I pulled the car over at a town far from modern civilization. I was extremely thirsty and this place looked like the last shred of humanity I’d see in quite awhile; I had a long journey ahead. Slamming the door of my car, I looked around and let my senses absorb the surrounding atmosphere. A sense of loneliness enveloped me causing me to shudder; it seemed like the cold was getting to me. There was only one bar open, the rest of the town was seemingly asleep.
The doors to the bar swung forward ominously as I entered. My eyes swept the small space, it was empty save for three people. One was splayed at the back of the bar, beer bottles all over the place and alcohol oozing from his mouth, definitely an alcoholic. The other seemed more calm and collected, he was sitting up front conversing with the bartender in a low voice. He had on a brown jacket that slightly covered his face, with red shades. The stark contrast between the back and the front of the bar made for an odd image. I chuckled slightly and sat down some three seats or so from Mr. Red Shades.
Without even looking at me, the suited bartender deftly uncorked a bottle of Heineken ad slid it down the table where it came to a stop in front of me. Surprised, I looked at the bartender wanting to know how he knew what I wanted before I even had a chance to ask him. He was still talking to Mr. Red Shades and paid no attention to me. I shrugged, who cares? I took a long swig and sighed in relaxation. Always hits the spot. It also made me feel a light headed, and struggling to keep my bearing, my head lolled involuntary to the right. Mr. Red Shades was looking straight at me, his face at a spitting distance from mines. I leapt back startled, how did he get so close without me noticing?
“You’re not from around these parts are you?”
“You could say that…”
His stare continued to burn into me causing me to fidget uncomfortably. He whipped something out lightning fast and put it close to my face.
“Then you won’t know what these are.”
I remained silent. They were brightly orange coloured star shaped pills. Obviously some kind of designer drug.
“These my friend, are the future. They will lead mankind into a realm they never knew existed. Guess what. I’m selling these precious babies.”
My lips remained tightly closed. I don’t do drugs.
“A hundred bucks. Final offer.”
I shook my head, and got up hurriedly, eager to get away from this creepy person selling orange pills. Only later would I realise that the bartender and the drunk guy at the back were missing.
Speeding down the highway. Windows rolled down. Not a care for anything in the world. I felt alone. I was alone. The darkness accentuated by the dim orange glow of the streetlights ascertained the feeling. I did not care, for the feeling was exhilarating.
That all came to an abrupt end.
Smoke had begun to escape from the hood of my car. I got out after stopping in the middle of the road, popped the hood and cringed at the acrid smell. It just had to break down now didn’t it. Thank you universe for putting me in these kind of situations. I closed the hood in disappointment. There was not even a gas station in sight. What was I supposed to do? As I slowly looked around I realised the gravity of my situation. Ahead of me lay a seemingly never ending path of tarmac. Behind me; the same thing. However the long stretch of road was not what scared me, for at least I knew instinctively that these roads had a destination. Rather it was the barren wastelands to my sides that deeply unsettled me. What is it people really fear? Why is it when people look in the dark they become frightened? There’s nothing there right? No, it’s because of what could be there. The unknown is the root of all fears, and right now it was rooting me to the spot, cold sweat causing a shiver to run down my spine. I glanced around again. I could follow the highway but then who’d know how long I’d take.
The eerie night wind caressed me as I looked up into the sky. It was too cold. Hunching my body, and pulling my coat tight over my body to conserve heat, I exhaled softly. My lips were shaking. Not from the cold. It was the night, the desolate place, and the realization that I might not make it.
That’s when I saw it, a dim light floating in the distance flashing on and off across the desert like wasteland. A reckless abandon took over me, if there was even a sliver of chance I’d find people here I would jump at it. Jump at it I did. I grabbed my red backpack from the car; I didn’t want to leave it behind for it contained things precious to me. Without a single preamble I set out into the darkness.
Traversing the deserted land was not as easy as I first thought. It was way past midnight and I was extremely tired, the fatigue was getting to my legs. The darkness did not help in anyway and I could not help imagining ferocious monsters just biding their time in the cover of the dark, waiting for me to weaken. I collapsed on a rock, breathing hard from the physical exertion. The reckless feelings had passed, I looked around more scared than ever. I wanted to get the night over with quickly.
