As she minced over the dark fields in the drizzle, toes squishing in the grass, one arm over her breasts, Dareen kept telling herself. “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m running totally naked through the middle of the night. And not only that, but through the middle of nowhere, someplace I’ve never been where no one knows me. Stupid, stupid, I might get attacked or worse, a naked woman defenseless and alone.” But she had been zapped by lightning -- or by something like it -- and still felt unreal and a little dazed, like in a flip-side world where ordinary rules of nature and of behavior do not apply.
She started being aware of the sensations -- she had never run naked before, she was always a modest girl who always dressed and bathed quickly, she had never even lain naked when alone in her room. She had had boyfriends of course and had had a sporadic (and mostly unsatisfying) sex life, but even when making love she had preferred keeping under the covers, leaving something on, usually her bra and socks. And now look at her! Rain, not so pounding now but more like a steady drizzle, soaked her all over, every inch of her bare body. She felt it drip from her hair down her back, into her butt crack. Her bare butt was wet too, water coursing down the back of her legs. Her wet breasts, still unnaturally firm and outthrust, rubbed against her arm, one hard giant nipple poking into her palm. She felt the wet grass between her toes. These were such strange feelings; and they felt good.
She came to the two-lane road and got focused back on her plight. She wasn’t sure which direction to find her car. Not that it would help her to go back to it. She would still be naked. Maybe wait there and some nice policeman would find her. About the police she had been of two minds. She had relatives who had been given a hard time or found it hard to get through airports, for a lot of Arab-Americans it was a fact of life these days. Yet she herself had not had any trouble, and she would hardly be suspected of being a terrorist, cowering naked and wet in a stalled car.
“Why am I doing this?” she asked herself yet again as she decided the car was to her right, yet she found herself turning left, and with crimped steps ran along the road, which with no street lights was as pitch black as the rest of the countryside.
She decided it was dumb to keep covering her breasts, no one was around to see, and besides, her breasts seemed like they wouldn’t flop around in their new hard condition. So she dropped her hand and began pumping both arms, and soon she was running full bore, not really knowing why she was doing it or where she was going, what she was looking for, and now she ran faster, feet slapping against the wet asphalt, found herself running yet faster and faster, and . . .
She’d never felt so alive. And she was going so fast! It must have just seemed that way, her senses being so dislocated by what she’d gone through. Yet here she was, running barefoot down the street, and her feet didn’t hurt, not even when she felt a pebble or two underfoot. That should hurt like blazes -- and yet it didn’t. Now she took great leaps, seeming to jump twenty or thirty feet, thudding onto one foot before her toes sprang into another leap and thudding onto the other foot. “What’s going on? Am I really doing this? I feel like some sort of naked superwoman!”
Now there were some lights ahead and she slowed down. The rain was just a mist now, and she stopped in the middle of the road, feet apart, feeling the water drip from her hair down her back and into between her butt cheeks, and around in front to her wet forest of pubic hair. There was a store ahead with a gravel parking lot in front with gas pumps. Did she really want to just walk naked into there? Yet she had to get help, first of all get clothes.
She decided to run off some yards to the field on the other side of the road and wait and watch to decide what to do. It wasn’t really necessary but she lay down flat on her stomach, feeling weird about it, knowing she was doing it to feel the grass along her front, another new experience. She wiggled and squirmed, enjoying the rubbing of the wet grass against her breasts, her bare tummy, her legs. She shook her head. These sensations were distracting her. Got to watch and decide what to do.
The store was called Peppy’s Food Mart, a convenience store, and there was no one in it except a short man with a mustache, with rather dark skin, possibly Pakistani or something like that. Maybe he was Peppy. He was behind the cash register, making a list of some kind on a pad. He reminded her a little of her Uncle Rakhman; not only his face and stature, but the meticulous and fussy way he wrote. Behind him there was a big clock that said it was 12:30. It was broken, though; a few minutes went by and the hands didn’t move.
