TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Steve continued driving down I-40, heading for Oklahoma City. Ghost napped, and Linda was keeping up, following them. The first fast food place Steve saw, he pulled in. Linda and the kids pulled up beside him, in the parking lot of a McDonald's. Stevie and Mandy were excited that this one had a play yard, and as soon as they were allowed, they made a beeline for it. Pretty soon, Linda had to call them over to eat their breakfast.
As they sat there at the table, Steve laid out the next phase of the trip. "I want to avoid going down the middle of the city. This here road, or highway, or whatever it's called that we're on..."
"Interstate..." Ghost said, interrupting.
"Interstate, yeah...anyway," Steve said, "it goes around the city, mostly, and comes out this exit to keep going. That's what we'll do. He showed Linda on the map. "We may get separated a little, but just stay on 40 and you'll see me, after we get out in the open again. I'll pull over.
Linda nodded, "Yes, I think I've got it."
They finished eating, and Linda let the kids play for a few more minutes. As they watched, Steve said, "I figure we've got a few hundred miles in us today. It's still early, and I'm hoping to make it most of the way through Arkansas."
"With a couple of stops?" Linda asked.
"Yeah, and then we can stay the night in Little Rock." He showed her where that was, on the map.
Ghost leaned in to take a look, running his finger across the Interstate line Steve had highlighted. Then, he stopped, making a circle around a town called Ozark. It was not too far past the Oklahoma border. Then he followed the line farther past Little Rock, and stopped at another town, Forrest City. They both were just off the I-40 highway.
"What'cha looking for?" Steve asked.
Ghost didn't answer for a minute, just kept concentrating on those two towns. "We have to stop at these places, Steve."
"Huh...why? There's nothing there we need to stop for, and they're barely even big enough to be on the map," Steve said, shaking his head.
Ghost looked up. "I have to."
Steve could tell he was serious about it. "What is it, Ghost? Why these towns? I mean, we'll probably need gas and all anyway, but what's the deal with these?"
Shrugging, Ghost said, "I have to find something." He pointed, again, to the two towns. "It's there...and...there." They looked to be several hundred miles apart.
"Find what?" Linda asked. "Have you ever been to these places?"
"No, but there's something. I don't know what it is, but I can feel it drawing me to them. It's mine, and I have to get it. It's been waiting a long time," Ghost said. He was getting that far-away look in his eyes, that Steve knew so well. The look that he knew Ghost was seeing things...visions of something, something important, and he'd be telling some fantastic story any second now.
Normally, Steve loved hearing Ghost's stories, and loved that Ghost could do this, but not right now. They needed to get going, again. "Ok, so we stop at these towns. Then what?" Steve asked, trying to derail the story a bit.
"Listen, Ghost, we need to get back on the road. I don't know what it is you need to find, but we can make a quick stop, if you want to." He looked over at Linda. "Ok with you?"
"Uh, sure...I wouldn't mind. We could get out and stretch our legs, I guess," Linda said.
Sighing, Steve said, "Ok, we'll stop. For now, let's just get back on the road." He got up from the table, while Linda went to get the kids from the play yard.
"It is important, Steve."
They were finally all back in the truck and van, and were heading east, again, to find something...something that was calling to Ghost. Steve kept trying to find a good radio station to listen to. Ghost was leaning his head back on the seat, but he wasn't asleep. He wasn't looking at the passing scenery, either. He was seeing something, though, Steve knew.
"You want to talk about it?" he asked.
"Hmm?" Ghost murmured.
"Talk - about - it? About what it is that you're supposed to find," Steve said.
"Oh, I don't know what it is," Ghost said.
Steve sighed. "This isn't some wild goose chase is it?" he said, instantly regretting saying that, figuring Ghost would start talking about chasing geese, now.
