"We're getting close."
"Yeah, can't be far now."
The long lonely road stretched out in front of them. They hadn't seen a car for at least twenty minutes. Glen Eloy didn't think they would see many more cars at this time of the afternoon, not when they were so far out in the countryside. For a second, he took his gaze off the road in front of them and turned his head to look across at Mark Webber.
Only Mark would agree to do this with him.
Mark was his best friend. Always had been and always would be. They'd lived next door to each other growing up, they'd gone to school together and they'd stayed the best of buddies through thick and thin.
No matter what.
Even when others would say Glen's ideas were crazy, Mark would stand by him.
As he turned to concentrate back on the road, Glen knew that they were friends for life. They had something others didn't, a brotherly bond.
"What do you think?" he asked.
Mark lifted his head from the newspaper article he was reading. "Impressive stuff," he said.
"I told you I'd come through with the goods."
"Yeah, but I didn't know you had so much material. Where did you find all this?"
Glen smiled. "The internet's a big place."
"But you didn't find all this stuff online," Mark said as he rifled through some more of the dozens of pages in the fat, bulging manila folder.
"No, that's true. I had to become a real little sleuth to find some of that stuff. It wasn't easy, that's for sure."
Glen took one hand off the steering wheel and leaned across to Mark. His eyes wandered from the road as he reached into the folder and pulled out a piece of paper with a red Post-It note attached to the top.
"Read this one," he said, placing the photocopied news article on top of Mark's pile. "When I found that article I almost blew my load."
Glen straightened up and placed his hand back on the steering wheel. The mid-afternoon sun was behind them now, throwing a long shadow of the Jeep out in front of them.
As they drove through some low-lying areas, Glen spotted the first wisps of fog that would blanket the area at night. He cranked up the heater one more notch, even though it wasn't so cold, knowing if they took too much longer, the evening air would seep through the cloth top of the Jeep and envelop them.
Gotta make sure we arrive before nightfall.
"We should be doing this at night," he said.
"Nah, we can't," Mark replied. "We'd probably miss a turn and get lost."
"Yeah, you're right. But to make it as realistic as possible, we should be doing this at night."
Mark laughed. "You've got it bad."
"How much more realistic do you want it? We're in a red Jeep, it's a Saturday afternoon, we're on the right road "
"Still, at night would be cool."
"Look, I'll do a deal with you," Mark said. "If what you have in this folder is correct -"
"Oh, pal, it's correct alright."
"And we find what we're looking for "
"We will, I promise you."
"Then we can always come back and do the whole thing properly, okay? You know, come back next weekend and set off on Saturday evening when it's dark and arrive before midnight. We'll know where we're going and what to keep an eye out for."
Glen thought about it for a second and then agreed. "Okay, deal."
He turned to smile at his friend, but Mark had returned to reading the newspaper article.
Focussing back on the road, Glen mentally patted himself on the back for the good job he had done.
I can't believe we're here, on this road, and doing this.
We're actually fucking doing this.
It had taken so much work, so much time. But it was all paying off now.
He listened to the sound of the Jeep's engine and the low whistle of the afternoon air as it collided against the soft-top. The plastic handcuffs swung from the rear-view mirror to the rhythm of the road.
This is going to be so cool, Glen thought.
A hush fell between them as they travelled further into the countryside.
"Wow," Mark said as his eyes lifted from the newspaper article.
Glen turned to look at him, but Mark was staring out through the windshield.
"Amazing, huh?" Glen asked.
A bend in the road appeared in front of them and Glen turned the steering wheel to compensate. The Jeep skidded slightly as it turned to the left.
"Murder Two " Mark whispered.
"I know," Glen replied. "Hard to believe, isn't it? There's just so much more to this than anyone knows about."
"Was he convicted?"
Glen shook his head. "I don't know. That's what frustrates me so much. That's the one thing I couldn't find out."
"But if they reported on this, I mean like in the newspapers, then they must've reported on the trial." Mark began to shuffle through the papers in the folder.
"I couldn't find anything. I looked forwards and backwards on those damn microfilm rolls until I thought I was going to be sick, but I couldn't find anything. The whole story just vanishes."
