“What are we doing second?” his wife asked again.

“Can you give me a minute, sweetheart?” he asked from behind the tree.

“We need to get going,” she said. Their dogs ran around her excitedly barking as she cleaned the last dishes of breakfast in the stream they had camped near.

“I know that,” he said. “Goddamn redneck chili. It’s like I’m shitting barbed wire.”

“I told you not to eat that,” she said smugly.

“And fire ants. Like barbed wire coated in fire ants,” he gasped. The small white dog, Rufus, ran to the sound of his voice. His short legs and tiny feet skidded to a halt when he got around the tree, and then he ran off with a startled yelp.

“What did you do to Rufus?” she asked.

“Will you just give me a minute?!?” he yelled. “Lava is literally coming out of my asshole right now!”

“Come here, baby,” she said to the small dog cowering beside her. “Did Daddy scare you? Did he? He’s a very bad Daddy.” She picked Rufus up and he shivered in her arms as she cooed and clucked. Their new dog, large and black-furred and seemingly quite slow continued to chase his own tail until he hit the side of the car, sat down suddenly, and looked around confused.

“Is there more toilet paper?” he asked.

“No,” she said, not checking.

“Paper towels? Napkin?”

“I’ll look.”

“An old T-shirt? One of the floor mats? Anything?”

She slung Rufus under one arm and looked through the car. “Hold on,” she called.


As she walked toward the shitting tree with the paper towels, Rufus began to growl.

“Dear God!” she said.

“I know!”

“The human body shouldn’t be capable of making a smell like that!” She tossed the paper towels toward him and fled to the safety of the car.

“What are we going to name this dog?” she finally asked, when his tortured groans had subsided.

He walked back to the car, not answering her, staggering and carrying empty paper towel tube.

“Honey, what are we going to name this dog?” The nameless dog was laying his head in her lap and his tongue lolled out as she rubbed his ears. Her husband opened the back hatch and began to rummage around.

“What are you looking for?” she asked.

“I’ll find it,” he said.

“Just tell me, maybe I know where it is.”

“The camping shovel. The folding one that we just bought.”

“I don’t know where that is,” she said. “What do you need the shovel for? Oh, wait. You are going to bury your waste? Very environmentally responsible.”

“Ah-ha!’ he said. She angled the rearview mirror to see him holding the shovel up in triumph.

“First, I’m going back there and beat it to death,” he said. “And then I will bury it!”

When he returned, she saw him fling the folding shovel into the rushing stream. “We’ll buy a new one,” he said grimly as he settled into the driver’s seat.

“I’m having a great time,” she said, resting her head against his shoulder.

“I hate camping,” he replied. The Subaru quietly came to life when he turned the key.

“What do you want to do next?” she asked.

“I want to take a shower. A very long shower.”

“I mean with the car. We can do anything!”

“Let’s ask it,” he said, as his wife attached the dogs’ harnesses to the back seat.

“Ask it?”

He touched the navigation icon a bland female voice said, “Destination?”

“Random,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand,” the car replied.

“Take us somewhere fun!” his wife said.

“Take us on an adventure!” her husband said.

“I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand,” the car replied.

“Destination,” it repeated as they thought.

“Take us somewhere we haven’t been before,” his wife said.

The car paused. They looked at the touchscreen display. One of the dogs growled and farted.

“Please fasten your seatbelts and proceed east 2.3 kilometers.”

“Alright,” he said.

After a right and a left and a dirt road that was barely a road, the car finally had them take a state road in reasonably good repair.

“I wonder where we are going,” his wife asked, finally awake. He had long marveled at her ability to sleep anywhere, under any condition.

“Proceed north 23 kilometers,” the car said.

“North 23 kilometers,” he replied and she gently punched his arm.

“Are you two OK back there?” she asked, turning round to look at the dogs. They both whined agreeably and thumped their tails on the seat.

“Do you want me to drive for a while?” she asked.

“No, I’m fine for a couple of hours at least. I wouldn’t mind finding somewhere to get an energy drink.”

“You shouldn’t use those,” his wife said.

“I don’t use them; they aren’t a drug. You talk like I’m looking to freebase some meth.”

“We are in meth country, though. I bet the whole rusty water tower that old man tried to lure us to was one big meth lab,” she said, using both hands to sketch out a mushroom cloud and then made explosion noises with her mouth.

“Increase speed to 100kph,” the car said primly.

“What did she say?” his wife asked.

“Increase speed to 100kph,” the car said again.

“I guess we are on a schedule,” her husband said. He pressed the accelerator until they reached 90kph.

“Increase speed to 100kph,” the car said again.

“Picky bitch,” his wife said and they laughed.

The Subaru began to ping like a door was ajar.

“OK, OK… nagged by a damn car,” he said.

“‘Nagging’ is a sexist term,” his wife said and then burst into giggles. “You better do what she says.”

He took the car up to 100kph.”I hope the car knows what it is doing. This is racist-as-fuck country around here. I’m not interested in getting ass-fucked by a baton.”

“I’ll sic the dogs on them,” his wife said brightly.

