Rest Stop

“Kirby… where are we?”

“Hell if I know. I think we’re still in Nebraska”

“Well don’t stop.”

“Wasn’t going to.”

“Did you see that?”

Kirby fell silent. He had seen it. It dashed right by the passenger window. All he could make out was a shape which could only be compared to legs. Not human ones though. That was for sure.

“Look,” Kirby said, “I don’t want to talk about it. We just need to get out of here, and over to grans house. I’m sure we can have a laugh about this once we’re there.”

But what if we never make it, he thought. No. We’re going to make it, we have to.

“Alright, whatever you say hun. I just don’t like this place.”

“I know. We’ll be out soon.”

Twenty minutes earlier, the sky had been bright and full of life. Now it was completely sucked out by the blackest clouds either of them had ever seen, and there was a nasty head-wind. Small drops of water began splattering on the windshield, and Kirby knew there would be more where that came from. They had been taking the seven hour drive to Kirby’s grandmother, who lived alone in Wyoming. The past few months, she seemed to only grow worse in health. Now a nurse was visiting her every couple days to make sure she was alright.

“Poor thing can hardly speak,” Kirby’s wife had said right before they had packed the car and left. And now, there they were, in the midst of a terrible storm. They’d only driven two hours. That’s when they saw it. It had flashed by the passenger window with a sudden gust of wind, and now they were enveloped in a dense fog. The road was cracked and worn down, due to age and use. Based on the sign Kirby had read earlier, they were on their way to some sort of rest stop.

“Alright Liz, if you want to get out for a minute, I think there’s a place just a few miles away.”

She seemed to contemplate it for awhile, “Alright” she said eventually.

The air fell silent, with only the hum of the car along with the empty echo of the wind. Meanwhile, Kirby’s mind was frantic with thought. What had that thing been? Maybe just a bit of debris that had been picked up by the storm? He sided with the idea at that moment. Storms can do all kinds of strange things, and for a storm, a bit of debris is definitely not outlandish. Then the thought occurred to him: why was there only one piece of it? He hadn’t noticed anything else. Just that one. Sure, storms do strange things, but just the single… Whatever it was, wasn’t believable. If a house had blown over, or something to that effect, there would have been a whole bunch of rubble going around.

“Hun,” Liz said. “The rest stop is right over there. Would you mind?” she pointed over to the building just barely visible beyond the fog.

“S-sure thing,” he was surprised how frightened he sounded.

“Are you alright, Kirb?” she placed her hand on his right knee.

“I’ll be alright. Everything has just got me stirred up. It’ll be better once we’re there.”

At that moment, Kirby thought he heard a sound coming from behind him. It was difficult to hear over the surrounding noise. He figured it was no more than… Just another piece of debris? Whatever, he thought, the road. Focus on the road. That’s what matters right now. A few minutes later he turned off on a small dirt path which lead to the rest stop. He parked the car in the lot about a half dozen yards from the restrooms.

“You’re not going to go?” his wife said.

“Nah, I should be fine until the next time we fill up. You go on ahead.”

She left, and Kirby watched as she made her way over the curb and walked into the corroded metal door of the rest stop. It felt oddly quiet now. Not even the wind was blowing, or at least it had seemed. Kirby looked away, and fixed his eyes to the empty road. The fog obscured everything beyond a few feet of it. He wondered if he could get a signal on the radio. He reached over to the dash, turning the dial. For a few stations, it was nothing but crackling static, but then he came across a weather broadcast of some sort. The signal threatened to give out at any moment, making the woman on the line almost unintelligible. Kirby fiddled with the dial for a few more minutes before finally turning the whole thing off in frustration. Silence was better anyway.

He looked out of the window at the rest stop again, that desaturated, metal door stared him down. Strange, he thought, she’s taking quite awhile. On a normal day, she would be out in maybe five minutes. How long had it been? Eleven? Fifteen? Well, he wasn’t going to abandon his dignity at the door, and walk into the ladies room. It would be just his luck, that someone else would be in there that wasn’t his wife. It would be unnecessary embarrassment. Then it hit him.

He looked all around the lot through the dusty windows. He could make out at least four other cars. All were derelict. Surely they were all in the bathrooms. But were they? The thought sounded silly. It would be quite a coincidence that that many people would all be using the bathroom at the same time. Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t seen anyone else the whole time they were there. That meant that nobody had been here for at least fifteen minutes. There was no way. Something was horribly wrong.

Then, a terrible thought came to mind. He saw that pair of hideous legs, attached to a creature even more grotesque. He saw it fly out of the storm and latch onto the roof of the car with impeccable skill. It stayed there, grinning with its long hand clamped around the baggage rack. It’s eye sockets were pitch black. He saw it get up and take flight as they grew near the rest stop, making that same tapping sound. It hid slyly behind the building. While he wasn’t looking, the thing entered through the metal door. Kirby didn’t want to think about the rest. It was a stupid thought. Lizzy would walk back out any moment now, and he would laugh at how silly it all was. He looked back at the empty cars. That didn’t help at all. They were still empty. Maybe they would always be, he thought.

When he looked back, he saw the door to the ladies room was open. Kirby’s heart relaxed. Great, he thought, they would be back on the road soon, and later they would be at grans. He would tell the story of how he was scared for just that moment while he was alone that day. It was a pleasing idea, but Lizzy didn’t walk out. Something else did instead. It was just as he had pictured it, with that grotesque, inhuman frame. It smiled in that same way too, it’s dark sockets stared at him in a way eyes couldn’t.

Kirby prepared himself to speed out of there, but by then it had already been too late.

He turned one last time to the empty cars.

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