Squealing tires chirped alarmingly through the mundane sounds of the early morning around the streets of Sydney. The wheels lunged the red Mustang muscularly down the sparsely trafficked roads in the unsteady hands of Bridget. Shouts of disdain occasionally barked at the car from imperiled pedestrians. Flopping and sliding side to side on the back seats, Chiana's thoughts were sluing just as randomly as her body. Behind Bridget's blond haired head, a grasping hand splayed into a claw to grab and do violence, but Chiana thought better of assault or homicide in self defense and withdrew the hand to settle for muttering harsh language.
"Frelling glijma," Chiana cursed the maniac pilot between shifts of gravity, "ought to - to frelling throw Miss two-face around some curves."
Although Chiana grumbled under her breath, there was little risk of Bridget hearing. As Chiana was also noticing, Bridget seemed curiously oblivious to her situation. Preoccupied with a gadget in the center of the dashboard that Chiana guessed was a built-in music playing device humans liked including in vehicles, called the "radio," Bridget kept poking at buttons and muttering. Once she took her foot off the throttle and drove straight so that the wheels weren't squealing, Chiana could just hear Bridget muttering, "Vood - Where can I find, Big, Bad Voodoo Daddy?"
Frustrated, Bridget cranked up the rock music she had stumbled onto on the radio, stomped her foot on the throttle and yelled as they launched through an intersection. Chiana's head rose and jerked one way and the other with the chorus of horns honking while Bridget yelled.
Settling again, Bridget turned her attention back to the center console. This time Chiana was in a position to see a thin white wrapping paper sheet unfurled on the center console and she watched as Bridget put her face down to it and inhaled. When Bridget's head sprung up, Chiana saw some white powder on the paper. Although Chiana didn't know exactly what the substance was, she was now guessing that her first guess of its contents, food materials, wasn't right. It had to be some kind of human drug. That didn't exactly inspire confidence in the stow-away. "Nauugh, nnot good, so not good," Chiana's muttered to herself, not that she could hear anything over the blasted radio. "She better not get frelling stoned. Frelling humans can barely pilot these frelling things as it is."
Quickly hazarding a look around, a big brightly colored fish on a store front sign caught her eyes and Chiana just managed to read the sign as they squealed past. "Day-break Sea-food. Fresssh. Fissssh. Frell. Could be eating. Frell. Could be frelling!"
Bridget stomped on the throttle and yelled. The sudden acceleration, a pitch to the left and a dip in the road together sent Chiana rolling back into the trunk with the seat back being knocked back into place. Blinking in surprise for a few moments after being swallowed by the back of the car, Chiana continued right on where she was. "Could be shopping. Which reminds me. Gotta get Crichton some new underwear. Could be doing tha- what, what am I? Going to get frelling killed in some frelling moving coffin."
A realization broke through Chiana's ever-useful flippant attitude at the stray thought of humans opening the wreckage to discover the bleeding wreckage of their first alien. Bolting up, she hit her head and back on the trunk. "Nuuuuh!" she groaned and settled back for a moment. Having seen airbags deployed in vehicles on TV and aware John's GTO back at the cabin was not so equipped, Chiana muttered, "This thing better have those pillow things. On newer ones, he said. Newer? Mm," she assessed the vehicle she was in, "smells clean, relatively more advanced tech, but dumber looks. Yeah, this has to be a newer one." But there wasn't likely much safety inside the trunk, so she determined to crawl back out.
As soon as Chiana's head popped back into the passenger compartment, she was almost surprised to see that Bridget was piloting the thing spasmodically with one hand on the wheel while her other hand was busy texting.
A scraping thud on the nearer side signaled that the vehicle had side swiped something. "Bin!" Bridget screeched, about an octave higher than Chiana had heard one speak before. Popping her head up by bending her flexible body backward, Chiana looked out of the back window and saw trash flying around a few swerving vehicles behind. Evidently the careening driver had struck a trash bin beside the road.
"Gonna leave a mark," Chiana said to herself at the imagination of John's anger and frustration when he eventually surveyed his stolen car. The horns of the cars following in the wake of the crazed driver and flying trash bins were honking and Chiana remarked to herself, "And these humans were trying to be so clean around here." None of those sounds were likely heard by the human Bridget over the blaring music and Bridget's own frenzy, but Chiana quickly ducked back down and looked to make sure.
Just as she did, the vehicle struck another bin, this time on the other side. The rear side window cracked and the front side window dropped down. Chiana saw Bridget busily overcompensating from the collision with the trash bins and her prior overcompensations, swerving all over the road.
A gust of wind caught the light papers Bridget had unfurled on the center console, sending the papers and whatever remained of their powdered drugs flying right into Chiana's face. "Ninnngh!" Chiana shut her eyes and scrambled to get the papers off her face. Soon as she had removed them in her hand, she took a deep breath of relief and groaned. "Gotta stop this thrill ride before it frelling kills me," she muttered to resolve herself in the pitching vehicle and begin struggling for the front seats.
