10 Days of Halloween- The Road to Morning, a Short Story by Emerald Barnes

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Well, it’s finally my turn to share with you guys! I wrote the short story I’m going to share with you guys when I was in college, about nine years ago. I’ve edited it since because it really needed work!

Anyway, here is The Road to Morning. Enjoy!

The Road to Morning

 

A heavy fog has settled after the evening rain, and I can barely see ten feet in front of me. The shadows of trees loom in the darkness, taunting me. I try to keep my mind off of the perfect horror movie setting that surrounds me. Even the man in the moon refuses to show his face on this night.

I have a difficult time keeping my car on the road, the wet gravel hard to drive on. Going down the back road is a mistake, but I want to get home fast, back to my fiancé.  It has been a long day at school with night classes.

I come upon a car parked on the side of the road. I can’t tell what is wrong it, but I figure that someone’s car broke down. The fog is concealing the truth, but from what I can tell, no one is in or around it, so I continue home.

I slam on my brakes as something runs in front of my car, causing it to fishtail on the gravel. I barely miss hitting this thing. My body is shaking, and I can hardly breathe. With shaking hands, I turn my hazard lights on on the off chance that someone comes up behind me while I take a moment to compose myself before continuing home.

The longer I sit there, the more uneasy I grow, but I can’t explain the feeling. I lock the doors, but the normally comforting click of the locks doesn’t make me feel any better.

I search my surroundings to make sure that no one or no thing is watching me. It doesn’t do any good because the deep fog and the walls of trees conceal anything from eyesight.

I try to convince myself that what ran in front me had to have been a deer or some other wild animal, but I know that isn’t the case. It was on two legs, not four. And it was so pale that in my headlights, it looked green. Green. That isn’t even possible! Surely it was just my imagination. But I know it isn’t. I had seen it.

I can no longer be a sitting duck. I’m terrified, and I just want to get back home to my fiancé, John. At first, I’m afraid my vehicle died, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere or some other clichéd horror movie moment has occurred. Luckily, I was just being paranoid, and this isn’t the case.

Even though I’m in a hurry, I’m not going to risk wrecking out here, so I drive carefully. Despite my eyes being on the road, my mind is nowhere near thinking about the road ahead of me. I’m more afraid of what I’ve seen. I continue to try and convince myself that what ran in front of me had to be some sort of animal. It just had to be, but I can’t force myself to believe it. What I saw resembled neither a deer nor any other animal that I’d ever seen. It is hunched over, so that means it is on two legs. There has to be an explanation for what I saw, but I can’t think of one that comforts me.

I survey the land around me, wondering whether or not it’s following alongside my car. Is it dangerous? Will it kill me? My breathing becomes ragged, my chest tightens, and I’m nauseous at the thought. I can’t die. Not this way.

I accelerate my speed despite the iffy road conditions. I just know that monster is dangerous, and that I’m not safe. Something is watching me, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to die. I have my whole life ahead of me. I’m about to get married and graduate college.

Tears fill my eyes, and I blink them away. I can’t lose focus, and my focus is home.

I’m only five miles away from a more populated area. If I can get there, I’ll be safe, and for a moment, I have a sense of hope.

Something else runs out in front of me, and once again, I slam on my brakes. This time it’s a human. A woman. I barely miss hitting her. My heart rate accelerates, but I can see that something horrible has happened. She’s covered in scratches and blood.

“Help me!” she yells. “You have to help me! It killed my husband, and now it’s after me!”

She runs to the car and beats on it. I unlock the door, and she gets in. She locks the doors again, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know this lady. For all I know, she’s the one who killed her husband, but something tells me that’s not the case, that she’s telling the truth.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I don’t know. This thing attacked my husband as he was fixing the flat tire.”

That explains the car.

“What did it look like?” I ask, needing answers. I want to know if what I saw is real.

“Just drive,” she says. “We’ve got to get out of here. It’s coming!”

I don’t wait. I drive. The woman is in tears, on the verge of hysteria as her body convulses with sobs. I’d be the same way if I lost John and, by the looks of it, barely escaped alive.

The sobs come faster and harder, and my heart breaks for her. The poor woman has just lost someone important to her.

I push it out of my mind. I have to keep my mind clear. I need to be able to focus. Once my judgment is clouded, I can die. I’d seen enough horror films to know that. I have to focus on getting out alive. In situations like this, it’s best to look out for number one.

The woman did a pretty good job of keeping herself alive. I feel a little guilty by wanting to look out for myself, but could I risk my life for the sake of someone I didn’t even know? The only answer I can come up with is no. It isn’t worth it.

“Faster!” the woman yells.

My heart almost leaps out of my chest, and my foot slips off of the gas pedal.

“Not slower. Faster! It’s here!”

“What’s here?”

“Just go!”

The tires slide all over the place as I speed toward safety. I can just see us wrecking and dying, so I slow the car down a bit.

“What’re you doing?”

“Slowing down!”

“Don’t!’

“Do you want us to die?”

“Of course not!”

“Then shut up and let me drive. My car isn’t handling this road well.”

The woman quietens. The tires are swerving on the loose gravel, and I’m secretly cussing my fiancé for not having these stupid tires changed. With every curve, which are many, my car almost fishtails if I’m driving fast. It is imperative that I slow down, but I know that I have to get us out of here.

“Please drive faster. It’s following us,” she pleads.

I can’t see anything, but frankly, I don’t want to. I know that it’s following alongside the car because I can see the bushes on the side of the road moving like someone or something is running through them. I move my eyes back to the road, focusing on getting us to civilization.

It’s time to get a bit reckless.

