This week's assignment: Figure out what your protagonist would do if, while driving along a lonely road, a tire blows out and she discovers the body of a young girl in the trunk. For me, this brought on a case of deja vu. In my second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, which will come out at the end of the year, there is, in fact, a scene involving my main character, Lily Moore, a lonely mountain road, and a body in the trunk of a car. (I suspect that Gabi, who comes up with these questions, has ESP. Otherwise, she has a spy over at Tor/Forge.)
How does it all turn out? I don't want to spoil any surprises in that book, so I've been racking my brain for a way to describe how Lily would react, without referencing that incident in the Andes.
Here's the thing: if Lily is driving a car on a lonely road, she's already in trouble. Lily's a born-and-bred New Yorker, and her preferred method of transportation is her own two feet. She often takes subways and trains, and she has racked up countless frequent-flyer miles because she's a travel writer who's constantly on the move. She doesn't drive very often, though, because she lives in Barcelona — where driving is all-too-frequently a contact sport — and because when she's traveling for work, transportation has been arranged for her by some thoughtful public-relations person.
No, the situation on that lonely road is bad news even before Lily pops that trunk open and finds the body. Here's another thing about Lily: she's claustrophobic. When she sees that body in the trunk, her first reaction is to reach for the girl and help her out, thinking that she's freeing her. But when Lily touches the girl's hand and finds it cold, she would recoil and reconsider. Lily doesn't believe in coincidence, so she would look at the dead body as something that had been deliberately planted to get her into even deeper trouble. The girl's face isn't one she recognizes, and she has no identification on her. Lily would take a photograph of her and e-mail it to one of her friends in the NYPD (she has a couple of them, thanks to the events of THE DAMAGE DONE). Then she would take the corpse out of the trunk and place it just off the roadside, marking it so that it can be found again. She'd get back into the car and check for any other surprises. The bag of cocaine and .38 revolver she discovers in the glove compartment go out the window. Then Lily would start driving again, bracing herself for what's waiting for her around the next bend of that lonely road.