Flash Fiction – Chuck Wendig – 19-26 July 2013
Random Plot Generator:
The story starts when your protagonist stops to help someone in a car accident.
Another character is a deputy who uses dark magic.
It was raining. Not just raining, it was really raining; like, biblical flood raining. The kind of heavy gray curtain of falling water that would drown the turkeys on the farm back home. They’d feel the rain on their heads, and look up to see what was going on, filling their gullets with rainwater, and bang. Dead turkey.
Natasha eased her foot off the gas, trying to edge over to the shoulder of the road, but unable to see exactly where that was. She tried to feel when her tires crossed the rumble strips at the outside edge of the lane, but after several moments of lateral motion with no rumble, she became certain she’d missed it. So much of her concentration was on listening for the rumble and staring intently out her windshield at the shoulder of the highway, she almost didn’t see the accident ahead of her until it was too late. She stomped on the pedal, and silently thanked the inventor of anti-lock brakes as her car shuddered to a stop not six inches from the bumper of the car in front of her.
She sat there, breathing heavily for several seconds, staring ahead at the rear bumper she’d almost driven into. Just as her heart was beginning to slow, she realized the car had not simply pulled over to wait out the rain, as she had been trying to do. Natasha could just see through the fog of rain, the car’s hood was crumpled and folded up until it perched above the car’s roof like a viper’s hood. She couldn’t see a car in front of them, though. She assumed it was a small car, and invisible through the torrential rain.
Bracing herself, Natasha threw open the door of her car and ran toward the car in front of her. As she got a closer look, and a better angle from which to see, it became obvious this was a serious collision. The front end of the car was entirely accordioned, and the driver’s seat had nearly disappeared between the engine and the back seat.
Fuck, Natasha thought, expecting to look through the driver’s window and see a body as crumpled and destroyed as the front end of their car. The seat was empty. Natasha leaned in and checked the passenger side seat, then craned her neck to look into the back seat. Empty. Shivering in the heavy rain, she ran back to her own car to get her cell phone, when it hit her.
One car. Empty. Obvious collision with another vehicle, but no other vehicle. This must be an old wreck, and one of the two cars involved had already been towed away. Surely the police had left flares to warn approaching motorists, but with rain that heavy, they might have put the flare directly on her own hood and she might not have seen it. An embarrassed shiver ran up her back, and then she laughed. She laughed out of a combination of relief and pride. She might have soaked herself to the bone to save an empty car, but at least now she knew she was capable of action in an emergency, should a real one ever arise.
Natasha sat for a few minutes, waiting for the rain to ease, and when it began to slow, she started the engine and made to pull out and around the mangled wreck. Flashing blue and red lights in her rear view mirror stopped her.
A police car had pulled up behind her, parking so close she couldn’t see the front half of their hood. Geez, they must be an inch from my bumper, she thought.
She waited, and after a moment, a Sheriff’s Deputy exited his vehicle, draped in a clear plastic poncho, with a matching plastic cover over his hat. He moseyed up to her window - mosey was really the only word to describe that wobbly, laid-back gait – and tapped lightly on the glass with the back of one knuckle.
The noise startled Natasha, who had forgotten her windows were closed. She quickly pressed the button and her window buzzed down halfway.
“Hello,” she began, but the office interrupted her.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” His voice was highly pitched, with a hint of a southern drawl.
Confused, Natasha didn’t say anything, just stared quizzically at the deputy.
“Come on, now. Answer the question. Do you know why I pulled you over?” He repeated.
“But, you didn’t,” Natasha answered, still not understanding. “You didn’t pull me over. I stopped. The rain. I stopped.”
“BZZZT! Wrong!” he yelled playfully.
Suddenly serious, he then asked, “You ever heard of Ryalarthochurybiat?”
“Have I -? What?” Natasha was more than a little frightened by this point. She had heard stories of criminals dressing as policemen and pulling people over, then robbing them. Maybe worse. Her hand crept slowly toward the window button.
The deputy began speaking, his voice taking on a tone, half-rote recitation, half- lecturing professor. “Ryalarthochurybiat crouches below the waters of the Black Lake, below the waters Ryalarthochurybiat waits. Ryalarthochurybiat knows only hunger, hunger, hunger, and Ryalarthochurybiat rewards well those who provide the means to satisfy that hunger.”
Natasha was terrified now; this man was definitely not a deputy, and it seemed apparent now, he meant her harm. She triggered the window button, and screamed as the deputy reached into the narrowing space and grabbed her by the throat. The window continued to close, pinning his arm, but his hand squeezed, cutting of Natasha’s air.
She struggled against the deputy’s grip, wrenching her throat painfully free, and throwing herself across to the passenger seat. The deputy tugged his arm, but it was caught fast in the window. His shoulders sagged, as if in a sigh, and his free hand traced some symbol on the glass. The window disappeared.
Natasha was screaming over and over, but she was otherwise frozen in panicked curiosity. When the deputy pulled an intricately inscribed, wickedly sharp knife from beneath his poncho, Natasha’s paralysis broke. She scrabbled for the door handle, and pulled it so hard the handle broke off. But the door opened, and Natasha crawled out onto the grass beside the highway.
She could hear footsteps on the pavement. The deputy was coming, but from which side? She didn’t stop to see; Natasha sprinted into the trees.
The deputy moseyed slowly after her, admiring the ceremonial knife held before him, dreamily. The rain began to pick up again. He could no longer see Natasha’s retreating form ahead of him, but that was okay. He knew the path to the Black Lake well.