Chapter 02.1

Thursday, July 20, 2017 (Yuriday, Cancer 46, 0031)

As Ty and Claire left the reception that night and headed for home, a torrential rain was blowing sideways, lashing the car. It was a two-hour drive down from D.C. to Richmond in good weather, but in this storm it would take two-and-a-half, at least. Ty maneuvered his recently acquired sunshine-yellow Mercedes-Benz convertible with the vanity plate ON2MARS, slowly and carefully, not wanting to over drive the range of his headlights.

As fate would have it, about a-mile-and-a-half from home the left front tire suddenly exploded, sounding like a roadside bomb. The Benz veered wildly. Ty wrestled the wheel to keep control and steered the disabled car a short distance to where he could pull over onto the side of the country road. With no streetlight for miles, the pouring rain made the evening appear even darker. As Ty exited the car to change the tire, Claire also climbed out with a large white golf umbrella held over her head and clutching a flashlight to assist him.

A few miles up the road, Dave Weller was on his way home from a friend’s bachelor party, his car weaving back-and-forth across the wet pavement and the wipers flapping about at full speed. As he drove, he tapped a cigarette from the fresh pack and lit it, using the car lighter. Normally, it was his practice to use matches, except whenever he was in the car. But, in his advanced state of inebriation, he forgot which he was using and after lighting his cigarette, tossed the car’s lighter out the window. As he manually rolled the window back up, it dawned on Dave what he had just done. In disbelief, he stared down at the empty socket where the lighter had been. “Damn!” he thought out loud, “that’s the second one this month.” Returning his attention to the road, he glanced up and saw Ty and Claire standing behind the open trunk of their car, directly in his path. Dave, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.23, hit the brakes, screamed “Oh, shit!”, and yanked his wheel sharply to the left, though much too late. Upon impact, his airbag crushed the glowing ember of his cigarette hard-against his right eyelid.

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