Categories > Original > Horror > The Road Trip

Part 4: Eyrie

by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

deserted streets...

Category: Horror - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2008-10-27 - Updated: 2008-10-27 - 1456 words - Complete

Even in the fog, we saw the lights of Eyrie from a couple miles away. I wasn’t sure just what to expect, my mind kept conjuring up every small town from every horror story I knew. The mist seemed to thin out as we drew nearer, and at least I was glad for the increased visibility.

As we rolled into town, I also counted our blessings in that we still had a little gas left. I didn’t want to set foot in this place, let alone be as vulnerable as we would have been walking.

Still, both of us were acting nonchalant about the whole thing, and the first thing Mark said upon looking at the dark, empty streets was, “Bet everything closed at five.”

“Yeah.” It was indeed a quiet little desert town, not much different than all the others we had driven through in the last day or so. Aside from the vibe. It was more than just the unnatural fog, there was something amiss about this place, and the more we tried to ignore it, the more it seemed to press in around us.

In small towns, gas stations are not hard to find; all we had to do was stay on Highway 40.

“Okay…” I remember saying, “we just fill up, and get directions to the nearest police station.” I think I knew then how a wanted man felt turning himself in, since this was effectively what I was about to do to myself.

“Alright,” Mark replied. I don’t think he had any other ideas.

So we both stepped out, Mark walking over to the gas pump, I to the vending machine near the entrance. Of course keeping one another in plain sight. I fished out several quarters, just to discover that I would only need one.

“Hey Mark!” I said, “Check this out! Glass bottles! And for a quarter!”

“What kind?” Mark asked me.

I paused and looked down at the labels. The machine was big, blocky, and red… but I had never heard of Cam’s Cola. “I don’t know. Sounds like some local brand.” Though in my mind, there was nothing “local” about the sound of that name. Like all of the others we had encountered, if just sounded like it didn’t belong. “Have you ever heard of something called Cam’s Cola?”

He actually left the gas pump plugged into our tank when he rushed over to see this.

Previously, we had been acting pretty cavalier about this place, but as he stood next to me then, I began to realize that it was entirely too silent here, even for a small town after midnight. There was the hum of the lights, and the little clinking noises of the Woody’s engine cooling off, but that was it. No traffic, no air conditioners or fans, not even a whistle of desert breeze.

I took a deep breath, then plunked a quarter in experimentally. I pushed the button for cola, and it dropped a bottle into the opening. I had to use my keys to pop the lid open, but it was good cola. Damn good cola.

“Holy crap!” I remarked, a testimonial no Cam’s Cola representative would ever hear: “This stuff tastes even better than the brand name pop!”

Mark took a sip, then put in a quarter and got a root beer.

While he filled up the tank, I pushed open the door of the gas station, keeping the front window in clear sight. I was both surprised at the door being unlocked, yet somehow also expecting it. I told myself that while this may be a one-horse town, they probably still gets a lot of late-night travelers at the service station.

“Excuse me,” I said, “can you tell me where the…”

I trailed off as I realized I was talking to no one; I was paying so much attention to not letting Mark out of my sights, I had failed to notice the room was empty. There was something about that that just didn’t satisfy my sense of reason, that made me like this place even less. I felt the distinct urge to go looking in the back, to prove that the station clerk was just out back taking a whiz or something…

But I decided that I wasn’t about to let us get separated that easily. That was always how it happened in horror movies, and I wasn’t about to play the part of The Guy Who Gets Killed First.

Instead I called out, “Hello! Anybody home?… We just bought some gas and need to pay for it…”

My voice trailed off at that point, and I wondered if I even should have opened my mouth at all. I remember feeling as if I had just summoned something, and didn’t want to stick around to see what. I tried to tell myself that it was just nerves, but I found myself walking back to the door more briskly than I meant to. Outside, Mark was just screwing the gas cap back on as I stepped out. He looked up and asked, “So, did they say where it is?”

At first I couldn’t answer him. I felt too lightheaded. I refused to pause, even outside, I just kept walking toward the Woody. Every second feeling certain that something big, ugly and evil was about to come snarling out of that gas station at any moment. I don’t know what came over me, I just felt this dread certainty that we should have taken the dead cop’s weapons. It was all I could do to not break out running then and there.

By the time I reached the Woody, it had passed. Somehow I knew that if something nasty was going to happen, it wasn’t going to let us escape that easily. Pulling myself together, I told him, “No, there’s no one in there.”

“Hmmm…” Mark thought for a moment, and I could tell from the way he kept looking around apprehensively that this place was getting to him, too. “Let’s call the operator and see what we can find out.”

He walked over to the phone booth, near the vending machine, and I kept close at hand.

Mark picked up the phone, then put it back down.

“What?” I asked, somehow already knowing the answer.

“Line’s dead,” Mark told me, all emotion draining from his voice. “I think we should go back. This is wrong… all wrong…”

I knew what he meant, but somehow I also knew that we couldn’t, that on this stretch of highway there was no Moriarty, no matter how far back we drove.

“We need to find out what Project Metronome is,” I told him.

We both stood there in silence, drinking pop under hazy street lights as we tried to figure out what to say to each other.

Then there was no more time for debate. Both of us heard the howl from out in the desert, and it was a sound the likes of which neither of us had ever heard before. We had heard plenty of coyotes the night before, but while this had a similar ring, it was distorted, and reverberated in a way that made the hair stand on both of our necks.

I think we both bolted for the Woody at the same time. I remember jumping in, and feeling a selfish sense of relief that Mark had to go all the way around to the driver’s side to get in, basically that he couldn’t leave me behind even if he tried. But once he got behind the wheel, I couldn’t wait for him to put the pedal to the metal.

Unfortunately, the car wouldn’t start. This of course is the scene in any horror flick when the monster (or monsters) would come out and attack. I kept looking around frantically while he tried to start the engine.

“Start!” Mark pounded his fist on the dashboard. “Dammit! Start!… Not now…”

I was afraid the Woody was going to be the death of us, but then it finally started.

And so we pealed out, flooring it as we raced out of town. We slowed down a couple miles out of Eyrie, as the fog thickened again. Now neither of us was quite sure why we had panicked, and so we were both feeling rather sheepish.

Mostly I just felt like I had made it to the end of the horror story. We had both come out of Eyrie alive, and our ordeal was finally over.

Little did I realize just how wrong I was.
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