The car lay upside down in the ditch of the country road. Its metal was twisted and mangled, and its engine hissed and ticked.
Beside it lay the body of a man.
Twelve-year-old Arthur never left his bike and kept his distance. “Hello?”
The man groaned. Deep and guttural. Just like Arthur’s dream. He pulled his school bag tight against his back.
“Come here...” hissed the man.
Arthur looked back. The crossroad was a quarter-mile away. If the man moved like the creature from his dream, he’d never make it.
He had to face it.
He left his bike behind and descended into the ditch.
The wind rustled the long grass. The air tasted of gas and burning oil. The man’s body was a crumpled mess and his limbs twisted at jagged angles.
“I can’t breathe...”
The man hadn’t turned—but he would soon.
Arthur had been ready for this moment. He unzipped his bag and pulled out the wooden stake he’d whittled in shop class.
“I need help—”
But Arthur took no chances and slammed the short pole into the base of the man’s neck. The body convulsed, but only for a second before going still.
Arthur stood up and stared at the dead man. It had been so easy and happened so fast. The man hadn't fought back. Had he been wrong? Had he misunderstood his dream?
This was as it was supposed to be. He’d done the right thing. The smart thing. He was sure of it.
He walked out of the ditch and got back on his bike. He turned his way home. He was certain when he told his family what he'd done, they'd be proud.
Why wouldn't they be?
I've wanted to tell stories about kids finding crashed cars on country roads for a while. Most of them have ended with a zombie.
However, halfway through writing this one, I wondered what if the kid's dream wasn't actually true.
Well, that would be pretty bad then, wouldn't it?