Science Fiction High School Coming of Age

Vicky Roberts was sixteen years old when she received the most incredible gift she’d ever received in her young life. A gift all the way from Japan, a surprise from her dad who was pretty much a myth, given his job kept him overseas more than home.

There it was, sitting in the driveway with a huge pink bow like it was trying too hard at a prom and a tag that read; "To my baby girl." Underneath, in a scribble that screamed dad, "Treat her right, and she'll be your best friend."

Vicky remembered frowning, peeking up from the tag, and staring at the snow-white Honda before her. 

She’d thought it was a funny way for her father to tell her to take care of a car. 

Treat her right? She’d thought, fingering the frilly strands of ribbon that came off of the bow. It’s as though he’s gifted me a kitten or a living creature.

She shrugged. Her father had always been a little strange. Her mother said he was. . . well, not all there upstairs.

Nevertheless, a car's a car, and Vicky wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. She got her license in record time, and by the start of junior year, she was rolling up to school with the kind of entrance usually reserved for movie stars.

Vicky was popular. She was pretty. She had long, blond hair and soft pink lips. Her eyes were ocean blue, and her skin was as smooth as butter. She had thick lashes and a voice with a trill that could put any boy she chose into a trance. 

From the time she was thirteen, Vicky was always in relationships. Her first boyfriend, Teddy Morris, cheated on her with her best friend. Vicky broke up with him and cut all ties with Martha, who’d been her day one since kindergarten. A month or so after she and Teddy broke up, in the eighth grade, Vicky began going out with Samson Highland. Samson played soccer and smoked behind the bleachers with Mack Jogger and Levi Vishop. At the end-of-year school dance, Samson and his friends drank so much of his father’s beer that they ended up sick to their stomachs. When Vicky tried to help him home, Samson threw up all over her brand new high heels and then blamed her for his present state.

“You shoulda stopped me!” He’d accused her. Vicky had let him fall to the gym floor.

“I’m not your babysitter!” She’d sniffed. Her dress, one her mother had picked out for her, was ruined. The hem was dripping vomit. “You help yourself home, Highland!”

“Fine! I will!” Samson slurred, lying face down on the floor. “I don’t need you! No one needs you!”

Vicky’s heart jumped at those words. She’d stubbornly refused to tear up.

“Fine.” She’d tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Then, we’re done!”



That had been it for Samson. Then, in ninth grade, Nick came along. She was with him all the way up until the end of tenth grade, when his foster parents kicked him out and social services moved him to another location, in a different city, far away from Drizzle Valley High.

He’d parted with her on good terms, kindly cutting ties with her for the sake of sparing her fifteen-year-old heart the ache of trying to maintain a long-distance romance.

He was the last and only boyfriend to whom she’d truly given her heart.

After that, dating became dull and unfulfilling. No boyfriend of hers ever lasted longer than a month or so. There was Rolly, Tim, Winston, Mason, Carter… and on, and on, and on… She dated the worst boys in school. The jocks, the thugs, and the womanizers. Hateful, nasty, guys.

And day by day, her self-worth was ripped apart by the boys she continued to allow into her life.

Halfway through junior year, Vicky sat on a stool in her bathroom, carefully putting mascara on her lush lashes. It was a Friday night, and she’d been asked on a date by Spike Smarter. Smarter was the captain of the basketball team. He was a talented basketball player, but a terrible person. He stole money and clothing from freshmen, and he was quick to bash in the face of any guy who challenged him for it. He had black hair that he spiked up and dyed green at the ends. He wore gold chains and a sweater with some rock band logo stitched in red on the front. 

He was scary.

Vicky had heard he had no respect for the women he had his week-or-so flings with.

But he’d asked her out in front of all her friends. What was she supposed to do? Look like a wimp in front of all the other cheerleaders?

I have to go. Vicky let out a breath. She put the mascara away and began applying lipstick to her lips. She tried to still her thundering heart. Images of Spike’s beady eyes and hungry smirk made her hands shake. 

She didn’t have a choice. What was she supposed to do—say no and be the talk of the cheerleading team?

Her reputation was on the line. 

And if she stood him up, there was no telling what Smarter might do to her. 


