Short Story

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The story continues.

Pages 6-7

He approached the cloverleaf on-ramp of the highway to head west. He slowed his car and crawled to a stop.  Two cars blocked the ramp and he couldn’t see a clear way for him to get through.  He looked around in all directions to see if he spotted any movement. When he was comfortable it was safe, he got out and ran to one of the cars.

He opened the door to the first car and the stench of death, urine, and feces hit him like a ton of bricks. The woman in the driver’s seat—at least he thought it was a woman based on her clothing—had only a stump where her head should be.  He pulled her out of the car and let her body slump to the ground with an audible thump.  His stomach suddenly churned, and he ran to the side of the road to vomit.  Tears streamed down his face, while spit and chunks of partially-digested food clung to his chin.

Relieved, he ran back to the car and moved it out of the way.  With the path cleared, he got back in his own, and continued on his way.  He collided with a car as he made his way through.  The damage appeared only cosmetic, though.

The sun steadily fell behind the mountains and soon it would be dark.  He knew his job would be more difficult once the sun disappeared.  Travel was difficult, and he found himself off the road more than on it, but so far the issue at the on-ramp had been a singular event. However, he still barely crawled along at a speed in the mid to upper twenties.  It felt painful to Mike, and he didn’t know how long he could handle the kiddie music.  Although he thought it better than his own demons trying to overtake the thoughts in his head.

He drove onto the shoulder to maneuver around a car a little bit too fast.  He hit a patch of muddy ground and lost control.  He over-steered when he tried to correct, driving over a corpse lying on the highway, and slamming into the rear of a van. His head went through the door window from the force of the collision and cut his head.  The force of the impact knocked him unconscious.

Back on the Road

He awoke to a painful headache and a broken vehicle.  He struggled out of the SUV and walked around to the destroyed front end. He got down on his hands and knees only to find out the radiator had a hole.  Fluid leaked everywhere and Mike knew he wouldn’t be able to drive any further.  He had to make his way west of Waterton Canyon, and it would be too far to walk.  Fortunately, he cars in running condition surrounded him; the interiors were a different story.

He needed an SUV or truck considering the state of the road, and he looked around to find a suitable replacement.  He spotted a newe,r black SUV a few cars up, and made his way over to it.  It had been lifted with oversized tires, suiting his needs perfectly.  He opened the door, surprised to find it empty and the keys still in the ignition.  What luck, he thought.

He ran back, grabbing his duffle bag from his no longer useful vehicle before commandeering the new SUV.  As he expected, it started as soon as he turned the key.  Just like that, he was back on the road, not that the highway was any easier to traverse.  He liked the new SUV; it was quite comfortable. He settled in and turned on his high beams to see the road better now that the sun had gone down.  It struck him as funny, normally he would never drive with his high beams on like this, but what did it matter now.

He only made it about 5 miles in the hour that ensued.  The crowded roads and pitch blackness of night made it more difficult to drive, and he paid the price.  He caught a yellow flashing light next to his speedometer; it was the low fuel light.  In his haste to be back on his way, he neglected to check the fuel gauge before he embarked.  Out of frustration, he pounded his fist on the dashboard.  What were the odds he would pick one a car with low fuel.  Now he would have to find another one.

His stomach started to growl, a reminder he needed to eat.  He hadn’t had a thing since last night and his stomach reminded him of his hunger.  He decided to take the next exit and find a gas station.  Without power, he wouldn’t be able to get any gas, but he hoped he could grab some food and find another car in the parking lot.

Even with his high beams on, the darkness made it difficult to see as he drove down the off-ramp.  Fortunately, he often stopped at this gas station on his way into work and knew it wouldn’t be a problem to make his way to it.

He kept his eyes on alert, and searched the vicinity as he made his way to the gas station to make sure he didn’t see any movement.  He hadn’t seen any of them since earlier in the day, and hoped they had moved on, but you could never be too certain so he examined the empty fields.

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