"You've got a goddamn goldmine in here."
"I know." Glen grinned again. "And we're the only ones who know about it."
"I just wish we knew if he was convicted."
"I tried. Believe me, I wish I knew too. But I couldn't find it anywhere. I even called the court and they couldn't find any record of the trial either. It's so damn strange. You don't know how hard I searched to find that out. In the end, for us, I guess it doesn't matter. But I tried to find out anyway."
Mark turned and reached to grab the novel from the back seat. He sat back in his chair and opened the book in his lap.
"How many times have you read this now?" he asked.
Mark laughed. "Unlucky for some."
"Not for me."
"And I thought I was addicted having read it five times."
"You've got a long way to go to catch me," Glen said.
He turned his head and eyed his dog-eared copy of the novel.
It all started there, he thought. On page one. On line one.
The spine of the oversized paperback was broken in countless sections. Some pages were dog-eared, but most contained a Post-It note or two, or three. All in different colour combinations, all denoting a different part of the book, a different fact to check, a different idea to follow up. He could see some of his notes scrawled in black pen across the Post-Its. He'd worked all night on countless nights to dig and find that research, just to make sure he was on the right track.
Glen had always wished he'd bought more than just one copy of the book, but it sold out so damn fast he never got the chance. He reminded himself to look on eBay when they returned home, because he didn't feel like waiting until the US limited edition was released in two years time.
Fuck that, I can't wait. eBay. I might get lucky and find one there, he thought.
"I'd have done it with her straight away," Mark said, his eyes lifting from page one.
"Oh yeah, me too. Although he was married, I still would've done it."
"Yeah, you can't say no when she's like that."
"She'd be so good," Glen said.
So good, he thought.
He could feel his cock start to pulse and grow.
Just imagine fucking her all night. In every way. In every position. In every hole.
His cock pushed against the inside of his boxers and he could feel the tightness in his jeans.
He glanced across to Mark, but Mark had gone back to reading the novel.
Glen concentrated back on the road.
If a girl like that turned up at my place and was there like she was, I'd say yes straight away, no matter what. Fuck the world and everyone else in it. You don't get chances like that every day. Just think, to hold her and feel her naked against my skin and to slowly have her slide down and lick and suck me. To shoot my cum all over her face and tits and gorgeous pussy
Glen moved in his seat, trying to get comfortable and reposition his hard cock.
Imagine bending her forward and seeing her gorgeous ass and, just below it, that smooth shaved mound of beauty. And I'd spread those cheeks and slip inside her and fuck her until we both collapsed exhausted on the floor. But she'd come back and want more, much more, lots more and we'd go all night. We'd fuck and fuck and become one. She'd be mine forever.
Glen's forehead furrowed as he tried to think of something else.
The silence between them continued, filled only with the constant white noise of the air rushing against the Jeep.
Glen peered through the windshield. Any sign of civilisation had disappeared long ago now. All around them were trees and bushes; there were no other cars or signs of life. Just a road that stretched on in front of the Jeep for what seemed like forever.
This really is a back road that no one uses these days.
He wondered if they were doing the right thing.
Of course we are. This is what you've been working towards for almost a year now.
Glen shook his head.
A year? Is it almost a year?
He remembered when the book first arrived. Just before Valentine's Day. He'd planned everything. He was going to show Jodie a real cool time out on the town, but he'd started reading the book the day before and hadn't wanted to put the damn thing down until he'd reached the end.
It had that effect on you.
So he called Jodie and told her he was sick.
He didn't think she really believed him. She knew he was lying. She thought he didn't want to go out and spend the day with her. He did. But the book was more important.
Who cares anyway? That book changed my life.
Glen stared at the road and watched as it stretched out before them. He looked for anything different in the surrounds as they sped by, but it all looked the same.
All the same, mile after mile. Just like life, day after day. Until something comes out of the blue and changes your life forever.
Mark lifted his head from the book and sat back in his seat.
"She's so fucking hot," he moaned.
Glen laughed. "No need to tell me, man. I'm well aware of that."
"Who do you think would play her in the movie, if they made one of the book?" Mark asked.
