“This is weird. I don’t understand it at all. Lemme see that map again. There’s gotta be a logical answer.” Frowning, the man studied the map in the feeble glow emanating from the cab’s dome light. “Man. I don’t even have any idea of where WE are at, let alone some stupid ghost town. I thought sure we were on Highway 50, but I can’t remember seein’ any signs for a lot time. Not since we left Fallon, anyway.
The man threw the map down in frustration. “Well, one thing’s for sure; we’re not gonna solve this problem in the dark. Let’s wait here until morning. No sense in burning up all our diesel until we find out how to get outa this hole.” The man shut down the engine. “You can take the bunk. I’ll curl up in the cab. Wish I could make some sense outa this.”
Dawn broke, bright and clear. The wind picked up, blowing a tumbleweed across the white dirt lot and piling it against the truck’s fuel tank. Dust rose in swirls, and the metal sign began its incessant banging.
The noise awakened the man. He yawned, blinked his eyes and looked around, absently rubbing the stubble on his chin. “You awake?”
A muffled voice came from the sleeper. “Yeah. Have been for a while. It sure gets cold here at night.” She pulled back the leather curtain and looked out. “Crap. I was hoping it was a dream.”
“So was I.” Well, at least this place don’t look so spooky in the daylight. I’m hungry. Let’s take a walk and see if we can scare up some breakfast.”
“Very funny. Hey, wait for me!”
The two walked through the silent town. It was small, with only the main road for a street. The buildings, only five or six in all, lined both sides of the road and each was in the same dilapidated condition. Other than the tumbleweeds blowing down the street and the swinging sign at the gas station, the town was dead.
Passing the front of the gas station, the man noticed an old thermometer designed to resemble a soda bottle cap. Wiping the dust from the glass face, the man let out a whistle. “Only eight in the morning and already it’s ninety-four degrees out. Boy, you were right when you said this was a ghost town. It don’t look like anybody’s been here in fifty years, and we sure ain’t gonna get any breakfast here.” He glanced again at the thermometer sign. “You Like It, It Likes You.” he read aloud. “Hmm, haven’t seen that slogan in a long time.”
“So can we go now?” asked the woman. “I’m starved, and this place gives me the creeps.”
“Yeah, let’s get outa here. Maybe in the daylight we can find our way back to civilization.” They boarded the truck and the man started the engine. As they waited for the air pressure to build, the man looked again at the map.
“Why would an abandoned town have running water?” the woman asked suddenly.
“When I used the bathroom at the gas station, the water was working. It was even fresh, not rusty and gross like you’d expect. That doesn’t make sense, does it?”
“Heck if I know. Maybe the town’s on a water line that passes through here. I don’t see anything strange about run—wait a minute. I just had a thought. That thermometer, it was a real antique. I bet it’s worth some bucks. And, did you see that old brass-plated cash register? They don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Damn, this place ain’t a ghost town, it’s a gold mine! I’ll be right back.” The man made three trips from the gas station to the truck, putting the thermometer and cash register inside the trailer, along with a “Rocket Gasoline” sign he had removed from the island of the station.
“I haven’t seen a Rocket Gas station since I was about six years old!” he said excitedly. The woman just rolled her eyes, thankful that the truck was finally rolling again. “Wish we had more room in the trailer; I’d love to snag one of those old gas pumps. This place is unbelievable!” the man said as he watched Sage disappear in the side view mirror.
They rode in silence for many miles. As the man drove, the woman studied the map, searching for any clue that would unlock the mystery of Sage.
“Do you remember passing through—“ the woman started.
“Damn!” the man cut her off.
“What?” she asked, looking up quickly. “Oh no.”
“Sage: Eight Miles,” they read in unison. They hit town at two fifteen in the afternoon.