Categories > Original > Horror > The Road Trip

Part 7: The Long Road

by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

the morning after

Category: Horror - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2008-10-30 - Updated: 2008-10-30 - 1224 words - Complete

I woke up because I was too hot, and I had to take a piss.

I blinked my eyes against the glare to find myself sitting in the passenger’s seat of the Woody. It took me a moment to realize that the reason I was so hot was because it was now broad daylight out, and in another hour or so, Mark’s car was going to become a bake oven. The sky was now a blank blue desert sky, without a single cloud, nor a hint of last night’s fog.

I wondered in that waking moment if it hadn’t all been a dream.

Then I looked at the bottle of Cam’s Cola. Then at the shotgun lying across Mark’s lap. The broken window behind him. I glanced out the window to see that we were still parked out in front of the gas station in Cove on the Old Mesa Road.

And I remembered that I did have a dream that night. One that I would never forget. Then again, that’s what I suppose I get for sleeping in a haunted place. In the Borderlands.

I dreamt that that dead highway cop and his partner were cruising around Cove near dark. The two cops get out of the car in front of the house where we found the note and the map. They both look around again, clearly confused and more than a little alarmed, not only by how deserted this place was, but at how they had driven up and down Highway 40 for years and had never been here before.

I stand on the street nearby, telling them to turn back, to leave while they still can, but they don’t hear me.

All I can do is stand there and watch as the two officers walk toward the house with the light on. The sun is slanting, now casting everything in an eerie golden twilight, a storm color, though there’s not a cloud in sight. I’m thinking about how I don’t trust that light, when one of the officers takes one step too far and walks into nothingness.

I see him try to stop in mid step, but it’s too little, too late. I see the fat cop stop in his tracks, eyes bugging out. I hear what I know is the vanished cop’s voice, crying out for help, every word distorted and echoing weirdly, much like that howl that scared us out of Eyrie. After a moment of this, his partner finally finds his voice, and he cries out in surprise and horror, then backpedals toward the car. At which point he promptly hits the gas and tears out of Cove in squeal of burnt rubber.

As I sat in the ever heating car, I found I still got goosebumps thinking about that dream. This place was haunted, even by day. And somehow I knew that was what had actually happened last evening.

Mark awoke with a start, but at least he didn’t pull the trigger. In fact, he seemed quite surprised to see a shotgun in his lap. He looked around, then at me. Seeing the Cam’s Cola bottle in my hand, he cocked his head and said, “That was no dream, was it?”

“Nope,” I told him as I opened the door and got out. “I’m gonna go take a whiz.”

“Don’t have too much fun,” said Mark.

“Don’t I always?” I replied. But once I stepped out onto this haunted ground, I discovered that it held the power to instill fear even at high noon. The whole way behind the gas station, I kept picturing myself vanishing like that cop’s partner did. What I finally had to accept was that from now on, that might be a risk either of us would have to take in the desert, though the more I thought about it, the more I began to suspect that whatever happened to make people disappear was over right now.

Even so, I was still relieved to see that Mark hadn’t gone anywhere in my absence, and was now working on the Woody while sipping a Cam’s Old Fashioned Root Beer.

Cam’s Cola and candy bars: it’s a hell of a way to start your day! After our nutritious breakfast, Mark and I finally got the Woody running again and we were on our way. We left Cove and traveled to Highway 42 without incident.

And without meeting a soul.

Now I sit at a way station at the junction, staring out at empty railroad tracks running parallel to an equally lonely Highway 42 as I finish this account. We had to stop here a few hours to fix the Woody again. Again. So I took the opportunity to write down everything that has happened to us so far. Later, while searching through his stuff before we set out, Mark realized that the highway cop had left his driver’s license lying on the blacktop somewhere on the forgotten miles of Old Mesa Road. But I could tell he wasn’t about to go back for it.

Not like a Montana license was going to do him any good in this dimension anyway.

I wrote earlier that Project Metronome was without a face, but now I realize that it does have one, at least for me. I will always associate those words with the face of that dying highway patrolman, and the existential horror that gripped him in his final hours.

Now Mark and I prepare to face the horror head-on. As soon as we’re ready to leave, we will drive to Dusty Heights and try to find this research facility mentioned on both the note and the map. I don’t know what we’ll find, or if we have any chance of finding our way back, so I’ve left this account of our road trip in the hopes that anyone else unfortunate enough to pass this way will find it.

Out in front of the way station is a sign, and I found some paint and wrote “INFORMATION” in big red letters, and an arrow pointing to this building.

I remember when we were in middle school, Mark and I vowed to make a road trip to New Mexico after graduation and explore the desert. I never would have imagined it would turn out like this. I remember one of Master Al’s other students quipping once that his aunt always insisted that everything that gets lost ends up in the Twilight Zone, and I think that sums up our road trip in a nutshell. I can just hear Rod Serling now: …I present to you two friends, two young men traveling together in search of adventure. They are about to get more than they bargained for. For one foggy night, they crossed the border and drove into the Twilight Zone… or something like that.

Now it’s a long road ahead of us, and no idea where it will lead.

This production paid for by Camcron Industries and its subsidiary, the Cam’s Cola Bottling Company of Dusty Heights, Mesa District: proud sponsor of Dusty Heights Schools, Public Library, Coyotes Batball, and the Birkin Institute Research Facility.
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