Jenny's hands were clamped tensely on the car steering wheel while Liz wrestled with a map.
"I've seen that tree before." Jenny grumbled. "We're driving in circles."
"How can you tell?" Liz protested. "Tree's all look the same."
"You see the same tree over and over, you know." Jenny growled. "We're lost. I told you we should have sprung for GPS."
Liz tossed the map into the back seat. "It's not like they come with a best escape route feature." She said.
"We better find out where we are. The whole plan was to get away from Vinnie asap. It was your bright idea to take back roads."
"He'll have people driving the highways looking for us." Liz observed.
"We're not making any distance between us and him any more. He has got to be so pissed we stole a half a million dollars from him." Jenny said.
"Actually we stole it from the mob since he was using his club to launder it for them." Liz said.
"Yeah, that makes me feel so much better." Jenny replied sarcastically.
"You worry too much. Would you rather be a waitress forever?' Liz asked.
Jenny thought about it. "I'm beginning to think that is better than being on the run. Plus, $500,000 doesn't buy what it used too." She said.
Liz rolled her eyes. "It will buy enough. Look, my big plan was to get married and have kids. I was never going to meet the right guy in that damn town and you didn't have such great options either. Now at least we have options. We can go anywhere. Maybe Mexico."
"Right now we better just find out where we are. We have to stop somewhere and ask for directions." Jenny said.
"I hate the idea of showing ourselves but you're right." Liz said, scanning the road. "Let's stop at the first place we find."
"Look here's a farm." Jenny pulled up to a sign by a drive and read its text, "Sera Sey Organic Farms. Vegan Community Supported Agriculture." She turned to Liz. "Sounds really weird. Let's try somewhere else."
Liz nodded. "Stop worrying. Let's take a look."
They drove past acres of cultivated land to a group of farm buildings where they stopped the car and got out.
"Look. There is some guy over there." Jenny observed.
Liz looked in the direction Jenny pointed. There was a man in the distance who was packing boxes with produce. He had his back to them and was visible from the waist up. They slowly walked over, inspecting him to make sure he wasn't a threat.
"Is he wearing a sweater?" Jenny whispered.
"Yeah. In this heat and doing work? These organic food hippie types sure are weird." Liz told Jenny and then shouted to the man to get his attention. "Hey mister!"
The man turned around and Liz and Jenny both screamed.
Though he looked like a man, that was not all he was. His deeply lined face was strong with a a pronounced ridge-like brow from which curved the short sharp horns of an ox. The thick mien of hair that fell down his shoulders and his long matted beard gave him a wild look that was offset by wide set eyes that communicated an inner gentleness. He was not wearing anything above the waist and he showed a broad iron, firm tanned chest. His arms and legs were knotted in muscles. Most conspicuously, beneath his waist and denim shorts, the only clothing he wore, he had the hind legs of a hoofed animal and a long tail that swept the ground. Neither Liz nor Jenny knew much about classical myths but they knew enough to call this half man a minotaur. He looked them blankly as they screamed, shrugged and went back to work.
Finally, Liz and Jenny regained their composure.
"Let's get out of here!" Jenny whispered.
Liz nodded, they turned and found two creatures coming up on them. On top, they had the torsos of well built and attractive men and women. Below they had the bodies of strong shaggy haired horses, perhaps Clydesdales. The two women froze. The centaurs ignored them and hailed the minotaur.
"Blessed be the Goddess." They said.
"Blessed be the Goddess." The minotaur replied.
"We have plowed the south field. Shall we do the east, Ivan?" The female centaur asked.
"Not yet." The minotaur answered. "We need to irrigate it and I have to fix the water pump. You have worked hard and need rest. You cannot properly serve the Goddess if you are worked to death"
"Blessed be the Goddess!" The centaurs said in unison.
"Blessed be the Goddess!" Agreed the minotaur.
The two centaurs turned toward a barn from which came a young man on goat legs and a chubby woman with a piggy face and three bikini tops to cover three rows of breasts. These newcomers began to wash and brush the centaurs down. None of these strange creatures paid any attention to Jenny or Liz.
"Lets get out of here!" Jenny hissed in a whisper.
"Wait!" Liz shot back and then she addressed the minotaur.
