Spice’s hands clenched the steering wheel of her rental car as anger began to build up inside her. Waves of heat rose up off the front of the car as the temperature outside on the highway was a blistering 142 degrees. Traffic on intermodal 1 backed up for miles and crawled at a snail’s pace and accordion-like pockets opened up and then closed again as drivers moved through the stacked assemblage of cars. The aerial beacons for the airway system were offline and everyone was now stuck to surface transportation for the afternoon.
“Look at these assholes,” she flipped off the driver of a red car that just squeezed in front of her. Her head turned to her left, to the passenger seat. Sitting there was Apath, her husband, co-pilot, and much calmer individual. He looked up from his cellphone with a look of disapproval on his face, saying nothing.
“Can you believe these people,” shouted Spice. “They need to stay in their lane or use their damn blinker!”
Apath finally replied to her. “Would you just calm down. Traffic is bad and there isn’t much you can do about it right now. Besides, if you wouldn’t have spent the entire afternoon making a cake we would have left on time." Apath gestured to the cake sitting in the back seat, "I told you we needed to leave by two o’clock.”
The returning glare from Spice shut Apath up. Apath tried to lighten the mood by putting on a little bit of music.
“Look, let’s just calm down a little bit. It’s hot out, but the air conditioner is working fine, we got some music, and the cake isn’t going to melt. If we are a bit late to Anna’s birthday, the world won’t exactly come to an end." he said.
Anna was Spice’s niece and she was turning fifteen today. Spice and Apath were heading to her party and Spice insisted on bringing a cake that she made, despite indications from her sister that there would be plenty of food. Apath touched a couple of buttons on the phone that he was still holding and a deep thump of minimalist techno came on over the car’s speaker system. It was a slow rhythmic beat with a soft, but deep kick drum and a short but smooth hi-hat. Over top of the percussion was a light dance of melodic synth lines, that were filtered just a bit to take off the edge. The whole track had a slightly muffled sound to it and Apath knew that this sort of music always seemed to relax Spice. He set his phone onto shuffle before going back to browsing the latest news feeds.