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Phantoms on the Midnight Highway - Flash500 Horror

A crisp night, moonlit silver. A light breeze shifts restless leaves across the blacktop.

A curve in the road - not the best place to catch a lift but there she stands.

An unlikely time for cars to be passing; an unlikely place for them to stop.

The car that appears just past midnight pulls over a few hundred yards beyond the curve. Its idling engine drowns out the rustling leaves, so that their whispered warnings go unheard.

In no time she's at the door, sliding into the passenger seat. The interior is dim and warm. She doesn't make eye contact, but appears to wait for the driver's words: “It's a bit late for a young girl to be hitching alone...” or “Where you headed?..” or some other, possibly lewd, remark.

He doesn't speak. She seems to settle into the seat.

The car is old. The interior lit only by the glow of dashboard lights and the radio's tuner. It's an ancient thing and it's playing classic tunes. Richie Valens sings 'We Belong Together' and the girl sadly smiles.

The driver catches the smile and takes a proper look at her. She's not dressed for the night -her clothes more suited to a summer's day. She wears what's best described as 'vintage'. She complements the car and the music too perfectly.

Richie has finished singing, the words “..for eternity” hanging heavily in the air. After a long pause the Flamingos kick in with 'I Only Have Eyes For You'.

It's the driver's turn to smile, but it's a wide rictus. Impossibly wide. The skin around the edges of his mouth begins to peel away in powdery slivers. Heavy motes of dust drift lazily in the cab and the girl doesn't know if she can suppress the scream that's building in her throat, despite knowing she'll be inhaling those dried pieces of flesh.

“The moon may be high, but I can't see a thing in the sky...” the driver rasps along to the song and takes his hand from the wheel.

His skin is almost completely shed, his form skeletal but wrapped in a husk of atrophied muscle and mildewed clothes.

The car picks up speed. As she reaches for the handle her hand passes right through it – her solidity now out of phase with the phantom vehicle.

The driver doesn't seem to notice her any longer, he's still croaking to the music which seems to be getting louder in her head:

“But they all disappear from view

And I only have eyes for you...”

As the song ends, the car gives up its last semblance of corporeality. She is rudely dumped onto the two lane blacktop at seventy miles per hour. Exposed skin scrapes off along the road's surface – red, wet and painful. Her skull bounces with hollow thuds until she comes to a crumpled stop.

Headlights appear, reassuringly solid but worryingly close.

“...and we belong together”, sings her driver somewhere close by...patiently waiting.

Views: 296

Comment by M. Christine on October 19, 2014 at 20:22

Felt my blood curdle a bit.

Comment by Shakes on October 20, 2014 at 23:25

Thanks for that - the appropriate response.

Comment by Steffanie on October 31, 2014 at 21:16

I like the bouncing skull best :)

Comment by Elliot Black on November 1, 2014 at 9:35

Another great piece mate, loved the song tie-in! 

Comment by Ronnie Capaldi on November 2, 2014 at 15:48

Shakes! Its finally good to say hello! to ya! Your story was great. Whilst reading your story my mind flashed back to Stephen King's Christine! In fact I thought the whole story had the 1980s horror movie feel about it. You descriptions also made it felel so choreographed, it would of fitted perecfectly as a movie scene in one of them horrors back then! there might of been a bit of Near Dark in the mix also. Well thats just what I got from it anyway. One final thing -- fab title !

Comment by Shakes on November 2, 2014 at 16:23
Hey Ronnie. Likewise. I have still to comment on your excellent piece. You have spotted the influences from a mile. I'd like to think of it as an homage to the 80s (my obsession with horror started then!) Thanks for the kind words.

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