I wanted to put up something a little different after all the recent sci-fi, so I went over to Reddit’s writing prompt subreddit and found this little doozy:
“A hitchhiker murderer picks up a murderous hitchhiker.”
One thing I love about these flash fiction prompts is how quickly they can flow out of you. I put this together in very little time, but with a strong and simple concept like the one above there wasn’t a lot of agonizing over where to go next. It’s a lot of fun, and if you want to do your own there’s no reason it has to be as long as this one.
Here’s my entry – and here’s a link to the Reddit thread so you can upvote my comment!
By Brett Caron
He needed better wipers. The windshield was blurry with sheets of rain, driven by a wind so strong it shoved the Toyota from side to side. He wasn’t speeding – that was a good way to get pulled over, and he’d have a hard time explaining the contents of his trunk if any over-curious highway patrol wanted to take a look. The flicker of headlights didn’t illuminate too much beyond a few meters except pounding rain and glistening pavement. The slick road felt unsure under the tires, even though he wasn’t anywhere close to the speed limit.
Of course, he hadn’t bought the car for performance, windshield wiper or otherwise. It was nondescript, one of a thousand travelling these roads, and that was just the way he liked it. Another green Toyota, another white male aged 18-30 behind the wheel, brown hair and clean-shaven. Typical. Average.
Except it wasn’t. He wasn’t. He was special. Always had been, ever since he was a little boy.
He didn’t even notice the hitchhiker until he’d almost gone right past the lonely figure waving in the rain. As he always did, he wondered what they were doing out here – even more so on a night like tonight. Pulling the car over without skidding to a stop was a bit shaky, so he slowed to a stop a bit further than the hitcher and waited with his tail lights on. He didn’t want to look desperate.
While they caught up, he fumbled in his glove box. He took out the glasses – really nerdy-looking wire frame ones, the kind that his dad used to wear. He didn’t need them – the lenses weren’t prescription and they were a bit loose on his face. But they were non-threatening, disarming. He pushed them up his nose with a practiced gesture.
Next was the water bottle. He carefully slid it into the cup holder next to his own half-finished bottle. He had just enough time to close the glove box before the door opened. The sound of rain was deafening after the silence.
“Thanks.” She was beautiful. He hadn’t been expecting that, or even a woman. This was good.
She pushed away the sopping wet strands of black hair plastered to her forehead and looked him in the eyes. “It’s a nightmare out there.”
He nodded. “No kidding. Dangerous to be driving, let alone walking. Where are you headed?”
“Alkington. Are you going that far?”
“Sure.” He wasn’t. “I can get you all the way across, I’m going right through there on my way to North Haverbrook.” Not true.
“Great, that’s great.” She looked relieved. She was soaked to the bone, but her clothes were nice – new, he guessed. “I’m Erin.”
That was weird.
“Ah… I’m Aaron. Too. Or, as well.”
She laughed, maybe a bit too easily. “It’s nice to meet you, Ah-Aaron. Can we go now?”
“Sure, of course.”
He pulled back out onto the road. They drove in silence for a few minutes. Moving slowly, not wanting to spook her, he pointed to the water bottle.
“I have an extra water.”
She smiled. “Thanks. You’d think I’d had enough water to last the rest of my life, but I couldn’t catch that much in my mouth and my mom told me not to drink rainwater. She said clouds are filthy.”
They laughed together. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as she unsealed it and took a sip. Excellent. She was relaxing. Maybe the glasses were working, or the fact that they had similar names.
But why had he told her that? He never gave his real name.
He had to keep his eyes on the road, but after a few more minutes of silence he started to notice something. She was watching him, still sipping. Not obviously, but askance – just like he’d been watching her.
She drank another mouthful of water and made a face.
“This tastes funny.”
He laughed again, a fake sound even to his ears.
“I think it’s the plastic. The gas station looked like no one had opened the cooler in years.”
“Well, it’s gross.” She screwed the cap back on, put it back in the cup holder. She smoothed the wet denim thighs of her jeans. “I feel a little weird, too.”
“Out in the rain that long, you might be catching cold. There’s a blanket in the back, if you want.”
She leaned between their seats, fumbling in the back. He tried not to look at her ass, but couldn’t help himself. His heart started to beat faster. He hoped that she’d taken enough of the water. He didn’t like the way she had been watching him. It was always easier once their eyes didn’t see anything anymore.
When she hit him in the back of the head, he almost lost control of the car. It slewed dangerously to one side, already unstable in this weather. She hit him again, hard. He saw white flashes in front of his eyes. The useless glasses tumbled off to land somewhere at his feet. He took his foot off the gas.
Then he felt the knife under his chin. It was slicing into the outermost layer of his flesh, a burning pain nicking his Adam’s apple every time he swallowed. He could feel blood at the back of his skull, wet and warm in his hair and shirt collar.
“What are you-”
“Shut the fuck up. Pull over. Now. I’ll cut your throat and leave you here if you don’t.”
There was no arguing with the cold knife or the burning pain. His head throbbed, heavier with every second. He coasted to the shoulder, shut off the engine.
This was unexpected.
Her voice was tense. Through the fog in his head, he could hear the slight slur to her words. She seemed to realize it too.
“What the- what did you do to me?”
The steel wavered for a second. He shoved her head against the window as hard as he could, heard the solid crack as her skull met the glass. The knife dragged down the side of his neck, just missing the jugular. Still, it left a ragged tear in the flesh halfway to his shoulder. The smell of blood filled the car.
He had his hands around her throat, squeezing for all he was worth. Her eyes lit up, those watcher’s eyes so much like his own. The skin around his knuckles was white, shaking.
The knife went in. He felt the burning again, this time in his guts. Bad. He knew what a knife could do there. He slammed her back against the window again, watched a spiderweb of cracks appear there.
The strength started to leave his hands. The blood gushed over both of them, hot and sticky and full of his life. She gasped for air, pulling his fingers from her throat, but the wheezing didn’t sound quite like panic. It almost sounded like she was enjoying it.
He slumped back, then, holding the mess of his ragged shirt and stomach. She coughed, but her eyes lit up again with a fierce light.
“Ah-Aaron… you’re full… of surprises.”
As she leaned in to cut his throat, knocking over the water bottle he’d so carefully drugged with a syringe before waxing the tiny hole back up, it was Aaron’s turn to smile through red teeth.
She didn’t know the half of it. The knife opened a second smile underneath the first. Everything started to spin, a black tunnel closing to a pinhole.
He wished he could see her face when she opened the trunk and discovered the bodies of his last two hitchhikers.