Venus by Hanleigh Bradley
“Where are we going again?”I ask Neptune as she pulls off the highway.
She lets out an exasperated sigh but doesn’t reply.
I’m not even sure why I agreed to go on this road trip with her. I barely know the girl, and I can’t actually remember saying I would go… or getting into the car. Not that either of those things is particularly unusual. At least not for me.
My memories are kind of like my name—Venus. A planet surrounded by the empty void of nothingness that is the galaxy. Some vivid memories, wide expanses of nothingness, and too many black holes.
Thunder echoes around us, and lightning flashes up ahead, illuminating the empty country road. I spot a sign that reads “Welcome to Silver Springs.”
“Are you sure you’re going the right way?”
“I’m sure,” she says, her hands tightening on the steering wheel.
“I think we’re lost.” That or she’s taking me to the middle of nowhere so she can kill me and bury my body.
“We’re not lost,” she snaps, taking a right turn and entering a residential area. “We got tickets to a Not a Vampire concert, remember?”
“There’s no way a famous band like Not a Vampire would hold their concert out here,” I say with a pointed look out the window.
We turn onto a small street and drive past a small shop called The Magical Rooster. Inside, I spot some dildos flying near the ceiling and—
“What are we doing here?” I ask Neptune, staring blankly out the window. I have no idea where we are. Where the hell is this girl taking me?
The rain seems heavier now, almost torrential. It pounds against the car as the windshield wipers race back and forth, struggling to keep up.
“We’re in Silver Springs for the concert Saturn gave us tickets to, remember?” Neptune lets out a heavy sigh.
“Oh, right, the concert.” I nod, pulling the VIP ticket out of my sweatpants. “It’ll be nice to see Saturn again.”
Neptune grunts in acknowledgement. I wonder what’s gotten her panties in a twist. She doesn’t seem to be in a very good mood.
“I still can’t believe she dropped out of college to be a band groupie.” I shake my head at the ticket.
“She’s not a groupie. Slash, Ajax, and Draikh are her…” Neptune pauses, “boyfriends.”
“She’s dating three guys?” I ask. Why didn’t Saturn tell me? Did I just forget? Or is Neptune messing with me?
It’s not like I can really trust the girl, considering I barely even know her. She’s just a weirdo from our dorm who keeps popping up uninvited. Like I’ll be doing my homework and look over and find her sitting on my bed reading from her chemistry textbook. Or I’ll be on my phone at lunch and suddenly there she is, sitting across from me, not saying a word. Creepy!
I have no idea why I agreed to travel with her halfway across the state to see Saturn’s favorite band. I guess maybe I promised her I’d go? I can’t actually remember doing it, but that isn’t saying much. No matter what my doctors say, I’m pretty sure I have amnesia.
“Is that guy covered in fur?” I ask in surprise as I see a huge man in a hockey jersey—who looks like a mix of human and long-haired polar bear—holding an umbrella as he crosses the street.
“He’s a Yeti.” Neptune runs a hand through her dark brown hair.
I stare out at the pouring rain.
“Where are we?” I ask, looking around. I glance down at the VIP concert ticket in my hand. “Are you sure this is the way to the concert?”
“I’m sure!” Neptune snaps, like I’ve asked her the same question a million times. It’s no wonder we’ve barely spoken on the drive here.
“Never mind.” I sigh, setting it down on the dashboard and taking out my phone.
“Welcome to the supernatural town of Silver Springs,” Neptune mutters.
I stare down at my phone. Why do I have it out again?
I shrug, pull up the romance book I’m in the middle of, and get lost in the story. At least when I read, I rarely have memory loss.
“We’re here.” Neptune straightens her white button-up dress shirt. She looks like she’s going to a meeting and not a concert.
“That was such a short drive!” I say in surprise. I don’t even remember getting off the highway, but we’re in the heart of a small town. Guess time really does fly when you’re reading a good book.
The sound of rain hitting the cobblestone street echoes around us. Cute little shops line both sides, looking warm and cozy, their lights shining in the gloomy streets.
“Doesn’t it seem like it’s always raining lately?” I ask Neptune.
“It does, doesn’t it?” Her shoulders slump as she stares out the window and sighs. “It’s been a really crappy week.”
I set my phone down in the empty cup holder and turn to her.
“I didn’t know you hated the rain,” I say. Not that I know much of anything about the girl, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But it feels nice to learn at least this one thing. Maybe once we get to know each other, we could even be friends.
“I need to run a quick errand before the concert,” Neptune says. “Can you wait for me in the cafe?”
“I don’t mind coming with you.” I smile. “It’s not like I have anywhere to be.”
“No.” Neptune practically shoves my umbrella in my hand.
“This is important, Venus. I need to figure out who cursed—”
My mind kind of goes blank. I look around. We’re parked in front of a cafe. “Is this where the concert is going to be?” I ask Neptune uncertainly.
“For the last time, no!” The girl looks like she’s going to tear her hair out. She can’t possibly be annoyed with me. I’ve been nothing but nice to her this entire trip. Even if I only remember a few bits and pieces.
“Fine.” I roll my eyes. “Rude much?”
“Look, just wait for me in Jewels Cafe. I’ll be back in half an hour. An hour tops.”
She shoves me and my umbrella out of the car. I quickly move up the steps to the cafe to get out of the rain. I always carry one around, just in case.
I turn back toward the car and watch Neptune drive off. Reaching into my sweatpants pocket, I realize I left my phone in the car. And my wallet, too.
“Neptune, wait!” I shout, chasing after her, but she doesn’t stop, leaving me in an unfamiliar town whose name I don’t even know, alone, with no money and no phone.