A Crash Course in Fate
by Eric James Stone
First published in What Fates Impose, September 2013
Niklas had forgotten the name of the Thai village by the time the cab stopped in its main
square. "Smells like a zoo," he said. He tried breathing through his mouth, and that helped a bit.
"Hush, that's not nice," said Danielle. "Besides, what it really smells like is elephants."
She got out of the taxi and Niklas followed.
His loafers sank into the mud--he'd planned for an art gallery in Bangkok, not an
expedition to a godforsaken village two hours away. Especially not on a fool's errand to see an
elephant that could supposedly paint your future. He pulled out his wallet, thumbed through
some colorful bills until he figured he had enough for the fare and an adequate tip, then thrust
them toward the driver through the open passenger-side window.
The driver waved the money off. "I wait for you." He left the meter running.
Niklas was about to object, but then realized there was no point. It wasn't like there was
another cab they could take back. "Fine." He carefully picked his way through the mud to join
Danielle, whose legs were spattered with brown. That didn't seem to bother her a bit, and Niklas
momentarily envied her ability to seem comfortable in any situation.
She was speaking in her very limited Thai to a young man in a bright green tee-shirt and
navy-blue shorts. Other villagers looked on.