"Way ahead of you, pal. That's an easy one. Leelee Sobieski."
"Nah," Mark said after giving it some thought. "She doesn't do nudes."
"Really? Fuck! You sure?"
"Yep, I read that somewhere once. She wouldn't do all the sex scenes and, hell, I don't think you'd even get her naked in front of a camera in the first place."
"Shit." Glen was disappointed. "I really wanted her in the role. She'd be great in the film."
"How about Asia Argento?" Mark asked.
"Are you kidding? Asia's a brunette."
Mark shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, that's true I guess. Well, she could dye her hair or wear a wig or something."
"Sure." Glen gave the idea some thought. "They do that all the time these days in movies. I didn't think of that. She'd be really cool. But I don't know, I think it has to be a real blonde. Someone like Leelee."
"The teenage girl from 24?"
"Nope, not beautiful enough."
Glen broke out laughing. "She's a tennis player, not an actor."
"Who the hell cares?" Mark muttered. "As long as she's in it."
They both laughed.
"Anyway, if the actress wasn't a real blonde, we'd find out in the first few minutes of the film." They both laughed again.
"No we wouldn't," Glen said. "Because she's shaved down there. We'd never know for sure."
They both watched the road stretching out before them.
"Have you ever seen a real shaved pussy in a film?" Mark asked. "Not, you know, a bikini line. I mean a real shaved pussy?"
Glen thought about it. "I don't think so. Not in mainstream stuff. I mean, in porn films, yeah, all the time. But not in any Hollywood blockbusters."
"Nah, the Japs like 'em bushy. So do the Europeans for some strange reason."
"Well, they'll never make this book into a mainstream film."
"Hell no, even an R rating would make the film too tame. It'd have to be an underground film. Or an unrated direct-to-DVD film like all those old European films you can buy at Amazon that are really porn films but are being sold as 'high art'."
Mark returned to the book. "Good point. I didn't think of that."
Glen was glad they'd had the conversation. It had taken his mind off her and his erection had subsided. He was comfortable again and could concentrate on the road once more.
Mark turned in his seat and threw the novel into the back of the Jeep.
"I could read that again and again," he said.
Glen nodded. "I know what you mean."
"Did you ever contact the author?"
"Nope." Glen shook his head. "I tried to track him down, but no one can find him. He used to have a website or something, but I can't find him anywhere. No one knows where he is or if he's done anything since."
"Everything connected to that book is weird. Some people say the author's dead or that he just disappeared under mysterious circumstances."
"Really? Did he write anything else?"
"A couple of novels, but I think they were written before this one and they were just polished up for release afterwards."
"I hate it when they do that," Mark said as he turned his attention back to the folder of articles.
Glen checked the fuel gauge. They had more than enough gas to get there and back without refilling the tank. He'd made sure of that before they left because he didn't know how much exploring they'd be doing.
"The countryside's a big place," he'd told Mark as they had pulled into the gas station. "I don't want to be stranded out there. No one will be around and I don't want to get stuck without any help."
"We've got our cell phones," Mark said.
"I don't think there's coverage that far out."
"Oh, okay. Better check the tires too."
He had. All were fully inflated. Even the spare.
The girl behind the counter at the gas station looked okay, Glen remembered. The uniform didn't do much for her, but her hair was in braids and he liked that. He'd never given it much thought until he read the book, and now every girl who looked sexy and fuckable made him think of Zoe and wonder whether this real girl measured up to her.
Few did, he thought. No, scratch that. None do.
I wish I had a Zoe in my life.
Mark's voice brought him back.
"Are there many sites on the net?" he asked, holding up a printout from one of them.
"There's dozens. All fan sites though. No official sites. Just some people who have read the book and want to make sure she lives on."
"It's a weird place, the internet," Mark added. "I'm glad I keep away from it."
"You've got no idea. There's discussion boards and email lists just on her. They discuss everything to do with her. It's amazing. There's everything you ever needed. Fan-fiction and more. There's even a site where people can upload photos of girls they think look like her."
"Now that is weird."
"Like I said, everything connected to her is weird."
