Orin loved driving with his car windows down, but the crisp fall air made him quickly rethink that idea. In fifth gear now, he accelerated the sports coupe well beyond the posted highway speed limit.
The music was blaring loudly from his car stereo as a call interrupted him from singing an energetic hook of his favorite song. "Damn."
While shaking his head Orin mumbled to himself before answering the call.
"I know man I am pushing to get there now. I had to hit the store and then grab some food too, but I should make it by eight though." "The question is will you be packed and ready to go when I get there?" Orin asked.
He and Carter had been best friends since grade school and were still thick as thieves into their mid thirties. The two even made a pact to always be there for one another since both grew up as only children and were coincidentally raised by widowed mothers.
Orin accomplished earning his Master's degree in Criminal Justice and recently passed a battery of exams to become a federal law enforcement agent. Carter decided early in high school to choose the military as his career path and happily made plans daily to retire early, chase cryptocurrency, and travel for recreation.
Even though Orin was dating a long time girlfriend, he had no plans to marry anytime soon. He enjoyed his freedom and wasn't completely sure marriage would be in his best interest. Carter on the other hand, had been married and divorced, but still maintained a civil relationship with his ex-wife. The two decided to co-parent their teenaged son despite sharing vastly different ideas about rearing him.
"Okay C, I am about ten miles out according to this "I'm Here" driving app but I'm sure I just saw a highway sign that said 5 miles to Ft. Green Moss," said Orin. The night seemed to have crept up and devoured the remaining daylight. "Am I really close?" asked Orin.
Oddly, there had only been a couple of cars that passed Orin in the opposite direction. He had been driving for at least 45 minutes but it seemed as if the highway grew longer and now curves and hidden bends were becoming highly visible too.
"You're making good time Rin, and yes when you see the Green Piney Lake on the right, oh I'd say about 2 clicks left there will be an old, boarded up red barn in a huge pasture," responded Carter.
"Wow is there any other specific landmark or something to look for as I get closer?" continued Orin while adjusting his speed from 90 miles an hour to a modest 65 miles an hour. "I am not seeing a lake at all, well not yet," said Orin. "I'm only seeing grass, trees, grass, and more trees," he said while laughing with Carter still hanging on the call.
Orin continued to drive at a modest pace and even slower as parts of the highway was in very poor condition and much of the fall foliage, while striking in color and beauty was extremely dense and appeared to obstruct his line of sight. The call suddenly dropped too.
The "I'm Here" mobile navigation app he had been relying on most of his journey was displaying an ominous error message. The navigation app also announced "the destination you selected could not be located...please enter another address for a better route...you have gone beyond any possible destination in this area..."
"What the hell, you've gotta be kidding me!"
" Now is not the time for you to tell me this, you dumb ass app!"
He was no longer on the paved highway but now driving on a desolate, dirt road. The extensive foliage in the area made it much darker and cooler than normal. He exited the vehicle to stretch his legs too. Orin began to shiver just a little as a strong breeze rustled the trees around him.
Frustrated, Orin yelled and also noticed the fuel gauge indicated slightly less than half a tank remaining. There was also some sort of dent on his right tire rim possibly caused by some of the rough road craters he encountered on the highway.
His sporty, attractive coupe sat extremely low to the ground so it took a miserable hit also scratching some paint on the front spoiler.
He exhaled deeply while sliding back into the driver's seat. Orin slowly backed the car and quickly remembered his coupe would engage a special reserve fuel feature when needed. His baby was almost paid for in less than three months and he wanted it to remain a nice ride.
As he continued to back up, the mobile app began alerting him of a possible shorter route to his destination. Orin ignored it as best he could since any confidence he had was entirely lost regarding the mobile app now. As he carefully continued to navigate the vehicle, a large deer sprinted out from the brush and bumped the car hard.
"Unbelievable." The clock on his dash displayed 8:45pm.
The loud thump of the animal briefly stunned Orin and shook the car slightly too. The animal continued onward running into the dense area. As quickly as it had appeared it was only a blur to him.
Only five minutes later rain began to fall heavily and thunder could be heard loudly in the distance. He tried not to be intimidated or distracted by the sudden change in weather. Maybe it would stop soon he thought to himself while engaging the clutch.
As Orin continued in reverse the wheels spun deep into a clay that quickly formed once the rain mixed with the delicate, mushy soil. Blinded by the rainfall, he couldn't clearly see all of the surrounding brush and one hidden drop off. The desolate area had once been a site for training military troops and law enforcement in critical survival skills. The terrain was unpredictable.
Carter attempted to call Orin many times through the night but could never reach him. The morning came and his friend still had not arrived to pick him up for his block leave. He immediately called some of their circle of friends and acquaintances including Orin's girlfriend to see if they had heard from him. There were also no new posts on his social media page.
As Carter tried to rationalize what may have happened he could not help but worry about his friend. This was out of character for Orin who would never abandon him or anyone else he cared about.
While Carter scrolled his phone and perused social media he noticed an article published by ANG a well know news media outlet. The story was actually over six months old, but an important update was attached to the post. A navigation and mapping corporation called Skies had been investigated for possible fraud and negligence regarding their new app "I'm Here." '
According to the article the glitchy navigation app was not consistently capable of providing "safe, accurate, or dependable routes to consumers and almost 85 percent of its data was grossly incorrect."
As he continued to read, Carter heard a newscaster come on air. He was watching the flat screen T.V. in a recreational room when the special report came through loudly. The story hit him like a ton of bricks.
A ranger reported finding a mangled car with out of state plates at an old defunct Top Rock Training Site. He would not give details about the driver but asked anyone who may know of someone driving the vehicle described to contact the sheriff's office immediately.
"We are not sure what happened, but it is possible the navigation apparatus used by this driver may have resulted in this tragic accident."
"As a rule of thumb, we encourage anyone who relies heavily upon any navigation apparatus to rethink that choice please if you have to travel alone and very far away."
The newscaster before wrapping the story added the Skies corporation provided only a brief statement through their spokesperson a few weeks ago. The company insists the "I'm Here" app is absolutely glitch free and human error while using the navigational app is the cause of any accidents.