Broke down

“Damn this car,” Jean said as she lifted the hood of the nearly antique Toyota Camry.

The area was quiet, desolate and only the crickets heard her as she looked under the hood in the twilight of the newborn night.

“What the hell am I doing,” Jean said to herself as she looked at the car, “I wouldn’t know what to do even if I knew what was wrong. Why is it I always get the bad cars?”

Jean sighed, and stared at the engine compartment, the hood light’s glare shining over all it could see.

Jean picked up her phone and looked at the screen, “no signal”.

Jean began walking back and forth on this desolate part of the highway, looking for a small place that she could get a signal and make a call to someone somewhere.

She saw the lights in the distance, the area she thought no one would ever visit was being visited, she looked at the lights as they grew, from yellow to bright white as the car came closer and she waved her arms.

The car pulled towards her as the last vestiges of the crimson sky faded to black and night was upon the area. The sleek Impala was jet black, and the door opened in an almost methodical manner.

A mountain of a man stepped out of the car. He was at least six feet tall and was very heavy, at least 300 pounds. Jean gulped for a second as he looked at her then he spoke with a  soft voice that simply did not fit his mountainous form.

“What seems to be the problem,” he asked.

“Car broke down and I’ve got no signal,” Jean smiled her biggest brightest smile. “I can send a truck for it later, can you just take me to town?”

“Town’s about 20 miles from here,” the crisp voice replied. “I can take ya, but I am not sure what’s open, and there isn’t good cell signal anywhere in the state as far as I know.”

“So I have found out,” Jean said to him, “My name’s Jean.”

“My name’s Miller,” the man mountain spoke in a soft tone, “I will drive ya so you can get a signal.”

“Thanks Miller,” Jean said as she walked to the Camry. “Let me grab my bag.”

Jean grabbed the large leather bag out of the back seat of the Camry and walked to Miller’s Impala. As she walked to the passenger side she smiled at the crisp lines of the car.

“What year?” she asked Miller.

“1996,” Miller said, “A nice year for Impala’s. Did you want to lock your car or close the hood?”

“Naw, maybe someone will steal it,” she laughed.

Miller looked serious, “I doubt it Miss Jean, people out here are pretty trusting and trustworthy.”

“I’ve noticed that,” Jean said as they both closed their doors and Miller started the car.

As they pulled away Miller asked, “So whatcha doin out this way?”

Jean smiled and even in the dark she knew her smile could be seen, “Well, I am kinda looking for something exciting. I am not sure what yet, but there is something out here.”

“I imagine so,” Miller said. “From the city?”

“Yep,” Jean started, “I am from just outside of Chicago, ever been there?”

“No ma’am,” Miller said in his light voice, “I’ve never been anywhere but here. I just work and come home every day like the good lord says to do.”

“Family?” Jean asked.

“I did have, but they are all gone now, it is just me and the cat, ain’t no issue though, the cat is outside til I get home, and I just work when I want, it is a perfect life.” Miller said.

“I bet it is,” Jean said. Jean loosened her hold on her bag and smiled a bit. As she did so Miller asked quietly, “that’s a nice bag.”

“Yeah, I picked it up a bit ago, it is a nice bag,” Jean said as she reached into her bag.

“Hey Miller, I am feeling a little sick, can you pull over for a second, I am not used to riding passenger,” Jean said.

Miller frowned in the dim glow of the instrument lights, “Sure.” He said in his soft voice.

Jean opened the door with her bag as she stepped out of the car and leaned over the side coughing, Miller came around the back of the car and tried to help as she looked down into the ditch and coughed again.

“Can I help you ma’am,” Miller asked.

“You already did,” Jean said as she swung the knife across Millers throat.

Miller gasped as his skin parted and blood began spraying out of the gaping hole. Jean smiled as Miller grabbed his throat.

“You’re a nice man Miller,” she said, “But I am not a nice woman. I really needed the car, the last guy just didn’t take care of his piece of junk, and your car will get me a long, long way. Thank you, Miller.” As Jean said the last word she kicked the giant man into the ditch as he gasped his last breath.

