idol season 11 | week 15 | 1200 words
November was not a nice month for a vacation, not nice at all.
June was the thing, Clarke thought—sunny days, and all the glorious warmth of Spring without the heat of Summer. June would have been perfect. But Clarke was in no position to argue about it. November was always a slow month for tourism, and his services weren't in demand then, so November it would be.
He was finally going to take his first vacation. But where should he spend it?
Not in the city, Clarke decided. He spent nearly every day there already, ferrying customers from one landmark to another, and he was sick of it. Plus, it was loud and crowded, and there was too much traffic. Much too stressful for a vacation.
But he'd traveled outside the city for work a few times, and was some beautiful country up North. He'd really enjoyed it. He wasn't sure how it would look in November, but it had to be prettier than the city. Why not go there?
Clarke set off before sunrise the next morning, anxious to be on his way. He hoped the weather would be all right.
He thought he heard shouting back at the building behind him, but he kept on going. I wonder what that's about? Oh, well—I'm sure it'll all work itself out.
There was very little traffic in the city at such an early hour, which made for a nice change. Clarke spotted some delivery vans and taxis, but there were very few passenger cars on the road. Everyone else was probably still asleep, no surprise there.
Up ahead, a ray of sunlight pierced the morning mist and made the treetops glow. It was a rare sight for this time of year, and Clarke was glad he was awake to see it. He noticed that traffic seemed to be picking up as he continued. It would be a while still, before he got out of the city—his own fault, really, for living so close to downtown. Oh, well. No real hurry.
He followed the route as it veered to the right, stopping for a traffic light near a library. Someone pounded on the door, and he jumped. That happened at work sometimes, too, when people thought they could just pile in and ride to the train station or their office or whatever. He honked the horn. "Get lost!"
Was it a law that people had to be idiots? Sometimes he wondered.
Finally, he saw the highway waiting up ahead. About time! He turned onto it and felt the weight of the city start to fall away.
Soon Clarke was out in the country, surrounded by sky and open space. It was even prettier than he'd remembered. So many trees and grassy fields, some with horses or cows or sheep. He saw little red barns here and there, and white farmhouses with green shutters. It was wonderful, and so restful—exactly what he'd needed.
Even the dark clouds gathering in the distance couldn't diminish the beauty of what he was seeing.
Somewhere up ahead was where he'd left the main highway before, going off on one of those winding little country roads that led into the foothills. Now, where was it? Past that grove of trees on the right?
No, that wasn't it. Maybe just before that hill coming up… Yes, there!
Clarke turned off to the right, and kept going.
The road was slower and bumpier here, but the scenery was delightful. He went through a sunny valley and over a bridge that crossed a little stream. A bird soared overhead, floating in slow circles across the sky. It was stunning.
He was so busy watching it that he didn't notice the pothole in the road ahead of him. Ouch! He was going so fast that he hit the one right after it too, and something crashed behind him.
Ugh. Probably one of the doors for the overhead bins, Clarke thought. He'd been so handsome when he'd started running tours, but now? All it had taken was a few years on the job before he had stains on his upholstery and scuff marks on his walls, and a little boy had even thrown up on his floor once. Disgusting!
Other parts of him were wearing out little by little. Even though his headlights were nice and new, his air-conditioning wasn't what it used to be, and it bothered him. Not to mention the things that only he knew about, like those itchy little wads of old gum he could feel lurking under some of his seats. People were pigs.
No point thinking about that now, though. He had a beautiful day ahead of him, and all of those other worries could wait.
The road wound around the edge of a small forest, and as Clarke looked off to the right he noticed a car lying on its roof off to the side of the road.
Imagine just lying back and kicking up your wheels! Doesn't that look like fun! Though Clarke had no idea how he'd ever get himself upright again if he tried it. Also, the car didn't look like it was enjoying itself much...
The road started to climb up through some hills, and Clarke huffed and puffed his way along. He didn't remember it being quite so hard before. And why was it so dark all of a sudden?
Oh! The rain took him by surprise. He'd completely forgotten how unpredictable the weather could be this time of year, and it was getting so cold all of a sudden.
He kept chugging along, up and up, and finally crested the top of the last hill. What a view!
Clouds and rain stormed down ahead, over an even larger valley surrounded by blue hills and dark forests. It was magnificent.
Clarke started down the hill, and—oh, it was so slippery! Was it the rain? He found it hard to keep from going too fast. What was the matter with him?
Come on, now, concentrate, he thought, but his wheels kept sliding and gripping and then sliding all over again.
You don't want to—"Help! Somebody help me, HELP! Oh, NOOOO!"
He went off the edge of the road, and the last thing he remembered was the crunching agony as he crashed into the trees...
After awhile, he woke up again and heard voices. Someone seemed to be laughing. He'd heard that voice before, what was it?
Wait. It was a tow truck. And it was laughing at him.
Oh, this was humiliating.
There seemed to be some people there with it, probably the driver and maybe some nosy looky-loo who'd stopped to stare at him in his misery.
"How do you suppose it got all the way out here?" he heard one of the men ask.
"I dunno," the other man said. "Maybe someone took it for a joy ride."
"This old thing? A bus? That's not much of a ride."
Well that was great, Clarke fumed. Now he was injured and insulted. Oh, this was not the vacation he'd planned, not at all.
Although this was only his first attempt, he thought. And hey, there was always next year!
It's contest-only voting this week, so no poll.