The rain had stopped and all was quiet. As the minutes went by Dareen began to observe minutely to see what could be useful to her. There was a rack with clothes near the counter, mostly T-shirts it looked like. Well, that would be a start, she had no money, but surely he would at least lend her something to wear. The usual collection of junk food, the coffee machines. A telephone, in front of the clock. A magazine rack. Man, those biker magazines were all the same, women in the tiniest possible bikinis draped over gigantic motorcycles. Some news magazines, the usual cover stories about the Middle East. Newspapers. Ugh, the Argus Democrat (known around the Atlanta area as the “A.D.”) what a rag! The latest lottery winner was on the front page: a guy with six kids. The little caption under his photo said he was 38, lived in Central Heights, not far from her, had a Bachelor’s from Austin Peay . . .
Dareen felt a chill of something like fright and covered her eyes. Was this a dream? She was reading tiny newsprint from what must be two hundred feet away. Impossible. Yet true. She looked up and read the same caption. She could read everything else on the magazine rack just as easily.
She was grateful to be jolted into more mundane observations with the arrival of a car, a big old Thunderbird, pulling up quickly and braking in front of the gas pump with a violent jerk and the crunch of gravel. A tall black man got out with a “do-rag” and a very bulky sweatshirt down to his knees. He ran in.
Dareen’s mouth opened as she saw the quick movements. The man grabbed Peppy’s neck, shook him, then pulled out a little club (or maybe a gun) and clocked him two or three times. Peppy sank down out of sight. With skillful motions, the man pushed some buttons, popped open the cash register, cleaned it out and ran out to the car. He gunned the Thunderbird and sped off.
“Good heavens!” Dareen found herself saying. She got up, wiped some bits of wet grass off her bobbling breasts, and stepped forward. The Thunderbird was quickly disappearing down the road, dull red taillights diminishing into the misty night. The naked girl’s insides burned. “This was a wrong thing. I wish I could do something about it . . . ”
And she was off. Running after the car as if pushed from behind by a force she could not control and could not resist. This is stupid, stupid, a little voice in her head said, yet she ran faster and faster.
And now she was catching up to the car! It just couldn’t be. This had to be a dream. She wanted to grab the roof. Now she reached both arms forward and jumped.
She felt her toes leave the road and her feet rose up behind her. Wind whistled past her nipples, over her butt, through her toes. She was flying!
Eyes open in amazement, Dareen reached forward and up and she rose higher. Now she was over the car. She leaned to one side and found herself turning a little to the right. Her left arm still extended forward, she reached down with her right hand into the top of the passenger’s side window, prying it open with her fingers, grabbing under the roof. A quick little lurch upward and the car left the road with her as both ascended. She heard the revving of the engine and the wheels as they now spun rapidly with no road to meet. A few seconds later, sounds of shouting and screaming from within, then little jolts as the man inside frantically banged on the roof and kicked at the doors.
She looked up, and with the same motion her left arm rose and both girl and car ascended higher. It was still misty and pitch dark but she felt there had to be a town a couple of miles ahead. Dareen gulped as she looked down. They had to be fifty feet up by now. She should be frightened out of her wits. This was dangerous. She would fall. But she wasn’t falling, and she felt perfectly safe.
“Must be dream.” With this is mind, she accepted what was happening and her mind sat back to let her feelings guide her actions. And enjoyed the feeling of the air whooshing by her, hair spritzed back by the mist. . . She wiggled her toes, even flexed her butt cheeks, and felt the air on the underside fluffing through her pubic hair.
Now, the sight of houses below. She slowed down a bit, wondering how fast she was going. The streets were deserted, of course, at this hour, and there were no cars driving around to compare her speed with. Now some stores. The police station. There was only one thing to do. She deftly and gently descended right in front of the station door and the car touched down with just a little bump. Then she rose up, staying in place thirty feet up by extending herself spread-eagled. From within the car she heard muffled sobbing. Then the man bolted out of the car and ran right into the station. The words were breathless and desperate. “Jesus! Man you gotta -- ”
She really wasn’t curious as to what was going to happen now; she felt like she had done her thing and it was time to go. So she banked to one side with arms out and glided up and away.
