Final Moments

Final Moments

A Story by Guardian

Final Moments

 

On either side of me, two walls of darkness stretched toward infinity both ahead and behind. The dark gray skeletons of pine trees loomed in the black sea like silent wraiths, closing in on me. All I could hear was the rushing of air past my ears and it seemed to howl like a chorus of ghosts, causing goose bumps to spread across my skin like a deadly bacteria.

            I gripped the dark steering wheel in front of me in a vice-like grip as if it was my final tie to sanity. A pair of eye-like headlights flared to life as another car crested a hill. The lights approached fast, and my foot twitched toward the brake. The car roared past and I cautiously let out a slow breath. I pushed my foot down hard and the car seemed to squeal as the speedometer was pushed to its limits.

            I dared not slow down. Hesitantly, I let go of the steering wheel. My right hand shook uncontrollably as I reached toward the passenger seat. My fingers brushed against the soft cotton of the duffel bag that was balanced precariously on the edge of the seat. I carefully checked the zipper, making sure the bag was sealed. There was no reason for it not to be, but I couldn’t help checking for its presence every five minutes.

            My eyes were still locked on the road but I wasn’t absorbing any information. The dashed yellow line to my left seemed to blur and I didn’t care if I went flying into the wilderness on either side. If the road curved I doubted I’d be able to stop before smashing into the trees. My heart thumped erratically. I had forgotten to fasten my seatbelt. With another shaking hand I reached toward the belt, pulling it slowly across my body and, after several moments, heard a satisfying click. My foot twitched and without thinking I gradually eased off of the pedal. I had no desire to die in these woods.

            When I finally reached a safer, though not necessarily legal, speed, I relaxed somewhat. I became aware of my parched throat. It seemed as if sand filled my mouth and the remnants of metallic blood stuck to my tongue. I touched my split lip gingerly. I gasped in pain as the two halves screamed in protest as I inadvertently scratched off a large scab.

            I reached for the towel draped across the headrest of the passenger seat. Holding it with one hand to my stinging lip, I waited until the flow of blood lessened. When it finally did, I slowly put the towel back in place and reached for the bottled water in the single cup holder. I unscrewed the lid with some difficulty, spilling some of it on my sweat-soaked jeans.

            I gingerly held the bottle to my lips. I tilted my head back slightly, locking my left arm to keep the car from swerving. Water had never tasted so sweet to me. The cool liquid seemed to burst into my mouth filling it, and caressing my throat. With the bottle drained I could no longer taste the acrid remains of bile coating my cheeks.

            Several minutes passed before I saw a turn off to my right. On a whim, I broke hard and swerved, tires screeching onto the narrow dirt track. I gritted my teeth as the car jerked and vibrated underneath me. When I felt comfortable, I pulled to the side of the road and cut the engine. Leaving the keys in the ignition, I opened the door and stepped out into the surrounding blackness.

            It was a cold January night. The wind seemed to cut through my skin, straight down to my bones and I shivered uncontrollably. The night was quiet, without even the rustling of small mammals among the trees. The moon overhead was nearly full, with only a small scoop of blackness in its otherwise bright radiance. With only the light of the headlights, I moved toward the back of the car, throwing open one of the back doors.

            I searched in the darkness erratically, running my hands across the backseat until I found a small pile of clothing, along with a dark black trash bag. I kicked off my shoes and threw my socks into the bag. The cold soil stung my bare feet and gravel bit into my skin, but I ignored the pain and the cold. I pulled my shirt over my head and carefully rolled in into a ball before tossing it into the trash bag. Last went my jeans.

            The cold was nearly unbearable now. I fumbled in the dark and pulled black slacks over my legs and fastened them around my waist. Next, I cautiously pulled a t-shirt and a long-sleeved sweater over my head. I slipped my bare feet into my sneakers and tied them quickly. My neck prickled and an overwhelming feeling of fear coursed through me. I gazed frantically around me, but saw nothing other than the skeletal trees and the empty dirt road.

