Fiction: Touring Test

An essay by John Q. Knobody, as provided by Holly Schofield
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye

I pulled over onto the shoulder of Highway 16 and opened my door for the hitchhiker. Sweat from the summer heat ran down his face as he pulled the door closed. His grubby jeans were shoved carelessly into rubber boots that reeked of manure. Just the sort of person I wanted.

“I just need to get to Township Road 255. Got my combine in the field. Hoping to get in a full day’s harvest,” he said after thanking me and settling into the ripped passenger seat. I put the old Impala in gear and pulled back onto the highway.

“Well, happy to give you a ride. You’re probably the only verbal interaction I’m going to get today,” I said, aiming for simultaneously off-the-cuff and nerdy.

The stranger took off his Viterra Feed cap and scratched his forehead where the farmer’s tan ended. “Name’s Rick, pleased to meet you.”

He was in his thirties, crinkles beginning to form around his eyes, his wind-reddened skin contrasting with his short blonde hair and day’s stubble. The perfect stereotype of a Saskatchewan farmer. I kept my doubts to myself.

Illustration of a person hitchhiking with a non-human shadow.

A Gliesian from out Andromeda way, without a doubt.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2020 collection.

John Q. Knobody is a typical grad student at Western Prairie University. John has no family and very few friends, but he’s always happy to reach grocery items off the top shelf for you and to indulge in a good chat about the weather.

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her short stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes. Find her at

Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at

“Touring Test” is Copyright 2013 Holly Schofield
Art accompanying story is Copyright 2019 Scarlett O’Hairdye

“Touring Test” was originally published in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review under the title “Off-Campus Housing”.

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