The athena effect, p.1
The Athena Effect, p.1Derrolyn Anderson
THE ATHENA EFFECT
Copyright © 2012 by Derrolyn Anderson
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions of it.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
It was a moonless night, cold and dark. The fine mist that hung in the air started thickening to form a light drizzle. A boy and a girl walked alongside a roadway, looking over their shoulders frequently and ducking off the pavement to hide from the occasional headlights. He held her up when she began to falter, helping her stumble along until they were finally forced to stop and rest under the cover of some brush.
“It’s okay, babe. It’s gonna be all right,” he told her.
He took off his denim jacket and draped it around her frail shoulders. She started convulsing, her small body racked with violent tremors, her breath coming in ragged gasps. He held her tightly to his chest, murmuring soothing words that he didn’t really believe.
When the seizure finally subsided she moaned, “Oh no … What will it do to the baby?”
“Wait here,” he said firmly, brushing the fine brown hair back from her forehead. “I’m going to get us a ride.”
The trucker flipped his wipers on and rounded a bend to see a lone figure standing with his thumb out. His first impulse was to keep going, but years on the road had given him a sixth sense about people, and this kid looked too young and skinny to be a threat to anyone. Besides, it was raining. He sighed, pulled over, and sat idling.
The kid climbed up and opened the door, looking in warily.
“Where you headed?” the trucker asked.
The boy was young, probably not too far out of his teens, the driver thought. He had an extravagantly curly head of blond hair and thin arms that poked out of a plain white T-shirt.
“N-north,” he answered, poised cautiously in the threshold.
“Hop in. I can take you as far as Eureka.”
The boy paused, and after taking a good look around the cab, he finally nodded. “My girl’s with me. … I’ll go get her.”
The driver watched suspiciously, adjusting his side mirror to see the boy retreat into the bushes. He was just about to pull away when he saw him come back out leading a girl, a girl so pale and cold-looking that the trucker automatically reached over to turn up the heater. The boy helped her climb into the cab, and she turned to face the driver with a tremulous smile and the biggest brown eyes he’d ever seen.
“Thank you for the ride,” she said timidly.
Good Lord, he thought. These hippy kids didn’t have the sense God gave a chicken, dressed like that out here in the cold and the wet.
He nodded curtly, turning to glance over his shoulder as he pulled back out onto the road. “No problem.”
“I’m Jenny,” she announced after they got back underway, “and this is David.”
At least she has some manners, the driver thought, looking sideways at his two damp and disheveled passengers.
“Name’s Bob. You kids thirsty?” He gestured to a small cooler that sat on the floor of the cab. “I got some pops in there. You can help yourself.”
The boy took out a can of cola and opened it, urging her to drink. She passed it back to him and dropped her head to his shoulder with a sigh. He took her hand and wove his fingers through hers.
The trucker cleared his throat. “What are you two doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“We’re going camping,” David said defiantly.
The driver shrugged at the obvious lie, but something made him hold his tongue. He’d picked up hitchhikers before, and everyone had a sob story. It was none of his business who they were or what they were running from. They drove along in silence for a while.
The girl saw the stuffed bear he kept on his dashboard and asked him about it. Before he knew it, she had him going on and on, telling her all about Margaret and the kids, describing his life back home in Oklahoma. She peppered him with questions, listening avidly and hanging on every little detail about his family. He noticed how her hand kept involuntarily straying to her midriff. Poor kid, he thought.
When they reached their destination, he pulled up to a diner and insisted on feeding them despite their protests, again noticing how pale and weak Jenny looked. He ended up giving them some money, admonishing them to dress warmly and be careful. Margaret always complained that he was a soft touch, but he knew she’d do the same thing if she took one look into that poor child’s tortured eyes.
He watched them walk away hand in hand, shaking his head.
They had nothing but the clothes on their backs and each other. They were obviously running from a troubled past and heading towards an uncertain future; he wished them well. They rounded a corner and disappeared from view.
They were heading north.
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