The Person On The Road

December 15, 2018 — vee

Night arrived earlier in the woods. The sun only needed to travel a short path across the sky before it was enveloped by the canopy of the trees. The moon was offered only a small patch of real estate between the leaves to try and shine through. Nighttime in the forest is only for those who can bring their own light, or else can hack the blackness.

The headlights of her car barely pierced into the night, and showed only the road directly in front of her. If only she could afford one of those fancy new cars, with their bright fancy lights. She flicked on the high beams, though it seemed to make little difference.

Suddenly, seemingly of its own accord, her foot slammed on the brakes. Out of the darkness, something had appeared in the road. She crept the car forward slowly, to bring the object more into the light.

It was a man's body.

She tried to make it out in the fuzzy definition from her yellow headlights. There appeared to be a man's head and torso laying in the road, the legs and feet trailing off into the underbrush. She froze. Her leg started shaking and the car inched forward a bit before she could slam on the brakes once more, and put the car into Park.

What now? she thought. It might be a dead body, perhaps someone who had been walking or jogging in the night, one of those idiots who doesn't wear bright colors, and doesn't understand that drivers might not see him. Maybe a dog-walker? She looked around for a dog, but saw no signs of life next to the man.

Clutching the steering wheel, the possibilities raced through her mind. He might not even be dead at all. What if he was hit, and only injured? Maybe she should get out, and try to help him. Though she had heard it can be bad to move someone if they have certain injuries, like back injuries. Maybe she should stay in the car and call 911.

Or maybe it's a trap. The thought came suddenly. Maybe he's alive, and laying in the road waiting for someone to stop, and he has friends in the woods who plan on mugging her and stealing her car as soon as she gets out to help. Quickly, she reached over to lock both doors.

Now locked in her car in the dark, alone in the woods, she stared at the body in front of her. Her breath was shallow and fast, as she remained frozen in indecision.

Her hands gripped the wheel again. What if they are tricking her! Laughing at her, in the woods. Was that movement that she just saw? Is the man's chest moving, is he breathing? Is she being made the fool, sitting in her car, a trap of her own making?

What if she floored it, and hit the guy right in his laughing head? She figured they would never expect that. They're expecting her to get out. What if she takes the initiative and flattens this dude?

Maybe that's what he wants anyway. Maybe he's laying in the road in the dark, trying to get hit, trying to be killed. Maybe she'd be doing him a favor. Her foot reached out for the gas pedal.

No, no, she thought. If she ran him over, her car would end up bloody. Maybe people would believe it had been a dog? No, she would have stopped to check on the dog.

The realization came to her in a wave that she would stop for a dog, but was at this moment contemplating running over a man. Guiltily, she unlocked the driver's side door, and got out of her car.

Slowly, she moved towards the body. Her ears strained to hear any movement in the woods, or any noise from the man. Insects were buzzing in the undergrowth, and an owl hooted in the distance. The gravel on the road crunched beneath her feet.

As she got closer, something seemed wrong. No features were appearing on the man's face. In horror, as she got closer, she realized there was no face. This was no man. This was a plastic man, a mannequin. Fully clothed.

Now certain this was a trap to get her out of her car, she whirled around, desperately searching for someone else. Her car's headlights, as dim as they were, blinded her as she looked back toward the car. She stumbled to her feet, and groped for the front of the car. Fearing someone getting in the car and hitting her with it, she half-ran to the passenger's side, tripping and smashing her face against the car. Blood dripped from her lip. She felt along the side of the car, and remembered that the passenger door was locked. If anyone got into the car, it would have been through the open driver's door.

Clawing her way around the back of the car, still half blinded, she pushed her way into the driver's side. No one seemed to be there. She flailed her arms wildly around the back seats, and found no one. She was certain they simply hadn't had time to get into the car yet, and were on their way from the woods.

Without even closing the door, she threw the car into drive, and stomped on the gas. The car bumped over the mannequin, which twisted the steering sharply to the side of the road. Black spots burned into her retinas from the headlights danced in front of her eyes, and she swerved to avoid them. The car smashed headlong into a tree. She flew into the steering wheel, and crumpled halfway out of the car as it came to a rest.

Crawling bloody out of the car, she managed to get halfway onto the road before she collapsed. The asphalt was cold against her cheek as she saw headlights approaching through her one open eye. What will these people decide, she thought, as unconsciousness enveloped her.

Tags: fiction, horror