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“What’s it been Johnny?” she asks like she hasn’t even kept count. Like it’s been five minutes, five hours or five days, she knows just how long it’s been, five long years since that night.
“You act like you’ve forgotten.” I say, leaning back on the car’s door, the purple of the sunset casting its peculiar hue over the desert, still as it always was, quiet as it’s always been, out here on Route 50.
“Damn you, Johnny. Every day I tried to forget, that’s the problem.”
“Never gets any easier, right?” I say as I take off my aviators and light up a cigarette, the soft ding of the Zippo quickly disappearing into the bear desert night.
“Not ever, Johnny. Not ever.” She lowers her head, the thick blonde hair falling around her face, kicking a stone with her white snake-skin cowboy boots, letting the dust settle around her feet for a second before looking back up at me with those blue eyes. “I never thought you’d come back.”
“I said I would, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but it’s not like that’s any sort of usual behaviour for people like you and me. Someone takes off, it’s for good.” She raises her eyebrow’s, a soft smile starts to creep across her face. “Why’d you come back, Johnny? I’ve just started putting some sort of a life back together. You know how fucking long it took for things to get leveled out?”
“I heard bits, you know. You hear bits through the feeds, little things pop up here and there.” The sun’s fading and she’s glowing there, right in front of me. Fuck, did I miss her. “Last thing I wanted to do was run out on you like that, Lace.”
“How the hell am I supposed to believe that, Johnny? Five god-damned years I’ve been left trying to string this life along. Sure, a couple of the guys helped out here and there, but—
“No more scrounging, Lace. I got some money coming in.”
“And how the hell have you got some money coming in?” She turns her back to me, she knows. “What, you taken a job at the local gas station or something?”
“Ain’t no gas stations out here in the middle of the desert.” I’m supposed to try and make her think I’ve gone straight? She’d see right through it.
I walk up to her pull her round, looking deep into those eyes, the flutter of an eyelid, the flutter of my heart. “I’ve got a new rig, pure I.C.E, straight out of Rawstone Heavy Industries. It’s a dead cert, gimme 24 hours and we won’t have to lift another finger for the rest of our lives.”
She shakes her head and looks down. I lay a kiss on her cheek as the tyrian purple of the dusk seeps away into the black of the night, just me and her and the desert and the silence. A long silence.
“You think you can do it, Johnny?” She finally says.
“No doubt, Lace.”
“24 hours, I’ll be here, but there’ll be no more waiting five years, not this time.”
“I know, Lace. I know.”