JUSTIN ALEXANDER - THE RIDE
Justin Alexander is an American author and an Oklahoma native. He is a father to four boys ages 11-18. He is a pianist, painter, and storyteller. Currently a student at Full Sail University online, Justin is attending the Creative Writing for Entertainment Bachelors Program. His dreams include continuing to write flash fiction, and someday operating a small blogging business that covers several topics simultaneously about the art of writing.
He stood there for what seemed like an eternity, thumb up, waiting. The weight of his duffle bag becoming more than he could bear. People just kept zooming by. The air thick with their vehicle fumes, pushed into him hard as each vehicle passed. In his boredom he had made a game of trying to figure out how fast each car was driving. “Am I invisible,” he thought. “They Either don’t see me, or don’t care.” Then as quickly as he had found himself in this situation, his suffering looked to be coming to an end. Finally, after hours of walking, somebody appeared to be stopping. The semi-truck could have been a pinto at this point. Zach simply didn’t care anymore, he just wanted a ride. “Any ride will do,” he said out loud.
Zach had never been in an 18-wheeler before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As he climbed aboard he smelled a faint odor that seemed familiar. The stale odor grew and became nauseating. He thanked the driver for stopping, no reply. Settling in he realized the smell is what he thought it was, the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath. That musty smell of people who drink often and in large quantities. The smell that often-reminded Zach why he quit drinking to begin with.
As they plummeted down the highway he felt scared. He had many reasons to be scared. This was the furthest he had ever traveled for one, and he had lost everything else already. He hoped his life would not be one of them. He feared for the driver. “How much has he been drinking?”, he muttered. There seemed to be an invisible barrier between the two as not a word had been uttered by either, with the exception of Zach’s gratitude when the driver had stopped. .
Now the stale smell of truck stop food seemed to rise up from the depths of the cabin. The smell, along with that of the alcohol was overwhelming Zach and he started to feel sick to his stomach and more and more uneasy. He turned to the driver and asked him to pull over. “Hello, Mister, could you stop please, I don’t feel well?” No response! He repeated his request. “Mister, hell I don’t even know your name…I’m Zach, and if you don’t want me to hurl in your truck than could you please pull over for a minute?” Still nothing, it seemed as though the driver was in some sort of trance. “Maybe it’s the alcohol,” Zach thought. He tried once more to get the drivers attention to no avail. “Mister look I beg you to pull over, HELLO!” Due to the strangeness of the whole thing Zach began to pay more attention to his surroundings in hopes of making sense of the driver’s actions.
With the way this trip is going, Zach wondered if he would make it to California alive. He became frantic and started to beg the driver. “Sir, look whatever you want, I’ll even get out and walk!” Still no answer. “Stop this truck now damnit,” Zach yelled at the driver, “I am serious!” He looked around at the cab more carefully and started to realize a horrible truth. He was going to die. The cabin was adorned in the furs of various animals, and the rear-view mirror looked to have human ears on it. The cabin was multi colored, and at second glance Zach realized it resembled fire. In the dash, like some Louis Viton bag, was etched Hell Highway and the numbers you would associate with the devil!
Zach reached for the handle on the door thinking that somehow, he might be able to get out. To his surprise there were no interior handles. “What the hell is this?” Zach was screaming now. “What kind of sick demented bullshit is this?” Then he saw it.
In the distance a train seemed fast approaching. The train’s trajectory implied that it would cross the highway they were on soon. Zach’s anxiety was through the roof now! They were headed straight for it. Scrambling now in fright and horror Zach tried to break the glass. The glass spiderwebbed everywhere but wouldn’t break free. He looked around to see if, perhaps, there was a way to roll down the window, but he was too late. The cabin erupted in flames and the driver finally acknowledged him saying nothing more than “Wake Up!”
Zach rubbed his eyes, coming back to consciousness and yelling at the driver, “Wake up, what in the hell?” Realizing that it had all been a dream, he started to relax just a bit. Still reeling in his head from the toppling truck. He came back to the real world and looked around. Horror filled him instantly.
He was right back in the truck with the driver.