The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 53

Kepa nearly hit another car as he pulled over to the shoulder and stared out the window.

“Bakersfield?” he said, looking at Maite.

Maite just shrugged. “I don’t know anything about it.”

Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

Kepa pulled out his phone and did a quick search. “Looks like it has a long history of Basque sheepherding. It’s about two hours from here.” He looked again at Maite. “Change of plans?”

“What about your cousin?” 

Kepa shrugged. “I’ll just text him saying we got delayed and we’ll see him tomorrow. I don’t know what else we can do.”

Maite nodded. “Ados nago. I agree. We can’t just ignore that light.”

Kepa flicked his turn signal as he merged back onto the freeway and took the exit toward Bakersfield. “Are you ready for another one of these?”

“More ready than last time,” replied Maite. “At least we have some sense of what will happen.”

“I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to bumping into de Lancre again. We barely got away last time.” He looked over at Maite. “What would happen if he actually killed one of us?”

Maite’s face betrayed the uncertainty she kept from her voice. “I guess it will be like Blas,” she said. “Once the quantum bubble pops, it will be as if it never existed. Anything that happens in the bubble is undone.”

“I don’t look forward to experiencing that first hand.”

“Blas seemed to turn out fine. He had the life he was always meant to.”

“Yeah, but he did die, in a horrible way.” Kepa shook his head. “Maybe he could forget, maybe in the end it didn’t really happen to him, but what about us? We remember what happens in those bubbles. If we die, even if we come back when the bubble pops, will we remember dying? Will we remember going through what Blas did?”

Maite felt an uncontrolled shiver race through her body. “I can’t imagine…” she began.

“Sorry,” said Kepa. “I shouldn’t go there. This is hard enough without dwelling on what ifs.”

Maite reached out to take Kepa’s hand. “Whatever happens, we’ll go through it together.”

Kepa looked over at her as they sped down the highway and smiled. 

It wasn’t long before they pulled into Bakersfield, the pinpoint of light constantly on the horizon before them. Kepa navigated the streets, guided by the light, which took him downtown and in front of a small, nondescript white building. The light hovered above the building and, as Kepa and Maite watched, blinked a few times before disappearing.

“I guess we’re here,” said Maite with a sigh.

Hanging above the door, in almost unassuming green script, read the word “Noriega’s.”

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