Rely on Horror Presents: The Ride
Hey there, everyone! Here’s the first edition to a new collection of short horror stories written by me that will appear on Rely on Horror every few weeks or so. I hope you enjoy it!
Inspired by a true story
Amanda chucked her empty soda bottle into one of the trash cans and blew a whisk of hair out of her face. Danny was falling asleep around her shoulders, and she knew that mom and dad where going to be pissed. The fair only came to town for a week, so she had pretty much decided to screw the curfew, school or no. But it was her being out with Danny so late that would probably get her in the most trouble.
She had taken a bus to the fair, but they stopped running after 10. And a quick glance at her watch told her it was 1:12.She had been in a fight with her mother the night before, so she didn’t mind making her worry like this, but it was going to suck when she got home to whatever punishment awaited her. It had been worth it though, A chance to have some fun with her little brother was something she craved every now and again, it reminded her of when Joe had still lived here. He was long gone off to college now, and little Danny was all the company she had in the world most days, but school and work kept her away.
She hoisted Danny up a little, and started down the road, away from the brilliant glow of the fair grounds. She’d walked just as far before, but never with a 90 pound eight year old over her shoulders, and she quickly began to tire. It was much darker outside than she’d expected, too. Out in the sticks like this, you where lucky if the road had lights on it. She wasn’t, and Amanda stumbled in the dim moonlight, slowly wearing out from carrying the little boy.
She was starting to panic and go to turn back and find a pay phone, when the dark road fluttered to life with long streaks of light. She looked over her shoulder to see headlights coming up to them, dust circling the moving shafts of light. She grinned, and stuck out her thumb. Despite how big of a distance it was from place to place out here, it was a fairly tight nit community. Odds where, she knew whoever was driving the car. It pulled up next to them, and she thought she recognized the older style car. It was a ford, maybe from the late 70’s. Her father was the expert, but she’d been around the station enough to know at least make and general decade.
She opened up the backdoor and hefted Danny inside, relieved to have the weight off her shoulders. She pushed him over a little bit and leaned in to buckle him in, and then got in herself, slamming the door behind her. The old car immediately began to move again, kicking up dirt and grit as it’s tires spun to life. “Thanks so much, I was afraid I’d have to walk all night” Amanda said, and moved hair out of her eyes and looked up into the front seat. Three people sat there, the front seat just one long couch. A man in an old brown suit and short gray hair gripped the steering wheel with chiseled, old looking hands. Beside him was a woman in a complicated looking black hat- at least she assumed it was a woman from the plumage adorning her hat and shoulders. Lastly, there was a tall man, his head touching the roof of the car, the fedora hat getting a little crushed. He wore a gray suit, in contrast to the driver’s brown. They all seemed like they where out of another time. Amanda instantly realized she had no idea who these people where.
“Uh…” She uttered, suddenly very unsure of herself- she would have never tried to get a ride from complete strangers, but… the more she thought about it, she suddenly felt very clever indeed. Her mother would be infuriated to know she had done something as dangerous as hitchhiking- and in that she would find victory. Suck it, mom she thought bitterly, the anger from their argument still hot in her mind. “Thanks for the lift!” She finally managed, giving the trio a wide-toothed grin in the rearview. “My brother was starting to get really heavy, this was really generous of you! We live up on Seader Road, by the Giant Express? You can just drop us off there!” She turned to tend to Danny, who was restless now, his eyes fluttering open and closed as the car bumped up and down along the dirt road.
“Mandy? Where are we?” He mumbled from the darkness of the backseat. “Did mom pick us up?” “No, honey, these nice people offered to take us home.” She said, smiling down at him. “Strangers?” Danny said, sitting up and suddenly sounding very worried. “It’s okay, Dan. These people are nice. They picked us up, didn’t they?” “Mommy says not to talk to strangers.” Danny said loudly, the fear in his voice shifting more towards scolding as he talked to Amanda. She hated it when he got all indignant with her, and turned to tell the three up front not to mind him, when she suddenly realized no one had said a word.
“Don’t pay any attention to him… he’s uh… little.” The silence was unsettling now, they made absolutely no response to her or Danny. They didn’t even move. They could have been mannequins in the front seat if not for the hands moving occasionally to correct the steering wheel. “Hey, what’re your names?” She said, trying to be more direct now. Maybe they where simple. Out in the middle of nowhere like this, it wasn’t uncommon to run into some people who just didn’t talk well with others unless they where given direct questions. After several minutes, it became apparent that none of them where going to be saying anything at all. Amanda was starting to get seriously unnerved by this now, and she spoke up again.
