You're Tracy Valencia, first-year student at the reasonably prestigious
University of Dorado. Sure, it's not Berkeley -- hell, it isn't even Stanford
-- but it's light-years better than Dorado State, where your older brother
Trevor goes. Dorado State's just a party school. Trevor makes a point of
rubbing this in every time he calls.
He'll be able to rub it in in person soon enough: it's Thanksgiving Day, and
you're driving home. Daddy was perfectly willing to buy you a plane ticket, but
like you told him on the phone, there are much better things to spend the money
on. Birthday presents, for instance -- you turn eighteen tomorrow. Besides,
it's only a four-hour drive.
Two and a half hours into said drive, the car starts making a noise no piece of
machinery should ever make. It's the sort of sound a rhesus monkey might make
being forced down a garbage disposal. Now, Dorado is nothing but scorching
desert from the time you cross the coastal mountains until you reach the river;
true, it's the scorching desert in which you grew up, but sentimentality aside,
it's not exactly the best place in the world to find yourself stranded. But
you've got to do something about this noise, if only because it's drowning out
the stereo. So you pull over. You're just about to switch off the ignition when
the car goes dead of its own accord. You try to start it up again, but
absolutely nothing happens.
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