Road Trip. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was ok, didn’t get up to a whole lot.

I’m mostly back to normal now, woo! Had some really, really bad stomach cramps on Thursday but they’ve died off thankfully. Was a bit worried that I’d have to go to the hospital, but luckily everything seems to have fixed itself. Yay Crohn’s. I’m going in for a procedure soon that should prevent anything similar from happening in the near future, not really looking forward to it but as far as procedures go, it’s pretty minor and basically just another colonoscopy, so it definitely could be worse!

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Road Trip.

Lily slowed the car, “Fuck.” A large orange detour sign was blocking the road, she barely knew where she was going as it was. She took a deep breath, it will be ok, once she got back to the main road, as generous a term as that was, she could find somewhere to pull in and ask for directions. She hadn’t seen a petrol station in a while and there was supposed to be one around here. She followed the sign to the left and started down the new road, which seemed to be little more than a dirt track. It wouldn’t be the first time rain had washed out the main roads, every few months Mary and Frank would complain about it. Lily checked her phone quickly, still no signal, she shook her head, Lily hadn’t even thought that was possible in this day and age, she always just assumed it was an excuse from Mary to avoid her.

Lily wrestled the car to a stop, one of the tires had blown, at least that’s what it felt like. Lily groaned and leaned forward, resting her head on the steering wheel. Cursed. She was cursed, that was the only rational explanation. Obviously she just wasn’t meant to visit Mary and Frank. She grabbed her phone and checked again, she was still in a dead zone. She groaned then got out of the car. As she stepped out wind whipped past her, blowing her hair and jacket, she shivered in the cold and moved around to look at the tires. Great, it wasn’t just one, it was both of the front wheels. How the hell does stuff like that even happen? She walked around to the boot and opened it, she searched for a second, then slammed the boot closed, “FUCK!” she hit the car, there was no goddamned spare. When she got home she was going to kill Jacob, he told her he would replace her spare tire after he “borrowed” hers. Lily sat back into the car and closed the door, at least it was still warm in the car, and she had some blankets and water in the boot, and a few chocolate bars in her bag, she would be fine until someone eventually came down the road. She took a slow, deep breath, she’d probably only have to wait half an hour at most. The roads around here weren’t too busy, but she was on a main road, someone would come along sooner or later.  Someone knocked on her window, Lily jumped, she hadn’t seen him approach. The man looked young enough, maybe mid-twenties, he wore a dark windbreaker with the hood down, his dirty blonde hair blowing in the breeze. She wound down the window a little, “Car trouble?”
“Yeah, I need new tires. The front two blew, can you believe it?”
He smiled at her, “Oh I would, you wouldn’t be the first it’s happened too. We all think it’s Bob, one of the locals, he’s a handy man and just throws everything in the back of his truck, there have been a few times where he’s left a trail of nails behind himself. I don’t have any spares, but I can give you a lift somewhere if you like? There’s a café nearby, I’m sure you could use their landline.”
“Thanks, that’d be great actually. I’m down visiting some friends and I don’t know the area too well.”
“Definitely not your day, especially with that detour, the roads around here are confusing to visitors at the best of times. C’mon, grab your stuff and I’ll give you a lift.”
Lily got out of the car, “Thank you so much for this, I’m Lily by the way.”
He stuck out his hand, “Billy, nice to meet you.”
Lily opened the backdoor and grabbed her purse out of the foot well.
“C’mon my car is just this way.”
They started to walk, they got a few feet before lily felt a flicker of fear, she tried to push it away, it was just paranoia. After all who wouldn’t be freaked out in this kind of situation? She took a deep breath and released it slowly, beside her Billy was talking away, she felt a flush of shame, he had been nothing but kind to her and here she was thinking bad things. She paused, “Where is your car?”
“What? Oh, it’s just up ahead a little.”
There was something wrong about that. “I didn’t see you drive past me?”
“Yeah, I was coming the opposite way.”
“But why would you get out to walk?”
“I saw that you were having some car trouble.”
Lily stopped walking, “How though? I can’t see my car anymore and I can’t see yours either.”
Billy chuckled, “I hate it when this happens.”
“When what happens?”
“When they figure it out.” He lunged forward, lily jumped back, his fingers grazing her jacket, Lily turned and ran.