Mark turned and smiled at him. "But we're the first, right?"
Glen nodded. "Oh yeah, we've cracked the code alright."
"This is so cool."
"So fucking cool!" Glen drummed his fists on the steering wheel. "We've cracked the code and were going to be the first."
"You haven't fucked up anywhere?"
Glen shook his head. "Nope. Trust me. I'm right. I've checked it all. I've looked at all the facts. I'm right, I know I am."
"I sure hope so. I don't want us coming all this way to be wrong."
Glen steered around another corner. "Don't worry so much. Hell, you read the newspaper article, it literally says it all in there."
"Yeah, but the guy's name is Daryl."
"Don't worry about that. Authors do that all the time. You know, 'The names in this book have been changed to protect the innocent' and all that."
"He wasn't innocent."
Glen laughed. "No, but they changed it anyway. Probably to make sure he didn't sue or something. The main point is look at her name, look at it again if you have to. It's just like the name at the start of the book, in the dedication."
"But her surname wasn't printed in the dedication, just the first letter of it."
"Ah, but some early advance reading copies did have her surname in full. That's why it has to be right. It has to be her."
Mark's eyes skimmed the article again. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
"You know I am. That article gave me the proof. It was the start. And all the other facts check out. Sure, the place names and character names are different, but that's what authors do."
"You're a regular little Sherlock, huh?"
"For this, I had to be. But they can't fool Glen Eloy for long. I found all the hidden clues."
Silence filled the car again. Their surrounds blended into one long dry and barren landscape. The only sound was of the motor and the wind against the canvass.
So exciting, this whole thing, Glen thought.
And he was glad his best buddy was with him.
It was hard to believe it was just a week ago that he'd finally worked it all out. When the maps had proven he was right and he could plot the whole drive in three easy steps, he'd called Mark straight away.
"Pal, I got it."
"I've fuckin' done it."
"I've cracked the code. I've worked it all out."
"Deadly. I'm sitting here with it all. I've worked it out. It all makes sense and we can do it. It's easy."
"I can't believe it."
"You better. It's all here, in black and white. I've got it, I've photocopied it and I'm ready to roll."
"You really want to do this?"
"All of it? Like we said?"
"Next weekend. How about we leave on Saturday afternoon?"
Mark had chuckled on the other end. "Saturday, huh?"
"Yep, what could be better?"
There was a pause for only a second before Mark had agreed. "Okay, deal."
"Cool, I'll pick you up, okay?"
"Yep, that's fine. You sure you've got this right?"
"More sure than I've been about anything else."
"Okay, see you then."
Glen smiled as he thought about that conversation. Turning his head, he checked on Mark. He was reading another article. Glen knew all the facts were there.
He knew that if he just let his friend digest it all, there'd be no doubt in his mind either. The facts spoke for themselves.
The author was smart, he'd hidden a lot, but not everything.
"You know some guy on the internet is trying to write a sequel," Glen said after a few more minutes of silence.
Mark looked up from the article. "Bullshit."
"No, it's true. He's trying to re-create her in some spin-off thing."
"Yeah, it sure does," Glen agreed. "It'll never be as good, even if he manages to write it at all, which I don't think he will. Sequels are never as good as the originals."
Mark scratched his chin. "You're right. Except for Psycho II."
Glen thought for a second. "Yeah, Psycho II was cool."
"And Stepfather II, that was a cool sequel too," Mark added. "And people think Mad Max II was better than the first, but I'm not so sure "
"Yeah, well, anyway," Glen continued, "we're talking about books here and book sequels never work."
"Except like the Beast House series "
Glen nodded. "Well, mostly, most times, more often than most, sequels don't work."
"Yeah, you've got that right." Mark said as he returned to the articles.
But imagine if it did work, Glen thought. To spend another 500 pages with her would be like heaven on earth. Even just 200 pages. But it will never happen.
He didn't think Jodie ever really understood what it was all about. He'd tried to explain it to her, but she wouldn't listen. She saw his infatuation with a fictional character as a threat.
He'd tried to get her to read the novel, so she could see for herself what he was talking about. He'd tried to explain it to her, but she wasn't interested.
