art by Seth Alan Bareiss
Off The Map
by Liz A. Vogel
The car idled in the driveway. On the dashboard, the navbox waited patiently, its screen lit with a list of common destinations. There was a keypad for typing in a whole address, but it was easier just to narrow down from the pre-set options.
Oren tapped the navbox. "Evantown," it said in its computerized voice, precisely calculated to provide maximum reassurance and instill a calm and focused attitude in the driver. "Sunset Grove," it added in response to his next selections, and then "Four one nine." Oren selected Guide Me, and when the navbox told him, "Turn left," he did.
In the passenger seat, Tera frowned. "It's taking us up Darrin," she complained. "The traffic's always terrible on Darrin."
"So, request a reroute," Oren shrugged.
Tera poked at the navbox. "Turn right in two miles," it said in response. Oren did.
The new route was little better, with red ranks of taillights from the backed-up cars. Tera tapped at the navbox again. "Maybe I can get it to take us up Causewell?"
"Warning: Causewell Avenue under construction," said the navbox, still calm and reassuring.
Tera said a rude word, and followed it with, "We're going to be late."
"Can't be helped," said Oren, in a tone much like the navbox's.
They inched along. "Hey, what about that?" asked Tera, pointing at a small side street.
"What about it?"
"Why don't we try that way?"