At first Chiana thought to strangle Bridget, at least to gain her cooperation or incapacitate her. Somehow Chiana's eyes seemed drawn, then fixed, on the passenger seat. Thinking to land in it and then confront Bridget, Chiana adjusted her struggle to get herself into the passenger seat. As if in slow motion, the passenger seat well seemed to become a far, deep place. The world and life itself stretched from her senses, falling away to a black, numb atrophy filled with the echoes of fear and anxiety. Something had changed her within and before she had managed half way toward the passenger seat, she no longer cared.
John and Jack snapped forwards and back in their seats as Doug's Honda lurched for the sixth time from the same stoplight. "She'd be laughing about now," John said. Jack looked at John and they broke their scowls for a smile. As the Honda hopped onwards through the intersection, John glanced around at the cars dodging around them and muttered, "Unlike everyone else in sight, who are laughing their rumps off."
"Is that what happened to hers?" Jack tossed out the thought from some place in the back of his mind he hadn't realized existed, let alone required policing.
"Looked great, admit it," John defended. "First rate, as every second rate voyeur in that third rate cafe saw. Look, I'm the only idiot that's gonna get away with bashin' Bob's buns, bud and I ain't arguing about my girl's butt with my old man. Okay actually I am. I can't believe we're having this conversation."
"That's life, son," Jack informed his offspring, "a string of experiences you can't believe you'd have. Conversations routinely number among them."
"Guess I figured that one," John remarked, "some time before coordinating brain surgery with a Diagnosian."
Staring straight ahead into his thoughts, Jack said as distantly, "Not much truly surprised me after hearing myself telling Livvy and yourself that your mother's illness was terminal."
Some engine revving, shifting and less likely mechanical sounds came and went before John broke the silence. "I'm sorry, dad."
Jack didn't look away from whatever his eyes were scuttling on ahead, but he swallowed hard and nodded once a bit stiffly. "Perhaps Doug will have some ideas where Chiana might be," Jack suggested. "And no, I don't know where that came from, about her-" Jack began to say but lost the line of thought when another bumped it aside.
Between concentrated efforts to work the car's wheel, signals, pedals and shifter, John observed, "She sneaks up on ya, Chi. You don't know the ways you'll love that freakin' thing. I'm not sure I do. But I'm getting some sneaking hunches I've hardly started. No surprise if her highly honed hiney has the same magical powers for accumulating adoration."
"Hm?" Jack asked when he realized John was talking and he hadn't been listening. "Sorry son, but it might be a fortunate thing I was so inappropriately minded. I'm reminded of something she told me earlier. Something about a place she framed our friend Payne for being at. I assume it must somehow relate to those Styx people."
"And Bobnapping Bridget's one of 'em," John said unnecessarily, perhaps to reassure himself, "so we do have a lead. Which way, Senior Bond?"
"Same way we're heading, Robin," Jack replied. "I don't know this Bridget, but the odds of her simply returning Bob have to be darn sight better than blindly finding the right building along the New South Wales coast. Perhaps Doug will know more."
Both men rocked forward and back a couple times to a lurch, stall, shift and lurch cycle and a backfire blew smoke and seemed to rattle every window and piece of the flimsy interior, making Jack cringe and grip onto the cold cheap door armrest. John commented, "Maybe we shoulda walked it."
Passing John and Jack in the slow lane, the avuncular driver of another small car rolled down his windows to offer the suggestion to John, "Make some dosh mate: carry an advert for the garbo on that tinnie."
John held up one hand in a small lame wave as the man sped off. "I'd almost wish a trip across Australia in this thing on my enemies." Jack cast an askance glare to John. After a moment John reassured him. "Almost."
Chiana fell into the passenger seat of the careening Mustang, numbly surprised by the feeling of anything stopping her fall, if only physically. A scream ringing at her from Bridget annoyed her with the news that Bridget had finally learned she wasn't alone in the transport.
"What the fuck are you doing here?!" Bridget shrieked for good measure.
"Fuck the world," Bob drawled, "it's an empty skull."
"Fuck the world!" Bridget seethed and shouted back at Bob.
Looking down the side of her face at Bridget, Bob let that overbearing tide wash by her and noticed Bridget's drug fueled blazing eyes. "Mnnneh," Bob curled her lip at the sentiments and turned her hollowing gaze sightlessly to the city ahead as she decided, "mbut that's....just too much trouble."
"Then what did you say?!" Bridget seethed, "Who are you?!" She remembered soon enough, grabbing the front of Bob's polo shirt into her fist and declaring, "You're that bimbo after John!"
