One Stop, Part 2

If you haven’t already, please read Part 1 posted yesterday. Now back to our story…

John slammed on the brakes. His phone slid from his grip as easily as the tires slid on the wet asphalt. The car shuddered across the grooved road edge meant to alert you of drifting. The break peddle fighting back against a foot almost too terrified to maintain pressure. The BMW came to an abrupt stop off the side of the road. Whether because of the brakes or some barrier, he didn’t care. John wanted out of the car.

The doors locked.

The hulking figured shifted in its seat, seemingly calm and unhurried. He didn’t want to see. This irrational fear overtook him, and he knew he shouldn’t look at the thing in the seat next to him.  If he did, it would be the end. He needed out. He needed t unlock the doors.

Something clamped down on his wrist before he even moved. A gloved hand gripped him tight. The glove was torn and coming apart, exposing two muddy and gnarled fingers. As lightning fast as the grip was, the turning figure didn’t speed up.

When they were finally face to face, John was incredibly grateful that the interior lights weren’t on. He stared into a darkened hood. The engine cut out and they were left with the sound of the rain thrumming on the roof and the thin tinny voice of Luke coming from the phone on the floor of the car.

“Please,” John pleaded. “I don’t have much, but you can take whatever you like.”

When there was no response, he added, “I have a family.”

A sigh came from deep within the hood. No. Not a sigh. It was more like a weak breeze escaping a long-abandoned mine shaft, tinged with the smell of mold and rot.

He didn’t realize that Luke’s voice acted like an anchor until the click of it disconnecting severed it and sent him adrift. Something in him broke. He drew in a stuttering breath to ask, “Why?”

“To give you a choice.”

It was barely more than a whisper, but each word bore its way into John’s skull.

John repeated his question.

This time the thing pointed with its other hand to the phone on the floor. It turned on by itself, and Kari’s voice filled the car.

John?”

“Kari! I’m in trouble! I–”

“John, as soon as you get this please call me back.”

A message. He want to break down, but he listened. It might be the last time he heard her voice.

“It’s time, I think. About every ten minutes. Oh, God. OOOOWWWWW-OW-OW-OW. Oh, John. Please get home!”

“Kari!”

The phone cut off again.

“Please. She needs me.”

“So does Luke.”

John came up short. “What? What did you do to him?”

“His past is catching up. The man in the bar. He is out there. Looking for him. He will find him. If you don’t first.”

The phone turned on again.

“John, you dick!”

This time it was Luke.

“I think I see you’re tail lights. Thanks for coming back, jerk. Too proud to turn around? Fuck it. I’ll run.”

The phone clicked off. This time John looked into the hood, tried to see a face.

“Why are you doing this?”

“You get one more stop. Choose. One stop. Who do you choose?”

His mind raced between thoughts. Kari needed him. Luke needed him. Maybe if he got Luke first, they could overpower this thing.

But would that leave him enough time to get to Kari?

As if sensing his thought, the hooded figure chuckled.

“I leave when you stop. Choose right. You might survive.”

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