The Lonely Road
The December breeze nipped at Richard’s nose as he waited on the side of the dark, and lonely road. Thick trees flanked the asphalt, which stretched far in either direction. The sun had long since set, and his only source of light came from the street lamps spaced sparsely along the road. Richard pulled his jacket closer as an icy gust of wind passed by. He felt the bulge of the inner pocket press against his chest—a small comfort.
Hitchhiking was quite dangerous. Either way, you put your trust into a complete stranger. Horror movies and stories have done a good job at dissuading people from having any part of it. Some people hitchhike for the thrill of it, but not Richard. No, he needed to do this.
Same shit, different place, he thought as he stood under one of the streetlights. A few years ago, he would have been nervous, but not anymore. He’d grown used to it.
It never usually took long for him to find a ride, but this road just seemed abandoned, and it eroded his optimism. It’s been hours. If I don’t see a car soon, I might just have to give up, he thought with a deep frown.
Just as he was about to concede, a bright light pierced through the darkness, brighter even than the streetlight he stood under. It was a car! A cocktail of adrenaline and relief coursed through him. Richard knew just what to do as he held a thumb out extended towards the road—the universal symbol for hitchhiking. There was still the chance that the drive would just fly on passed without a second glance, but he still needed to try.
As the vehicle drew near, anxiety shot through him as he noticed that it was a semi-truck.
A semi? Definitely not my style, he thought. Too large a vehicle. Smaller sedans or even an SUV would be better.
There was a moment where he considered just letting this ride go, but this had been the only vehicle to pass by in the last few hours. Richard gritted his teeth and decided to not throw away this gift. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?
When the truck came to a full stop, Richard grabbed his pack and rushed towards the cab, and lifted himself in. The stench of old cigarettes greeted him as he sat on the rough leather passenger seat. Discarded food bags, drink cans, and cigarette butts littered the cab. He was almost choking on the smell.
Then, he got to see his would-be savior. He was an older, portly man with a face full of wrinkles, a shaved-bald head, and a bushy grey beard that obscured his mouth until he spoke.
“Where you headed?” the driver asked, his voice gruff.
“Next town over. Got to find a place for the night,” said Richard in a practiced way.
The driver gave a nod of his head in acknowledgement. After Richard shut the door, the engine of the semi roared back to life, like a vicious beast, and slowly picked up speed as they drove down the dreary road.
“You from around these parts?” the driver asked.
“No, not really. You could say I’m traveling.”
“Oh,” Richard said with a start. “It wouldn’t interest you.”
The driver seemed to pick up on his reluctance to answer the question and dropped the subject, something Richard appreciated.
They continued on this way for a few minutes in silence. Richard’s gaze moved about the cab, but always returned to the driver. The anxiety he had felt before had begun to transform into a familiar pang of need. Richard knew that it was now or never as he slid a hand deftly into the inside of his jacket. His palm grasped the hilt of the blade as he prepared himself for what he needed to do.
“You look nervous,” the driver said suddenly. “You alright?”
“Yeah, you just don’t fit into my usual type.”
“What do you—” the drive began but was cut off by the feel of cold, sharp steel pressed against his throat.
The driver froze, his hands glued to the wheel. His breath caught in his throat. He looked towards his passenger slowly and met Richard’s gaze. In those eyes was a dark intent. A ravenous hunger.
“Beggars can’t be choosers, though, right?” said Richard with a wicked smile.