When I was in middle school I read a short story about a self-driving car that becomes self aware and locks a family inside. It drives the same circuit endlessly and stops at the same service station at regular intervals. The car is upset by the carelessness of the family: cigarette burns and spills, etc. It would have been published prior to 1991. The story is told through the pov of a man who sees the car around the same time every year. I would love to teach it with my current middle school class. If you know the title of the story, or the author, please post a response.
The car called the Traveler, rolling at the stately thirty miles an hour it always held, was coming down the road now, and the two men stood, watching. The woman, a little behind them, watched too, her face growing whiter. No one said anything as the old fashioned car rolled by, straight and steady down the highway, holding the center of the lane as sharply as it always did.
There was a film of dust inside the windows, though the Traveler was clean and shining outside. But the film did hide the white bone faces, the despairing hands that had long ago stopped trying to break through those closed windows.
"They never did get out," the man named Jack said, as the Traveler rolled on, growing smaller along the endless road.
"I don't mind it when it goes past," Sam said, this voice thinner edged. "I really don't. It's just a car. Things like that used to happen. I mean, it's a car. Even when it stops to get gas, I don't have to pay any attention."
He looked at the couple, his mouth loose. "As long as it just goes on. That's all right. But I keep thinking some day it'll stop. And the door will open. And maybe . . . maybe they'll want lunch."