Weekend - By Christopher Pike

Chapter One
The road was painful. Last summer's hurricanes had dug strategically placed potholes across the narrow asphalt highway. Every time their dusty Datsun hatchback hit one - every sixty seconds - Shani Tucker's head kissed the car's ceiling. She wanted an aspirin, but they upset her stomach, and it was already worse off than her head. Long drives were not her forte. She wished that there was room in the front seat with Kerry and Angie, where at least she could have tied herself down with a seat belt. But Angie was driving, and Kerry's hand was glued to the radio, searching vainly through static bands.

Though the road was doing its best to slow them down, they were, nevertheless, too far south into Mexico to catch San Diego's stations. Glancing out of the window at the brittle tumbleweed, the baked orange hills, and dry, cracked ravines, Shani felt as if she had crossed into another world, rather than merely into another country.

"Can't get anything on this damn thing," Kerry Ladd said, fretting as usual.

"Turn it off," Shani said. "I have a headache as it is."

"I've got to have music," Kerry said, snapping in a cassette. Pat Benatar started wailing about precious time. Kerry wasn't the most considerate of friends. But Shani didn't complain. The grinding guitar was the lesser of two evils. Constant external distraction was necessary to keep strung-out Kerry from exploding.

"I've got to turn off the air conditioning, again," Angie Houston warned, wiping a long straight strand of blonde hair from her hazel eyes as she flipped a switch next to the radio. "We're beginning to overheat."

"I don't want to sweat," Kerry complained. With the cool air turned off, the rise in temperature was almost immediate.

"Do you want to walk?" Angie asked, turning down the song's volume. "Shani, how far do you think we have left to go?"

Shani studied the map her father had insisted she take. The trip from Santa Barbara to San Diego yesterday after school had been a breeze. They had checked into a Motel 6 and had got away early for what they had anticipated as a six-hour jaunt to Robin and Lena's vacation house located on the beach near Point Eugenia. Today was only Friday - unofficially, Senior Ditch Day - and they'd felt that they'd managed a good jump on the weekend's fun. But they were now over eight hours on the road, and making miserable time.

Odd, how they hadn't seen anyone else from their class on the road. Supposedly, Robin and Lena had invited the whole gang.

"Well," Shani said, "we passed Point Blanco over three hours ago, and going by map inches, that's only a hundred miles from where we're supposed to turn off, so we should be getting close."

"Could we have passed it?" Angie asked.

"I haven't seen anythingto pass," Shani said. "But no, Lena said that we'd see a Margarita Ville Canteen

- that's the name she gave me - about half an hour before the dirt road that leads to her house. She said the canteen was impossible to miss."

"What does Lena know?" Kerry grumbled. She hated Lena, and Lena hated her. If either of them died this weekend from mysterious causes, Shani would not be terribly surprised. Only the promised presence of Sol Celaya - Kerry's ex, stolen away by Lena - had given Kerry the incentive to approach her arch rival's house. At least, Sol was the reason why Shani figured Kerry had come. Despite having known her since first grade, Shani didn't altogether trust her. Kerry was too temperamental, too impulsive. But then again, she didn't trust Lena, either. God probably didn't trust Lena; she could be one shrewd terror.

"Don't start that again," Angie said.

"She had just better not hassle me," Kerry said.

"And you had just better not fight with her in front of her sister," Angie said.

"It sure was nice of Robin to organize this weekend," Shani said, wishing to change the subject.

"Yeah... it wa - was," Kerry agreed, stuttering, as she often did at odd moments. "How... how is... Robin?"

They - everyone at school - always asked her this question: How is Robin? Have you seen Robin? Is Robin better? Shani did not resent the concern, nor even the painful memories the questions always brought. After all, Robin was her best friend. It was only natural others should come to her for updates.

What she did dislike was the false optimism she felt she had to project, to give them what