"Do you love me or your fucking precious little Zoe?" she'd screamed at him.
Shouldn't ask a guy a question like that when you're having an argument.
"Well she sure gets me to cum more often than you do!" he'd said.
Of course, he didn't really mean to say it. He'd said it to get back at her. He'd said it to hurt her. To cut deep.
And it worked.
Well fuck you anyway, Miss Precious. I don't need you. I'm out here and I'm going to follow my dream and you can go fuck yourself.
He thought he'd feel better after that.
"Don't take this the wrong way "
Glen's thoughts were interrupted. "What?"
Mark closed the folder and turned to face him.
"You don't think that maybe, just a bit, you might be taking this whole
Zoe thing too far?"
Glen's eyes darted to his friend and his jaw dropped. He didn't know what to say.
"I'm just asking," Mark said.
"Why would you say that?"
"Well you know " Mark's voice trailed off.
"No, I don't know." Glen's eyes narrowed.
"Well, this file full of clips and notes. The book covered with comments and stuff "
"And? You want more?"
"I don't see your point," Glen said.
Pal, don't ruin this before we're even there.
"I don't want to seem unkind or anything. I mean, I'm really glad you asked me to come along with you on this trip. I just think that maybe you're a bit too obsessed by the whole thing."
"Really? Obsessed?" Glen was shocked.
"I'm just asking what you think, that's all. Some people might find all this pretty weird."
"I don't think so," Glen answered quickly. "There's plenty of weirder people out there, especially on the net. Don't worry about me, I'm as sane as the next guy. I can walk away from this at any time. Drop it all at any time if I need to or want to."
"So, if I said we should turn around and head home ?"
Glen's eyes checked the road before darting back to Mark. "Are you serious?"
"I'm just asking, I'm not saying we have to."
"I've done all this work, all this research to get us here today. You were all for it, you said yeah let's do it when I told you about it last weekend, you said you'd come along. Don't go all chicken-shit on me now."
"I'm not, I just wanted to know what you thought."
"Look, this is it, okay? This is the last puzzle piece. We've found out all the stuff we needed to find, we discovered all the hidden clues, it's all done. Once we return from this weekend, it's all over. Our lives can move on, but we've got to see this through to the end, and now. We have to be the first! We have to close this once and for all so we can look back on it in years to come and say, yeah, we did it and we were the first. Okay?"
"But you know " Mark pointed to the handcuffs hanging on the rear-view mirror.
"So what?" Glen said. "You want me to put fluffy dice up there or something? Or an alien? Or some fucking Indian dream-catcher feather bullshit or a stupid plastic dancing fucking Elvis?"
Mark pointed at the silver studded black wristband on Glen's right wrist. "The wristband. Just like the dog collar Zoe used "
"It's a wristband. A fashion item. Nothing more, nothing less. Let's not spoil this great weekend with this argument. It's just stupid. Okay?"
Mark looked at him for a second but then nodded his head.
Glen smiled. "Cool. I knew you wouldn't let me down."
His eyes returned to the road.
What was all that about? He's starting to sound like Jodie. And another one of her I don't need. Why do people always have to stamp all over your dreams the moment you lay them out in front of them - when you're at your most vulnerable, when you're most sensitive to attack? I thought he understood why we're here.
Glen shook his head.
I'm glad I never told him about the cock-ring, that might've thrown him right over the edge.
He was never sure about the cock-ring either. Doing the research on the net was easy, but once he started calling around to tattoo parlours and piercing salons to find out prices and procedures, he felt a bit out of place.
Not to mention letting another guy hold your cock and fondle it before sticking a fucking great needle through it.
And it hurt like fuck too.
Then he had to clean the non-stop discharge seeping from the two holes for about a week before they cleared up. And he couldn't have sex for months. Still, Jodie was gone, so it wasn't like he was having sex with anyone anyway.
Was it really just three weeks ago I had it pierced?
That means Jodie's been gone five weeks.
He wondered if her leaving had given him the strength to get the piercing done.
I'll show her, he remembered thinking.
