Saved and Taken (3-Pack)

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Authors: Amy Kiss
    Riding Dark
    I wasn't sure what scared me more- the sight of smoke rising from the hood of my old ride or the hot, damp and completely empty brushland surrounding it. I had managed to pull off the shoulder of a county road, though which county I could not say. Technically, it must be Alabama, but I looked at the muggy land stretching all around and wondered if I had somehow wound up in Louisiana. A bit far off, I could see a patch of trees, but that was it as far as features. No farms, no shacks, nothing human round but the road markers.  If I could be grateful for one thing, at least the smoke kept the mosquitoes away. I had on capris and a tank top so there was plenty of skin for them otherwise. Course the smoke also served as a signal for human predators, which I was way more terrified of facing.
    I opened the hood of my car and peered in at the incomprehensible tubes of metal, half wishing I could climb in and just hide there. I'd spent my whole life in Atlanta, and most of my time out of it was in Baltimore or New York visiting cousins. My family wasn't big on the outdoors, what with the searing heat and the bugs, and, oh yeah, the racists. That's what I knew about land like this.
    Leave civilization and the civilization leaves the man,” my daddy said. Some folks hadn't yet got the news about desegregation. Course, I'd been through college and all and met some fine people who'd come out of the backwoods, some of them even black folk who managed to have survived out here. But their stories weren't always the happiest. Didn't make me feel great right now looking down at my chocolate skin.
    If only I had a dick to make up for it. In fact, that was the biggest issue. Didn't think any girl would feel safe in a place like this. Didn't know what had compelled me to find my own way back to the highway after leaving it for gas and food. Or not go straight back after I realized I'd gotten lost and finally opened GPS. No I had to take the scenic route until I was far and away from the open road. Somewhere I thought I heard fast cars swish, but maybe that was just the wind. Or this was some old Civil War battle site and those were Confederate ghosts. Would be just my luck.

A car rumbled in the distance, and I slid my shades back on to look at it. It looked to be a large van. That seemed safe enough, maybe some plumber or heck even a mechanic. My car still worked in fits and bursts. All I needed was a little help getting to a shop I could trust.
    The van grew into view though and I saw the back tapered off. This was a pickup. I stopped waving just a bit. Pickups and country sent a red alert off in my mind.

Either way, that truck whooshed right on by. Guy stared at me as he passed, as if he couldn't quite comprehend the situation. Or worse, maybe it was just that shocking to see someone like me out here.
    No one came either way for a long while after that, and I felt a pit in my stomach, wondering what the hell I was going to do. My phone had a signal theoretically, but the last calls I’d made had cut before they connected. Maybe it wasn't so bad to just drive with a smoking engine, go bit by bit. There was a car shop on my map just a couple miles away, and maybe it was open and filled with nice people.

Thinking such happy things, it took me a while to hear the rumble filling the air. I looked out but couldn't see anything coming either way. The sound felt too loud though, the rev of the engine too deep, a military growl. Then I saw a speck roll up into view, then two more flanking it, and I realized with a sinking feeling.


I swung back under the hood, even as I told myself that most of them were ok. 99% were just guys who liked a rumble between their legs right? I could get that.

But that 1%. I don't think they liked people like me.

The choppers thundered down toward me. I used the hood like a shield, willing them just to pass and leave, though part of me hoped I was just

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