Note: I am not really sure about this story but decided to post it anyway. Criticism needed!
I didn’t know how it happened. I swear, I hadn’t meant for her to die. It was an accident.
I climbed into my car, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to drive. I had to keep driving until the events of this night washed off me, faded into oblivion. Until time reversed itself.
The night had been going smoothly. Sarah and I, best friends forever. We were dressed to go out; high heels and skimpy outfits, lots of makeup and our hair done prettily. This was our Saturday night routine. It felt absolutely amazing, being out there on our own; flirting and drinking and taking in the freedom. Knowing we were sexy and loved. There was sort of power in that.
But things changed that night. I don’t know how. Maybe we got too much to drink, maybe we fell into something horribly wrong. Raspberry schnapps and handsome men. It could be a tonic but it could also be a real curse. Trust me on that.
Before I knew it we were playing a game. It was a weird sort of game. One of those drunk games you play when you’re half out of your senses and everything seems like a good idea. It involved huge makeshift sticks out of broken table legs and a large punching bag we found. We laughed too much and fell too short of our targets. But somehow, my shot hit my best friend and she collapsed into a pool of blood, a deep gash oozing the sticky red liquid down her neck.
I didn’t know my arms had that sort of power. I swear. I hadn’t meant for her to die.
But I had to get out of there. So I drove. I drove and drove until I didn’t know where I was anymore.
It was a pretty summer night but I was thinking about the police. Would they be there yet? Had the guys stayed back or had they taken off as well? Was Sarah dead? Could she be alive?
It made no sense to go back. I decided to keep driving until it was morning and they found me. Somebody would. Then the story would be in the papers. Drunk night games and crazy chicks who thought they could rule the world. Parents would shake their heads. Shameful.
I was finding it hard to breathe. I stopped the car under a tree just off the highway. Sat there and stared at the full moon. A homeless guy and his trolley were parked a few feet away. He was asleep, his hair coiled thick and long past his shoulders, matted with dirt and highway dust. A cat purred at his feet. I took him all in, still thinking about the pool of blood. Then it got too much.
I leaned out the window and retched out an evening’s worth of alcoholic intake. I hadn’t eaten for a really long time. I decided to keep driving.
Hit the gears in reverse, backed out. Then accelerated ahead once more. The moon shone brighter than ever but the highway lights were out.
Where was I going? Shouldn’t I turn back and see if she’s alive?
I passed another homeless guy. It was sort of weird, the way they seemed to live on the side of the roads.
I saw a trailer parked half a mile into the desert beyond. A campfire. Maybe I could go there. Curl up and die.
My car kept eating up the miles. I didn’t know how much gas I had. I passed a gas station. Maybe I should just turn around.
When I passed a homeless guy for the third time, that’s when it got weird. There was a pool of vomit close by and a cat at his feet. Had I gone full circle? But I hadn’t taken any turns. I was on a straight road.
I shook my head clear and kept driving. There was another gas station. I slowed down and tried to turn in, then saw the road ended, just short of the pump and gave way to a huge trench. Uncertain, I reversed my Saab again and kept driving straight.
I could see Sarah’s laughing face in my head now, the sound of her cackle ringing uncannily in my ears.
The sky was turning pink in the distant horizon now. But there was the homeless guy again. I started to sweat, peeped down at my fuel gauge. It was still close to FULL.
I sighed. Think. What’s happening? Are you driving in full circles?
The tenth time I finally decided to wake up the old man. Or his cat. Someone.
I parked the car as close to him as I dared and walked closer, taking tentative steps.
‘Hello?’ I said softly. There was no reply. The cat at his feet did not stir either.
‘Hello?’, I was louder this time but the silence was starting to scare me. I dared myself to go further, to put my hand out and reach out to give this man a gentle nudge.
When I touched him, his skin collapsed under my fingers, his mouth opened wide and worms started to creep out; large, black and uncountable.
I screamed and turned, ran to my car and jumped in, turning up the window. The cat and the trolley stayed put but the homeless man had turned into a pile of dust, large worms pouring out by the dozen. I raced ahead.
I was really creeped out now. The road was deserted.
I did not have the nerve to go to the trailer parked half a mile inland. I couldn’t do it.
I stopped, shaking uncontrollably. It was all getting to me. The beautiful morning, my dead best friend and this weird nightmare. I hoped it was a nightmare and I could wake up. I had to do something.
It struck me to try the gas station. I left my car on the highway and walked climbed into the trench, climbed up the other side.
There was a payphone here. Feeling grateful, I popped a coin in and dialed the first number I could think of. A friend.
There was a tone but when I dialed, the line went blank.
No, no, no. I thought, desperately on the verge of tears. The phone has to work. I popped in another coin.
The same thing again.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I was starting to tear up, staring around the station, looking for a clue. Something.
But there was nothing. Driving ahead was my only bet. I was tired though and could use a rest. I saw the toilets and headed that way. I needed to think. I needed to curl up and sleep off this nightmare.
I entered the restroom, found a stall and did my thing. I came out and walked to the sink but then stopped short. The mirror. It was broken but I could clearly see through it. Like a movie of my life.
My childhood. School days and homework, gym, art, drama. The games and the boys, the short dresses and the beach. Long parties, coming home late. Sarah and all the rest of them. Work and office and my parents. Hitting the clubs, drunken games.
And then last night. It was a battered movie playing on a broken screen but it was there. A hazy room. Laughter and boys. Drinks and shots. And the game. I watched in horror as the stick in my hand came down on her with a dull thud. I was backing away now. But the screen still showed me. Running away like a coward. Driving and driving. The homeless man. The never-ending highway. The payphone. And the restroom.
I finally materialized in the looking glass, wide-eyed, bloodshot and scared. I stared, transfixed. Unmoving. Watched a black hand reach out.
No, please no. I thought. But I was too paralyzed to speak, too paralyzed to move. I’m a good person, I thought. But it wasn’t going to be enough, was it? I realized as hands as black as death began to encircle my neck. No.
The next day: Sarah struggled to her feet, feeling groggy. The blow had hurt her but thankfully, paramedics had been called in on time. She was worried about her friend though? Where was she?
She turned on the TV, flicked channels until she found the news and gasped in horror. It showed a dead figure, sprawled on the floor of a public restroom. The line below read: Dead Highwway Girl, No Clues Leading Up to Mystery Death.