My dreams of getting home in one piece come crashing down when the monster slams into my car. Both of us yell. This thing is now standing on the hood of the vehicle, and I hit the brakes, praying it flies off, but it holds on, sharp, toothy, menacing smile shows just how much it’s enjoying this game of cat-and-mouse.

My windshield shatters, and the woman in the passenger seat somehow composes herself enough to fight back, beating it with one my textbooks.  The monster takes each blow as if it’s not feeling a thing. Its pale skin glows from the headlights reflecting off of it, and its red, beady eyes stare straight into our souls.

It makes its way into my car, and I put it in park, unbuckle, and run.

I’ve never run as fast I am running now. The woman is still fighting the monster, and everything I know and understand is telling me to save myself, but I can’t leave her to die.

“What’re you doing?” she yells when she seems me coming back for her. “Get out of here!”

“I’m not leaving you behind!”

I grab a large branch lying on the side of the road. With all the force I can muster, I hit in in the back of the head, and it turns its horrible gaze on me. It stands over six feet tall when it’s not hunched, and it has pale, smooth skin. It resembles a human, but it isn’t. I don’t know what it is. Chills run down my spine, and I hit it again in the face, a blood-curdling screech coming from it. Birds take off in flight. Them, too, screeching eerily. I take it as a bad omen, but the thing stumbles back. Apparently I catch it off-guard.

“Run!” I yell to the woman, and she does.

I hit it in the knees, hoping to knock it down. Nothing happens. Again, I hit it with all the force that I have and continue to beat it, just praying it goes down.

Tired of the beating, it lunges at me, grabbing me by the throat before I fully comprehend what’s happening. Its four-fingers grasp my throat tight, cutting off the oxygen and any way for me to cry for help.

I kick and swing at it, but nothing is affecting it. It’s laughing at my sad attempt at a struggle. At least that’s the way it seems to me. I’m not sure that this thing can laugh or feel any emotion. More than anything, though, I have the sudden urge to kill it. I try and try to get free but…nothing.

Everything around me fades, but I see the woman has turned around and is coming back. My eyes begin to close, and the world around me becomes darker.

Whack. The woman hits the monster in the back, and it lets go of me. Air rushes into my lungs, and I eagerly gasp, trying to fill my lungs as quickly as I can. The woman beats the monster with the branch I dropped. She’s taking out all of her frustration and anger on it. I’m not going to stop her either. It has to die, but nothing is working. It just stands there, allowing her to hit it.

“What is it doing?” I yell.

“I don’t know!”

I have no idea what to do, and neither does the woman. She stops hitting it, and it lunges at her. She screams, and I run to the car.

I have to do something to save her, but I don’t know what. If I can distract it somehow while still in the car, I can hopefully get us both out alive. I rev my engine, and it looks in my direction. The woman crawls away, and I honk the horn, still distracting it. I drive closer to her, and she jumps in through the open door. She shuts it and yells, “Go!”

I don’t wait. I punch it. Dirt and gravel fly as I speed away. I drive straight in to it; its body causing my car to bounce. I don’t look behind me. I hope I killed it or at least maimed it. I’m just not certain that this thing won’t die without help from divine powers.

I try to get us off the road as soon as possible. I never want to see a back road again.

“Thanks,” the woman says with a shaking voice.

I glance at her; she’s bloody and bruised. Her hair is a mess, but we’re alive. That’s all that matters.

“For what?”

“Saving my life.”

“Well, you saved mine. Call us even.”

She fell quiet a moment before asking, “What’s your name?”

“Chelsea.”

“Chelsea what?”

“Morgan.”

“I’m Marion Booker.”

“Do you have a daughter?”

“Yes. Rachel. Do you know her?”

“I work with a Rachel Booker at the convenience store at…”

“The end of Oak Drive?”

“That’s the one.”

“That’s my Rachel. She’s mentioned you a couple of times.”

I feel bad for them. Rachel has just lost her father, Marion her husband.  I’m not sure how I can face Rachel at work later, knowing exactly what happened. But at least her mother is alive.

Marion is crying, but I have to know. My curiosity has the best of me.

“Why were you and your husband on this road?”

“We were on our way home from celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary. It was a shortcut.”

A loud thud comes from the trunk, and we scream. The monster’s menacing smile reflected back at me in the rear view mirror. A shiver runs down my spine. The fiend is only out to kill, and it won’t stop until we’re dead.

It starts to bust out my back windshield.

“What are we going to do?” I ask frantically.

Marion jumps out of the moving vehicle before I know what is happening. I stop the car, but the monster heads toward her—and fast. I don’t know what to do.

I put the car in park and try to find something to use as a weapon. I have to save Marion. I’m terrified. I can barely control my weeping and shaking. What am I gonna do?!

The monster stops and stares at her. She knows what’s coming. I can see it in her slack body. She’s given up.

“Get outta here!” Marion yells.

“I’m not going to let you die!”

“Go! Both of us aren’t going to make it out alive.”

I can’t leave her. Marion saved my life earlier. I’m not just going to leave her here to die by the hand of this monster.

“Go!” she yells again.

I don’t know what to do, but the monster is at her before I can think of anything. The thing is already killing her, and Marion doesn’t even fight back. I have no other choice but to jump in the car and drive. Marion, a woman I don’t even know, saves my life. I speed off, hoping and praying that it won’t follow me, and I can’t stop thinking that I am the cause of Rachel being an orphan.

Lights in the distance give me hope. I’m nearing civilization, but behind me, the sad truth of this night will forever haunt me.

The road to morning isn’t something I’ll ever forget.

 

 

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