“Where are we?” asked Lucy as she stared at her phone’s screen.

Jeff quipped, “We’re parked near the edge of a cliff above the ocean,” and continued pressing virtual buttons on his phone’s GPS app.

Lucy sighed. Jeff could be so impulsive sometimes. All she had wanted to do was take a short drive next to the ocean and then find the quaint town of Cambria, but Jeff had other plans. He could not wait until they arrived at their inn to enjoy some intimate contact. When they drove up to the desolate plateau overlooking the Pacific he had other things on his mind than returning to Highway One.

Lucy had to admit, the opportunity to be alone and outside was too much for them to pass up. By the time the two of them had finally finished with one another, the sun was almost below the water. That is when Jeff realized he could not remember how they had arrived at their location.

Jeff lowered his smartphone, “Look; I assumed that the GPS would get us out of here. It never dawned on me that they wouldn’t have this place on a map.”

Lucy’s phone showed only a green blob. No matter how close or how far she zoomed in there were no details. The sun had dropped below the waterline, and the stars had begun to appear. She lowered her phone in defeat.

“I vote we just go for it,” said Jeff. “After all, it isn’t like I don’t have headlights. I know where the cliffs are, I’ll go in the opposite direction.”

Lucy crossed her arms, as much from cold as the annoyance. Her paper-thin white t-shirt could not stop the chilly evening breeze from cutting into her, and Lucy’s bare legs sticking out from her short shorts did nothing to improve her situation.  She stared at Jeff, trying her best to give him the most concerned expression she knew how to make. “Look, I say we spend the night and leave when we have daylight. There are trail snacks in the Jeep, and we can sleep in the vehicle tonight.”

Jeff grunted and then sighed. He lowered his head and shook it.  “I’m cold,” protested Lucy. “You can do what you want. I’m getting in the Jeep.”

Lucy was tired, sore, and did not care for Jeff’s machismo. He might think he was scoring points by pretending to rescue them, but in truth, he had gotten them into their predicament. She reached over the back of the seat and grabbed her jacket and his. Reclining in the passenger seat, she covered herself with the coats and closed her eyes. The world went peacefully dark as she gave into her exhaustion.

A low rumble of thunder woke Lucy. As the world began to flood her mind, she realized the sound was not the weather. She opened her eyes to a blinding light flooding into the front windshield. Lucy held up her hands to spare her eyes. She turned her head to the left to see Jeff in the same position as herself. He must have crawled into the Jeep and fallen asleep at some point after she did. His eyes were now wide open. A look of fear and anxiety filled his face. Above the thunder, she thought she could hear a voice, but the noise was too thunderous to tell what was being said.

All at once, the lights flooding the windshield ceased and the din of the helicopter faded away. The Jeep remained lit up through its glass. A tap on the driver’s and passenger’s glass occurred at the same time. Lucy and Jeff could see the tips of guns pointed towards them through the glass. The doors opened, and they both raised their hands and exited. A man in camouflage spun Lucy around and frisked her. Although, she was sure the extra groping had not been necessary. “Clear,” said the handsy man.

“Clear,” came a voice from the other side of the Jeep.

Lucy turned around and read “McClaskey” sewn into the stranger’s uniform. “Mr. McClaskey, what do you think you’re doing? We were only sleeping.”

“You’re sleeping inside restricted federal lands.”  McClaskey lowered his weapon. Another man brought McClaskey Lucy’s wallet from out of the vehicle. She watched as he pulled out a smartphone and took a photo of her driver’s license. “Would you like to tell me what you were doing here?”

Lucy crossed her arms, “That’s none of your business.”

“Ma’am, this is my business. That’s why I’m here. Now, let’s try again. Why were you here today?”

Lucy tightened her lips and creased her brow. She did not have to talk, but she did not want to push things too far. More than anything, Lucy wanted to find their hotel, and then crawl into bed and go to sleep. Finally, she relaxed and said, “If you must know, we are on our way up to Cambria. We stopped to have a picnic. Time got away from us, and we decided to wait until morning to try to find out way back.”

McClaskey smiled. “A picnic. Is that what it’s called these days?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Lucy, may I call you Lucy?”

She nodded.

“Lucy, you tripped our motion trackers. We’ve had a drone over you since you first parked your car watching everything you did. We’re just trying to figure out what your intentions are.”

Lucy could feel her face flush. “Well, if you watched us you know what our intentions are.”

“Yes, ma’am. We just needed to be sure what we saw is what you had intended.”

“Why else would we do that?”

McClaskey smirked, “Trust me, you two aren’t the first, but next time wait for the hotel.”


“Okay, as soon as your boyfriend is freed up you can follow me out. I’ll take you back to Highway One. Just for the record, a half mile south on PCH is a small dirt road that ends in an overlook of the ocean. Only military people use it on the weekends. In case you decide to ever come up here for another picnic.”

Lucy rolled her eyes and let herself back in the vehicle. Jeff joined her back inside. He started up the Jeep and fell in line behind McClaskey’s vehicle.

Jeff glanced over at Lucy, “I guess we got lucky with this one. It was worth it though.”

Lucy looked over at Jeff, and he had a sly smile broadly spread across his face. She sighed and said, “Don’t talk to me.”

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