The Long Way

You pick the long way, hoping to lose the skeletons before Honza or anyone else notices them. Once you get back to town, this nightmare will be over. 

You think. 

Honza turns down the road and after ten minutes the sight of houses in the distance eases your nerves. The road is rockier, but safer. You pass the first group of houses, entering an empty stretch of road. When you turn around, your heart lifts as you see that the skeletons are gone. 

But then your heart drops again when you hear a pop and the car wobbles. Honza curses and moves the car to the side of the road, turning on his hazard lights. Your palms start to sweat as he gets out of the car to see what happened, and your fear comes back full force when he says that the back passenger-side tire is flat. 

It’s dark, and there is no one around. The houses you passed are too far away now for you to push the car to, or even walk on foot. The next sign of life isn’t for another mile. Your phone is still dead, and Honza forgot his at home. You begin to regret taking the long way home. 

Honza looks at you from the driver’s seat. “I have a spare tire in the trunk, but . . .” 

You hang your head. Honza is hopeless when it comes to cars, so you have to be the one to change the tire. You glance outside, looking for any sign of the skeletons and are only slightly relieved to find none. You get out of the car, but you can’t shake the feeling that the terror isn’t over yet.

The only source of light comes from the headlights and taillights of the SUV. You’ve changed tires before and have no problem this time either. You glance back every few seconds as you work, but nothing appears. Within ten minutes, the new tire is fitted onto the car and you are stuffing the damaged one in the trunk with your bike. 

You slam the trunk closed and wait, a sudden chill coming over your body. You can see your breath in the night air. Every nerve in your body is on high alert. Your senses scream a warning to your brain, but it comes too late. 

Cold, bony hands grab your shoulders and spin you around. A skeletal face presses up to yours, breathing chilly, smelly air into your face. You are locked in its embrace as the thing’s teeth knock against yours, almost kissing you. It holds you tight and you can feel yourself slipping away, every thought and memory draining from your mind. 

The skeleton lets go but you don’t notice, standing in a daze. Your body feels foreign and you don’t remember who you are or what you’re doing. Where are you? What is your purpose? What is this hunger you feel? 

Your body moves without your control, but you don’t fight it. You open the passenger side door and slide into the car. 

“Did you fix it?” The man behind the wheel asks. 

You cock your head at him. Who is this person? Why does he seem to know you? Why are you in his car? 

The man stares at you intently. “Are you okay?” 

But you don’t know the answer to his question. In fact, you don’t know anything anymore. 


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