The headrest emitted a faint odor of cigarette smoke and the many attempts to wash it out. She glanced out the right hand window, over the top of her coat collar which she had turned up to make herself look more mysterious. The trees outside swayed with an unseen current which did not reach her, incased as she was in her little steel box. Some minor chords drifted from the piano hidden in her dash board, joining the louder hum of her car engine. Her thoughts drifted with the notes as they dissipated into the air. Her thoughts were as capricious as the notes, though always following the same key.
The dash board was invisible in the gloom, little glowing embers of meaningless numbers starting out from the darkness. There were mountains before her, dark smudges growing slowly more distinct against the clouds which were blotched with pink by the light pollution from the city below.
She had never liked cars before she got this one. Its aged clunkiness had reminded her of why humans had built cars in the first place. As with all inventions, it had been created with the desire to move forward, upward, onward. The car was dangerous, true, but so were its relations; the covered wagon and the space shuttle. In her dreamy state, the car took on the mythic proportions of a dragon, and then the even more mythic mien of a planet hurtling around a star.
As her car began to incline up the slope of the mountain side, she returned to the idea of a space shuttle, lifting off. But this ship was not to orbit the planet or land on the moon. The ship kept going, out into the darkness. The technology was not nearly ready for such exploration, but they proceeded nevertheless. This state of the art craft was rickety and fragile in that crushing dark.
But was it not worth it? The universe hummed like a tuning note of a symphony and the ongoing hymn of the highway, like the longest heartbeat imaginable. She was now high upon the ridge and she looked down upon her right at the golden cluster of city lights, a galaxy she had never explored, each light a star leaving planets and dust in its wake. A million stars turning in the galaxy, each orbited by a hundred planets, each planet supporting millions of species, each species made up of thousands of individuals. Why do they call the universe barren?
But it was not her fate not the fate of her ship to travel amongst these stars. Her road curved left, around to the dark side of the mountain and she accelerated forward into the night, following the hum of that single, infinite heartbeat. That pulse was filled with the mystery, the unseen articulations of the universe, and she would follow it to the end of the road, and onward, into the dark.