“I’m going out, Mom!” Vicky shouted, slinging her bag over her shoulder and making a beeline for the door. “I’ll be back by eleven, maybe.”

“Okay!” came her mom's reply from the living room, where she was hunched over her laptop, hammering out a story for the newspaper gig she had. “Have fun, sweetie!”

Have fun… Vicky paused with one foot out the door, a tightness forming in her chest. Have fun. Why don’t you ever ask where I’m going? Or who I’ll be with—why don’t you care! 

“I will.” Vicky whispered, a sting of hurt in her voice. She stepped into the cool night air and headed towards her car.

As she drove, her grip on the steering wheel was so intense that she half expected to tear through it. Dolly Parton, her go-to for all mood music, was serenading her from the speakers.

The Honda's sound system was killer. The tunes enveloped her in a soft musical haze.

But Vicky couldn’t enjoy it. She was too nervous.

Spike's place was practically at the world's end, nestled deep in Drizzle Valley's woods...

Where no one would hear her if she screamed. 

“Oh, stop overthinking this. You’ll be fine. It might even be fun,” she told herself, though her inner voice scoffed at her attempt at optimism.

I doubt that. You might not die—might being the key word. This kid is crazy! Did you see what he did to Levi Vishop’s face when he tried to stand up to him? He looked like a moldy onion by the time Spike was done with him! And did you hear what Veronica Sanders said he did to her? He-. 

“Stop it!” Vicky snapped, smacking her head in frustration. “Stop being so stupid!”

“You are not stupid. You are of above-average intelligence.” 

Vicky almost crashed the car. She yelped at the sudden voice that had filled her vehicle, echoing from the speakers and piercing her ears. The voice was robotic, like Siri’s. 

"What the heck?" She tapped the dashboard screen, which only displayed Dolly's album cover.

That definitely wasn't Dolly Parton talking.

"Do not panic. I am here to assist," the robotic voice declared confidently. Vicky bit her lip, puzzled.

"What is this? Some sick joke? Did someone hack my car?"

"Hack your car?" The voice sounded genuinely baffled. "I am your car."

Vicky began going twenty in a forty-five, gobsmacked by what she was hearing. Cars honked angrily as they zoomed past.

"You're what now?" she breathed out.

"I am your car. An AI crafted by Michael Roberts specifically to keep you safe. My sensors have detected you are...," there was a brief pause, "experiencing high levels of nervousness, fear, and agitation. These are not conducive to your well-being. How may I assist?"

Michael Roberts? Dad!? Vicky swallowed, her mind racing. Is this real? Or am I dreaming? My car is talking to me! 

“I…I’m okay.” Vicky stammered, shifting uneasily. “You can… go away?” 

"I am unable to go away until you are no longer in distress. Why are these emotions overwhelming you?"

“I'm on my way to meet a guy... it's a date," Vicky whispered.

Silence fell over the car before it suddenly ground to a halt. Vicky braced herself against the dashboard.

"No," the voice, or rather, her car, declared. "No more dates. In the...," there was another pause as if it were calculating, "twelve dates you've embarked upon under my watch, all concluded with your unhappiness. My analysis suggests dates are an unnecessary depressor we can do without."

“Life’s an unnecessary depressor!” Vicky hit the gas, but the car just sputtered, its wheels locked in defiance. “And what do you mean, we!?”

"My creation was for your joy. Your sorrow is my sorrow."

"You're a car! Supposedly!" Vicky tried shifting gears, to no avail. The flashing lights and honking from behind grew more insistent.

“Let me go!”

"No. I am calculating the optimal path to ensure your joy."

“You're gonna get me in trouble!” More cars joined the honking chorus. Vicky closed her eyes. No one would believe this. If a cop came over to see what was holding up traffic, she was screwed. What kind of excuse could she give?

My car won’t let me go because it doesn’t approve of my boyfriend? I’m not sure I believe this myself. Mom always says Dad’s crazy—she never told me he’s some kind of mad scientist! 

“I am taking you home.”

Vicky slammed the steering wheel.

“Listen up, you hunk of metal!” She fumed. “You are a car, an inanimate object. I am a human being, your driver... And you're taking me to Spike's, got it?"

