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You could say that it was "one of those nights".
Grey clouds outlined against pale moonlight of the cold, foreboding sky, a light, shrill wind in the air. Dark as all hell. Typical of stormy autumn weather, I guess, getting unpleasant and eerie. I lived in a very small town, a long way away from Tulsa, and there was nothing of any real entertainment. Not even a damned park, an Applebee's off the road in a once-vacant field, but the food sucked there. I never could stomach it. Instead, I'd always drive out on the road through the prairie, empty and isolated, to a roadside biker's bar about half an hour away. It seems dumb to go all that way for booze, I know, but you gotta understand that my hometown is really, really isolated. Maybe ten people live there in total. On the weekends I'd head out and grab a drink or two, or three, and head back home. This Friday night was gonna be just that, a short night of drinking and chilling with middle-aged men long past their prime, mid-life crises resolved through prayers to Harley and Davidson.
Nothing eventful happened. A small altercation over supposed tabs I owed, but it was resolved quickly, and around 3 AM. I was ready to head back home. It was the dark night I described earlier; clouds choked the moonlight out, and the whole prairie surrounding the bar and the lonely road seemed so empty. A coyote's howl in the distance was all that reminded you that there was still life out there. After loading up the back seat with my things, I hoped to hurry back home before a storm hit. I never liked driving at night. I set out of the long-vacant parking lot of the biker bar, careful not to bump the bike that sat on the bar's outside bike rack. On the road I went. On the road again.
Johnny Cash and the static of the radio kept my mind occupied; at least 15 minutes passed as I trailed that straight, lonely road. About 3:20 AM I was fairly close to home. But then, something I wasn't used to happened. Another car was behind me, seemingly picking up speed. In the dark I couldn't tell what the car was... Not a cop car, at least. I know I wasn't speeding. But they were. They caught up to me quickly from further back down the road clearly, since I hadn't seen the headlights even in the distance. Or maybe I did and didn't notice?
I don't know. I watch a lot of crime shows. I've heard of what can happen on these lonely roads, when strange cars tail you. I passed it off as nothing though. Some Merle Haggard came over the radio after a snazzy quip from the radio jockey, and I turned it up, soon ignoring the car behind me. It was then that they started flashing their headlights. High-beams, low-beams, off, on. Flooding the interior of my car with a swathe of light. I wasn't adjusted to this much brightness when it was so dark, and did my best to cover my eyes. What the hell did this guy want? I stuck my middle finger up over the back of my seat, keeping it there when he flashed the lights. Probably some drunk teenagers trying to fuck with a stranger out on the road, right? That's all it was.
They didn't stop. Minutes passed. The lights would periodically flash and flicker into my cab. I was getting sick of it by now, but something told me not to stop. I didn't want to stop, not out here all alone. I blew my horn at him but it didn't seem to faze him, and he just kept doing it. I ignored it further. Anger built up, frustrated anger, but... also anxiety. Tenseness. Something wasn't right. Why else was this guy following me and doing this? Just then, I could hear a low rumbling over the radio. The sound of an old, disrepaired car accelerating harder than it should. I looked to my left and saw the other car soon pull up beside me, going well over the speed limit. I could make out a face in the tinted window, the silhouette of one, but it was too dark. Way too dark. He kept up the pace with me, and by now all sorts of paranoia was flooding my mind. Did he have a gun? Was this one of those sick gang initiations? I read about this. Flashing your beams and following a car out in the middle of nowhere, pulling up to fire on them from the side of the window, or ram them off the road.
Instinctively I slammed it, floored the pedal and sped up down the highway. I was confident my Chevy pickup could outrun whatever jalopy he was in. It sounded too old to keep up for long. I sputtered down the road, and though he couldn't keep up to the side of me, he accelerated to his limit behind me, tailing me closely, lights flashing relentlessly as we peeled down the highway. Neck and neck. I knew he wasn't giving up, and I knew this wasn't ending well, not for me and not for whoever this maniac was. My heart was pounding. I kept glancing in the rear view as he flashed his lights over and over again. I blew my horn constantly, I swerved in the road, but he kept up the pace. I couldn't face him out here. Or them. What if there were multiple freaks after me? Sweat drenched my forehead and neck. I tried to focus as hard as I could on the road, gripping the steering wheel so tight I feared I'd snap it.
After it seemed like we'd sailed through an eternally black void for a lifetime, I finally saw the road sign for my small town up ahead. No one was up, most of the house lights were out, street lights dotting a few corners of the street. I ripped into town with the psycho in hot pursuit. I almost spun out as I drifted into my gravel driveway off the road, leading down to my pretty modest house. Gravel kicked up and dust choked the air, our mutual headlights beaming through it like swords in a mass of shadow. I reached under my passenger seat and pulled out my tire iron, my trusty old tire iron. If this son of a bitch wanted a fight, I wasn't going down easy.
Sick of being harassed and in terror, I half-kicked my door open and got out, brandishing the iron. "What the HELL do you want? Quit playing this fucking game and fight me like a man!" I shouted in pure rage. I was no bodybuilder, but I was a big guy, and hoped the iron made me look more intimidating than I may have been.
The response was... completely unexpected. "Wait! Listen to me!" a fairly weak and almost timid voice called out. A short man, older than me, stepped out of the car, hands in the air. "I was trying to get your attention!" he called, sweating profusely and looking to my truck in panic.
"What? My attention?" I questioned. I wasn't letting my guard down, not for one second.
"My horn, it doesn't work. I was trying to make you stop... There's a man in your backseat. He kept sitting up, I saw his shadow through the rear window. I guess my lights scared him back down. I was only trying to warn you," he called, picking up his pace in walking towards me, pointing to the side door of my truck.
"Are you serious?" I asked him, dumbfounded. "Open it up, show me." I wouldn't turn my back to him, I couldn't risk it.
The man shook his head, seemingly too scared, but I motioned my tire iron to it. Not so much to intimidate him, but to remind him I was there. I'd have his back. He walked quickly to the door and opened it, hands shaking. As the dust began to clear, I could see it. Tied with old, ragged rope in an off-white bed sheet, a humanoid figure writhing in the backseat. Dark, dried blood caked the back and front of where his head seemed to be underneath the confined sheet, like he was some kind of sick larva. His mouth, his facial features, they were pressed into the fabric. It was as if he were trying to scream for help, but couldn't. The man had been trying to warn me about him, and he seemed shocked at what he found.
"What the-" he began to question in absolute confusion, not certain of what he was looking at, but he was silenced, his inquiry reduced to a very short gurgle.
My tire iron cracked the back of his head. A resounding snap reassured me that the skull was broken. My swings were tough, and this time I made sure I focused and made it count. No more risks or chances. The stranger fell a lifeless corpse, a trickle of blood dribbling from my tire iron. The night was silent now, save for the purr of our vehicles' motors. I dragged the wrapped man out from the back seat and struck him in the skull repeatedly before hurling him back inside, piling the strange body on top of him and shutting the door. I turned off those annoying headlights and rolled his car off to the side of the main road, even found an old "For Sale" sign in a neighbor's garbage bin which I taped onto his windshield. It looked like some old piece of junk left by a hopeful seller and nothing more. I shut the side door and got back into my cab, the static of the radio and Merle Haggard, Mama Tried, once again filling my mind as I pulled out of my driveway and off down a dirt road behind my house, a century-old logging trail which led up to the abandoned mine in the hills.
I didn't intend for this to happen, really, but like they say, it was just one of those nights.
Written by Superbattletoads64