Wednesday 24th March 2027: Evan and Richie

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It was mid-morning on the day Richie found him. Evan, asleep in the front seat of the car that wasn't his car, awoke with a jolt, startled by a knock on the window, the hatchet in his hand instantly raised.

He was taken aback to see the face outside the car, so like his own, maybe a year or two older. And stunning. Self-esteem had never been an issue for Evan. His face often made his life easier and he was quick to recognise such qualities in others.

Still, he was wise enough to be suspicious and half expected to see a pack of deranged psychos surrounding the car having sent in the one pretty face amongst them as bait.

He'd thought sleeping in the car, as concealed as it was by overgrown hedgerows, would be a good idea, at least compared to hiding out in some random house where god knows who could break in. Maybe he needed to rethink that, assuming he lived long enough.

He wound down the window a crack and asked, "What do you want?"

"A ride, please, if you don't mind." The pretty face smiled. Open, friendly.

"Where to?" Evan did not return the smile.

"Wherever you're going. It's either that or walk, and I'm sick of walking. My feet are sort of wrecked, to be honest."

"Are you alone?"

"Of course I'm alone. Do you think I'd be approaching a sleeping stranger in a car parked in a field to ask for a lift if I had anyone with me?"

"I don't know. I haven't encountered many people traveling on their own recently. It seems somewhat...unfeasible." Evan remembered the lone wanderer he'd hidden from when he found this car, and felt an unfamiliar twinge of guilt that he abruptly banished from his consciousness.

"For all I know, you've got a bunch of crazy friends hiding round the corner waiting to kill me and steal my car."

"I don't, I promise. I don't know how to prove that to you but it's the truth. And besides, we both know it isn't your car. But it's a nice car. And it has a passenger seat."

"How do you know it isn't my car?" Evan's eyes narrowed. Suspicious, vicious.

"The 'baby on board' sign and the stick figure family decals kind of give it away." A grin, refreshingly non-judgmental. Maybe there was hope for this one yet.

"How do you know I didn't have a baby and a family before all this?" asked Evan, raising an eyebrow, allowing a slight tilt to find the corners of his lips.

"Did you?" The pretty face mirrored the gesture with surprisingly accuracy. There was definitely hope for this one.

"No, but that's not the point." Evan fell easily back into old patterns. Precisely this look. Precisely that set of the jaw. Precisely the desired effect.

"It kind of is though." The pretty face's voice lowered, slowed.

The interaction had become something else, something more. A game in a world otherwise void of entertainment.

"Fine," said Evan. "I didn't and it's not my car. Or at least it wasn't. But it is now. And none of that means I need a travelling companion." A challenge. A test.

"I'm sure you don't need one, but wouldn't it be nice?" Expectant. Entitled.

"Honestly? No. It probably wouldn't." Another shift in tone.

"Aww, go on..." Genuine confusion now.

"What's your problem? No-one ever said no to you before?" If a voice could be both cruel and inviting, Evan's was exactly that now.

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