This story first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Aphelion magazine.

Recalculating,” the female voice blurted from the GPS unit mounted on the windshield.

“What did you do now?” said Nina. “If you’re not going to follow the directions, why don’t you just turn the damn thing off?”

Arnie sighed, inwardly counted to ten, and then said, “I’m trying to follow the directions but sometimes it’s not easy.”

“Not easy, for God’s sake she talks to you, gives you step by step directions. What could be easier than that?”

“But sometimes the streets aren’t clearly marked and there might be two right turns close together. It’s easy to take the wrong one, like I guess I must have done just now.”

Now it was Nina’s turn to sigh. “I don’t know why we can’t just use a map like we used to, remember?  Good old paper map, I can navigate, tell you where to go, like I used to.”

“Don’t make me laugh,” said Arnie, “we used to get lost all the time trying to follow your directions. Don’t look at me like that…you’d like to tell me where to go right now, wouldn’t you?”

“Asshole,” she laughed.

In two miles turn right onto River Road,” the GPS voice intoned.

“See,” said Arnie, “we’ll be back on track in no time.”

“I don’t know why we have to go to this place anyway, it’s so far,” said Nina.

“What do you mean?” said Arnie. “It’s a nice evening for a drive, you’re always saying how you want to get out, that you’re tired of sitting around the house and all. Here I pick a restaurant that’s supposed to be good, something different, and you still complain. There’s just no pleasing you.”

“Oh don’t give me that,” said Nina. “Getting out of the house doesn’t mean sitting in a car for hours. A movie, a nice dinner close to home, a drive to the park for a walk, those are the things I wouldn’t mind, but you listen to me about as much as you listen to the GPS directions.”

“Oh boy,” said Arnie, “here we go…’you never listen to me…we never do what I want to do’…poor miss martyr. You know damn well how much you get your way. I try, I try to make you happy, but there’s just no satisfying you.”

Turn right onto River Road,” the voice commanded.

“Yeah yeah, another woman telling me what to do,” said Arnie as he made the right hand turn.

“Well you men think you know everything, I remember that time we drove around lost for nearly two hours because you were too proud to ask for directions,” said Nina.

“I knew where I was going, and it wasn’t two hours,” said Arnie. “You always exaggerate that story.”

“No exaggeration, we wandered around a long time, okay, maybe not two hours, but a long time, and needlessly,” Nina said.

Continue three miles on River Road,” the voice instructed.

“In any case,” Arnie relented, “I don’t need to ask for directions anymore, she’ll give them to us.”

“So what is this place anyway, Middle Eastern food? Since when do you like that stuff?” said Nina.

“It’s Egyptian, Jim Barnes, remember him, I used to work with him, he and his wife went there a few weeks ago. He really bragged about it when I saw him the other day.”

“Egyptian,” Nina muttered.

“Oh broaden your horizons will you?” said Arnie. “Jim said the food was good, a unique place. And they even have belly dancers.”

“Ah,” Nina exclaimed, “now we get to the real reason.”

“Oh stop,” said Arnie, “it’ll be fun, something different. Where’s your spirit of adventure?”

“I have a feeling this adventure will keep me up all night on the toilet, you know I can’t tolerate exotic foods,” lamented Nina.

“I’m sure they’ll have something on the menu you can eat,” said Arnie.

In one mile turn right onto Spencer Road,” instructed the voice from the GPS.

“Where the hell are we?” said Nina. “I thought this place was outside of Pleasantville?”

“It is,” said Arnie.

“This isn’t the way to Pleasantville is it?” said Nina.

“Look, these systems have the latest maps, I’m sure it knows where it’s taking us,” said Arnie.

Turn right onto Spencer Road,” the voice said as Arnie followed the instructions.

“I thought Pleasntville was west of here, aren’t we going east?” said Nina looking around.

“Since when do you know your directions, you who can barely find her way around town,” teased Arnie.

“I know where the sun sets, and we’re going the opposite way,” said Nina.

“Well…um…like I said, these systems have the latest info, maybe there’s a shortcut or something, or some construction it’s taking us around.

In point two miles turn left onto Lyle Avenue,” the voice commanded.

“Left? That doesn’t sound right,” said Arnie.

“Are you making a joke?” said Nina.

“Huh? Oh no, no I didn’t mean it like that, it’s just that I don’t think we should be going left up here, that for sure isn’t the way to Pleasantville. I’m just staying on this road,” said Arnie as he missed the turn.

Recalculating,” said the voice.

“Here we go again,” said Nina.

In point three miles turn left onto Chili Street,” came the next instruction.

“Left again?” said Arnie, but that can’t be…correct.”

Turn left onto Chili Street,” the voice commanded as they neared the street.

“Like I said before,” said Nina, “turn it off if you’re not going to listen to it.”

Arnie pulled the wheel to the left and made the turn onto Chili Street. “It better know what it’s doing,” he said.

“I don’t like this,” Nina said. “This looks pretty isolated.”

Continue two point eight miles on Chili Street,” said the voice.

“Let’s just stay with it a little longer,” said Arnie.

They rode in silence for awhile, no traffic ahead or behind them. The oldies station softly playing “Be My Baby” as Arnie drummed his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the song.

Stay left on Chili Street,” the voice said as they came to a fork in the road.

“So what kind of stuff is in Egyptian food?” Nina said nervously.

“Uh…I don’t know,” said Arnie distractedly as he stared ahead at the road, “probably beans, lamb, couscous, stuff like that.”

“Arnie, let’s go back, c’mon, I don’t see anything around here, no businesses, not even any houses,” said Nina.

“Don’t be silly, we’ve come too far now to go back, besides, I’m hungry, aren’t you?” Arnie replied.

In point two miles turn right onto Ridge Road,” the voice said.

“See,” said Arnie, “she hasn’t forgotten us, she’ll get us there.”

“I wish I could be as sure as you,” said Nina. “In fact, I wish we were back home. Does she know the way back to Frost Avenue?”

Turn right onto Ridge Road,” said the voice.

“I…I guess this is it,” said Arnie, “I didn’t see a street sign, did you?’

“No,” said Nina, “this is where she said to turn, but it’s just a dirt road. Arnie, please turn around, let’s go back.”

“Maybe it’s just an access road to the highway. I kind of thought we’d be taking 104, maybe this is a service road to get us there,” said Arnie nervously.

Destination point one mile ahead,” said the voice.

“Did Jim say this place was in the boondocks?” Nina asked.

“I thought he said it was in a strip mall,” Arnie answered nervously.

You have reached the destination above.

“Above?” said Arnie. He looked quizzically at Nina as he stopped the car and put it in park. They looked around but saw only trees and bushes surrounding the car. Then they craned their necks and looked skyward through the front windshield. Instead of seeing stars or the moon, however, they saw a huge oval ship. They glanced at each other in alarm, but before they could say a word a bright light emerged from the ship and engulfed their car. The car vanished and in a nanosecond so did the ship.

The End


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