"Excuse me, um, Ivan, what is this place?
"This is the Goddess' domain and we are her faithful servants." The bull man answered without looking up from his work.
"What the hell is this!? Some mutant cult?" Jenny wondered.
Liz ignored her and asked the minotaur, "Where is your Goddess?"
"Away." He answered. "She comes and goes as she pleases. Sometimes she is away for days. Sometimes for months. Her ways are not for us to understand. We exist only to serve her by running her farm."
"Liz, let's get out of here. I don't want to be here if this goddess person comes back." Jenny whined.
"No, we should stay." Liz replied.
"That's crazy!" Jenny protested.
"No, think about it." Liz said. "Have you ever heard of a minotaur outside of the movies or stories?"
"Of course not." Jenny shot back.
"So nobody knows about this place. If they did, every tabloid in creation would have a story on it. It would at least be on the Internet. The only way you can have creatures like this is on some place that is totally off the radar. Vinnie's men will never find us here. It will be a good place to hide out for a while and the minotaur and the centaurs and all the others seem harmless."
"And what if this Goddess shows up?" Jenny asked skeptically.
"Don't worry so much. We'll deal with her if she ever shows. She doesn't seem to be around much. If she does come back and she's not nice ... well ... normally I am not for using our guns because gunshots and wounds attract too much attention. Given how weird this place is, I don't think anyone is going to call the police or anyone else if they force us to pull our MAC-10s."
"I don't know." Jenny grumbled.
"It'll be fine." Liz laughed. "Trust me. Lets go check out the farmhouse and get some rest."
Though the farmhouse was something out of "American Gothic", the interior was tastefully decorated in a modern style with the occasional displays of classical antiquity. Liz picked up a Grecian vase and mused, "Why am I not surprised?"
The two made themselves at home, waiting to see if the "Goddess" would show up. When it got late, they took turns on watch just in case she came back at night or her workers got suddenly restless. They were undisturbed that night and for many nights thereafter. The farm ran itself as its human-animal workers dedicated themselves to their tasks without acknowledging the trespasser's presence at all. There was plenty of food, albeit all vegetables, and an internet connection and satellite TV for entertainment. After a few weeks, Liz and Jenny thought the Goddess would never be coming back if she existed at all. They decided to hold up at the form until the end of the month and then strike out for some place closer to civilization.
Jenny was up early one morning and went out on the farmhouse porch with a cup of coffee. She sipped it, looked down the empty drive, turned to watch the centaurs in a field pulling plows, returned to look at the drive and found a silver Jaguar sports car parked in front of the house. She dropped her coffee cup. The car must have appeared out of thin air. She would have seen or heard it if it had driven up.
The door opened and out stepped a tall thin woman with curly blonde hair. She was fashionably dressed in a leather jacket, lace blouse on top, leather shorts, tights and short boots below. The large black sunglasses on her pretty aristocratic face made her appear just a little menacing. An expensive hand bag dangled at her side.
"Uh ... hi!" Jenny stammered not sure whether she should stay or run.
The woman whipped of her glasses to reveal eyes of pale blue which she laid upon Jenny with a firm stare. Without even blinking, the woman put her sunglasses in her handbag and took out a bottle of perfume and sprayed a couple of dabs on her neck. Jenny inhaled the scent of lilacs. It was quite pleasant, so pleasant that she forgot her apprehension about this strange woman and how she had appeared.
"Who are you?" The woman demanded. "Why are you here?"
The scent of the perfume seemed to have permeated Jenny's mind and lifted answers from it and brought them to her lips so that she spoke without hesitation.
"I'm Jenny Martin." She answered. "Me and my friend Liz are on the run. We worked at a club the mob uses for money laundering. We stole half a mill from them. We needed a place to hide out."
"Stealing money from the mob." The woman said thoughtfully. "That is pretty dangerous. You must be quite brave."
"Actually, I'm not." Jenny found herself speaking openly and frankly, as if she was talking to the best of friends. "Liz is the brave one. I am scared to death we're gonna get caught." As she spoke, the fear over what she had done and its possible repercussions became unwound and paralyzed her in its ghostly icy grip.
.... There is more of this story ...