            Shaking off the feeling of uneasiness, I picked up the trash bag, tied it, and carried it under my arm toward the tree line. Delving into the black forest, I jogged quietly, constantly glancing over my shoulder. After going several yards, I moved toward a nearby tree. I could feel the scraggly branches of the forest undergrowth clutching at my legs. I bent down and stowed the trash bag at the base of a bush, pushing it as far into the leaves as I could without destroying the plant. Hopefully the bag would be hidden when the noon-day sun returned.

            I ran back to my car. I wanted desperately to be rid of the dark trees and the endless road. I got in my car, turned the key and nearly screamed as the engine roared to life. “You’re hopeless,” I whispered to myself. Executing a difficult U-turn, I finally managed to make my way back to the main road and continued northward.

            I pushed my foot down and I gained speed quickly. I desperately wanted to reach a hotel, though my eyes were wide despite the late hour. As the sky brightened ahead and several lights seemed to flare in the darkness, my stomach clenched. I felt stabbing pains and I became aware of the acute hunger I had managed to suppress before now.

            A small diner appeared to the left of the road. Several cars littered the parking lot and bright neon sign read OPEN in the window. My foot twitched toward the brake. I was starving, but I had no desire to be around other people. As the diner approached quickly, my hunger won the battle and I swerved off of the road and into the parking lot. I slid quietly into a space farthest from the diner killed the engine while I gathered myself.

            I reached into the glove box, grabbing my wallet. I flipped it open and quietly skimmed through the bills. It was all there. Three thousand dollars in cash. I was surprised the leather bi-fold could contain it all without bursting. I opened the door, shoved my keys and my wallet into my pocket and walked cautiously toward the diner, not bothering to lock the car.       

            I pushed gently on the diner door and winced as a small set of bells tinkled like a light rain on a summer night. The hostess greeted me with a smile and I struggled desperately to return it. I managed what seemed to be a grimace and followed her quietly to my seat. Thankfully, she seated me near the back, next to the restrooms and away from the majority of the diner’s travel-weary customers.

            “I’ll give you a moment to look over the menu,” she said with a tentative smile. She seemed to have been subdued by my mood and didn’t bother to stay around and chat. I watched dejectedly as she bustled about to help her other customers. A week ago I would have leapt at the chance to talk to a woman as beautiful as she was.

            I pushed my glasses, which had sunk to the very tip of my nose, upward. I glanced quickly at the menu, selected an item at random, and glanced at the other patrons cautiously. There were three other customers. Two men sat at the bar drinking coffee, while a woman seemed to be utterly entranced by the newspaper spread before her. 

            “Are you ready to order, sir?” The waitress came back to my table, smiling. A pad of paper was clutched in her manicured hand while her pen seemed poised in the air.

            “I’d like a cup of black coffee,” I mumbled, surprised I could even hear myself. “And a bowl of Clam Chowder.”

            The waitress nodded and departed with a final smile. I glanced around nervously, wanting desperately to leave and fly across the empty road again. The waitress quickly brought my food and departed without conversation. I blew gently on my soup as translucent steam rose from the bowl. As soon as the first spoonful of soup reached my lips, I was ravenous. Warmth seemed to spread down my throat and through my limbs, giving me new energy. It took me only a few minutes and I quickly washed it down with the coffee.

            I wiped my face with my napkin and slid out of the booth. Moving toward the bathroom, I glanced once more over my shoulder. The food had gone some way toward quieting my uneasiness. I opened the bathroom door and locked it quickly behind me. Without hesitation, I moved toward the sink and the small mirror hanging above it.

            I gazed at my reflection. My hair was matted across my forehead in sweaty locks. My eyes seemed empty and devoid of any emotion. My face was blank and caked in dirt, but I didn’t see any traces of red, and for that, I was extremely grateful. My face was familiar and yet, there was something in my reflection that I did not recognize. As I studied myself in the reflective surface I was terrified to find a part of myself that I did not know.

            I realized it was something that had changed very recently. Events in the past week had profoundly changed me and I had become something more. Something terrifying and unacceptable. “I’m a –“ I choked on the last word, my breath catching in my throat. I stumbled toward the toilet and, poised over it, I emptied my stomach of my recent meal.

