“Are we there yet?” Eames moaned.
“We literally just left. The curb is still in sight.” Cobb curtly replied.
It was. Eames rolled his head back to check, watching the snow-covered parking lot for a moment. The heavy snowfall obscured it quickly. Arthur narrowed his eyes from his spot in the back.
“Right you are. I just figured we might as well get that question out of the way. Now no one else can say it for the rest of the trip.”
Yusuf glanced over from the driver’s seat.
“I didn’t know there were rules about that,” His voice hid a chuckle.
“There are now,” Cobb leaned forward from his seat behind Eames. “If anyone else asks that, they get the trunk.”
The car took a hard right, slipping on the icy road. Everyone fell to their left, with varying exclamations and curses. Yusuf chuckled again.
“If that got to you, this is going to be a long ride indeed.”
It had been late when they left the gathering, and the snowfall was getting much worse. British Columbia, the radio had cheerfully informed them, was in for the worst snowstorm in at least five years. Yusuf had both the wipers and defrost on full blast, but they didn’t appear to be doing much. Or anything, really.
Eames thought it prudent to bring it up.
“I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without the wipers,” He mused, earning a snort from Yusuf and a sharp sigh from Cobb.
Arthur said nothing.
“I mean, they aren’t helping, and turning them off certainly won’t hurt any.”
Arthur leaned forward at that, resting his arms on the center console.
“‘It’ makes a stupid point,” His voice was low, the identifying pronoun twisted in a way that turned Eames’s stomach. “If ‘it’ turned off the wipers and defrost,”Arthur nodded at Yusuf as he spoke. “The windows would fog and the snow would accumulate until ‘it’ resembled a snowball on wheels.”
Arthur leaned back to settle against his seat again.
And then they saw the moose.
It appeared on their left, not even ten feet in front of the car, and passed within arms reach.
Yusuf said nothing, and made no sudden movements. His fingers turned white on the steering wheel and he grit his teeth as he focused on keeping the car on the road.
The moose disappeared into the snow as quickly as it came, gone before they knew it.
Eames scrubbed a hand over his face, chasing away the sweat that had sprung up at the sudden appearance of the savage beast.
“That was a sudden appearance. That savage beast almost killed us!”
His voice certainly did not break.
“Eames,” Yusuf’s voice was steady as a rock. It was also strained. “Calm down before you freak me out and kill us.”
“As well ‘it’ should,” Came the creepy whisper from the back seat.
Eames may also have seen someone punch someone else in the arm back there, but he couldn’t be sure.
They made it to customs without any more problems. The snowfall was still quite heavy, but it had let up a tiny amount. They could now see The little two-door pulled up into the border town and was stopped.
The border had closed twenty minutes ago.
“If you had only checked on your phone-” Cobb was shouting at Arthur, whose face was turning a lovely shade of red.
“I turned it off in preparation for the border! I didn’t want roaming charges on my bill, and cell service gets screwed up here all the time.” Arthur hissed, trying to keep his voice down for the sake of the close confines.
Cobb didn’t bother.
“You’re the navigator! We’re trusting you to get us from point A to point B without incident!”
“Without incident?” Arthur laughed, one big sound, and Yusuf flinched, the car skidding a little on the black ice blanketing the highway.
Arthur continued in a more subdued tone of voice, “‘It’ should look around. This is an incident already. Biggest snowstorm in five years? Deciding to start a three day road trip during it? Ringing any bells?”
“Plenty. Currently it’s ringing the bell about how you told us you knew the route. Including the time the border closed!” Cobb wasn’t quite yelling, but spittle from his outburst was definitely spattering on Arthur’s shirt.
Eames turned around in his seat, “Okay, Cobb, we get it. Let’s just find a hotel for the night and we can use their wifi to find the route. No need to bite his head off.”
Arthur glared at Eames again.
“‘It’ shuts up now.”
Eames rolled his eyes as Arthur turned to face the blowing snow again. Arthur grumbled and made the mistake of looking up to the rear view mirror. Yusuf smiled at him, his eyes crinkled in the narrow mirror. Arthur glared harder for a moment. Then he pressed his pillow against the window and shut his eyes.
The sky grew darker until it was pitch black outside, the only light from the headlights reflecting on the snow. The fallen snow was difficult to look at, the glare coming off it was harsh, though intermittent. The snowfall, however, was almost hypnotic.
It fell at such a speed that when traveling through it with the car, it seemed to come down in streaks, blurring past the eyes to stretch back and back and far, far away.
“It’s like the Millennium Falcon,” Eames muttered, his chin propped in his hand, one knee up on the seat.
“Cobb’ll kill you if he sees your feet in the seat, Eames.” Yusuf was looking over at him, just tiny glances, spared from all the attention it took to keep at least one wheel off of black ice.
“It’s only a foot, none of this ‘feet’ business,” Eames drawled, prominently displaying one foot, resting on the floor.
Yusuf snorted and shook his head, “Have it your way then.”
Eames pondered the statement for a moment. He glanced at the back seat, and could see all four eyes in the back were closed. Then he frowned at Yusuf. Eames pulled both feet back down to the floor, and tilted toward the driver’s side.
“Why does Arthur keep saying, ‘it’?” He whispered.
Yusuf didn’t lean toward him, or even give any indication that he heard the question. Eames had opened his mouth to speak again when Yusuf whispered back.
“You shouldn’t have insulted him.”
“I didn’t know I insulted him!” Eames whispered furiously.
Yusuf didn’t reply. He merely raised one eyebrow.
“Don’t do that thing, Yusuf. That’s Cobb’s thing. It’s even creepier on you than it is on him.”
“Not making a great case for your innocence in the case of aggravated insult, Eames. If you can’t even convince me, Arthur’s going to see through you in a second.”
“I said I was sorry, what more can I do?”
Eames sighed, “You know I can’t.”
“Well, it’s not like we have any reception here. Oops, and I had just enough data to stream it, too.” Eames’s sarcastic drawl lost some of its oomph when it was being whispered.
“Just watch it, it really isn’t bad. Hey, you might even like it.”
They pulled into the town of Grand Forks, and Yusuf parked the car outside the only motel with lights on. Arthur and Cobb jumped in their seats, waking up bleary and disoriented, Arthur’s hair stuck to the corner of his mouth with what might have been a bit of drool.
Eames hung back with Yusuf a just long enough for Arthur and Cobb to walk in to reception.
“But why, ‘it’?” He demanded, almost frantic.
Yusuf grinned, a shark’s smile.
“Just watch it, Eames. You’ll understand eventually.”