The Last Highway
I had already been driving too long. My eyes grew heavy and the lines in the middle of the road began to blur. The window was rolled down and the radio blared. I hoped the cool night air and noise would wake me enough. It didn't.
The ghostly figure that appeared in the distance did. He just stood there in the middle of the road. The fog coming in from the river surrounded him with an eerie glow.
I slammed my foot down on the brakes hard and stopped just inches in front of the man.
I must be dreaming. This figure standing before me could not be real. The fog cleared and revealed a tall, tan, muscular man, with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. His emerald eyes pierced into my soul. His smile revealed perfect, white teeth. He seemed harmless enough, but wasn't that how the horror stories always started?
As if in answer to my question, his gaze turned into a look of pure evil, as if I were his next meal. I could not remember being this frightened before. I rolled the window up, depressed the lock switch, put the car in reverse and backed away from the evil that stood before me.
I backed into the driveway I had passed just seconds ago, frantic as I turned the car around and drove away from the man, if that was what you could call him. I suppose, knowing what I knew about myself that anything could be possible. Though this was the first time in my twenty one years that I had ever accounted something 'other'. He could not be counted in the same category as myself. Despite the fact that I had certain abilities that were difficult to explain and frightened others, I was not evil. That look I saw in the strange man's eyes told me that he was.
I almost relaxed when I could no longer see him in my rear view mirror. My heart was still beating a steady, panicked drum inside my ears and my palms were still wet with sweat but my breath was normalizing as I rationalized that it was just a hallucination caused from exhaustion. I realized my mistake when he appeared in front of me again. I hit the brakes and put the car into reverse once more. This time, I kept my eyes on the man ahead of me as I maneuvered the car into another driveway and turned around, trying to escape from this nightmare.
I was miles from where I had last seen the beautiful, evil man and I breathed a sigh of relief. If he had been there at all, he gave up. After passing the next curve, I had to slow down. No hallucinations this time, just other cars on the road, driving too slow. When they were close enough to pass each other, they stopped. I waited a minute, then two. They didn't budge.
I considered backing up again but another car came up behind me too fast on this usually deserted road. Even in the daytime it was rare to see this many vehicles at the same time. I honked my horn, impatient, desperate to be on my way. They didn't budge. They were herding me in. One more hour and I would have been home.
The last image I saw on the last highway I drove was his face inches from mine.
“Where are you from?”
No matter where I went, someone always asked me this question. It sounded better than what they really wanted to ask. Who was I? What was I? Most of the time I would respond with sarcasm, telling them that I was from some other planet or that I had escaped from the psych ward at the nearest mental institution. They never believed the lies, any more than they would have believed the truth. Whatever that truth was.
Not long after the question was asked, I would have to leave. It meant that I had made a mistake, revealed too much about myself. I was getting better at hiding my true nature. I had been at my current address for almost a year.
The stranger who took me was the one asking the question this time. I had made no mistake other than trying to continue driving past exhaustion and believing that I had escaped him. He had me tied to a chair inside a house that reeked of evil. It was a bitter, repulsive scent in the air that I could taste on my tongue when I took a breath. I reached out with my senses. There was nothing outside the house but the evil. Even the forest critters came no where near this place.
Others were coming. Others like him, evil, repulsive creatures. I could not believe that I had once thought he was beautiful.
“I could ask you the same thing,” I replied, “but I really don't care. I just want to go home. Release me now and nothing will happen, I won't even tell the authorities.” My voice came out surprisingly calm. I was far from calm. I was close to another panic attack. I was frightened and I was angry. It was difficult to tell which feeling would take over first.
“I can't do that. They will be here soon. They have been waiting a long time to meet you.”
“Well I don't want to meet them anymore than I wanted to meet you.” It was the anger that came forth first. I focused on the restraints, trying to release myself. I couldn't do it. Whatever he had bound me with I was powerless against. His mind was a little hazy to me as well. It was too much evil, that had to be it. I had encountered people who were not very nice but I had never encountered this level of evil before.
“You have not answered my question. Where are you from?” he asked again.
I had no answer for him. What could I say? Everywhere? Nowhere? I was an orphan, lived in a different foster home every year, sometimes two a year, until my sixteenth birthday, the day I ran away. That was five years ago, ten different towns ago. I didn't even have an answer for who I was or what I was.
My silence angered him. He raised his hand to strike me, thought better of it, then dropped it again and regained control of his temper. “My patience is wearing thin. It is a simple question requiring a simple answer,” he said through clenched teeth.
I just continued staring at him, watching him struggle to control the evil inside him. I refused to allow the fear in me to show. He would feed on that fear and the evil would take over. His thoughts were hazy but I could still read enough to learn that from him. He was hoping for it, the impatience was more from that lack of fear showing through than it was for my lack of an answer.