The car sped through the desert with its top down and the occupants yahooing and waving their arms up in the wind.
The car was bright red and aside from the dust from the desert road, it was spotlessly clean. The two girls inside the car weren't the ones who cleaned it, but the cleanliness was one of the reasons they chose it.
“I love this feeling!” Andrea yelled as she steered the car from lane to lane on the straight, narrow and most importantly, empty desert road.
“Lane! Lane!” her passenger screamed.
“Oh hush, there's no one coming,” she said, looking at her new friend but sliding back into the appropriate lane.
“Where are we going?” the passenger, a red haired 20-something year old asked.
“My sister’s place. We should be able to spend the night there before heading to the city.”
The red head glanced at the driver skeptically. “Your sister. You never mentioned a sister before.”
“I haven't mentioned a lot of things. I mean, we only met last night.”
The previous night was a blur in the red heads mind. There had been a party that her brother had invited her to which was exactly unlike him to do. It was at a nightclub, which was exactly like him.
His girlfriend had attached to her almost instantly, keeping her supplied with drinks, every other one of which she had fed to a pot plant.
They had danced and mingled and drunk almost as centerpieces to her brothers party, which made her feel very uncomfortable.
After almost 12 hours of this, and much more besides, she and the girlfriend, who she learned accidentally was named Andrea, fell into an empty bed in a room above the club together and slept.
“Your brother wont like that we shared a bed,” Andrea smirked after a protracted silence.
“I don't like it,” the red head replied.
“Oh come on, we were all nicely snuggled together when we woke up.”
“Yes, well, where was he?”
“Oh who knows. I've learned better than to ask that after one of his parties.”
“He goes with other girls?” the red head asked in shock.
“And guys. Hes, uh, promiscuous.”
“And you're still his girlfriend?”
“He is a good person,” she said, her tone changing somewhat. “Whatever he does when hes not with me isn't based on our relationship. Its just,” she trailed off and the pair of them fell into silence.
“I don't know my brother well. Mum keeps me updated with what she thinks is important, but she can be judgmental. This is the first time in a long time I've actually been invited to spend time with him.”
“And you spend most of it with his girlfriend instead.”
“That wasn't how I saw my night going.”
“It never is.”
Many miles ahead of the speeding car smooth rolling mountains began their nightly ritual of hiding the sun. Orange light sharply lit their edges and valleys. A few of the tallest still had snow and the light glinted off it, giving another edge to the light show.
A few stars were twinkling in the twilight that appeared in the rear view mirror.
Neither woman paid any attention to the approaching nightfall, choosing instead to drive into the darkness.
Small towns passed, their lights representing something on their journey, both of them recognised this, however neither tried to put into words exactly what it was.
Meanwhile, some hours behind them, the entire parking lot was taken up by emergency vehicles, red and blue lights flashing in the silence of the night. Some annoyed party goers were gathered on the opposite side of the road, watching, muttering to each other and asking questions about the presence of all the police and ambulance which was preventing the club from opening on a Saturday night.
The phone call startled the girls. “Don't,” Andrea said as her passenger reached for the glove box.
“It might be -”
“It wont be. It’s been, what, a whole ass day? That's already too long. It’s not worth it.”
The phone rang out and was instantly replaced by another, which the girls also let ring out.
“Into the desert. Toss them. We can be tracked, you know.”
The red head rolled her eyes and took both phones and tossed them out onto the side of the road. “You're being paranoid,” she said, trying to hide her own fears of being followed.
“Better paranoid than the alternative.”
“A guest list,” the officer said handing a clipboard to the detective.
“Anyone interesting on it?” the detective asked, flicking his eyes down the names.
“Well, we don't know about the people on the list specifically, but, there are 43 names on the list and we’ve located 41 of them.”
“How about that. I assume, already knowing the answer, that you know where the other two are?”
“Not yet. We do have some very co-operative helpers. You’ll be the first to know when we get them.”
“Fantastic,” the detective said, sounding unintentionally sarcastic.
Somewhere along the road, the girls had turned north. The final sliver of the days light had disappeared behind the mountains, now off to their left, and night was once again upon the world. Ahead lay a dull glow. Several miles of open road with scrubby desert trees lay between them and the light.
“What do we do when we get there?” the red head asked.
“My sister will put us up.”
“Probably not. Probably not even the entire night, but it’s the best bet we have.”
“So,” the comment hung in the air unfinished.
“Any ideas on where after that?”
“Alright, so we know one of the missing people is Andrea Bergman.”
“Yeah, his girlfriend,” the officer waved at one of the bodies.
“And the other?”
We’re not sure. The name on the list doesn't match up to any database we have access to. Whoever the 43rd person is, we don’t know who or where they are.”
“But they were here before all this, and now they’re gone. With the Bergman woman?”
“I would say so. But we have a lead; his car is missing too.”
The girls crossed the city line a little after midnight. Their little red car now going much slower than the driver would prefer. She turned to the red head in the passenger seat and smiled. “Remind me to thank your brother for the loan of his car,”
The other girl just laughed.