by Hiwaru Kibi (火悪 木美)
illustrated by safelybeds
When she’d seen the ad in the paper, Mari had thought it sounded exciting — romantic, even. And besides, it wasn’t like she’d been planning on doing anything else with her half-completed atmospheric science bachelor’s degree this summer, considering that all of the local news stations had old snow-haired meteorologists who’d been there a thousand years each and would probably still be standing in front of blue-screened weather maps when the inevitable collapse of human civilization came a thousand years on. Shitty old-boy networks like that tended to keep their own. Maybe someday she’d impress them, but for now she was more concerned with impressing her landlord with her ability to pay him.
What she hadn’t thought was that she’d wind up stuffed in a ratty, ancient baby-blue VW bus with a broken radio and doors that looked ready to fall off their hinges at any moment, holding a brand-new 1992 Rand McNally Road Atlas, its spine already permanently broken over the Texas panhandle. She was also sweating like a pig and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. “What are we–”
“Shhht!” Camille hissed at her, shooing at her with the hand that wasn’t fiddling the dial. This far out from most civilization, the best signal they could get on the tiny, battery-powered Sony radio was one where Mari could hear maybe every tenth word coming in over the AM stations, if she squinted and pretended. Camille had been doing this for years, though, and by now, she seemed to speak static as a second language. She put one well-pierced ear up to the speaker and shut her eyes, chewing on her lower lip and frowning with concentration. Mari more than half-suspected her crazy boss just did this for show most of the time, then ‘interpreted’ the hisses and infrequent signals to mean whatever she wanted to mean. At least she wasn’t looking for tornadoes on commission.
So Mari reclined the driver’s seat as far as it would go and tried not to die of heatstroke. She’d started the day with a bra, undershirt, t-shirt, and ratty old polo barong she’d stolen from her dad, but was now down to the undershirt only, and even that was soaked through with sweat. She could see her dark nipples clearly through the drenched white fabric. Well, thank fuck nobody but the jackalopes was out here to see.
At last, Camille sat upright and jabbed her finger in a southerly direction. “Southwest. Just outside of Borger. Drive.”
A month ago, Mari would have spat and begged for some time to plot a course through unfamiliar territory. Now, she just turned the car from Morton Elevator Road on to Texas Beef Road and started weaving the dusty way back to streets with more reliable asphalt. She couldn’t really argue with the course change; she thought the farmer who’d rolled by in his combine harvester an hour previous had been giving them shifty eyes. Then again, maybe that was just how farmers looked. She’d lived around San Diego all her life and hadn’t met many.
There were a lot of things she hadn’t done before meeting Camille, like squinting at radio broadcasts and drinking whiskey and cursing aloud and appreciating tattoos. Camille had a couple, including one on her shoulder that she said was Chinese for ‘big beautiful storm goddess’. Mari knew just enough Chinese to doubt that was true. “Big?” Mari asked, giving the clear blue heavens a skeptical glance.
“Three, maybe even four, I’m guessing.” Camille loaded the mini-tapes in her camcorder, then swapped out the battery for the one sitting in the charger plugged into the cigarette lighter. That, Camille had said, had been the number-one reason she’d quit smoking a few years back: These days you couldn’t keep all your gear going and get a light.
The bus rattled and sputtered as she pulled it onto the highway. Mari had taken one look at it even before they’d left California and demanded they start carrying a large amount of nonperishable food and bottled water. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere looked to be that particular vehicle’s destiny, and she didn’t want a two-woman Donner Party repeat when it happened. But at least she could get some speed going here, such that the air that poured through the VW’s vents might have been hot, but at least it was air at all.
Truth was, Mari had never even been that interested in extreme weather. She’d gotten turned on by meteorology by the southern California climate — lovely and mild today, going to be lovely and mild tomorrow, with a chance of extra loveliness and mildness over the weekend — and the chance to be on TV. Curse her romantic notions and the weird places they got her. “If this heat keeps up,” she said, pulling her heavy black ponytail away from her neck, “I’m just going to chop this all off like yours.”
“Right?” With a laugh, Camille ran a hand across her short brown cut, rearranging the spikes in all new configurations. “Best decision I ever made. Thirty seconds in the sink at the truckstop and you’re good to go.” She put her bare feet up on the dash and unfolded a surface map across her lap, making little notations with a red pencil. “You’d better keep yours, though. They only put the pretty people on television. Unless, of course, you’re on trial for murder, or something like that. Which I can’t recommend.”
