Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Terror Of The Eve

It was midnight exactly and Tristan had just gotten off work. She logged off her computer and stretched every limb while her relief logged on. Her quick hands gathered all her belongings and shoved them into her worn messenger bag, gently pushing them down so the top would Velcro close.

"So sorry you have to work through to Christmas, I hope the night goes by quickly for you." She called over her shoulder to her grumbling co worker as she sprinted out the door.

Heavy purse strapped to her shoulder and hands jammed into her pockets for warmth, Tristan walked through the breezeways of the now deserted office buildings to the parking lot. Teeth chattering, she opened her car door, throwing her purse on the passenger seat then herself into the driver's. She turned the key and immediately drove out of the parking lot, not caring to wait one second longer for the engine to heat up. Waiting for the light to turn Tristan noticed the light fog down the road to her left that led to home. When the light turned green she palmed the wheel and wondered which was more of a pain in the ass to drive in, fog or snow. 

The moment she drove onto the highway Tristan was struck by how bright all the lights were. She had driven home in fog before and this part of the highway in particular was always pretty dim. Driving onward she noticed that not only were all the street lamps exceptionally bright, but there seemed to be more of them lighting the way than normal. A strange sense of fear began to encircle her thoughts, nipping at the edges of her mind. This road was more curvier than she remembered, the turns she was taking either curved too sharply or went the other way. There were also a large number of cars parked on the side of the road. Their interiors dark and their engines turned off. The signs, however, were the same and it was their sameness that urged her on despite the foreignness of the road she traveled. 

It wasn't long before she found the exit, her exit, with all it's familiarities. She found her foot subconsciously pushing harder on the gas pedal, urging the car towards its destination. At first she was happy to be on the correct path again but five minutes of driving, and no actual exiting, later and her happiness turned to a frustrated worry. The exit was much too long. Unable to turn around she kept driving. Another five minutes later and Tristan was nearly in tears. Not only was she still on this exit but her surroundings had started to loop. She drove on by the same signs and markers. At one point Tristan memorized the license plate and model of one of the cars. She passed it three times before she finally allowed the scream that was building inside her to come out.

She beat on her steering wheel and, finding an open spot on the right, parked on the side of the road. Her car jerked into position as she angrily slammed on the brakes. She kicked her door open and jumped out, intent on knocking on every car window until she could hopefully find an owner that could answer her questions. Tristan never even stepped away from the side of her car when the door of the car behind her swung open and a nervous looking man stepped out.

"Please get back in your car, ma'am." He said, clutching the top of his door and looking around, "Trust me, just get back in and try to sleep through the night."

"What is going on?" Tristan said.

She folded her arms but one of her hands found its way to her throat, massaging her voice box. Their voices didn't just sound thick out here in the fog, it felt thick. Nothing was clear outside. Neither sound nor vision or thought. 

"This happens every Christmas Eve, I think anyway." The man shouted. In the growing fog Tristan could see he was already getting back into his car. "I've been stuck here about three times now. Just try to go to sleep or at least keep your eyes closed, and don't get out of your car." 

The dulled thud of the door shutting reaching Tristan's ears. She lingered in her spot turning slowly to see all around her. Along the road other cars gently shifted as their occupants strained to get a better look at the newcomer who had dared to step outside. The car behind her honked its horn. The sound was sharp and clear. It cut through the fog and her entrancement. Shivering more from fright than cold she heeded the man's advice and climbed back into her car, making sure all her doors were locked. 

She hugged herself, placing her hands under her armpits for warmth. The gas gauge read quarter full. Tristan wondered how long her car would stay running. She reached down to turn the heat up and looked at the clock. The neon green of its digital face read 12:59 then changed to 1:00. Her car died. Before she could react there rose a clatter that came from everywhere at once. A clanging of bells mixed with a stamping of hooves and gnashing of teeth. The street lamps swayed with a wind that didn't, or couldn't, shake the cars. Lights once too bright to look at dimmed until they were off completely. Tristan pressed her palms to her ears and strained against the seat belt she left on to look up at the sky. What little light there was left from the stars was blotted out by a growing shadow. The more she tried to look the more her car began to shake until it was rocking back and forth. Tristan grabbed onto the steering wheel and the door handles, anything to keep herself steady, as the car rocked from side to side almost tipping each time. Her windshield had a crack that was slowly making its way from one side to the other. In her panic and above the noise she could vaguely make out the sound of a car horn honking again and again. Tristan threw herself back into her seat and curled in a fetal position. Just sleep, just sleep, just sleep. She repeated the mantra over and over in her head as the car rocked less and less.


