a Ghoulie, she’s not welcomed back and we’ve been looking for someone to fill the trailer. you can stay there for a bit.”
Bettys eyes widened again
“ I could never, how would I pay you? I don’t have work papers, I .. I have my license but.. its..” Betty scrambled, fingers clutching the shiny black helmet in her fingers.
Fp shook his head, getting on the Harley and patting the space behind him
“We’ll figure it out later, now hop on If I let those guys get too ahead of me lord knows the trouble they’d get in.”
Without a second of hesitation Betty was wrapping her arms around the grown man with the heart of gold. The ride was short, not even thirty minutes when they pulled up to the trailer park “Sunnyside”.
Betty stepped off of the bike, her eyes falling to Fp who seemed to be waiting for her reaction
“Sunnyside? how… appropriate?” she smiled, dimples peeking through the dust and dirt coating her cheeks.
Fp chuckled, a deep belly laugh as the two scanned the dark and dingy trailer park.
“She aint much” he replied
Betty placed a hand to his forearm
“Its perfect.” she whispered, eyes burning into the older mans.
“A good place to hide” He smiled softly, his voice filled with understanding.
“Yeah, a good place to hide.” she answered back, voice far away.
Fp took her to her trailer and apologized for the mess, apparently the woman before had been a pig, it was nothing Betty couldn’t handle and the clothes that she had left seemed to be Bettys size if not a little big.”
“you oughta come down to the Whyte Worm once you’re all settled, meet some people, get a decent meal in ya, you’re too damn small girl, I mean you..” his words were cut off when a pair of slender arms wrapped around his waist, dirty blonde hair pressing against his chest
“thank you Fp.” she whispered.
The gang member smiled softly. patting the girls head affectionately.
“anytime kid.” and then he was gone, leaving Betty alone in the brand new trailer. a space of her own, a place she could sleep without fear of someone banging on her door to let them in , “they just wanted a taste of the pretty blonde”, No foster fathers using her as a punching bag, and no police to lie to, just a bed and four walls. it was perfect.
After an hour long shower, Betty found herself in front of a vanity mirror, her hair clean and loose fell around her shoulders as the soft blue tank top and army green skirt felt like melted cotton her skin. Betty wasn’t really one for makeup but the brand new Ruby Red Lipstick sitting on the corner of the desk called for her, if this was going to be her new life , at least for now, why couldn’t she be someone different, someone new?
“Where were you?! everyone else got back at least twenty minutes before you, God dad, with the Ghoulies out for blood you cant just be disappearing like that.” Jughead Jones stared angrily at his father, Combat boot tapping impatiently on the floor of the bar, arms crossed making his leather jacket stretch the material tight against the sixteen year olds biceps. “Well? I’m waiting where were you?” he questioned again.
Fp couldn’t keep the smile off of his face as he watched his son scold him like a mother, he rested a heavy hand on the young serpents shoulder
“ I had to pick something up.” He grinned, wiggling his eyebrows teasingly, watching his son get riled up was his favorite past time.
“what?! pick up what? Dad!” Jughead called after the man who was currently sliding behind the bar.
Jughead Jones was essentially Serpent Royalty, the younger Serpents looked up to him , he was their faithful leader, a deep set mystery to the boy that had everyone trying to figure him out. He was fearless and angry but smart and fierce, traits he had gained from his father. The sadness he carried on his shoulders spoke of loss and pain, insecurity and darkness. He was handsome, dangerously so and yet he was always on his own, the girls followed him around but he showed no interest, he was focused on the Serpents on carrying his fathers legacy. plus.. he was too damaged, too much baggage.
“Turn around, you’ll see what I picked up.” his father winked, shouting over the ruckus of the bar.
It was almost like slow motion as Jughead turned around, he saw her instantly, the dim light of the bar like a halo above her. She was beautiful, a vision of honey blonde hair and long tan legs, her lips painted Cherry red and her eyes the deepest shade of meadow green. she was beautiful, the way she walked through the bar dodging and gliding past the rowdy drunks and angry females glaring her way, he had never seen someone like her, never seen the fierce determination in someone’s eyes, never seen the matching sorrow buried deep behind a nervous smile. It was like looking in a mirror, his heart stirred, a heavy sharp throbbing, one he’d never felt before.