Even masturbating was too hard. He'd have to wait for the Prince Albert to heal completely before he could try it out again.
But, man, that first wank was fantastic, even through the pain.
He thought he'd cum for hours.
If only Zoe had been there to drink it all in. To suck me dry and to make me cum hour after hour.
If only I could find her or someone like her.
He knew now that she existed. The newspaper clippings proved that to be true. They matched with the dedication at the front of the book. The names were the same. No doubt about it. What had happened in the book had happened in real life. She was real, more real to him now than some of the people he'd known for years. He knew girls like her were out there.
I just have to find them.
And I will.
After this weekend.
Nothing matters until after this weekend
He was proud of the research he had done. Proud that he was able to decode the hints in the book and work out exactly where the real events took place.
Once he found out where the author lived, working from there hadn't been so hard. He discovered the author had lived in Glen's home town and that some of the events had taken place just a few blocks away from where Glen lived.
Almost as if I was destined to be the first to find out the truth
There were many stories on the net that the author was really the main male character of the novel, but Glen wasn't so sure about that. And when he found the article about the trial, it all started to fit together nicely. The locations all existed and they were exactly the distances apart as described in the novel, but the author had changed the town names as well as the names of the characters.
All except Zoe. She stayed the same.
But I worked it out.
I found Zoe.
Well, not yet. But I will.
He just wished he had been able to find a follow-up article that answered the questions about the trial. He needed to know if the guy was found guilty or let off. But he hadn't been able to find anything. He'd even tried to track him down by doing searches of voter registries and on the internet, but he couldn't find him. The guy didn't seem to exist.
Unless he was the author.
"Did the other girl stay with him?" Mark asked.
Glen looked across to him.
"The other girl, did she stay with him?"
"I don't know," Glen replied.
"I liked her too."
"Oh yeah, she was great. Just imagine her and Zoe together." Glen smiled.
Aaaah, Glen thought. So you are as turned on by this as I am.
The road stretched out in front of them.
Glen checked the trip clock on his dashboard. The miles were churning over fast.
"We're getting close," he said.
"Not long now."
"Cool," Mark said.
Glen stared out the windshield and relaxed, letting the feel of the road and the sound of the air calm him.
I've waited so long for this.
They'll stop laughing at me once we come back with the proof. They won't be able to say shit once we prove it to them. I'll wipe the smirks off their stupid faces.
"The internet's fucked," Glen said.
"I know," Mark replied. "I don't know why you spend so much time on there."
"You do. You're always on it."
"I was on it to find out all this stuff so we could get here today, remember?"
"Yeah, yeah." Mark buried his head in another article.
"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all the time I spent on the net finding this stuff out and researching "
"And downloading porn."
"And trying to find out information "
"And downloading porn."
"And trying to contact people and get the facts so we could get here."
"And downloading porn!"
Porn's no good when you've got a bolt through your cock and it's seeping green puss
He hadn't seen it appear on the horizon. He didn't know if the argument had distracted him for those vital seconds, but now there was a car on the road, heading their way.
"Hey, looks like we've got company." Glen pointed at the car.
Mark lifted his head and squinted into the distance.
"I thought this road was supposed to be empty."
"Says so in the book," Mark replied.
"Well, the author lied. Again."
"Still, one car in half an hour isn't exactly gridlock."
The car was a black Ford.
It was getting closer.
"Our friend's in a hurry," Mark added.
The Ford sped closer. It swerved into the centre of the road, then pulled itself back into its lane.
Glen took his foot off the accelerator. He studied the car.
It was beat-up with long scratches across the hood. The front fender was bent at a weird angle and it had a broken headlight.
"What's that on its windshield?" Mark asked, peering closer.
Glen narrowed his eyes to focus harder.
"It's a pattern of some kind," Mark whispered.
"Huh?" Glen turned to look at his friend.
"Like it's painted on or something "
Mark screwed up his face to concentrate harder. Then his face went white with shock.
He dived for the steering wheel.
Glen's eyes darted back to the road.
Saw the Ford.
Almost upon them.
Saw the shattered windscreen.
Clear in his vision.
Saw the Ford cross into their lane and charge to meet them head on.