Police cruiser headlights

Sheriff Riley slowed his police cruiser to a stop on the side of the empty road. The night was dark – stars twinkling in the black autumn sky above allowed for a little bit of visibility, but Riley couldn’t see much beyond the reach of his vehicle’s headlights. A wall of pine trees lined both sides of the street; behind those stretched miles of wild forest. He had received a call over his radio regarding a disturbance at Rider’s Lookout, a scenic observation point located in the foothills mostly frequented by teenagers in need of a private place to fondle each other.

The sheriff leaned forward in his seat and peered over his steering wheel. Something moving in the shadows had caught his attention. It was the figure of a teenage girl. Her body hobbled towards the car like an undead creature wandering an apocalyptic landscape, on the hunt for human brains. Riley was able to see the girl more clearly once she stumbled all the way into the glow of his car’s headlamps.

She was wearing a tattered purple dress. A matching clutch dangled haphazardly in her hand, swaying to and fro with each tired, haggard step she took. The girl had no shoes on – her feet were caked in a layer of mud. Her auburn colored hair hung in a disheveled, tousled mess. Riley unfastened his seatbelt and stepped gingerly out of the car.

“Hey there,” he called out. “You ok?”

The girl wobbled over to the sheriff, collapsing in his arms when she got near. He propped her up against the hood of his car and shined his flashlight in her eyes to check if she was responsive.

“Girl? I asked if you were ok. You ain’t been drinking, have you?”

“N-no sir.”

Riley squinted. Dozens of deep cavernous lines bunched up around his eyes, as he studied the girl’s face.

“Wait! I know you. You’re the Wilson’s girl, ain’t ya? Bella, right? What happened?

“Please, sheriff, you need to help me,” cried the girl. Tears were welling up in her eyes, but Riley could see that she was starting to come out of whatever fog her mind had been drifting in. “He’s still out there.”

“Who’s out there, girl? You ain’t making much sense.”

“The psycho! He got Buck.”

The sheriff placed a hand on the rambling girl’s shoulder in an attempt to calm her down. “Ok, hang on a minute. Who’s Buck?”

“Buck! My boyfriend! He was my date to the homecoming dance tonight,” Bella started to sob, but continued speaking between sniffles. “After the dance we drove up to Rider’s Lookout. We were… we were…”

“You can spare me the details, darling.” Riley pulled a hanky out of his pocket and dabbed at the girl’s tear stained cheeks.

“Right. Well, we heard something outside the car so Buck went to see what it was. And there was a m-m-man out there! A maniac in a mask! Buck didn’t see him until it was too late! The psycho had a huge knife – like a machete or something!” The girl began to break down and started bawling again. “Poor Buck!”

Sheriff Riley put his arm around the inconsolable girl. “There, there. It’s ok. So you’re the one that called the police, Bella?”

“Uh-huh. After he was finished with Buck the psychopath came after me. He chased me through the woods. Oh, sheriff, I was sure I was gonna die. He caught me and pinned me to the ground, but I managed to get ahold of his knife. That’s when I stabbed him in the foot. It startled him just long enough for me to get loose.”

“You stabbed him in the foot!?”

“Yes, sir,” the crying girl spluttered out. “Think it hurt him too ‘cause he was limping pretty bad after that. He couldn’t catch up to me.”

Riley stepped back and scratched at the whiskers on his chin.

“You mean to tell me some kinda knife wielding psychopath chopped up your boyfriend at Rider’s Lookout?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And he was coming after you, but you were able to stab him in the foot and get away?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And that he’s been limping after you through the woods ever since?

“Please!” begged the girl. “Please take me home! We need to get out of here!”

“Of course, darling,” responded the sheriff. “You’re safe now. Why don’t you hop in my car and I’ll drive you back to town where I can call your parents?” Sheriff Riley helped Bella into the back seat of his police cruiser. “You done good, girl. Stabbed him the foot, eh? Who knew you were such a resourceful young lady.”

He flashed an approving smile to the girl as he closed the door of his patrol car, securing her inside of it. Bella watched out the window while the sheriff limped around the vehicle to the driver’s side door.

Credited to Vincent Vena Cava