One Page Stories – Second Web

Speeding

Trina was almost to the highway when the police car showed up behind her, its lights flashing.

She debated continuing on to the highway and to the gas station about three miles ahead; she was on a deserted road in the pitch dark, after all, and it felt … foolish … just to pull over and leave herself pretty much at the mercy of a stranger. But it was the police. She had to stop for the police.

She came to a stop at the side of the road and rolled down her window. The police car, its red lights still spinning, parked behind her.

Trina peered out at the surrounding fields, but the darkness was absolute. Even her headlights didn’t seem to do a thing to break through the black, but instead only illuminated the first row of the tall grasses beside the road. She couldn’t see a single light anywhere, other than the tiny dot in the distance that marked the gas station. She really was in the middle of nowhere.

The policeman had left his car and was approaching her window. She turned to face him. “Was I speeding?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, leaning down toward her. “Any reason you’re in such a hurry?”

She laughed, a little nervously. “I don’t like to be on this road at night any longer than I have to be.” She hadn’t meant to be on this road at all, actually; she had turned too soon on her way to the main highway into town. “It’s pretty dark.” She turned then to look down the road, and shouted in alarm.

A woman was standing in front of the car.

Her hair was long, draped around her shoulders. She wore a simple white floral dress. She stood ten feet from the car, looking at Trina and the policeman without moving.

The policeman had yelled too, and taken a step back, but now he put a hand out toward the woman and called to her, “Ma’am, did you need help?”

The woman didn’t move, and Trina felt chills going up her spine. Where had the woman even come from? There was nothing out here.

“Ma’am?” the policeman called again, stepping toward the front of the car. “Can I help you?”

Trina leaned out her window and murmured to the policeman, “I – I don’t like this.”

“Ma’am, stay in your vehicle,” the policeman told her. Suddenly he jumped back, crying out and stumbling against the car. “What the -?” he muttered, and Trina saw him fumbling for his gun.

“What?” she asked, her heart pounding. She looked past the policeman at the opposite side of the road – a second woman stood there, wearing the same kind of dress as the woman in front of the car, and staring with the same unmoving expression. Trina screamed. “What’s going on!” She whipped her attention back and forth from the first woman to the second. “What do they want?”

The policeman had drawn his gun and was aiming it at the second woman. “Both of you!” he shouted. “Stay where you are!”

The women made no sign that they had heard him, but neither did they move even the slightest muscle.

For no reason that she could explain, Trina looked out the passenger side of the car. A third woman stood there, only inches from the car door. Trina screamed loudly, and grabbed at the policeman through the window. “Another one!”

The policeman was now almost frantically pivoting, pointing his gun at first one and then the next of the silent, immobile women. “What the hell!” he cried, panic in his voice. “Who are you?”

Trina sank down into her seat. “I really don’t like this,” she whispered to herself. “I don’t like this. I don’t like this.” Somehow a fourth woman had appeared beside the first, and all eyes were unblinkingly focused on the policeman.

“Ma’am,” the policeman said tersely. “Get out of here. Get to the gas station.” He backed away from her car, toward his own.

Trina wasted no time. She rolled up her window with a trembling hand, and put her car in reverse. The women in front of the car stayed still as statues. Trina backed the car up, accidentally bumping into the police car, and pulled onto the road. Her headlights revealed a fifth woman beside the second. She pushed the gas pedal to the floor, steering the car down the road as fast as she could.

In the rearview mirror, she saw the policeman silhouetted in front of the patrol car, surrounded by at least seven other shapes.

Apparently the women had finally moved.

Trina managed to coax more speed from her car, leaving the policeman and the women and the deserted road behind her. She must have been going a hundred miles an hour, but it seemed like forever before she got to the gas station.

The Thing I Like About …

Into Darkness:  Navigation Officer Darwin ( played by Aisha Hinds).

Star Trek is known for – among many other things – images of diversity.  Oh, sure, it’s had the usual images of aliens of all types and colours, with bizarre things dangling around their faces or extra eyes or whatnot … but that sort of diversity is expected in science fiction.  Star Trek has always offered actual diversity, presenting to a 1960s audience black women and Asian men working on the bridge of the Enterprise with white men and women.  The new movie, although perhaps not pushing as obvious a social boundary as Kirk and Uhura’s on-screen kiss, is continuing in its predecessor’s footsteps, not just by showing the usual exotic-looking aliens and allowing people with different levels of melanin to be romantically involved, but also by offering to viewers – particularly younger viewers – a very different image of women.

Carol Marcus does not allow Captain Kirk to ogle her.  Uhura – now as before – is not afraid to speak her mind, even to the captain.  And Darwin – clearly a female, and wearing the little feminine skirt and go-go boots that are for some reason the standard uniform – is not what has heretofore been promoted in our culture as a typical beauty.  She is not petite or scrawny; she’s bigger than Lt. Sulu.  She does not have flowing locks of hair; she doesn’t have hair on her head at all.  Like all the other  Star Trek women, she is given the same respect as the men around her, and she does her job competently.  Young girls – and boys too – can look at her and say to themselves, “So that’s what women look like.  That’s what women do.  That’s how men and women treat each other.”

When I consider how it affected me as a young girl to have Nichelle Nichols (“Uhura”) to look up to, I think all the kids looking at Navigation Officer Darwin are lucky indeed.  So bring it, heroin-chic bobble-head girls in designer-jeans ads.  We have an antidote now.