Lily paused, gasping for breath, she had been running for what seemed like hours and there was no sign of Billy, or his car. She had run past her own car without stopping, reasoning that she hadn’t been driving for too long before the flats and her car was useless as it was. Her legs were feeling sore and shaky, Billy didn’t seem to be chasing her, but the road was far longer than she had thought and with no real landmarks, she wasn’t sure how much further she had to go. Rain started to fall heavily and after a moment she was soaked. The fear was beginning to die down, it didn’t look like Billy was going to come after her, maybe the road was too busy, she had started to suspect that it was Billy that had set a trap, but if that was true, he would have come after her. Up ahead she could see head lights, Lily moved to the side of the road and waited.

The man slowed his car and lowered his window, “Please, you have to help me, my car broke down and some guy tried to grab me.”
“Of course, get in out of the rain, are you ok?”
Lily got into the car, she was shivering, “Yeah, I’m ok, he didn’t hurt me or anything…sorry about the seats.” It was the only thing she could think to say. The man chuckled as he turned up the heating, “Don’t worry about that, it’s just a bit of water. My phone isn’t getting signal out here and I’m afraid I don’t know the area too well, but I’m sure we’ll find somewhere to stop and get help.”
“Thank you so much, seriously.”

“My car is just up here, be careful, my two front tires blew out, maybe the guy put something out on the road.” Stephen slowed the car down, then stopped. “Ok, I’m going to get out to see if the road it clear, make sure there’s nothing there. Lock the doors when I get out ok? I won’t be a second.”
Before Lily could say anything he was out of the car and in the rain, Lily quickly locked the door. A moment later he was back, “it doesn’t look like there’s anything on the road, maybe you were just unlucky? A crime of opportunity maybe?”
“Yeah, maybe.”
“It’s getting dark, your friends must be getting worried, we’ll find somewhere with a phone we can call the them and the police, ok?”
Lily nodded, “thank you so much for this.”
“Oh don’t worry at all, I’d hope if I was in your situation someone would do the same for me. We all have to look out for one another in this world.”

“Which way? Left or right?”
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
“I think if they’re going to send people off on a detour they should have some goddamned signs.”
“Ok, let’s say left, it looks a little bit less of a dirt trail.”
“They both look like dirt trails.”
“Well, we’re going to have to get somewhere eventually. I’d turn the car around if there was room for it. I thought for sure there’d be a place to do it by now.”
Stephen started driving down the left fork, “Are you feeling ok? Still cold?”
“Yeah, but I’ll manage, thanks again for your jacket.”
“You’re welcome, figured you needed it more than me.”
“I had a blanket in my car, I should have grabbed it when we were going by.”
“We were better off leaving it, we still don’t know where that guy is. I kinda want to keep moving, I don’t really want to run into him.”
Lily looked out the window, “Yeah, me neither.”

“Is that a house?”
“I think so.”
“Great, we’ll be able to get directions, they might even let us use the phone.”
“Are you sure? What if the guy lives there?”
“We’re lost, we can’t keep driving around like this. How about this, you can hop into the driver’s seat, I’ll go knock on the door, if it’s him I’ll run back to the car and you can drive like hell.”
“Ok deal.” Lily didn’t like it, but there wasn’t a whole lot else they could do. It was almost fully dark out and she didn’t want to be stuck on these backroads at night.
Stephen stopped the car in the driveway, “Hey, look on the bright side, even if they can’t help we can always just turn around here and retrace our steps.”
Lily nodded and smiled weakly.
“I’ll be back in a second.”

Lily watched intently as Stephen knocked on the door, a moment later it opened, it wasn’t bright enough to see who ever it was fully, but Lily could see it was a woman, she felt herself relaxing a little. Stephen came jogging back to the car, he hopped into the passenger seat. “We can use her phone and she’ll give us directions, really nice woman. She said she has some dry clothes you can borrow too.”
Together they got out of the car and went inside. The house was bright and warm, Lily turned to the woman, “Thank you so much for this.”
The woman smiled “it’s no trouble at all.” she grabbed a blanket, “Here, this will keep you warm while you make your calls, then if you like you can get yourself cleaned up.” Lily smiled as the woman draped a blanket across her shoulders and pulled it tight, someone stepped out from the kitchen, Lily looked at him and froze. Stephen smiled, “You were right Billy, worked like a charm.”
Billy chuckled “It always does.”
The blanket tightened, becoming almost smothering, Lily couldn’t move, “There’s no point in struggling honey, it’s already too late.”

 

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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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