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Off the Road
by Jenn Dolari

      “Her name is Jana. She won’t be hard to spot, a warrior maiden on a chariot of red, with a talking skull for a mentor.”
      The folks around these parts didn’t cotton to outsiders well, and Beleran was the most outside of the outsiders they’d seen in a while. He was a tall man, yes, but his features hid something non-human under the skin. The way he walked, his language, something was not right.
      “I have a feeling, considering how…” He acknowledged the old agricultural town straight out of 1950s Americana with the wave of his hand.“…alien this place is, she’s more than likely on her way here. If you should see her, be careful. She’s out to take wishes.”
      The men shifted in their boots. They didn’t want to believe the strange man that wasn’t from around here. Had there been anymore insane asylums, this Beleran would have been in one. But at the same time, there was a tinge of quiet urgency in his voice. And he wasn’t the first non-human these folks had seen lately speaking crazy talk that later they found to be true.
      Beleran passed out small slips of paper with contact information written in English, “If you see her, please feel free to let me or my associates know.”

      Jana and Sylvia continued up the road, now making a beeline away from both San Antonio and Little Rock. They had hoped for some time to regroup, and plan, but instead, they’d managed to stumble into two wishstones so far. There were still no plans for picking up however many were left out there, and they’d spent a lot of time running from the Frozen Daggers and farther away from Vengeance. Sylvia had Jana pull over to the side of the road to get their bearings.
      “I think there may be a stone nearby.”
      Jana said nothing, lost in thought.
      “I’m almost confident there’s a stone nearby, Jana. Can you crack open my lid? I might be able to pinpoint it better that way.”
      Again Jana said nothing, staring at the roadway. Sylvia looked the girl over as best she could with her still redeveloping senses and saw a young woman thinking deep thoughts. “Is something wrong, Jana?”
      Finally Jana broke her silence. “I’m not sure. I have two wish stones now. Jin’s and Alison’s. Why did Jin’s stone let him give his wish up, but Alison’s let her keep her wish? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
      Sylvia thought about this for a second. It had been troubling her as well. She’d hoped that by having Jana collect the wishstones, the world would revert piece by piece. “Each world is making up its own rules, as far as I can tell. Jin’s wish affected only him, maybe that’s why it reverted. Alison…well…her wish didn’t just affect her, but rewrote an entire city, created an organization to be a part of, even gave her powers she never had before. It might be too much to revert right away, or even at all.”
      Jana just nodded. She’d heard, but it hadn’t sunk in. There was still so much to think about. She took out Sylvia’s box and cracked the lid open as she asked. They weren’t all that close to the wishstone, Sylvia concluded. She felt it, but it wasn’t a piercing pain like before. “Northeast, I’m thinking. Definitely another wish stone, but a ways off yet. We should be going.”
      She kick started the bike again only to have the engine sputter out. “Are we out of gas?”
      “We shouldn’t be, the bike was fueled up in Little Rock, and we should have a hundred miles left.” Jana started it up again only to have the engine sputter out.
      “I think there’s a wishstone up ahead,” Sylvia said. “Let’s bring the bike along, Maybe someone there can help us, or at least get us some horses.” Sylvia knew they didn’t have the cash for horses, but she saw the look of despair on the girl’s face. A new pony might motivate Jana onwards. Wasn’t that what every little girl wanted as a pet? She couldn’t remember, anymore – that felt like two lifetimes ago….


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