Searing pain ran through my head, and I winced clutching my head. It was throbbing painfully, as if a thousand needles were pushing against it trying to break through. I clenched my teeth until white spots gathered in my eyes, and then all of a sudden, everything went quiet. This was just horrible, I decided to return back to the car and just wait until a car passes by. Then they could take me to… I froze. A cold feeling swept over me. Impossible. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. Panic was overtaking rational thought. I ran. Hurtling through the brambles.
My foot caught on a branch.
I let out a shriek.
Head was throbbing again. My eyes slowly blinked open. I was in some sort of ditch. Groggily, I sat up and swept some hair out of my eyes. Disturbing sounds were coming from just in front of me. It sounded almost like a person smashing a hammer against a coconut. Luckily I was hidden from view thanks to the long hedges. I slowly crept up to the hedge and peeped through the openings. What I saw next I wish I hadn’t. Two masked men were standing over a dead body. Blood was splattered everywhere. Despite this one of the men was continuously beating the person’s head in with as shovel. Over and over again. The other person just watched, drinking his alcohol. I took an involuntary step back and accidentally stepped on bunch of dead leaves. I froze and my eyes widened. Shit.
The burly one straightened his tie and raised his hand, signalling his partner to silence. A flash of red caught his attention, and his eyes now narrowed to the hedge near to them. With a vicious leer upon his face, he signaled his partner to confirm and terminate. As the man cautiously approached the bramble of leaves, I did the opposite; throwing all caution to the wind I burst out of my hiding place, knocked him over and sprinted towards the dim light I had seen a while ago hoping against all odds that there would be people there.
If I could make it that is.
Gunshots echoed in the din. I yelled out in surprise tumbling to the floor. Getting up I continued onwards running completely on adrenalin.
The two men watched from a distance as the guy with the red backpack disappeared into the distance. They looked at each other and smiled. Getting into their truck, they leisurely began stalking their new prey. Prey that was heading straight into their web.
Thank god! It was a small town, the light I had seen was from a signpost that was blinking on and off. Once again, just like the previous town, it seemed completely deserted. Except for, and trust me I could not believe my luck, a mechanic’s garage. There was a man working on a blue truck, I ran towards him waving frantically, who knew when the two behind me would catch up. Something made me uncomfortable however. The man looked awfully familiar. He turned around. I stopped dead in my tracks. Red shades…
A truck’s engine roared close by. Whipping around I saw the two men get out of their truck, a shovel and a pistol in hand. They saw me, and began walking slowly, as if they had all the time in the world. I gulped, no choice. Mr. Red Shades will have to do. I turned around quickly intending to make beeline towards him only to find him once again, spitting distance away from my face.
“You again… interested in the orange pills?”
I looked at him incredulously, did he not notice the two behind me, if not their weapons at least their bloodlust?! I pointed at the two behind me, my crazy expression telling him all he should need. The barrel of the guns we’d be staring down should do the rest.
“Oh you’ve met my acquaintances? You never did greet them at the last bar.”
Wait what. He raised a steel bar. A vicious glint in his eye.
Falling to the ground in sheer pain.
Hoo-ah! I exhaled deeply as I woke up; it had all been a bad dream. After catching my breath I stood up and took in my room. It had never seemed so perfect. So… safe. My cat Whiskers leapt on to me and we fell on my bed laughing. I made a bit of breakfast and took out the newspaper. The front page news was about a missing persons case, disappeared in some small town. Didn’t really read it, wasn’t that interested. I looked at my cat and found him scrambling through my bag. One of his most irritating habits is to mess up whatever I own with his sharp claws. Rolling my eyes, I picked him up and tossed him on the sofa. I was about to turn back to my breakfast when I did a double take, on closer inspection, my bag was caked with dirt. Waves of uneasiness flowed through me. I looked inside and saw what the cat was clawing at. Something star shaped and bright orange. Reeling back, suddenly feeling sick, I looked at my cat again. He seemed lost, and was walking back and forth as if he did not know where he wanted to go.