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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Reyes

Truck Stop

Short Story | Horror | 1800 words

She waited patiently in the left turn lane for the light to switch to green. Her blinker ticked almost in time with the music pumping through her car speakers. The fat, heavy clouds in the sky that had threatened rain all day finally made good on their promise. Drops started to patter on her roof, and even as she sat watching traffic pass her from the other lanes, the rain sped up, quickly becoming a downpour.

The green arrow in front of her illuminated, indicating it was her turn. She swung her car in the wide arc necessary to turn left onto the onramp. The single lane that would feed her onto the interstate was bordered on both sides by a cement wall that started as a broad mouth and grew narrower as she took her car up the inclined curve that would lead her over the city streets and to the expressway. Her mind was elsewhere as she hummed along with her music, so at first she didn’t realize anything was off.

As she turned, she had to slow where the curve was becoming increasingly sharp and the space between the walls more and more narrow. The rain was falling in sheets, blurring the lines in front of her as raindrops crashed and splattered by the billions. She kept turning, her wheel twisted all the way to the left, and she slowed to a crawl as she maneuvered in the increasingly tight space. The car behind her was nearly on her bumper, urging her forward with impatience. She quickly reached down and slapped the button that would turn off her radio so she could concentrate. Her two hands gripped the wheel until her knuckles were white. The walls were getting closer, the space narrower. Now it hit her: this couldn’t be right. She inched forward, seeing her path become increasingly inaccessible but not wanting to believe it. The cars behind her did not let up. No other drivers seemed to acknowledge anything was amiss. Could they not see what was happening?

Soon, there was no room for her car. The high cement walls had gradually closed in until the road was impassable. She was trapped. She couldn’t move forward or pull to the side. The cars were lining up behind her, honking, and the screeching of brakes rang out as new arrivals came to unexpected stops in the traffic jam she had created.

Her pulse raced. Trapped. Could they not see she was trapped? Where did they want her to go? How would she get out? She opened her car door, but it only gave an inch before hitting the concrete barrier. Rain poured into the narrow space, soaking her arm. She put the car in park and reached across to the passenger door. It couldn’t be opened either. Her breath came in gasps. The rain drummed across her car like a declaration of war, an incessant beat of footsteps belonging to an opposing army closing in. She put her car in reverse, hoping the white lights flanking her trunk would tell the person behind her to give her space to move back; there was no going forward. They didn’t budge. They weren’t going to let her out. She saw her own panicked face reflected back to her in her sun visor mirror. The honking continued. More cars joined in the chorus. How could this be happening? Even an inch further and her car would be scraping the walls, wedged in completely. There was no room. Nowhere to go. Was this some sort of joke? A mistake by the highway department? Some sort of trap? She felt her heartbeat in her ears. The heavy sounds of rain made her feel claustrophobic, like the world outside was closing in. The pounding downpour and the blaring of horns grated against her. In desperation, she slammed on her own horn, joining in the cacophony created by the drivers at her back. She beat at her steering wheel in terror, the feeling of being trapped grabbing her by the throat and holding tight. She punched the horn again and again and screamed. Her voice was drowned out by the sounds of rain, so she screamed louder. She was screaming in frustration. She was screaming in panic. She was screaming for help. But who could help her?

She looked into the rear-view mirror as she screamed and blared her horn. She was sweating despite the cool air still pumping from the vents in her dash. She could feel that her throat had become raw when she stopped to take a breath, but she didn’t know what else do to, so she continued screaming until her voice cracked. She continued honking until the sound was so familiar it became white noise. “Fuck!” she shouted, and in blind desperation, threw her car into drive and slammed it forward. She continued to scream as her side view mirrors snapped off. She heard the scraping of car on concrete as she floored the gas, willing her car to somehow keep moving forward, ignoring the whine of her protesting engine, but the walls had gripped her tight, and she was wedged in now—really, truly stuck. The gravity of it hit her and she felt desperate tears streaming down her cheeks as she took her foot off the pedal and let the complaints of her motor grow quiet and her voice fall silent.