Omg could you write a prompt about the snow ball??? Like maybe after the kiss? Or maybe just all the kids hanging out together b/c it feel like it would be magical lol
Eleven notices after her third perfect dance with Mike that Dustin is dancing with Nancy.
She also notices that his eyes are red.
Eleven frowns and looks down at her feet. Something is wrong. She’s spent a long time dreaming of the Snow Ball and it being perfect. And it is. Mike is sure and steady, they are figuring out dancing, they’ve kissed. But Dustin’s eyes are red and she can hear girls laughing across the room. She looks up at Mike whose watching her curiously.
“I know you don’t dance with your sister at Snow Ball,” she says, “but those girls are laughing at Dustin. We have to switch.”
Based on the pride ficlet, but Richie always carrying Eddie, like whether it be bridal style, on his shoulders, a piggyback ride he's almost always carrying the boy (he's so smol how could he not?)
Eddie had been playing outside in the schoolyard with Bill when his friend introduced him to Richie Tozier and Stanley Uris. They were both ten like Bill and himself. And as a group they decided to play tag within the small time they had during recess.
And Eddie had been it when he came across a problem. As he was chasing his new found friend, one who was missing one of his front teeth, he skidded to a stop at the sight of a huge mud river. Richie looked at him from across it with a cheeky grin, missing tooth showing in glory. “Aren’t ya gonna tag me, Eds?”
Eddie glared daggers at him, crossing his arms. “Don’t call me that. Do you have any idea how many germs are waiting for me in that disgusting sludge?” Eddie pointed fiercely, contradicting his small baby voice with a very adult set of worries. Richie frowned.
“The games no fun when you’re not playing.” Richie trudged back through the sludge and stood in front of Eddie with a small smirk. The pit of Eddies stomach churned and he gazed at the other boy wondering just what he was thinking.
“I’m gonna help you out so you can go tag Bill or Stan but you gotta promise not to tag me, ok?” Richie asked with a grin, Eddie nodded numbly. “Hands in the air, wise guy.” Richie pointed his finger and Eddie raised his hands like he was surrendering.
Richie abruptly picked the smaller boy up in his arms, bridal style and started carrying the boy over to the other side. Once they reached the other side, he set Eddie down and pat his shoulders.
Eddie stared up at him, Richie frowned and waited for him to say something. But Eddie suddenly broke out into a grin. “Tag!” Eddie slapped his shoulder and ran off, as fast as the wind. Richie stood with his mouth agape before smiling.
“Oh you’re gonna get it, Eds!”
They’d been walking for what felt like miles now. It had been Bev’s idea to hitch hike their way through the forestry area of the town to get to the large open field. They suspected something had happened at home, maybe she just needed out of there for a while. So they all agreed.
But now, Eddie was beginning to regret it. He was dead tired and at a loss for breath. He reached into his fanny pack but found nothing, he went to panic. “Huh-shit-I-huh.” Eddie clambered for air as his friends started to panic. He saw guilt in Bevs eyes. But before anything more could escalate, Richie tore something from his backpack, an inhaler and shoved it into Eddies mouth, shooting it.
“Hey….w-w-why do you h-ha-have one?” Bill asked as he stepped closer to them. Richie shrugged.
“I keep an extra one just in case…you remember how buggy he got that time he forgot it when we were out playing in the barrens.” Richie justified and everyone smiled, returning to their walk.
Eddie kept his pace the same as Richie’s and tapped his shoulder. “Thanks Rich.”
Richie shrugged. “No problem… how tired are you anyway?”
“Dead tired.” Eddie chuckled as Richie stopped and kicked at the ground.
“Well I don’t want you have an asthma attack on me….c'mon.” Richie tilted his head and gestured for Eddie to come closer. Eddie quirked his brow. “I’ll give ya a piggyback ride, free of charge.”
Eddie shrugged and came over and allowed Richie to help lift him onto his back. He curled his arms around Richie’s neck and immediately recoiled a little. “God, you’re sweaty.” He scrunched his nose up as Richie bounced him slightly and started to catch up to everyone else.
“What do you expect Eds? We’ve been walking in 100 degree heat.” Richie hopped a little and Eddie smacked his head.
Eddie slammed his locker shut as he made conversation with Bill. “S-s-so Richie ask you to h-homecoming y-y-yet?”
