Chapter Twenty-One

     "I can't thank you enough.  You've been so kind to me
today."  Donna stood outside the garage, her car ready and
waiting to continue her trip.
     The sun had set a few hours earlier, but Bill had kept
working through the day.  He wanted to help Donna continue
on her journey, to get away from whatever she was getting
away from.  But he didn't tell her that.  He had even turned
away some regular customers just so he could work exclusively
on her car.
     "Well, it was a slow day, so I only had your car to work
on.  Took longer than I thought, but, well it should last you a
few years.  I'd be callin' a dealership, though.  A car this new
shouldn't be breakin' parts like that."
     "How much do I owe you?"  She held her wallet in her
hand.  He held the bill.
     "Oh, it comes to just over six hundred.  Make it an even
six."  The invoice in his hand was the second.  The original bill
actually totalled closer to eight hundred and fifty, but he

discounted most of his hours and only charged her cost for the
     Donna opened her wallet and counted out twelve fifty
dollar bills, then handed them to the mechanic.  He traded her
the invoice for the cash.
     "Well, thanks again, Bill.  And thank Molly again, too,
please.  You've both been very kind."
     "Just so long as everything works out okay.  That'll be
thanks enough.  And if you're ever in these parts again ..."
     "I'll be sure and stop by."  Donna opened the driver's
door, tossed her purse across to the passenger's seat, then got
in.  The car revved to life, a grateful look crossing her face.
     As she pulled away, she gave the older man a final wave
good-bye.  The dashboard clock flashed twelve zero zero.  She
checked her watch, then reset the time to 7:09 p.m.
     "Less than five hours to midnight."  Every New Year's
Eve for the past two years had been melancholy for her.  This
one was no different.  But this year, she had to concentrate on

     The time was just after ten o'clock when Donna entered
the outskirts of Albuquerque.  Her initial intention was to drive
straight through, but her extended stay in Gallop had changed
that.  She had decided to stop, find a room for the night, then
continue early in the morning.
     But now that she was actually in Albuquerque, she felt
she couldn't stop.  Something was drawing her towards ...
     "The Project's been closed for nearly three years.
There's nothing there.  No reason to go there, even."  But still,
she couldn't help the overwhelming feeling that she had to,
must go there.  It was still at least an hour-and-a-half's drive,
but ...
     As she entered the city centre, she turned the car from
the I-40 to the southbound I-25.  South, towards the Project.