“It shouldn’t be too far now. We live near…” The thought dawned on her that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to let them know where they lived, at least exactly. “You know where the Deny’s used to be? You can drop us off there, that’d be fine!” She tried to sound perky, but she knew that her voice was wavering. Ten minutes past, then the corner where the old Deny’s used to be past. And then her high school. And then her town. Not a single word had been spoken by the trio up front, and fear was settling in, hard. Amanda kept piping up to tell them that, no, perhaps this spot was even better to let them out at. But soon her voice cracked, and she stayed silent. The ride was starting to turn long, and the night darker. Amanda felt tiny in the blackness of the car, and looking over at Danny yielded only his frightened eyes staring up at her from the dark like two white glowing orbs. She reached over and took his hand, squeezing it harder than she had meant too, but he squeezed right back. She was surprised he hadn’t started crying yet, but reaching over to feel his check revealed silent tears streaming down his face.
Amanda tried to catch a glint of light off of her watch so she could see what time it was, but there was no light anywhere but in front, where the car’s headlights where, the windows showed only the dust from the road swirling around the car, and darkness.
Suddenly she felt the car lurch over to the left, and the driver was cranking the wheel. They where turning into someplace. The car bumped and lurched over uneven ground, and Amanda could hear grass being churned beneath the tires. They where out in a field of some kind. The driver then turned the wheel slightly right, and the car shook over dirt and grass and it began to drive in a large circle. Amanda’s brain froze. What in the hell where these people doing? Going to do?
Orange-red light bloomed in the darkness to the right of the car, and Amanda realized that the windows had fogged over. She reached up and wiped at the glass, but a shrill cry from beyond forced her to retract, she could feel her scream catch in her throat, causing her to choke a little. “What is it?” Danny whispered, tugging at her arm. Amanda shook her head, wide-eyed, and then the first clear thought she’d had all night darted across her mind. She reached down, unbuckled her seat belt as quietly as she could despite the rightward ark of the car, and did the same for Danny’s, then reached across the dark seat and grasped the door handle. She breathed, one, two, three- another rotation of the car and she pulled on the door handle, pushing it wide open with one hand and shoving Danny out with the other. She watched as Danny rolled out into the grass, and then cried out as the door swung shut immediately, cracking her painfully in the head.
The pain was sudden and startling, and it took her a second to recuperate, but she still had enough to count out another rotation, it was fast, and she reached out to pull on the door handle again
When a hot, meaty hand clamped down on her with a vise-like grip. Her shoulder ached as the hand squeezed down on her muscle and bone- she turned to see the hand connect to a long, thick arm, which stretched up to meet the face of the tall man in the fedora- his face a staring down at her from the red glow outside with a deranged ferocity that chilled her down to her very bone. The face burned itself into her mind, the face of a monster- beady, lidless black eyes stared out of an otherwise featureless face, the mouth a small dark slit in his right cheek, and zipper-like stiches seeming up the side up to one of his eyes.
Amanda was taken in by such horror that she froze- froze until she heard Danny cry out her name. Her mind clicked back into gear, and she bit down hard on the man’s hand, tasting blood in her mouth. The man’s face twisted, but he let out no sound of pain. His grip did loosen, however, and that was all Amanda needed. She twisted herself out of his grip in a flash, and pulled hard on the door handle, shoving out with her legs with all her might. In an instant, she was outside in the cold- tumbling across wet grass and mud. Her elbow cracked hard against something solid, and she cried out. Her mad roll finally came to a stop, and she struggled to pull herself up. Her elbow was bleeding bad, and she was covered in sloppy mud and grit. She looked around through the hair sticking to her face, and saw Danny rushing towards her, and then the pluming red steam behind him.
There was a house, although it was hard to make out much more than it’s glowing silhouette through the red smoke pumping up from… something. There was a mass of dark shapes swaying this way and that, surrounding whatever was making the light. She could hear chanting. And crying. And screaming.
Danny met up to Amanda the moment that she caught the first of the chanting-
“The blood of the lamb is the blood of the sin. The blood of the sin is the blood of God. And the blood of God shall not be taken in by the flesh of the chosen. Hate the belief, not the believer, though let him feel the fire. Take thy flesh so like a child, so that I may dwell with thee”
Amanda was breathing hard now, her mind going numb with fear. She couldn’t cognate the chanting, although the longer she heard it, it was more like singing. The words connected, but they only leveled out to fear in her mind.