Her eyes returned to her rear-view mirror to see if there had been any change to the line of cars behind her. Did they now understand that she had nowhere to go? That they were all simply stuck? That’s when she saw it. It was such a big scene to be reflected in the small, rectangular mirror that it felt like it shouldn’t have been able to fit. But she watched all the same.

The line of cars stretched around the curve at her back. Since the ramp climbed as it turned, she had vantage to see the angry faces in the windshields, still honking, urging her forward though she had nowhere to do. And behind them, coming full speed around the bend, was a huge truck, loaded so heavy with freight that its suspension hung low, but still, somehow, it had gathered enough momentum to be barreling around this curve. She knew it didn’t have room to stop. It was going too fast. She didn’t realize she had begun screaming again until she felt the searing pain in her throat as her voice rose and cracked. Despite the fact that no one could hear her, despite the fact that it could make no difference, she screamed her warning—No! Watch out! Slow down! Stop! Stop! STOP!

But the truck didn’t stop.

She watched it slam into the cars at the back of the line and obliterate them. Parts flew into the air. She felt sick as she watched the bodies slung across the asphalt from the impact. But still the truck did not stop. It continued to smash through car after car, crumpling them, flattening them, disintegrating them into twisted wreckage. It was impossible, but the truck continued to crash forward, a monster, a leviathan in its destruction, never slowing as it demolished one car after another—a convenient line of prey, single file and nowhere to go, they were all sitting ducks, there for the taking as the hungry truck gobbled them all up. It wasn’t long before her rear-view mirror showed no other cars, only devastation and one commanding image: that of the truck bearing down on her. When it was so close that its menacing grill—a gruesome mouth of metal teeth on which she was certain she saw smears of oil and blood—was the only thing reflected back to her, she closed her eyes and braced for the impact.

She sat up in bed. Her body was soaked in sweat. The sheets around her felt saturated. She rested her hand on her chest, sticky with perspiration, and tried to catch her breath.

“The dream again, honey?” her husband mumbled sleepily as he sat up in bed next to her and pressed his hand gently to her back. Where his skin met hers she could feel a thick film of moisture. He undoubtedly felt it too, but in kindness did not snatch his hand away in revulsion. She wouldn’t have blamed him; she felt repulsive. She nodded her head, then, realizing he couldn’t see her in the dark of their bedroom, whispered her “yes.”

“I’m sorry, babe,” he said, as he gave her a gentle kiss on her sweat-soaked cheek. “Need anything?” Again, she gave a shake of her head, caught herself, and answered him out loud. “Ok, let me know if you do,” he said in a voice still laced with sleep before lying back down and rolling over on his side. He’d be snoring again in moments. She remained sitting up, catching her breath, her whole body vibrating with panic.

She had told him about the dream before. It was impossible not to after the third or fourth time she woke screaming, thrashing, or in swimming in sweat. What she didn’t tell him is that the nightmare wasn’t simply an invention of her sleeping mind. She didn’t tell him that it was a distorted representation of something that she had really seen. The dream ran away with the details, magnified and exaggerated them so they were fiction enough while still holding onto sufficient realism that it cut at her every time. Even when the dream did not torment her sleep, though it did often enough, the memories it evoked would haunt her waking thoughts as well. She told him of feeling trapped. She told him of the walls closing in—though she knew they never narrowed that way, to catch a car and hold it there like prey—but in the dream, they always grabbed her. She told him about the crashes, the bodies, the devastation. How she could see fear in the eyes of every person before the truck barreled through, moving forward impossibly. She knew in reality a truck like that would have come to a stop after decimating only a few cars, not a huge line like in her dream, but it was no comfort. The knowledge did not make her stomach turn any less violently when she thought about it.

Yes, she had told him all the details of the dream except for one: the fact that it was based in reality. She had not told him she was there that day. She had not told him of all the dead bodies, severed and crushed, that she had really seen. And she especially had not told him that she had been the one driving the truck.


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