She knew she should let it go, she wanted to let it go, and yet: “Have you ever been on trial for murder?”
Camille laughed again and poked Mari’s bare arm with the pencil tip. “Not thus far. I’m sure plenty of people have been close to going on trial for murdering me, but that’s a whole different problem.”
“I was never going to murder you.” Mari zoomed ahead of a pickup truck with a Confederate flag decal on the back and hoped it enjoyed getting a good eyeful of the bumper stickers that made the back of the van a veritable liberal beach read. When the truck honked angrily, she figured the driver had at least seen the newest addition to the pack, proclaiming the van owner to be a Clinton/Gore supporter. She thought about flipping him off, then thought about shotguns and at last thought better of the whole deal. “Might’ve put me trial for maiming you, maybe.”
“Nah, not a jury in the world would convict you.” Camille poked her again, then scribbled something else along the contour of an isobar. “And not just because you’re pretty.”
Mari stuck out her tongue and made the ugliest face she could while still keeping her eyes on the road, but she couldn’t help smiling while she did. The first week or so of their acquaintance had been friction-filled, to say the least, and there had been times when driving across Arizona and New Mexico that Mari had been sorely tempted to just put the whole thing in reverse and not stop until she saw her own apartment’s front door. But they’d found ways to resolve their differences — one in particular that proved they weren’t so different after all.
Signs for Lake Meredith National Recreation Area began to pop into view. “Hey, if nothing happens, we can go swimming,” said Mari, pointing at one as they passed.
Camille nodded. “If nothing happens, we can definitely go swimming,” she said, her eyes still fixed on the map. “But nothing’s not going to happen.”
There were three pins in her leg, their positions marked by three white scars that wouldn’t tan the way the rest of her skin did, and Camille had told no fewer than five completely unrelated stories about how they’d gotten there, but she said gave her the ability to do magic. That was bullshit, of course — the maps and radar and radios and instruments lining the back of the van presented an overwhelming body of evidence about how much hard, careful work went into finding the storms she recorded. But even Mari had to admit there was almost something mystical about the way Camille could pinpoint the location of severe weather hours before it started. “Go left when you can,” Camille directed, rapping on her window without looking up.
Mari saw a sign for an exit a mile up, but frowned. “Borger’s still on east of here.”
Camille shook her head. “It’s on the move. Stick close to that lake of yours.”
It wasn’t her lake, Mari wanted to point out. Her lake was the Pacific Ocean, and you didn’t need to chase down its weather; it would bring its weather right to you. Still, she took the exit, sailing on ahead of a refrigerated truck with the words BLUE BELL ICE CREAM on the side. Though she’d heard all kinds of tales about Texas state troopers and highway patrolmen, she hadn’t been pulled over once yet, and figured it was a bit of respect on their part for a VW bus that could even make the speed limit, much less break it.
Fifteen more minutes of driving passed, with only road noise and Camille’s mutterings for a soundtrack, and then Camille held up her hand. “Okay, find a place to pull over and we’ll start setting up.”
If only her parents could see her now, knowing the money they’d put toward her college education was going to good use in her career as a crazy white woman’s chauffeur. There was a little graveled-out area at the side of the road, though, next to a cattle gate with five padlocks and a FOR SALE sign on it, so Mari pulled off there, figuring she wasn’t likely to be bothering anyone or blocking anything necessary.
Before she’d even put the vehicle into park, Camille was climbing between their seats and into the back. Where normal people might have kept panels and seats, Camille had two walls of gadgets and devices — half of which, Mari had noticed through repeated pokings, didn’t even work. But they held up the things that did, and she supposed that was what mattered. “It’s important to get a good ‘before’ picture,” Camille said, handing Mari her heavy Nikon camera.
“So you keep saying,” said Mari, even though she knew it was true. Part of what Camille called the ‘Holy Grail of meteorology’ was ability to predict severe weather: the more advance warning you could get, the more you could give the people on the ground; the more the people got, the fewer casualties. Camille could light on storms even when the day was clear and pretty, just like the one Mari was photographing now. A slightly alcoholic twice-divorced college dropout, Camille didn’t exactly have the ear of the scientific community. The more data she could provide, then, the harder she’d be to ignore.
Not that she was exactly easy to ignore now. “Turn the antenna twelve degrees north!” Camille ordered from inside the van, and Mari stared at all five antennae on the roof before turning them all twelve degrees north, or at least all about that much in about that direction. If Camille wanted them more precise, she could do it herself. She climbed back down got inside the van, shutting the back doors behind her.
