By: Kaitlyn O Connor

Chapter One

Noticing her fingers had begun to cramp and her hands to sweat, Sabrina consciously relaxed her grip on the steering wheel, trying not to think about the poor decisions she’d made that had led up to her current situation. Outside the car it was as black as the inside of a cave despite the fact that it was a clear night. For that matter, it was as black as pitch inside the car, too.

She glanced down at the clock again--12:05--two minutes later than it had been the last time she’d checked.

Realizing her foot was getting heavier and heavier on the gas pedal the more anxious she became, she eased off on the gas, glancing in her rearview mirror, her side mirrors, flicking a quick look at the darkened woods that crowded close to the narrow highway.

With the exception of the greenish glow of her clock and dash lights there wasn’t a sign of any light in sight that said ‘civilization’. Even if there were any houses nearby, it seemed that everybody had gone to bed and she was the only person in the world still awake.

“Stupid,” she muttered, irrationally comforted by the sound of her own voice.

She should’ve stayed on the main highway, she chastised herself for the dozenth time. But she’d been stopping periodically since before dark trying to get a room, and everything was full. Of course, it hadn’t been until it was getting around nine o’clock that she’d decided to lower her standards and try anything that looked even reasonably respectable. By that time, though, even the cheapest, meanest looking places were full.

She hadn’t realized the middle of the country was still almost a no man’s land for travelers. She hadn’t fully comprehended the massive destruction and long aftereffects of hurricane Katrina. It hadn’t occurred to her that two years after it had hit every hotel for several states were still full to overflowing with the homeless and the construction workers that had piled into the area to rebuild.

When she’d stopped for a fill up around ten, she’d finally decided to try looking for something off the main highway.

She was scared shitless, and her eyes were still so tired from driving so long that every time she blinked it felt as if the inside of her eyelids were sandpaper.

She was almost tempted to speed in the hope that a state patrol would pull her over.


The thought of being pulled over on such a deserted road by a cop was almost scarier than being alone.

Stories she’d heard of serial killers posing as cops immediately began to fill her mind. And then, of course, any position of power always attracted the unscrupulous. A real cop might be tempted to take advantage of a stupid woman, alone, on such a deserted stretch of back road.

Taking one hand off the steering wheel, she felt around blindly and finally managed to turn on the radio. The blare of static almost made her jump out of her skin. Feeling around again, she found the search button. Country music filled the car.

She hated country music!

After listening to the twang as long as she could stand it, she started punching the search button again. A road sign appeared in her headlights just about the time the search settled on an oldies station.

“Fuck!” she exclaimed in fear inspired agitation. “Shit! Shit! Shit! Hell! Damn it!”

She’d only caught a glimpse of the sign. It might have been indicating a town up ahead--or not. It could’ve just been a county line or the state line. She slowed down, wrestling with the temptation to find a place to turn around so she could see what the sign had indicated.

The music faded out, became an ear splitting static. At almost the same instant, the engine died.

It took Bri several seconds to assimilate the fact that the engine had flat lined. Panic swept through her, annihilating anything approaching common sense. Almost a full minute passed before she realized she didn’t have to come to a full stop to try to start the engine again because she was wrestling with the terrifying thought of stopping on the deserted road. The car had already dropped a good bit of speed before it occurred to her to slip it into neutral and try to re-start the engine.

Relief touched her, but only briefly. She was shaking like a leaf by the time she managed to shift to neutral and grabbed the key.

Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. She didn’t even hear the whir of the engine trying to turn over.

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