Jean walked to the driver side and looked at her phone, still no signal, what a great state. She got in the car and began to drive, wherever the road might lead, and to whoever she might find next.


He ran.

He was panting like a dog as he ran in the vengeful heat. The sun slammed down on him and the thick underbrush snagged his pants as he bounded forward. Tim had woke up in a strange cot in the middle of nowhere. The tent he woke in was stocked with water and food and littered with discarded wrappers and empty bottles from some long forgotten tenant. As he stepped out of the tent into the jungle he had seen he was alone, and started calling out.

A gunshot had fired, and that is when he began running. He was not sure why, but he was an easy target for whoever had placed him in the tent. He somehow new he had to get away, well, it seemed like common sense. So he grabbed a few bottles of water and a little food and then he ran.

After 15 minutes of running he stopped and surveyed the area. He was in a thick jungle, there were animal sounds everywhere. He knew from the sun position he was running either due east or due west, but would know shortly when he figured out if the sun was rising or setting. The cover was thick, some areas of the forest so thick it appeared dark, but the heat and humidity were oppressive and it was obvious he was still in the tropics.

He thought and tried to remember, he was in Cayman, and the night before, there were drinks, and laughter, and he could barely remember the evening going by, he just woke up and was in the tent. His thoughts were jumbled, and confused/

Another shot fired, it seemed farther behind him, but he needed to add more distance, and start doing things right. He walked carefully through the brush and was careful not to catch or bend the leaves. He was methodical and kept moving towards the rising sun. He knew now he was going east. Twice he doubled back upon his steps and changed paths, twice he was sure he left no trail, but wanted to be even more sure.

He became more relaxed, and passed several thickets and noted their locations. When he found one thick enough he doubled back and worked his way in, then watched and waited. The sun slowly moved up to the late morning sky, and Tim felt a little more at ease, perhaps even safe. The jungle was alive with sounds and he looked up and watched birds fight in the trees over who knows what.

With a shriek the birds scattered and Tim heard footsteps in the woods. He strained to hear more but could not. Peering through the trees he saw movement, khaki and green contrasted with the rest of the backdrop and he watched as the shape moved slowly, looking at the ground, then sliding forward, panther like. It was a woman, maybe 25, a long rifle hanging from her back she paid close attention to the ground as she moved forward, then she smiled and looked right, then left. Her red hair was long and flowing, she walked easily, the ground seemed to respond to her as she wandered through the ferns and thick vines.

“I can smell you,” she yelled. “You sure drank enough last night, I know you are close, c’mon out.”

Tim quietly smelled himself, and there was a light stench of alcohol, but no one could smell that well.

“C’mon Tim,” she said, “It was a good night wasn’t it. I told you that you might get lucky today, lets go back to the tent and have some fun.” She flung her head back and swung her hair. Any other time it would have been an open invitation, but Tim was wary.

Tim could not remember her or the night before, he strained and still the night was just a blur.

“Tim, where are you Tim,” she cooed. “We can have another drink. You told me all about your life in the service. It’s me, Stephanie, you remember.”

Tim was so unsure, he sat patiently and thought of standing and seeing what would happen or waiting and seeing if she really could smell him. He watched her, looking around, then saw her run forward.

It was a ruse. She could not smell him, she was baiting him. Why? Why would she be baiting him. He waited, patiently, and suddenly the sounds of the jungle were back. It was almost noisy compared to a few minutes ago. He stayed, waiting watching. The birds fought above him, he smiled to himself, took a water bottle out of his pocket and broke open the seal. He was glad he could know it had not been opened before, but still he took a tentative taste, nothing. He took only a few sips and reached into his pocket and grabbed a granola bar. He ripped open the package and took a bite.

“Sound is your enemy,” he heard the female voice say behind him. He turned and saw the barrel pointing at him. There was a flash of light, then darkness.

The club was full of men as Stephanie wandered through. Her bright green dress sparkled in the flashing lights. As she walked to the bar, her red hair shining in the white light, a man walked up to her.

“Hey,” he said, “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Let me buy you one,” Stephanie said as she felt the vial in her necklace and walked to the bar with her next prey.