"No, I'm not gonna talk about geese, Steve. I know what you mean, but I can't explain it. I don't know what it is I'm supposed to find, but I'll know it's the right thing, when I see it." He thought for a minute. "It's for sale. I have to buy it back, because it used to be mine, or my grandmother's. It's telling me to come find it, and bring it back home." He rubbed his forehead. "It's making my head hurt."
"Well, don't think abut it, then," Steve said.
Ghost gave him a look. "Right, like I can stop it."
"Well, why don't you take a nap. It's still a long way off."
"Guess I'll try," Ghost said, and tried to get into a more comfortable position.
"Don't hang your head out the window like that," Steve said, as Ghost had done exactly that.
"Shh, I can't sleep with you talking and interrupting," Ghost said. He didn't change his position, though.
"Well, don't get all pissy about it," Steve said. Ghost didn't answer, and Steve figured he'd best leave it at that. He changed the radio channels some more, and kept on driving.
As the afternoon continued, the sun beat down on them ever hotter. Steve had gotten tired of listening to the radio; it was mostly advertisements, static, or songs he didn't like. Ghost was still asleep, slumped over in an awkward position. The window was still rolled down, letting in the hot air, and he saw that Ghost was getting a bit sunburned, now.
"Hey, Ghost, wake up." He reached over, shaking Ghost until he woke up. "You're getting all red. Sit up and roll up the window. I'm turning on the air-conditioner."
"Huh...what?" Ghost could barely say anything, his mouth was so dry. "Dry...need water," he managed to say, as he shoved himself into a more or less sitting position. He was squinching his eyes against the brightness of the day.
"Roll up the window." Steve flipped on the A/C which at first blasted hot air on them.
"Aagghh," Ghost panted, and tried to swallow.
Steve thought of how he'd love to pull over and moisten Ghost's mouth with his own. "No," he thought, "I can't think it right now." He looked over at Ghost again, relieved Ghost hadn't heard that thought.
Ghost was coughing and choking, now.
"Ghost, you gonna be ok?" Steve asked, alarmed now.
Ghost shook his head, and gasped. His cheeks were still red, but around his mouth was turning pale, tinged with blue.
"Oh God, hang on, I'm pulling over," Steve said, as he put on the brakes, grinding to a halt in the gravel on the side of the road. He needed to cool Ghost off quickly, but there wasn't any water in the U-Haul. Linda had all the drinks in the cooler, in in her van, and she was still about a mile behind them.
With some trouble, as Ghost had somehow slid sideways in the seat, Steve unfastened the seat belt. He aimed the air-conditioner vents toward Ghost's face. Then, he didn't know what else to do, until Linda caught up with them. He watched helplessly, as Ghost's eyes rolled back, and heard his jerky breathing.
"Hurry up, Linda," he begged.
When he saw her pull over behind the truck, he jumped out, running over and hollering, "Water...cold water...ice...anything...now..."
"What is it?" Linda asked, handing him the key to unlock the back of the van, where the cooler was.
He didn't answer, just grabbed a bottle of water, and some paper towels. She followed him, to see what was going on.
"Oh my God...he's had a heat stroke or something."
Steve wetted the paper towels, and bathed Ghost's head, face, arms, and chest with the cool water. He tried to get him to take a sip of water.
"Steve, he can't drink, he's passed out. Just keep cooling him," Linda said. She went to get more bottles of water, and to check on the kids.
"C'mon, Ghost, wake up," Steve kept saying, as he pushed Ghost's long hair off his forehead and neck, and kept blotting the paper towels on him.
Linda came back, handing Steve another bottle of water. "How is he?"
"Still out. What else can we do?"
"Try your phone. See if you can get a connection. I tried mine and it wasn't working," Linda said. "Here let me..." she took the water.
Steve found his phone and tried it. "Dammit, nothing," he said.
Ghost seemed to be coming around, now. "Ghost, come on, you're almost there," Steve said, hovering over Linda's shoulder.
"What...why...it's cold," Ghost said, pushing Linda's hand away. "Let me up."
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing