Random Synapse Misfire, Vol. Two
Delmar Greene slapped himself across the face. He had too many miles to go and too little money for lodging. The monotonous scenery that lined the two-lane road did little to stimulate his mind. His mind continuously wandered, rehashing every mistake he’d made in his thirty years. Anxiety caused by things he couldn’t control or change had become a hallmark of his life. Without that, he would be home and happy instead of driving through rolling hills while fighting sleep.
Anger and despair were all that was keeping him awake, though they were beginning to yield to exhaustion. He was hoping to find some cheap gas station coffee to jolt his system when the interior of his car lit up. A squinting glimpse into the rearview showed four circular headlights bearing down on his rear end.
“Dim your goddamned lights, asshole.”
The car drew close enough to his bumper that the headlights fell out of sight. Sweat blurred his vision as he pressed down on the accelerator causing the aging six-cylinder to moan. As the gap between the cars grew, the quartet of lights went dark. The sudden blackness was disorienting; Delmar’s racing pulse exacerbated his diminished awareness. He could feel a rumble and worried that he was losing a tire. His car was a tired heap that he had hesitated to take on this trek but it was all he had, so here he was.
He shut off the radio, cutting short a newscast about a 747 that had exploded over a small town in Scotland. That low roar surrounded him, leaving him unable to pinpoint the source. Using his left foot, he tapped the brake pedal, throwing a dull red glow across the roadway behind. Checking the mirror he saw lines and reflectors but no car.
Maybe he turned off, I’ve passed a handful of dirt roads. Maybe he was just in a rush to get home.
Blocking out thoughts of the strange encounter, he returned his focus to the sound. There was a constant shaking in the steering wheel, but the car’s alignment was shot and the road surface was coarse. Checking that no traffic was oncoming, Delmar swerved the car slightly to the right in an attempt to feel out any issues. Satisfied with the maneuver, he brought the car gently to the left before striking something.
He swerved back to the right without going off the shoulder by divine intervention alone.
The air was cut by a horn that sounded like it had been taken from a freight train engine. Warm wetness trickled down Delmar’s thigh as he forced himself to look out of the window. There were little more than shadows until a blue light began to bloom just below eye level. It grew in intensity, illuminating the interior of a monstrous four-door sedan. While the windows were tinted to an extreme level, he had no issue seeing into the cabin.
He forced a single word out, wincing as it tore out of his dry throat. “What?”
Before he could internally debate what he had and hadn’t seen, the car dropped back in behind him, its headlights still off. Frantic, Delmar scanned the distance for any possible refuge, spotting the silhouette of a house on the horizon. The speedometer held at a constant eighty miles per hour as the house grew larger. Please let me make it to that house. Taking the silent prayer as a challenge, his mind began throwing out hypotheticals: his aggressor would run him off the road, he’d take the turn too sharply and flip, or, maybe the car would break down and leave him completely at the mercy of his assailant.
His eyes set on finding his turn, Delmar didn’t notice his speed drop below seventy and inch down towards sixty. Just as he caught sight of the driveway, the mysterious car moved back to the left, as if to overtake him. “Come on, you old rustbucket, get me to that fucking house.” He brought his foot down hard on the brake, tires screaming as the wheels locked up. His car fishtailed before catching grip again and he slammed his horn repeatedly as he pressed the gas.
The house sat a hundred yards off of the road, at the end of the rutted path that was beating the remaining life out of his car. A yellowed light illuminated a leaning porch as an old man emerged from the front door. Roused by the racket, he carried a shotgun at chest level along with an expression of extreme distaste. Delmar came to a stop at the edge of the lawn, holding his hands up as he exited. “Don’t shoot!”
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Random synapse misfire, vol. one
A light September fog was rolling in off of the Hatteras Inlet, oozing up and swallowing the few cars that waited to board the last ferry of the night from Ocracoke to Hatteras. The crew was busy prepping the boat, a noble workhorse christened as Frisco, for the midnight crossing.
“What the hell?”
Carol turned, concerned at his tone. “What’s wrong?”
“That old truck’s gone.”
the last cigarette
Walter Regin sat on the edge of his tattered couch, staring through a thick haze of smoke at the flat panel Sony that was mounted neatly on the wall. He had no idea how long he had been transfixed, though the numbness in his ass suggested that it had been a considerable amount of time. Moving to stand, a burning pain seared into the webbing between his left middle and forefinger.