“Come here,” Camille said, waving Mari close, and Mari walked over, wondering which of the screens Camille wanted her to see — only to find Camille with hands on either side of her face, kissing her. The thing about Camille that made Mari the angriest was how her pussy was basically soaked every second that maniac was around. Son of a bitch, she looked like she’d been in a bar fight every day of her life and had more ink in her skin and holes in her body than Mari thought were entirely appropriate, and she was loud and rude and kissed like the devil. Mari wrapped her arms around Camille’s waist, enduring one kind of heat to satisfy another. “Figure we’ve got half an hour before things start getting hairy.”
“Oh, fuck,” Mari said as Camille twisted her nipples beneath her shirt. “Fuck, I left all my spare clothes back at the motel.”
Camille twisted again, grinning as she caught Mari’s lower lip in her teeth. “That’s why I don’t bother wearing underwear.”
That should have been disgusting instead of hot, but Mari just whimpered a little and went for the buckle of her own jeans, pulling them and her panties off before she could soak them both through. Forget her driving duties; if her parents could have seen this—
Maybe it was best not to think of her parents right now, not while Camille was slipping her hand between Mari’s legs and petting her clit. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Mari muttered, grabbing at one of the defunct receivers for balance. She normally had such a polite mouth, too. Wonder where she’d picked that up.
With a kick, Camille rolled out one of the sleeping bags she kept lodged under a desk, then nudged Mari back down toward it. Fucking in the back of the storm bus was about the most uncomfortable thing in the world, which explained nothing about why Mari wanted it all the time. She lay down on her back and let her legs splay wide, exposing her pussy to the air. Six weeks ago, she never would have done such a thing, but six weeks ago, she’d been in complete denial about her dykeish tendencies and she’d never met Camille. It was hard not to be slutty for this when she was working with such encouragement.
“You look so fucking hot like that,” said Camille, kicking off her boots and socks. She slid out of the loose khaki cargo shorts she liked to wear, then peeled off her tank top and bra, tossing them on the same pile. Both of her nipples were pierced with thick hoops, and Mari rubbed her clit as she looked at them. “Makes me want to eat you all up.”
“Think you can get me down in half an hour?” Mari asked. She’d been thinking about getting her own nipples pierced. They both had similar slender frames, and Mari had always been a little uncomfortable about how her A-cups looked so boring when she got naked. Everything about Camille, though, was the opposite of boring.
To that, Camille grinned and gave Mari’s knee a playful swat. “You’re right, that’s not very long.” She stood on one side of Mari, then turned so they were facing opposite directions and knelt astride Mari’s chest, putting her ass up toward Mari’s face. “We’d better double up.” With no more provocation or instruction than that, Camille dove right in to Mari’s pussy, kissing and licking the warm, wet skin there.
For a moment, Mari was so taken by the sensation that she couldn’t respond — but she had Camille’s own clit hovering so close to her face, and not reciprocating was hardly an option. She bunched her jeans up under her head to give herself a little pillow, then grabbed Camille’s thighs and yanked her back those few inches until her tongue could reach right into those soft, pink folds. Everything about Camille was so pink, from her cheeks after a hot shower to the peaks of her nipples to the soft skin of her lower lips, in a way that almost made Mari think of all the toys she’d had when she’d been a little girl. But there was nothing little-girlish about the woman atop her, not in body or in demeanor, so Mari had long since decided to dig in and enjoy it.
Camille sure wasn’t making it easy on Mari’s concentration, though; for a woman who’d spent at least a full decade of her life married to men, she could eat a girl out like she’d been born doing just that. She caught Mari’s clit between her lips and went after it with her tongue, punctuating her sucking with intense flickering friction. It was so easy to give in like that, to focus on what was being done to her, that Mari fought to remember what she was doing. Right, giving her boss head. Simple enough.
Not that Mari had ever had her mouth on any part of another woman’s body before she’d started this particular job, but at least Camille provided an excellent role model — sexually, if in no other way. She let her tongue skim across skin, feeling for the way Camille’s body tensed when she hit just the right spot. Camille wasn’t shy about letting her know, either. “Yeah, baby,” she said through teeth poised lightly around Mari’s clit. “You’ve got a great mouth.”
