Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Death of a Betsy...

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by Indie Ink. New contestants: Twisted; New feedback and comments: Terrific; Not meeting deadlines: Terrible. For everything else, there's me.

Welcome to Week 15.

Week 15.
My Challenger: Kat
My Challenge: Your car breaks down on a deserted road....
Who I am Challenging: Tara Roberts
What I Challenged Them With: Danger, intrigue, and romance...

The Death of a Betsy...

They never tell you about this kind of darkness, do they? Under the new moon (Whoever dreamed up that stupid term, anyway? Saying NO MOON was too simple and straight forward?) with only the pinpricks of light blinking, winking through the trees. No houses, no street lights...

I would call it "utter," but the blasted stars leave just enough to make every shadow a monster with gleaming fangs, every rotted stump a crouched predator of unimaginable cunning and stealth.

Yes, this is the darkness your parents shielded you from with your Disney Princess Ariel nightlight. This is the murky deep shade of gray that never quite descended as long as the neighbors left their outside lights on all night, every night, even as your father groused how nice it must be to never have to worry about the electric bill. This was the chilly, dank, foggy night where horror stories found root, where urban legends became reality, and where even Stephen King would piss his pants.

Somehow imagining the king of horror looking for those Depends he bought at Sam's Club in the backseat makes me feel slightly better.

I stare over at Betsy, the hunk of junk "car" (if such a term could still be used to describe her) that decided to commit suicide this evening on this deserted stretch of road, miles from service stations, street lights, and cell phone reception. Miles from light, miles from life.

Unimaginably dark miles.

"This could never happen with a hover car," I grumble out loud, if for nothing more than the comforting sound of a human voice, even if it was my own. And then I regret the decision, knowing that even now, the People of the Woods have heard my grousing and are zeroing in on my position, ready to torture me as they string me up by chains in their deserted and broken-down barns, grinning their evil cavity-infested yellowed grins, swigging moonshine from a bottle that hasn't been new since the late 1700s. They would raise their farming instruments high over their heads while laughing maniacally, having not had fresh human meat in months to feed their cannibalistic appetites. Torches would be involved, I'm quite sure of that. As they marched me through the woods, using an old cattle yolk to bind me, I'd trip over the bones of their more recent victims, the skulls who until recently had been seen grinning back at me from the back of my milk carton, flesh now having been consumed...

A noise!

I crouch deeper within myself, scoot slightly higher on the moss covered rock, eyes trying to divine the malevolent presence...

A bat pirouettes above. An owl questions it's own existence. The wind whispers of the happier places it's been, of it's depression at ending up here.

I allow my muscles to relax. I can't be the only person who uses this road, right? Why else would it have been built? Unless it's one of those "pork barrel spending" things I've heard so much about on the radio of the dead Betsy just hours earlier...

"Great. I'm gonna die because my government built a road it didn't need with money it didn't have because a car that was made overseas and not here in the U.S. decided to die."

I've got to stop this "talking out loud" thing...

Mountain lions. They were on the news as well. Something about a jogger in a California park having been mauled to death in a suburb of Fresno or something.

And this wasn't Fresno. So, of course there would be even more mountain lions here, yes?

Scooting higher on the rock once more, I await my fate as they crouch behind that stump, that tree, behind that boulder across the way. Or--no, they'd use Betsy as cover, slowly creeping up along her far side to within feet of my exposed flesh, smelling my fear, my sweat, my raw human aura radiating out the stench of blood and death. Her cubs would be mewling in their not-too-far-away cave, and she would see me as easy prey, my plump American obesity a rare delicacy in these remote parts of possum and raccoon land. Her low, deep growl would be the only warning I'd get before she pounced, her teeth clamping tightly around my neck, her claws slicing swathes of flesh from bone, my blood spilling out onto the asphalt...

"SHUT UP!" I command my brain.

"Goddamn car," I then mutter.

And then a beam of light cuts through the trees. Yes--yes! The hum of a motor! A CAR! A human! Rescue! Suddenly I'm Gilligan, knowing that this time I will be rescued, this time I will get home!

As the lights begin to brighten slowly, though, I remember all those stories, of how hitchhiking gets you killed. They pretend to be friendly, invite you to put your bag in the back, take a seat, what's your name, where you from? Before you know it, you're spilling your sob story. As you are trapped in a torrent of feelings, you have no clue where he's driving you toward, or away from. No idea who they are, what they do, why they are out on this deserted stretch of road at three a.m.! Then you realize the door handle is missing from your side of the car, that the window on your side won't go down. You see the gun on his lap aimed straight at you, and the evilness of his soul is bared as he stares at you and begins to tell you of how he will ravage your body, how you will never see your family or loved ones again, how you are the newest prisoner in a long line of pretty young things he keeps locked up in his momma's basement and how much you'll love being his newest pet and how the others will show me the ropes and how to behave...

I almost climb back into the shadows of the trees.


My head whips around. "Dad? Dad!"

"We've been looking for you for hours! What happened?"

I jerk my thumb toward Betsy. "She finally died, Dad."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I guess this means we'll be out here tomorrow, getting her towed."

"I'm so glad to see you!"

"Well, it wasn't like you not to call, so I knew you must've been out here somewhere with old reliable," he said, jerking his own thumb in Betsy's direction. "I hate to say, it ain't the first time, but it will be the last. What kind of dad would I be, letting you get deserted half a dozen times?"

I hop into his beat-up truck, with what I'm sure is the biggest grin I've ever had the pleasure of sharing. "Thanks, Dad!"

Previous Challenges I have answered:


Debra Ann Elliott said...

On the edge of my seat!

Head Ant said...

I've broken down many times; but thankfully never in a place like that!

Tara R. said...

Oooh... I got that scary movie feeling. I won't be driving in the dark for a while.