Schisms – Chapter 1

I wrote this a few years ago as part of my very first National Novel Writing Month.

This is the story of Dali, a man desperately in need of a break. Surely a vacation is just what he needs.

“Scenic is one way to describe it,” I grumbled for the tenth time since turning off the highway. Traffic was hell getting out of the city and now the setting sun had set fire to the fields and forest on either side of the narrow one lane road.

“If ‘rustic’ turns out to mean a prefab building next to a puddle I swear I am going home.” I squinted against the dying sun and wondered if maybe It wasn’t too late, surely I could still see civilization back there. I could stop at a motel, spend the night and decide if it was worth the hassle of trying to find this god forsaken resort on a full stomach.

“What the hell?” I hit the brakes a little too hard and felt my car skid. I didn’t really have time to do anything close my eyes and pray I didn’t hit it.

The car stopped and my heart raced uncontrollably as the burn from the sudden spike in adrenaline made my hands shake and my stomach roll. The little car’s engine idled roughly , but I was stopped. It looked like I was still on the road too, who knew, something had gone right today.

I looked in the rear view mirror, hoping the large black dog was not lying in the road. It has come out of nowhere, and I wasn’t positive I had not hit it. To my relief there was no dog, but also no road.

“Dali, you’ve lost it for real this time.” It looked like the only thing behind my car was a solid sea of kudzu. I got out of the car, and felt the immediate weight of the heat. The day had been unseasonably warm and with the sun only a few degrees from the horizon it was going to be hours before it go any cooler.

I looked around, a sign pointed down a gravel road just to my right, it looked homemade, but it had the name of the resort on it. I must be close. I had the unnerving thought that I might need to outrun the vines. I had no idea where that thought came from, but I could not resist the urge to look behind me. Where they closer? It sure looked like they were closer. Time to move on, I just needed to make sure there was no dog under the car.

“Are you kidding me?” I wanted to bang my head on the car. The driver’s side tire was completely flat. This was not a fix it with a can of goop and limp it along, this was an un-salvageable strip of rubber. I rubbed my temples, hoping the impending headache would stay away long enough for me to figure out what was going on. The sun was setting quickly and every time I looked, the distance between the green sea and my rear bumper looked smaller and smaller.

The car chose that moment to sputter and die, leaving me in eerie silence as twilight turned into night. There was nothing out here, not even crickets. The world held it’s breath and I held mine along with it.

I tried frantically to restart it, but it was dead. Even the interior light was out. I slammed my hands against the wheel in frustration and tried not to cry. I had been doing a lot of that lately, and wasn’t that what this whole vacation was about. Get me out of my rut so I could come back happy and relaxed?

I reached around on the floor in front of the passenger’s seat until I found my phone. It had fallen to the floor boards when I hit my breaks. I pressed the little button. Nothing. The screen remained as blank as before. I tried again. Still nothing. I tried holding the button longer, but there was no sign of life from the device. I even took the battery out and put it back in. The phone was dead.

There was no helping it, walking was the only way I was going anywhere. I weighed my options. Behind me was the now covered road, in front of me was barely more than a dirt track through a forest. I didn’t like either option.

The wind picked up suddenly and I felt the temperature drop. This was going to be a long walk. With one last glance at the rapidly encroaching vines, I walked over to the head of new road. It was dark under the trees and it felt like unseen eyes watched from every direction.

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