Title: Vacations can be hell
Author: <lj user=”erestorjunkie”>
Summary: First chapter of a new story I am trying out
Warnings: None yet
Notes: Original story written for <lj comm=”horror_fiction”>. The idea came from a dream of a good friend of mine.
The day was hotter than expected. Dali rolled the window down on his little sedan to try to get some of the hot air out of the cabin. He had been trying to not run the air-conditioner since he had not seen a gas station for more than an hour, but the car was too hot in the bright sun. He was beginning to worry that he would not have enough gas to get back into town when it was time to go home.
He also worried about what the rocks on the road were doing to his undercarriage, if the dust was going to clog the air filters, and if he would be able to stop if an animal came out onto the road. . .
Of course, that was why he was out there, driving down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Dali’s doctor and most of his friends had been telling him for months to take some time away and quit worrying. They told him he was going to give himself a heart attack, or an aneurysm, or have a breakdown, or whatever the current popular illness was that was supposedly caused by stress.
He could see it now, his tombstone would be simple “Randall “Dali” Gentry, died from worrying.”
Sighing and muttering in frustration, he rolled his window back up. The dust was worse than the heat. He tried to enjoy the scenic drive; to his left was an idyllic field, full of sun and dancing weeds. He almost expected to see sheep grazing in lazy contentment out there but the green expanse was empty of animal life. To his right was a cool dark forest, cut by small dapples of sunlight.
Dali hoped that the resort would be in the forest part. The brochure had looked like a picturesque fantasy resort with a glassy mountain lake surrounded by towering pine trees. He had no delusions that it had been Photo-shopped. It was probably a prefab building with an outhouse and a puddle within walking distance.
The flyer had boasted a scenic view, boat house, walking trails, and high speed internet in the lobby. All the comforts of home in a rustic atmosphere guaranteed to relax away all your cares! The glossy paper had promised four star service at a two star price! When Jack first brought it to him he had thrown it away. You don’t get four star anything if you only pay for two. Apparently Jack had found it in the bin and put it back on the counter the next day. Three days in a row. It looked like he wanted him to try this place. Of course he denied it when he demanded to know why this place in particular, but Jack was squirrely like that.
Thinking about Jack put him back into his fall mood. Dali turned his attention back to the gravel road he had been following for what felt like hours. It had probably been less than 15 minutes, but it felt longer. In fact, he wondered if he could still see the highway behind him.
Adjusting the review, he almost left the narrow road. Where was it? No matter how he turned or twisted the little mirror he couldn’t see the road.
“What the fuck?” Dali hit the brakes a little too hard and felt the wheels of his small car slide on the loose gravel. He got the car under control again and pulled to the shoulder, if you could call the rut with more grass than gravel a shoulder.
He looked in the mirror again. There was the road about 4 feet out from his back bumper, but after that it just faded out. It was the only way he could describe it. Fade. It didn’t just abruptly end, but it looked like someone had just started to blend the neighboring field into the space where the road had been.
Not trusting the mirror, Dali turned around in his seat. There was no road. How had he just driven here? In front of him was the grey gravel he had been following since he turned off the highway 10 minutes ago? 15 minutes ago? He looked at the display of his car, but found that the little black numbers were flashing 12:00 over and over, like a VCR after a thunderstorm.
“The hell?” he swore and opened the little car’s door, the heat hitting him like the air from a hair dryer. Nothing stirred; the only sound was the soft rumble of his engine and his feet crunching on the gravel.
The distance from his back bumper to the field where the road had been was only about three feet and he could almost swear that it was getting closer. A faint tickle like electricity brushed his skin and he looked back the way he had come again. Nothing, but the tickle became more insistent. Now the distance was only 2 feet and definitely closing.
Feeling justified in worrying now, Dali hoped back in his car and put it back into drive. He didn’t bother with the seat belt, if a cop was out here, he would a welcome site. He would be thrilled to get pulled over so he could have them call an ambulance. His vacation was coming too late; he had already popped a blood vessel and was hallucinating. That was the only explanation.
The sunny field and sun dappled forest took on a sinister feel. The cool shadows no longer promised relief from the cruel late summer sun, but hid unimaginable horrors.
“Unimaginable horrors. Really? Is that the best you can come up with,” Dali scoffed at himself. His mind numbing day job as computer support drone was obviously getting to him. He used to try to fool himself into believing that he was going to be a writer someday. A real writer. The Great American Novel thing. But a few dozen fan fictions later and no real ideas for a novel and Dali had been forced to admit that he was no more a writer than he was a penguin. A middle aged penguin at that.
Dali was jolted out of his self-pity by an unexpected curve in the road. The tires slid and gravel rattled against the doors and he wrenched the wheel too hard to make the turn. A couple unpleasant seconds later, Dali found himself pointing back the direction he had come, facing the now missing road and the uncomfortable feeling that he had a flat tire.
This trip had been the worst idea he had had in a long time. No. It was the worst idea Jack had. He was definitely blaming Jack for this. It sure as shit beat blaming himself.