Perfect Opportunity. Short Story.

The car began to slow, “Crap” she steered toward the hard shoulder, hoping she would make it, not too worried if she didn’t. the road wasn’t that well travelled at night, there was a long enough stretch of road that her hazard lights would be visible. Still, sometimes people took the road faster than they should. The car shuddered and jolted as it went over the gravel before finally grinding to a halt. She had expected it to happen eventually, really she only needed one final trip in the damn thing then she would be done with it.

She pressed the button, turning on the hazards, she listened to the clicking for a moment, trying to decide what to do. She dug out her phone and looked at the screen. “Oh great.” there was no signal. “I get stranded in the only place in the country that has no phone signal. That’s just great.” she looked in her mirrors and, seeing no approaching car, she flicked on her headlights and got out of the car. It was cold, colder than she had expected after being in the warm car. She opened the back door and grabbed out a hoodie, she slipped it on and zipped it up while walking away from the car. The headlights illuminated the area enough for her to see where she was going. She didn’t want to be too far from the car, after all, visibility would be limited after a certain point.

She kept an eye on her phone as she walked, hoping for a signal. A bar appeared, flickered, then vanished. She moved backwards and forwards trying to get it back again without any luck. “Fuck.” she walked back to the car, maybe if she walked behind it she’d find a signal. There were a few trees around the road, but not enough to cause interference. The ground seemed to slope upwards, away from the road. She had driven the road a few times but wasn’t really sure where she was, things looked so different at night, there could be some hills around, blocking her, she might have come down a slight valley.

She just reached the car when another flew passed, she felt a rush of wind and, startled, stepped back from the road. It had been close to her car, closer than she thought was safe. Still, they didn’t hit her. She wondered if she should sit in the car, after all, what if someone hit it. She stood indecisively at the door for a moment before sliding in. It was cold outside and slightly warmer in the car and she could turn on the heating if she needed to.

She sat in the car for a few minutes, trying to warm up again, deciding she would move backwards in a few minutes. But for the moment she was comfortable and warm. Another car passed by, causing the car to rock gently back and forth. She checked her mirrors again and stepped out of the car, the cold rushed in on her quickly and trying to maintain warmth, she started to walk. It was darker now that she was behind the car, without the headlights lighting her way. She heard something moving in the trees, she stopped and listened again, it wasn’t too worrying, it sounded like something small, maybe a fox or something. The screen of her phone seemed dazzlingly bright in the darkness, when she glanced up to see where she was going and to check for cars, her eyes refused to show her anything other than the after image of her phone screen.

She stopped after what seemed about five hundred yards. There was nothing at all, not even a blip. She could see another cars lights in the distance and, worried she stepped backwards towards the trees, it was extremely dark where she was and if she was standing too close to the road they could easily hit her, or swerve and crash out of surprise. She moved backwards until she was almost at the tree line and, after a seconds consideration, she stepped amongst them, there was little chance they would hit her now and if they did, the tree trunks would offer some protection.

The car drove past, slowed slightly with a flash of break lights as it approached her car, then sped off again into the distance. She began to make her way back towards the road, not wanting to walk amongst the trees in the dark in case she slipped or tripped. It was started to get a little creepy here, it was so dark. She walked towards the flashing lights and kept looking behind her to make sure there were no cars coming. She stopped at the car and wondered if maybe she again walk in the headlights, she had turned them off to save the battery but could turn them on again for a few moments, maybe if she went a little further she would find a signal, she at least got something in that direction, even if it wasn’t much. She reached into the car and flicked on the lights and started to walk, she only got a few feet when she looked back and saw a car coming toward her. She moved over slightly, to be safe, then saw it slow, she expected it to speed up once it passed her, but it’s indicators were on, it was pulling in. After a moment, a man stepped out of the car. “Is everything all right?” “Yeah, my car broke down. Just waiting for the guy to come get it for me.” “Do you know what’s wrong?” “No, not really, only that it isn’t the tires.” “Do you want me to have a look?” “No, that’s ok, I can just wait.” “Are you sure? I’m a mechanic.” The passenger door of his car opened and she stepped back a bit, just to be safe. A woman stepped out of the car, “Everything ok hun?” the man smiled and turned back to her, “Yeah, everything’s fine.” he turned back, “My names Harry by the way and that‘s my wife, Carla” “I’m Denise.” “Are you sure you don’t want me to take a quick look, after all, it could be something stupid wrong with it and I might be able to fix it, better than waiting here for ages.” “Ok, if you’re sure and it isn’t a bother or anything. No, no bother at all. Why don’t you sit with Carla in the car while I have a look, it’s warm there and safer than standing at the side of the road.” they walked towards his car together, “I’ll grab my torch from the boot and we should be able to get you sorted out quickly enough.” “Thanks.”