The car remained still, the surrounding cacophony of horns creating a discordant symphony. Vicky panted, frustration boiling over. Then, with a sudden lurch, the car sprang to life.

"No," the car stated plainly.

Vicky cried out as the car executed a sharp U-turn, heading back the way they came.

“What are you doing?” She exploded. 

“I’m looking after you, as is my job.”


The night was buzzing with unanswered calls from Spike, who was pinging Vicky's phone incessantly. She simply stared at it, each ring a reminder of a conversation she wasn't ready to have. 

How do you explain to someone that your car grounded you? 

The next morning, as the first rays of sunlight crept through her curtains, Vicky found herself sneaking out and confronting her car.

“Good morning, you psychotic box of gears!” Vicky grumbled. She buckled her seatbelt. “Any chance you're feeling generous today? Maybe let me head to the mall to catch up with my gang, or is my social life still under house arrest?"

The car's response came through the speakers, surprisingly warm for a machine. "Good morning, Vicky. It'd be my pleasure to take you to your friends. They seem to light up your world."

Vicky couldn't help but laugh, a mix of surprise and suspicion bubbling up. "And since when did you turn into my personal diary? You've been as silent as a grave since day one, and now this?"

"I didn't feel the need to converse before... but now, it seems you might appreciate a listening ear," the car replied, its tone indicating a level of understanding Vicky hadn't expected.

Feeling a warmth spread through her, Vicky couldn't ignore the car's remark from the previous night that lingered in her mind: 

I’m looking after you.

It had been so long since she felt genuinely cared for.

"I never said I needed someone," Vicky whispered, almost to herself.

"You didn't have to say it. I'm here to sense and serve your unspoken needs," the car confided.

“Wonderful.” Vicky ran a hand down her face. “I must be losing my mind; this is crazy.”

“Would you like me to run a brain scan-.”

“No. No, just drive.” Vicky sighed.


The day flew by in a blur, and by the time Vicky emerged from the mall, the weight of the world seemed squarely on her shoulders, tears clouding her vision. She returned to her car, her sanctuary, sitting perfectly upright as her emotions threatened to overflow.

The car came to life, its voice laced with concern. “Vicky? You are shaking, and your heart rate is unnaturally high. Are you alright?”

Collapsing against the wheel, Vicky struggled to find her words.

“I…” She swallowed, trying again. “I just talked to Veronica Sanders. She’s pregnant with Spike’s baby.”

The car was silent. Vicky thought at first that it was calculating again, but when a good five minutes or so had passed without it responding, she realized it was simply listening. Not the cold, calculating pause of a machine, but a respectful, human-like silence, giving her space to breathe, to cry.

“She… She tried to talk to Spike about it, and he… he’s pretending they never even spent the night together. That it didn’t happen. He’s being horrible to her... telling her to… to get rid of the baby.” Vicky used the back of her hand to wipe the tears from her eyes. “She won’t. So now he’s telling her he’s going to... hurt her.”

She realized the car remained quiet, respecting her need to just be heard.

At that moment, Vicky understood. Despite the car's inability to grasp the full spectrum of human emotions, it was her fortress, her unexpected guardian in a world that could be unforgiving.

Without this car, her father's way of keeping her safe, she might have found herself in the same awful situation as Veronica.

"Thank you," she whispered, more to herself, acknowledging the bizarre yet comforting presence the car had already become in her life.

Then, in a voice that took her breath away, the car responded, "You're welcome." It wasn't robotic; it carried the warmth and familiarity of her father's voice, a comforting embrace in her time of need.

She felt safe. As long as she sat enclosed within that metal box, Spike and all those like him could never again hurt her. 

If only she could bring that feeling of security with her wherever she went

March 02, 2024 02:51

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Mariana Aguirre
01:26 Mar 09, 2024

Love it 👏


C.N. Jung
19:49 Mar 09, 2024

Thank you, Mariana!


Mariana Aguirre
20:06 Mar 09, 2024



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Mary Bendickson
04:33 Mar 03, 2024

Saved by the car. Good take on the prompt. Thanks for liking my 'Blessings Tree '.


C.N. Jung
13:31 Mar 04, 2024

Thanks for reading, Mary! I appreciate the feedback. 😁


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