She whipped her head around as they passed a speed limit sign. “You better slow down, baby. That said it is 45mph through here.”

“What is that in kilometers?” he asked.

“How should I know?”

“You were the one that wanted us to set the car to only read out in metric. The car says the outside temp is 22. Do I need a coat? Sunscreen? I don’t fucking know.”

She was caught in another fit of giggles.

“Car, what is 45 miles per hour in kilometers per hour?” he asked loudly and with careful pronunciation.

“Car?” she asked. “Don’t call her car. Her name is Subi.”


“Subi, how fast are we going in miles per hour?” she asked.

“Wait, is it even voice-activated?” he asked. “I was acting like it was Alexa.”

“We are currently traveling at 62 miles per hour,” the car said.

“OK, you really should slow down,” his wife said.

He took his foot off the gas and the car began to slow. “The cracker sheriff is going to be so disappointed in us.” But he only heard a gurgle in return.

“Please increased speed to 100kph,” the car said and began to ping.

He was looking at the touch screen when his wife began to claw at his arm.

“What is it?” he asked, not looking.

“Gurk,” she managed. The seatbelt had tightened across her throat and lap. With her right had she tried to pull it away from her neck, with her left she had gone back to trying to work the belt release.

“Oh, my god, what is happening, ohmygod,” he said, pressing the brakes and trying to pull onto the soft shoulder of the state highway.

“Please increase speed to 100kph,” the car said again. The dogs in the back began to bark and howl.

As he slowed on the shoulder a huge truck rumbled past them. The car rocked back and forth. He had slowed enough to grab the higher portion of the seat belt and pull it away from her neck. He could not move it. He looked into her frightened, darting eyes and the whites were turning red.

“Please increase speed to 100kph,” the car said again, this time at a deafening volume.

She began to desperately slap at his right knee. The dogs were in a frenzy, making pained yelps as they pulled at their restraints.

“Drive,” she mouthed and slapped his knee again. Her teeth were very white and large as she screamed without any sound.

“Please increase speed to 100kph,” the car said again. It was now an almost seductive lilt.

He closed his eyes tightly for a second, his whole face crunching down onto itself and jammed the gas pedal down. The car shot forward and he heard his wife take a gulp of air and cough and then gulp more. The speedometer crept upward. Her breathing became steady and regular.

“Are you OK? Are you? Are you OK?” he said, among a dozen other inanities until she finally croaked and swallowed and said in a hoarse whisper, “What was that?”

“Take it off, take off the seatbelt,” he told her. The dogs were huddled in the back seat, twined around each other, fast-friends now in their worry and confusion.

“Proceed north 7.2 kilometers,” the car said.

“FUCK YOU!” he screamed at the placid voice. He tried the seat belt release himself but his thumb just sank into the button of the mechanism without it releasing.

“Maintain current speed,” the car ordered.

The road ahead was flat and straight and empty of cars before and behind, so he held the wheel with his knee and tried to pull on his wife’s seat belt. His own seat belt tightened and pulled him back in place.

“Please drive responsibly,” the car said.

“Get your arms under it,” he told his wife. “Under it while it is slack.” She stopped rubbed the raw flesh on the side of her neck and slipped her right arm under the belt and held it against her neck. The belt tightened immediately, painfully. She cried out, her voice broken and dry.

“It’s breaking my wrist,” she gasped. “The belt.” The voice was cut off as her wrist began to crush her throat.

He looked down and saw how the strap of nylon across her lap had tightened as well. Her jeans darkened as she voided her bladder, the stain spreading down her thighs.

“Please drive responsibly,” the car said again.

He looked back to the road. They were coming up on a town. A little flyspeck town, country town, the whole thing was a tumor clustered on both sides of the little state highway. He saw out of the corner of his eye that the strap had loosened enough for his wife to drop her arms. The hot smell of her urine filled the car. When he tried to roll down the window, the button didn’t work. He listened as his wife cried and watched the tiny town grow larger.

“Proceed north 1.2 kilometers,” the car said. His wife’s left hand found his arm and clung to it.

A “Welcome to” sign flashed by too fast for him to register the name. A sick feeling crept into his stomach, like a light hit to the testicles. He felt like he was falling and falling and falling.

“Stay in lane,” the car said as soon as he saw her crossing the road. He tensed his hands and forearms to swerve at the last second until he heard his wife already choking and gurgling.

He closed his eye right before he hit the woman that was crossing the road. A dull thud and a cracking noise. The dogs in the back yelped. He opened his eyes to eye the smear of blood on the hood. His flicked to the rearview mirror to see the crumpled form in the crosswalk.

“Lower speed and take the next right,” the car said. He was crying, fat tears running down his face. His wife’s eyes were red again when he chanced a glance.

“Take next right.”

He did and then tried to steer them into a light pole but the wheel wouldn’t move.

“Take next right.”

The wheel turned easily when he did as he was told. They were two blocks from the dead woman in the road. People were clustered around her, some talking to her, he imagined, the others he could see were on the phone or gesticulating wildly.

“Accelerate to 100kph,” the car whispered.