Denise still felt slightly nervous, but Carla quickly put her at ease and as they waited they chatted about nothing in particular, “When I saw you at the side of the road, I told Harry to stop, just to make sure everything was ok, I mean, I know women aren’t weaklings or anything, but it is pretty lonely out here and you never know what weirdo you could meet.” “True, to be honest, I wasn’t going to take your help until I saw you. I told Harry I had called a tow truck, I couldn’t get any signal here, I was trying to but nothing was happening.” “You should have said sooner” Carla pulled out her phone, “I don’t have any either. Damn, hang on a sec” she reached over and grabbed a phone from the door handle, after fiddling with it for a second, she looked annoyed. “We’ve no signal either. Some future world eh?” “That’s ok, don’t worry about it, I’m sure Harry will be able to figure out what’s wrong and if not, you could always ring a tow truck for me when you get signal.” “Don’t be silly. You can lock up your car and we’ll give you a lift, we’re only going a small way up the road, there’s a town about half an hour away, you could get a room or something there. We were gonna stop there ourselves, we’ve been driving all day.”

Harry heard someone approaching behind him, he called out, “I can’t for the life of me see what’s wrong, I’d need to get it to my garage to fully figure out what’s wrong with it, let alone fix it. What happened when it stopped? Was it sudden? Like did the engine just die or was it slowe-” he turned around and paused. Denise stood in front of him, eyes wide, skin pale, pale except for the bright streaks of blood across her face and clothing. “What-” “There’s a man, he, he ran up to the car and I-” Harry took off running towards his car. The doors were open and the passenger light was on, Carla lay in a pool of blood, her neck slit, her body covered in stab wounds, her ran too her, trying to check for a pulse, trying to do something to help, but he was too late. Her body was still, her heart no longer beating.

Harry turned to look for Denise and saw she was behind him, he was crying but trying to figure everything out, “You said there was a man, where did he go?” She pointed towards the woods. “We were talking and suddenly he was there, he started attacking her and then ran.” Harry turned from her towards the woods. “We need to get out of here, get Carla to a hospital, they might be able to do something-” “I don’t think-” “They might be able to do something. Get in the car, we’ll call the police as we drive.” He moved toward the car then stopped, he felt something warm and sharp pressing against his throat. “I wouldn’t move if I were you.” “Denise, what are you doing?” she laughed, “Isn’t it obvious? Please, did you really believe that some random man ran out of the woods. You saw her body, where the wounds are. She was attacked from behind. There was only one person behind her.” “Why?” “Because it’s fun.” She brought the knife across his neck swiftly, the blade biting deep into his flesh. He collapsed to the ground, she stared down at the body for a moment. He lay there for a few seconds before he started to crawl, slowly, painfully, towards the car. All he could think was that it held safety. If he could get there he would be fine. Everything would be fine. He looked up at Carla, she would be fine. They all would, if only he could get back to the car. Denise kicked him in the ribs, immobilising him. She knelt down beside his body and raised the knife, getting ready to strike.

When it was over, she looked around, trying to figure out how best to dispose of the mess she had made. She turned off the her head lights and dragged the bodies into the trees. No one stopped along here and as far as she knew there were no trails that people might be walking. She dragged them in as far as she could, not bothering to bury them. Animals would dispose of them soon enough.

She walked back to the road looking at her car and theirs, wondering how to dispose of both. She got into their car, Carla’s blood still pooled in the passenger seat. She tied her car to there’s and started to drive. After finding a turn off, she followed it. The road appeared to be disused, she drove until the found the perfect spot. After untying her car, she turned theirs around. She switched the plates, then got her kit out of her own car. She spent a while cleaning and used up all of the rags and cloths but she was pleased with the effort when she was done. It looked like something dark had been spilled, maybe a bottle of wine or coke, but not blood, most of it had settled into the passanger seat, the rest had been easy enough to get rid of, she could always get it cleaned as say a bottle of wine had leaked in the passanger seat. It looked plausible and she could always top up the stain with some real wine. Just to be sure. She lay a hand on her own car, it had served her well but she didn’t need it anymore. Denise took everything she needed from her car and replaced it with items from theirs, everything she didn’t think would be useful. She got her lighter out and lit the seating. She stood back, hoping it would be enough to get the fire going, the doors were closed but the windows were down, giving enough ventaliation for the flames to spread and grow. She didn’t want to have to siphon petrol from her new car. She stripped out of her dirty clothes and quickly changed into fresh ones, shivering slightly, after gathering them up, she through her old clothes into the car.

She stood back, watching it burn. There was thick, heavy smoke but it was dark and there was no moon, it wouldn’t be visible from the road. When the car was burning fiercely she got in her new car and drove away, occasionally glancing back in the mirror. The road twisted and turned and after a few moments, she couldn’t even see the flicker of flames. The trees were tall here and would obscure any rising sparks. The trees were well spaced out where she had left the car, she didn’t’ think it would start a fire, but really, she didn’t care too much if it did. The bodies were a fair distance away, if the fire spread reached them, they would probably think they owned the car or were running from the fire or something. Denise paused at the turn onto the road and, seeing nothing coming, she turned onto it and began to drive away.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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