“This is the most fun dream I’ve ever had,” she told herself. “Best yet, this is one of those dreams where I know I’m dreaming and I can enjoy myself. It’s so sensual -- flying around naked in the rain. I haven’t had a sexy dream like this in a long time.” As she flew she shimmied her hips, kicked her feet in little motions, and jokingly parted the air in front of her with fluid arm strokes as if swimming. Whoa -- she didn’t mean to turn like that. She decided to practice her flying techniques. She could turn just by leaning her head. Arms up was to ascend, arms down to descend. Standing spread-eagled, arms to the sides, legs wide apart -- how naughty that seemed, exposing everything -- made her hover in place. Curling up into a ball, knees up to her chin, she drifted slowly downward. She tried her earlier habit, back when she was a weak mortal, of holding her arm in front of her breasts. She could fly this way, with one arm, just a little slower and not so steady.
She judged it maybe twenty minutes later when she remembered Peppy. “While I’m being a naked superwoman in this dream I really should see to him.” She sped back to the store, backtracking over the road a hundred feet up, and the store came into view. There was a police car speeding away from it, lights flashing.
She hovered over the store, then descended across the road where she was before, the grass coming up wet, squeaky and lush under her soles. The place was now dark. Walking up to it, she saw that there was no sign of Peppy. And now the register was closed. She saw the button on the floor and knew what had happened. Peppy, while being attacked, had pressed the button and the police had come. No ambulance -- he must have come to and been all right. That made her feel good.
And now she had an unsettling feeling. Dareen, wet and naked, looked at the clock (12:30) and the telephone and the rack with the T-shirts and remembered her plight. Surely it wasn’t a dream that her car had stalled and she had run out in search of a phone. That crazy man with the big clunky bullet, the lighting, her clothes burning off. There was no point at which she could have fallen asleep. Inconveniently for her peace of mind, this was all for real.
She closed her eyes and opened them again. “Let’s deal with the details, the nuts and bolts things, stay sane. Have to get clothes and call Elly.” The door was locked, of course. She ran around the back and the door there was locked too. She looked up to the roof.
How could she not take advantage of her new powers? With one bound she was up on the gritty tar paper roof. There was a vent. With only a moderate grip of two widely spread hands she ripped the heavy metallic cover off its rivets. Down she slid, kicking out the ceiling grille with toes that did not hurt, then down to the floor with the soft thud of her bare feet.
Yes, she was committing burglary. But she was naked and alone and her behavior could be excused -- not that she was planning on getting caught. Gratefully she took an extra large T-shirt from the rack and slid into it. There were some shorts there too. She took the plainest looking pair and stepped into it. Ahhh . . . Clothes. Too bad there were no socks and no shoes of course. But this would do for now.
With a quick look around to the outside -- what if a customer came in -- she went to the register. A phone book. She looked up Peppy’s and got the address -- along Route 52. Now the call to Elly, with directions and a request to bring a full set of clothes and shoes. “Mine got all soaked and ruined, it’s a long story.” Not that she felt like telling Elly any of it. Maybe she would say only that she wandered around looking for a phone and -- but if her clothes were “soaked”, where were they? Why had she gotten rid of them? She supposed she would have to say there was lighting and her clothes got burned. Elly was rather nosy, but maybe that would satisfy her; a scary story, but no getting around it.
The coffee was hours old and tasted terrible but Dareen drank a cup. She wasn’t stealing; it would have gotten thrown out anyway. Though she was hungry, she resisted grabbing those yummy-looking cookies out of the plastic case on the counter. She looked at the magazine rack and yes, the little caption really did say what she thought it had said. She looked forward to getting some sleep. This whole experience was too much to deal with; she should sort it out in the morning.
Enjoying the feel of the T-shirt and shorts, clothed again, Dareen put the empty coffee cup into the trash and went over to under the hole in the ceiling where she had kicked out the vent. She extended her arms up and nothing happened. She jumped and went up about a foot, coming down and landing off-kilter on a stray pebble that hurt like blazes.