Eddie frowned. “No. I don’t know what the ass is waiting for.” He frowned and Bill laughed. It was true, Richie was taking his sweet ol’ time.
“By the time he asks me I’ll be-”
Eddie was cut off as someone thundered down the hall and swept Eddie right off his feet. Eddie shrieked and looked Richie Tozier dead in the eye, tying his legs around his waist and arms around his neck.
“Drop me Tozier and you’ll see what happens!”
Richie stopped running and held them still, pressing their foreheads together. “Will you come to homecoming with me?”
Eddie frowned for a second and flicked Richie’s nose. “Yes, but next time you don’t have to carry me through the whole school to do so.”
“Mmmm I’ll think about it.” Richie rubbed their noses together.
Paul McCartney:“I wrote all those songs with him so…. what can I say to people?? We were kids! I mean… we slept together, topped and tailed in beds and hitch-hiking and stuff, so,…. I mean, we were just totally you know,….. mates.”
Hey guys! As the only American running this blog, I thought I’d give you a couple travel tips.
1. NEVER GO TO A RESTAURANT UNLESS YOU CAN AFFORD TO PAY 20 % MORE THAN WHAT YOUR BILL WILL ACTUALLY COME TO!!!!
Cannot stress this enough. So important. America is stupid, so we don’t actually pay our wait staff a living wage. Like, they make less than 3.00 an hour on average. Their lively hood depends almost entirely on tips. If you cannot afford to give a decent 20% tip to the person whose working their ass off and earns most of their salary from people like you, DO NOT GO!!! These people work so hard and deal with so many ungrateful customers and they deserve to be compensated for taking care of you. It sucks that their source of income depends on often mercurial customers, but that is unfortunately how it is, at least for now. HELP THEM PAY THEIR GODDAMN RENT BECAUSE THEIR BASIC SALARY DOES NEXT TO NOTHING!!!
2. AMERICA IS PRETTY FUCKING BIG!!!
Compared to Europe or even Australia, America has a lot of territory for one country. Subways/metros/tubes are only in the big cities (like the most popular ones- Boston, NYC, etc. Even Orlando doesn’t have a subways system, and Disney is there) and cabs are expensive. Bus systems are not always a thing that exists. You have to be twenty five to rent a car here (we really suck sometimes). Hitch-hiking might get you killed/robbed/raped if you end up with a shady character. Make sure you have a secure way of getting around BEFORE you arrive.
3. It’s pretty hot, especially in the south or in the summer. I know that Europeans tend to wear nice clothes even to walk around, but you can wear shorts and a t-shirt to do most standard tourism in America. Keep cool and keep comfortable.
4. AS SOON AS YOU GET OFF THE PLANE, BUY A POCKET KNIFE OR SOME MACE AND KEEP IT IN YOUR POCKET/BAG!!!! ESP IF YOU ARE A PERSON OF COLOUR!!!
This is so important. I carry a knife, a corkscrew, and a lighter everywhere I’m not hindered by security concerns, and I’m as white as they come. But racism is still such a big thing here, especially in rural areas. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST OR LOOK LIKE YOI MIGHT POSSIBLY BE REMOTELY MUSLIM, EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT!!! People are ignorant here, and it is a legitimate concern that you might be attacked or have reason to protect yourself. If very well might not happen, but be ready and play it safe, please.
Summary: You’re on your way home when you see a hitch hiker on the side of the rode. Against your better judgment, you pick him up and give him a ride.
Characters/Relationships: Sam x reader
Word Count: 2.9k
Warnings: smut (18+ only please!!)
A/N: Yes this is real. This is smut!! And I wrote it!! I have to give a huge thanks to @impala-dreamer for helping me out and pushing me to make it better, and, ya know, convincing me to even write it. It’s nothing crazy, but I’m proud of how it turned out.
Tapping your fingers on the sticky, leather steering wheel; brushing wind-whipped hair out of your mouth; turning the volume knob up. That’s what preoccupied you when you saw the hitchhiker. You were in the middle of nothing important, on your way home from work, driving the long way, taking in the sunset mixed with the background static of the radio.
You saw him up ahead, a small speck. He looked like a walker. Then you blew past him, your head turning with a slow-motion picture of the hitchhiker. You swore his eyes met yours in that instant, and you slammed on your brakes, pulling onto the side of the road.