"Yea how stupid can I get," Bob muttered, still sinking inside and no longer caring to hope there was a bottom. The car was careening through a large parking lot and headed towards rows of shrubbery. "Drive the frelling transport!" Bob roused enough to charge back at Bridget. As soon as Bridget let her go to grab the wheel with both hands, Bob sank back, inside and out. "Frell the shrubberies." Something inside burst open, no emotion to respond as pain as it bled and she despaired, "Why couldn't it be a building?"
"You're mad!" Bridget manically shouted at her depressive passenger and hollered her laughter.
"Then you're sure you have no other ideas where Bridget could possibly be going?" Jack persisted in drilling John for any clues while he furtively rechecked a map.
"Puh!" John said, promptly interrupted by a backfire from the Honda. "Bridget? Anywhere anyone else could go and then some. She could go clothes shopping at Toys 'R' Us."
Jack's stern stare ahead was broken as he made a double-take to John. "You should be thinking more seriously, son."
"Guessing where Bridget's going? Seriously?" John baulked. "Do you have any idea how many hotels there are in Sydney? If she's even staying at one. She was doing something work related when I ran into her and that was what, two o'clock in the morning? Ask DK, he used to say she never seemed to sleep."
With a trace of wry humor in his creased brow, Jack suggested, "Maybe she works graveyard because she's a vampire."
"Boy is her system in for a shock when she tries a sip of Pip," John remarked. "So what, we make a wee hour tour of the crypts of Sydney? Naaah dad, daylight doesn't bother her, heck she's got a great all-over tan."
"Thanks for the interesting detail but I was only joking son," Jack reminded John.
"Well I'm not," John replied quite casually, "not that I'm saying there are vampires but there are some freaky-ass aliens that come close enough."
"Yeah," Jack worried looking ahead, "Bob used to look like one for a while, despite those terrible early attempts at makeup."
"Lurking under that lovely tan paint is the Queen of all Goths," John remarked. "But I don't mean her. There are better candidates, believe me. But that's another topic for another time. Right now, we're just talking about a hot little alien and her underweight human abductor."
"You don't suppose Bridget isn't a Human?" Jack posed the question.
"No I don't," John insisted, "I don't have time."
"Well you ran into her at the IASA," Jack prompted, "could she go back there for some reason?"
"Sure," John supposed. "Or she could go to Luna Park, buy a few balloons and fly herself to KiwiLand, if the trade winds hold up. Or maybe she 'n' Bob dumped the 'stang and were walking down a sidewalk back there, but they were turned sideways when we looked and we missed 'em entirely."
"Well," Jack suggested, "perhaps we should check the IASA first."
"Dad," John patiently explained, "that's the one place Bridget knows we could try catching her. There's no way she's going to go there. Sticks Girl has something to do with these Styx guys. If we knew their super-secret bat-cave hideout, we'd probably find her there. You following? 'Cause I have a tendency to speak in wise-ass."
"I'm following," Jack assured him and explained, "Luckily, I'd watched some Buffy with Bob."
"Bob watched Buffy with you?" John cast an incredulous glance to Jack. "After all the hours I spent with her, bonding over Buffy. Why it was like our song, only it's a silly TV show with that blasted blond bloodsucker guy she kept pretending she was attracted to. Oh well I got the buffed Bob buff, so who cares about some dude on Buffy."
"You do, for one," Jack pointed out.
"Do not," John denied. "Wait. Which way's the penthouse?"
Jack asked instead, "Are you sure we shouldn't try getting to the IASA before they get there?"
"Before they get there? Dad," John turned towards Jack when they came to a stop at an intersection. "If you handed the map to a Sloth at the Sydney Zoo, they would be there and raising a family before this Honda with Volkswagen Rabbit envy could arrive to drop a part on the parking lot."
"If you appealed to a public school to arrange taking your great grandchildren there on a bus," John rattled on, "they'd still have a long wait."
"If you could make General Motors make you an electric car to get you there," John began but interrupted that idea at the changing of the signal. Lurching through the intersection and making a sudden cut across lanes, John commented, "...No come to think of it this Honda, the school district and the sloths have an edge there. All right we might as well make a try for it," John supposed and sped into the onramp to the Pacific Highway.
"You could mind the traffic laws, son," Jack warned.
"I dunno, how do you think my Mustang's doing on that point?" John argued.
"Just thinking about getting there in one piece."
"Would you feel safer carpooling with the agents on our tail?" John asked as he maneuvered onto the highway.
"Agents?" Jack turned to look.
"Don't be too obvious yet," John advised. "Anyway I'm giving 'em the smokescreen. Don't congratulate me, it wasn't intentional."
"Smokescreen?" Jack asked, turning to take a look out the hatchback window.
"Yeah this jalopy's smokin' like Pip on a bottle of Viagra. Why not?" John commented. "We've got thrills, chills, freaks, geeks, goons, monkeys and a couple clowns in a toy car. Throw in a Model A horn and we can take this show to the Big Top."
...To Be Continued