Mari, who’d always responded well to positive feedback, took that as a cue to step up her game. She took her fingers and spread Camille’s lips wider, then slipped her thumb right into Camille’s wet slit. Not so long ago, Mari had prided herself on her long acrylic nails, feeling they helped establish the kind of feminine sophistication newsrooms might expect in a meteorologist. Of course, now things like that were far too impractical for riding around in a chase van, prowling Tornado Alley in high summer. That was her story and she was sticking to it. She curled her thumb back and pressed at the inside of Camille’s vagina as she sucked, tickling at the little rough ridge of skin hiding in there.
“Oh, you’re going to get it later,” Camille said against Mari’s thigh, laughing. ‘Later’ was back at the motel, stuffed in the side pocket of a duffel bag, and it plugged into the wall and had two different speeds and on more than one occasion had been the reason they’d gotten a ‘courtesy visit’ from some motel manager, asking them if they wouldn’t mind keeping it down, ladies, there’d been complaints from other rooms. ‘Later’ hadn’t given Mari the first orgasm of her young life, not by a long shot, but it had pushed the total from double to triple digits. “Going to get you on the bed and strip you naked and–”
“Suck me, bitch,” Mari growled, though she was right back at her own task as soon as the sentence was through.
Camille laughed, ignoring the demand. “Maybe tie you to the bed a little, make you see if you can beat your own record. How many — oh, fuck, that’s good, baby, right there — how many you think we can do before your little pussy gives out?”
Now that was like declaring war. Mari jammed her thumb more firmly up Camille’s cunt, then took her other hand and grabbed for Camille’s nipples. She had to grope a little, but she found one and she tugged, causing Camille to gasp and a fresh gush of wetness to soak Mari’s hand. She’d always been a competitive thing, and the same dedication she’d put into graduating as her high school’s valedictorian went right into making sure she made Camille come first, and hardest, and most memorably.
And come Camille did, with a shake in her body that made the van shake on its wheels. “Oh, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck–” She let go with a wordless whoop, the kind Mari associated most with movies about cowboys, and her pussy clamped down on Mari’s thumb, shuddering in time with the rest of her body. It made the panther tattooed on her thigh and ass shake, its inked-on claw marks rippling with the rest of her tanned skin. She must sunbathe in the nude, Mari thought, and that vision — of Camille nude on a beach, of fucking Camille on a beach — made her even wetter as she settled in for her turn.
But Camille hopped up to her feet, yanked on her shorts, and was halfway into her bra before Mari could even voice a protest: “Wait, what–?”
Camille tapped her ear. “Hear that?” she asked, pulling her tank top back on. Mari listed a second, then shook her head. “You will in a few. Come on, get the cameras fired up, and maybe we’ll even have time to roll into town yelling about how the British are coming.”
Mari, still entirely naked except for her undershirt, sat up with furious intensity. “You said half an–”
“Extreme weather, baby. Storms and me, we’re both bitches.” Camille held out her hand to Mari, and it was only with greatest effort that Mari took it and allowed herself to be helped to her feet, instead of ripping off Camille’s entire arm at the shoulder. Camille used the momentum to pull Mari into a kiss, one that was long and sweet for all the horrible injustice she’d just visited upon Mari. “And I said later, didn’t I?”
“Cunt,” Mari growled against Camille’s mouth, grabbing her ass.
“Fucking right,” said Camille. She gave one of Mari’s nipples a final hard twist, then took the resulting shudders of pleasure as a sufficient distraction to let herself slip out the back doors, shutting them behind her.
“Cunt!” shouted Mari, alone in the van — except now she could hear it on the wind, that faintest rumbling, like a freight train on the very farthest edge of the horizon. Whatever shaking Camille had done to the vehicle was being doubled in intensity by the wind outside, and she heard a dull thud as a gust blew some debris into its painted side panels. “Oh, shit,” she said to no one in particular, then yanked on her pants and hopped into the driver’s seat. The sky outside had gone from a bright blue to a hazy yellow in the east, and she could feel the dropping pressure in her back teeth. She turned the key and the engine ground to life.
The passenger door flew open and Mari was blown back as Camille jumped in and slammed it behind her. “Drive,” Camille said, one eye already glued to the camera’s lens, and everything before or after was forgotten — there was only the now as Mari jerked the gearshift and slammed on the accelerator. She didn’t even have to wait for more directions: There was only toward the storm and away from the storm in her world right now, and right now, despite everything she’d ever planned to the contrary, she knew which way her life was pointed.