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Friday, October 8, 2021

Microstory 1730: The Crux

No one is old enough to remember what happened. It’s always just sort of been this way; a hill in the center of our little doughnut-shaped town where four roads meet. I don’t mean that it’s two roads crossing each other. Each of the four has its own name, and while it’s not impossible to get from one to the other by driving over what we unofficially call The Crux, it’s not recommended for regular cars. The hill is deceptively steep, and for some reason, it’s always rather muddy halfway up, on all sides. It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s much more reasonable to go around it on one of the other roads. It’s not a problem for people who live here. We know the hill is there, and we know heading towards it is going to get us nowhere...unless we’re trying to get to the hill itself, of course. Tourism is already hard to come by for us, and this just makes it harder. None of the internet maps knows it’s there, and don’t know it’s a bit of an impediment, so they direct folks right through it. We keep trying to get them to remove it from their system as a traversable road, but we’ve had no luck so far. Again, with the right vehicle, it’s possible to drive over it, but we’ve had some issues with people who don’t know what they’re doing. We actually have four ways of getting out of such a mess if it happens to you. The auto repair shop is on South Avenue, the county’s largest tow truck company is on Backbone Road, the dealership is on Krouka, and there’s a gas station on Heap Lane. It’s not all that necessary—problems don’t occur all that often—but it’s nice to know that people will have options, so they’ll think twice about saying bad things about us. Crux notwithstanding, ours is a fine town, with good, progressive people, who like to lead the simple life, but understand how the city operates, and why others would prefer it.

Anyway, today I’m sitting on top of the Crux with a bunch of friends. It’s got a good vantage point of the surrounding area, so we hang out there all the time. Flat Kansas being what it is, it’s nice to be above it all sometimes, ya know? So we’re sitting there, watching a small car we don’t recognize come down Krouka. They probably drove in from Great Bend, looking to fish in our world famous pond, where it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll catch something. As the car approaches, we realize just how tiny it is. I bet only two people could fit in that thing, and maybe one bag each. There is no way it’s gonna make it up the Crux. We don’t even bother picking up our chairs to get out of the way this time. That little thing comes up there, from this perspective, lookin’ like a ground squirrel wondering if the mailbox poll drops nuts. It slows down, but doesn’t stop. Most people get out, and take a look around when they don’t know what the hell is going on here. They’re holding their phones, and spinning around to see if they’re facing the wrong direction. These people don’t even do that. They stop for five seconds, back up about fifty meters, and then gun it. They go towards this hill as fast as they possibly can, and they make it up pretty far. My best friend inches over to the side, afraid we’re all wrong, and they’ll actually go all the way. It doesn’t. It stops midway, and rolls back down, smoothly, though, like they saw it was gonna happen, and put it in neutral to be safe. Some of us laugh, but most are relieved, because we know how bad it can get. We’re about to go down to tell them about the dealership when their car transforms. This...laser gun—I guess you would call it—comes out from under the hood, and blasts a tunnel into the hill. We later see it’s large enough to fit a semi-truck. They even laser the other two roads, before driving off without so much as a you’re welcome.

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