For salvation, take the next exit

You look at your watch again. It’s been a long, tiring day. You feel a bit feverish. You should have left earlier. You are working at a client’s site this week, so you could have easily left early and logged the hours working from your hotel. Leaving now means you will be caught in rush hour traffic on the freeway. You were the day before.

When you reach the on ramp to the freeway, on an impulse you pass right by it. You have visited this town once before and you know you can drive right next to the freeway and avoid the traffic. But today is different. There are ominous rain clouds making the visibility low. You should have turned on your GPS, especially when you drove right past the road you felt you should have taken but didn’t because you can hardly see the road signs, let alone read them. But you don’t turn on the GPS because you have a good sense of direction that you trust and don’t want to bother with the effort of digging out the GPS from your bag in the back seat.

You know for certain you are lost when the road you are on ends in a fork. You have seen nothing but trees next to the road for the last few miles. Now you pull over and do take out your GPS. You patiently wait for it to turn on, lock on to a satellite and then map you to your destination. Not yet time to panic but the GPS does not know your location. It wants you to get to a freeway but the road you are on is not on the map. You debate whether you should turn back but the freeway looks to be just a few miles to the right, so you take the right turn at the fork and keep going.

You hit eighty, then ninety miles per hour, not because you know there is not going to be a cop around but because you want to get out of there as soon as you can. Now it’s not only pitch dark outside but it has started raining. The road narrows to a single lane. You slow down to fifty, then forty miles an hour,not because you are not in a rush any more but because it looks very unsafe to drive any faster.

You should have reached the freeway by now. But you haven’t. The road is unpaved and it appears to be snaking through bodies of water on either side. You slow down to a crawl. The fuel warning flashes. It is time to panic. Ahead of you the road suddenly seems to vanish under water. You bring your car to a halt. A few yards beyond where the road disappears you can see it reappear.

Your GPS still does not show the road on the map but the freeway appears to be very close ahead. To keep going ahead you need to know just how deep under water the road is. Stepping out in the pouring rain and wading in the water seems crazy. Driving back, even if you had enough gas does not seem wise on the narrow road with no room to turn around. You pull out your phone. You anticipate no coverage and yet your heart sinks when you see zero bars on the screen.

It seems the only option you have is to switch off the engine, turn on the hazard lights and wait this out. So you wait. And wait. As you are about to doze off you are jolted awake by growls. On either side of the car. Dogs? Maybe something worse. One of the creature seems to be scratching the car. Your skin crawls. You reflexively draw your body in tighter. You look around to see what you can use as a weapon in case…

If you are a religious person you pray to your God. Your sins play through your head and you seek forgiveness. If you are not a religious person you pray to the forces of nature. Your sins play through your head and you are wracked with remorse. After a while the growling subsides. The creatures have, it appears, lost interest in you. You want to relieve you bladder. You are happy you have a coffee mug in the car. You use it. Your breathing is heavy. Your shirt is soaked in sweat. You are straining to hear every sound from outside. You are tired, you are feverish, but you are too scared to fall asleep. You keep checking your GPS and your phone as if magically they will be functional.

Eventually you fall asleep, your head on the steering wheel. When you wake up next it’s because of a car honking behind you. It’s sunny and clear out. You can see the road in front of you. It dips a little but there is no water on it. Even to either side of the road there is very little water. You wonder what happened to the huge bodies of water from last night. It all seems surreal. You wave to the car behind you, roll down your window, lean out and ask for directions. Turns out there’s a gas station a mile ahead and the freeway entrance not too far from there.

When you start your car the GPS turns on. You look in amazement as the road you are on appears on the map and the GPS gives you directions from your present location. You look at your phone. It shows a couple bars of signal. You shake your head in disbelief and drive.

At the gas station you tell the attendant you were stuck all night, a mile away in the rain. He’s an old man with a surly look, a look that says you are an idiot. Not a night to be out driving, he concurs. Creatures that growl? He’s never heard that before. There are scratch marks on the side of your car. Gravel, he mutters and goes about his business, not interested in your ramblings.

That’s your story. It has become more colored over the years and maybe you even remember it differently. If you are a religious person you might think it was the devil that showed up that night but your faith kept you safe. You do not want to delve deeper and possibly discover otherwise, a rational explanation to it all. If you are not a religious person, you might think the entire episode was a freak occurrence of nature that has a scientific explanation. A part of you is probably scared to delve deeper and discover otherwise, a supernatural phenomenon.

What really happened that night? A figment of imagination of a feverish mind? Does it really matter? Perspective or fact? Opinion or truth? We choose our truths. The ones we find give us meaning in and to our lives. And finding that meaning is what does really matters.

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About fictionfuture

An experiment in minimalist fiction View all posts by fictionfuture

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