“Bone to flesh, flesh to bone- eat thy way through the putrid sin. These are worse sins than that which originates from within, these are sins born through lust of the joy. Hunger not for that which it provides, instead turn thy flesh towards a brighter God, though that hath scorched the earth on his twisted wings”
“Amanna!” Danny was sobbing now, and Amanda’s mind snapped back into gear. He hadn’t called her “Amanna” for a long time. She wrapped her arm around him, just as she saw the car swerving in the red light, kicking up dirt and dust, billowing dark clouds enveloping it and then breaking as the car speeded across the grass towards them. Amanda broke into a run, Danny swung up into her arms. A streak of pain slashed across her arm as the weight came down on it, and she almost toppled over again. She found her footing again, and continued her break for the darkness. Anywhere that wasn’t the red light of… whoever they where’s ritual. She could hear the car creaking and rocking over the un-even terrain as it raced up to meat them. She stole a quick look back-
The zipper faced man was hanging out the window, the black orbs that where set so indiscreetly into his face locked with hers- a baseball bat was in his hand. She couldn’t tell in the light, but it looked like it had been used…. Before.
She screamed, and kicked off the ground- sending her and Danny rolling into the grass just as the car, and the zipper faced man, flew over the spot they had been standing. She could hear the woosh as the bat connected with air. She tried to push herself up again, but Danny was all too much to carry, let alone to try and lift up again. She hefted him up, and tried to trudge herself back up into a walking position, just in time to see the car spin again. She screamed, pulling Danny up and trying her best to get to a running start again, but she was already so tired, tired from the long walk, tired from the running, and tired from being tossed around so much. She was running out of stamina, and she was starting to panic. She pumped her legs up and down, Danny bouncing in her arms, but she could tell that she wasn’t going to
A stretch of dirt appeared bellow her, and she tripped again, Danny falling from her arms and her elbows cracking against the solid earth. She tried to pick herself up, but was instantly blinded by the glaring head lights barreling down on her. She covered her eyes, and closed her mouth.
The car screeched to a halt, stopping inches from her- and she heard the car door open. Hands where grabbing onto her shoulders and lifting her up into the light- and she almost cried when she opened her eyes. An older man stared down at her, with kind, concerned eyes, and a big white mustache. Even better than the lack of zippers, however, was the big, shiny State Trooper badge that glinted in the headlights.
“Jesus, Darling! I almost ran you right over! What the hell where you thinking runnin’ out into the-“ She jerked up, and caught the red tail lights of the zipper man’s car disappearing into the night. The State Trooper craned around, and saw it too, turning back and asking the obvious. “Where there people after you?” He asked bluntly, his tone changed completely. Amanda nodded, her heartbeat still pounding in her ears.
Soon, Amanda was in the front seat of the cruiser, Danny wrapped around her like a snake, watching the night go by. The Trooper’s name was Kyle, and he’d been on the road by happenstance, just trying to find his way back to the highway. Amanda related her horrifying ordeal to him as he drove, he turned down the scanner to hear her better. She turned it back up, happy to hear other voices after the hours she and Danny had spent in silence with the… things that had kidnapped them. Kyle tried his best to be understanding, but she could tell that the only things he was thinking was that she had suffered a shock, and that her mind was just making things up. But she was sure. She had seen his face. The eyes. The tiny mouth that looked like it had been cut into his flesh after the fact, like he’d been born without one. The way his flesh was featureless, no bone mass could be seen underneath, like it was all just meat. Or that the bone was smooth, without any curves or jawline.
Soon, they where back at home- they must not have been quite as far away as they had thought, and their father and mother where meeting them out on the porch. The Trooper Mr and Mrs’d them while Amanda crumpled into a heap in her mother’s arms. Sweet, loving things where whispered in her ear. And soon she was being told that she could come in to the station tomorrow and tell her story to the psychologist, and the police. And that they would get the sons of bi-… the bad men that had done this. But all Amanda wanted was sleep.
Her mother tucked her in for the first time in 10 years, and she began to cry not soon after the light was off. She cried long and hard into the night, although she tried to keep quiet as best she could. Soon, her sobs became shuddering breaths, and soon those became calmer, and soon she was lying in the dark, breathing normally. She listened to the tap tap tap of rain outside. She rolled over to look out the window. Her thoughts kept going back to the zipper faced man. She would roll over, and roll back, but sleep simply wouldn’t come. Each breath came as a shudder that almost resulted in tears. No matter what she did, she simply couldn’t shake the thought…
The world was no longer safe. The world was no longer innocent. She would never again be able to take something for granted, or assume that things would be all right. Because somewhere out there in the world, men like him where out there. And they where waiting for her.