Driving through the Mojave dessert on their way to Los Angeles with no one else in sight Carl was flipping through the radio stations. His seven-year-old daughter in the seat beside him was on her knees looking out the window while his wife slept stretched out on the back seat.
Carl glanced up but saw nothing but the usual Joshua trees and brush and went back to trying to find something interesting on the radio.
“Daddy, who is that?”
He looked again and saw she was pointing at a figure dressed head to toe in black including a black hood just ahead of them. The outside temperature was 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Carl slowed down as they approached. He thought he should probably just keep going but this was the Mojave. It wouldn’t be right not to find out what was going on. He pulled along side driving slowly and powered down the passenger side window. A furnace blast of hot air hit him in the face almost taking his breath away.
“Hey, are you alright? Why are you out here?”
The figure stopped and turned toward the car. He moved toward the window and leaned down to peer in. His face was completely obscured by the hood pulled up over it.
“Where are you going?”
Carl had the willies but he didn’t want to alarm his daughter, she was staring intently at the stranger, so he acted as casual as he could.
The figure straightened up and began walking again. Carl was flummoxed.
“Hey, do you need a lift?” He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth but reminded himself this was the desert and a man could die out here with ease.
The figure lifted his hand and waved them off and kept walking. Carl shrugged and hit the gas.
“Who was that daddy?”
“I don’t know sweetheart. Forget about it.”
Half and hour later another car slowed down as it approached him. A young man in a convertible with the radio blasting pulled up beside him.
“Dude, what’s up? Kinda hot out here for that getup ain’t it? You need a lift?”
Again the figure stepped to the car and looked at the driver. “Where are you going?”
“I’m heading down to Mexico for some good times. Man, I can’t see your face. That’s freaky. You want a lift? Hop in.”
The figure turned away and began moving forward without another word. The young man shook his head and pulled forward to catch up.
“Hey man, you’re gonna lose it out here, don’t you know that? Let me at least take you to the next town. You need to get out of this sun.”
The figure waved him on.
“Whatever, man.” The convertible was out of sight in a matter of minutes.
Two hours later a truck pulled alongside him. He ignored the hiss of the airbrakes. The driver leaned over and yelled out the window.
“Hey, you lost? What the hell you doing out here? Get in the truck man; I’ll get you to safety. This sun is gonna cook you if you stay out here.”
The hooded one looked up. “Where are you going?”
“Just hauling a load to Palmdale. Where you headed?”
The figure began walking again. The truck driver scratched his head. He’d seen some strange things in the desert but this beat all. He rolled the window up and got on the radio to advise the Highway Patrol there was a loonie loose on Highway 58.
As twilight came to the dessert a long low vehicle of indeterminate origin pulled alongside the hooded one and the driver stopped. The figure leaned down and looked inside for a long moment without speaking. The driver stared straight ahead.
“Where are you going?”
“Back to the source.”
“What is your face?”
The driver turned to the figure revealing the flat mirror that was the front of his head. The figure reached up and pulled his hood down revealing the same. He got in the vehicle and put his hand over the driver’s mirrored face. The driver reciprocated. They sat there for several minutes then as each removed their hand and turned forward the vehicle accelerated to the speed of light into the bruised purple light of the evening sky and was gone.