March 23, 2017 Leave a comment
[[ Prompt: Signs
Another stab (get it) at a horror story, about something that’s scary to me: Getting lost. ]]
The car hurtled down the road, the dual beams of its headlights shaking whenever it sped over a bump or crack. It was an old country highway, little used now that the major interstates had been put in, and Jack hadn’t passed any other cars since he’d started driving. Of course, it was late at night too, and only a fool would be speeding around these blind corners in the darkness, fog clinging to the road’s flanks. Only a fool, Jack thought, or someone with a death wish. He glanced in the rear-view mirror, but he could see no lights behind him. He was well over the speed limit for the old road, but no one seemed to have noticed yet. Even in the dark woods beyond the road, he saw no glints of houselights nor streetlamps. It was as if the night had swallowed him and his car alive.
Frowning, Jack checked the dashboard. The digital numbers informed him that it was well after two in the morning. Probably still another fifteen minutes to the main highway, at least. He punched on the radio button to help fill the silence, but it was a mangled mess of static with some talk radio mingled in. He couldn’t hear enough of either to make it worthwhile, and trying to discern it made his head hurt. There were probably deer here, too. That would be the last thing he needed, a deer leaping through his front windshield. Jack returned his attention to the road, searching for any hints of movement from the darkness beyond the road.
He sat up straighter when he saw the silhouette of a sign emerge from the shadows. As the car sped closer, the letters came into view: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Jack exhaled a sigh of relief, it was only seven miles to the highway junction, maybe five minutes. Then everything would be okay. He gripped the wheel and eased the car a little faster.
Jack saw no signs — nor lights — for the town of Pierron, but that wasn’t really unusual way out here in the woods. Many so-called towns were nothing more than dots on a map, not even a gas station or a diner to mark their place. It was odd there wasn’t even a traffic light, though, but maybe there were so few cars this way they didn’t need it. Jack glanced at the clock again. He should be reaching the junction any minute now. But the old highway stretched out for miles before him, it seemed, no sign of a ramp or light anywhere. The signs couldn’t be wrong, could they? That seemed unlikely. He didn’t want to risk pulling over. Jack wrestled his phone out of his jacket pocket and brought up the map application. Though he didn’t know his destination, exactly, the GPS should show his dot moving on the map. He could see the highway crossing on the map, its thick blue line overlapping his thinner purple one. So it was all fine. Everything would work out okay.
But maybe he’d missed it? Was the ramp very small and unmarked. Jack began to worry again when he had driven another ten minutes and still not seen it. The bright green letters on the dash read nearly 3 am. He certainly should have reached it by now. Should he turn around and go back? Jack considered it. He could just turn around on the old highway, there was no one for miles around. But if he hadn’t missed it, he would just be wasting more time. He pressed forward, sure that he would reach it soon. And sure enough, he saw the green square of another road sign up ahead. Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11, it read. Jack stared at it in disbelief. Why would they put the same sign up twice? Some kind of weird mistake, Jack assured himself. He’d laugh about it with his friends later, maybe post it online. Still, it left him with a feeling of uneasiness. He checked his phone again, and his dot still looked the same distance from the junction. Of course, the map didn’t tell him the scale, so maybe it was just a lot further than he thought. But the sign had said seven miles. According to the clock, and his odometer, he’d definitely gone more than that.
He slumped back in the driver seat, trying the radio again. Maybe it would get his mind off of everything. Drowned by static, he thought he could pick out a song he knew, but he couldn’t really be sure. It was better than the silence, he decided. He veered around a turn, after which opened another long stretch of road. There was another sign here: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Two was a mistake, Jack didn’t know what three was. A practical joke? He wasn’t laughing. As the miles passed, there were more signs. Every one read the same thing: Pierron 5, I-50 7, River Falls 11. Despite the cold night, Jack felt sweat trickling down the back of his shirt. Had she done this somehow? It seemed impossible, but suddenly the impossible was no longer out of the question. Reluctantly, Jack looked over to the passenger seat.
His date didn’t answer. She stared straight ahead, her eyes fixed in terror, just as she had looked when Jack began to stab her.