Bright sunlight and the sound of voices woke Tristan up. She had wrapped her arms around her head in her sleep so tightly she gave herself a headache. Slowly she unbuckled her seat belt and got out of her car, holding her head and squinting in the sun. Behind her a group of people comprised of drivers and passengers of the other vehicles were helping the nervous man from last night rock his car until it tipped back upright. Tristan blushed a deep crimson knowing this had to be some sort of punishment for helping her. The crowd began to dissipate, everyone trying not to look at each other as they quietly rushed to leave. The man looked over at her and Tristan opened her mouth to apologize. He shook his head.


"Don't talk about it. It's best not to talk about it. Just go home....and maybe in the future get your boss to take you off the night shift if you can."


He got in and shut the door then revved his engine and pulled out, stopping briefly by her side to nod at her before driving away. Tristan looked at her watch half expecting it to be broken but delighted to find it working. It was 1:00pm. Her family was due at her house an hour ago and she was still twenty minutes away. She buckled up almost shouting from happiness when she turned on her own engine to find her gas gauge read full, and once more when her exit connected back to the highway home. She drove over the speed  limit and her mood darkened like the skies were. Soon it looked dark as night again. Even though there were other cars driving around her there was no sound. The more she drove the more the crack in her windshield lessened silently repairing itself with every passing mile, a small comfort to her. At one point at the halfway mark she had pulled to the side of the road, too perturbed by the silence that enveloped everything to go on. She had needed to hear something, anything. The sound of a passing truck, a bird chirp, even the sound of her own hands clapping which she found she couldn't hear while in her car. Tristan stepped out on the small shoulder cautious of the other drivers only to be greeted with blinding sunlight and to find out she was the only person on the road. A sound from in her car caused her to turn around and she saw her gas meter slowly start to deplete and the crack was beginning to come back. She got back in at once and drove home, not stopping again until she was in her drive way.


Once safely inside her house Tristan was overcome by dizziness. She stumbled to her couch next to the door and made it in time to pass out. Tristan woke up to the sound of the door ringing repeatedly and frantic knocking. She looked out the peephole and saw the faces of her family. Tristan took a look at her watch to see it say 12:00am, Christmas. Groggy and confused, she opened the door slowly to have it flung open and out of her hand by family members eager to get in out of the cold.


"Boy Peach, you look rough." Her mother said, inspecting every inch of her face with her eyes.


"Yeah, it's so weird. Last night I..." But Tristan stopped when she heard the now all too familiar sound of cracking glass. She took a glance outside to see the crack once again start its slow creep across her windshield and she knew it was a warning. She looked back at her mom, closing the door with a shrug, "Just a rough night I guess."


***


I've spent way too much time reading about alternate dimensions and reality glitches on the Chans while bored at work before I have to leave. There were a lot of cars on the side of the highway home. It was odd. I couldn't stop thinking about how creepy my drive home had the opportunity to become. I also was a bit inspired by folktales of the Great Hunt which is supposed to be around Halloween ... I think, but don't quote me. Oh well, Tim Burton also combined Halloween and Christmas time so screw it.


To all my pagans a belated Happy Yule, Merry Christmas to my Christians. Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and to the atheists I hope you had a good day today. I also hope no one found themselves at the mercy of any man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves last night while out on the road. Or any other being for that matter.


I hope that everyone got everything, or most things, that they wanted today. I got gift cards, art supplies, and an elf that poops jelly beans among other things. Art, money, and candy mixed with low brow humor. My family knows me so well.


Another thing. It is so weird to write a short story about a scenario that takes place mainly in a car and have to repeatedly write the word car over and over again. It almost starts to sound too odd after a while. I kept feeling the need to switch it up even though there wasn't a real need to. Car, car, car, car, car, car, driver, vehicle, truck, car. Blech.

2 comments:

  1. I liked this story, definitely chilling and a little creepy. This has a lot of potential if you work on it a bit. I get what you mean about using the same word but I didn't notice it here until you pointed it out. However I was distracted by the phrase "more curvier" haha...

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the holiday. Candy-pooping elf...that's perfect. :)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I think I rushed this one a bit. 'More curvier' is so a phrase, lol. I can't believe I didn't catch that though. Sometimes my me-isms slip into my writing.

      I love that stupid elf, but now I'm all out of poops. :p That's such a weird sentence to write.

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