            The acrid taste of bile seemed to coat my mouth and I desperately tried to wash it out, but no matter how much water I drank from the sink, it wouldn’t subside. My stomach clenched and writhed horribly. Sweat broke out across my face and I staggered toward the bathroom door, fumbling with the lock and panting heavily.

            The door swung outward and a wave of cool air rushed inward. I stood there, trying to compose myself before delving into main room of the diner. When my breathing returned to normal I walked forward slowly, headed straight toward my booth. The check was balanced precariously on the edge of the table and the waitress had left a small peppermint on top.

            I pulled the check toward me. The bells on the front door rang merrily. I glanced up out of habit, and nearly screamed. Through the door walked two police officers, clad in dark blue uniforms with menacing weapons on their hips. My heart began to pound and I could practically feel adrenaline flowing through my veins as sweat erupted from my skin. A chill ran up my spine and I shivered uncontrollably.

            The officers happily greeted the waitress behind the bar and sat together. I slid out of the booth and struggled to walk at a normal pace toward the door. The check was long forgotten and my wallet still full. I pushed open the door and the waitress shouted something incoherent. As soon as the door slammed shut I broke into a frantic run.

            Gravel flew out behind me and I retrieved my keys from my pocket as I ran. Throwing open the unlocked door, I jammed the keys into the ignition and put the car into reverse. The tires squealed and my car shot backward. I felt as if the officers already had their guns level and ready as I flew out of the parking lot and onto the black road beyond.

            For twenty minutes I pushed my car to its limits, the speedometer maxed out. I didn’t bother to fasten my seatbelt this time. All I wanted was to put as much distance between myself and the officers in the diner, or any cops for that matter. I kept glancing uncontrollably in the rearview mirror, expecting to see flashing lights. Fear still drove me and paranoia caused goose bumps to erupt across my skin. I kept waiting to hear the ghostly wailing of sirens filling the dead, night air.

            Even at this terrifying speed, it took me over an hour to reach the nearest town. The dim glow on the horizon alerted me before I actually saw it through the dense trees. I was forced to slow rather quickly – my tires leaving marks in the pavement – when another car loomed in front of me. Its red taillights seemed to mock me, dancing before my eyes like the devil waiting to receive his latest charge. I expected the fires of hell rise up on either side of me.

            I forced myself to breath steadily and kept my arms locked to keep them from twitching, and the car from swerving on the road. As I coasted into the small town the black clouds above split open and a downpour descended, only serving to dampen what little spirit I had left. The gloom seemed to intensify and a loud peal of thunder roared overhead.

            I pulled clumsily into a Best Western parking lot. It was nearly 5am, and the lobby was closed for the night. I leaned back the driver’s seat as a sudden wave of exhaustion overwhelmed me. I closed my eyes with a sigh. My stomach still churned and my heart still pounded but I no longer cared. I couldn’t run any longer. My journey would end here, in this town. But not tonight. Tonight I would rest.

 

iii

 

   Two hours later, when the sun had risen over the tree-lined horizon, I woke with a start. My dreams had been filled with the ghosts of my past, come back to haunt me. I felt as if I could still hear my mother’s voice echoing in my ears. I shook the images and sounds from my head, opening the car door and stepping out.

            The cool air went a long way toward reviving me. I was awake almost instantly and the cold seemed to bring my mind back to reality. I reached into the car, griping the duffle bag and slinging it over my shoulder with shaking hands. I dared not think of the bag’s contents but it was hard to keep my mind on other things.

            I slammed the car door, leaving the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. I wouldn’t need the car anymore. I walked toward the hotel lobby and the doors opened silently with a slight rustle of air. The clerk at the desk looked up with a smile and a friendly way, something unusual for such an early hour of the morning.

            I approached the desk cautiously, reaching in my back pocket for my wallet.

            “Good morning,” the clerk said. “How can I help you?”

            “I need a room for the night,” I said softly. The clerk nodded and I was surprised the man heard me.

            “Just the one night?” he asked, typing furiously on a keyboard in front of him. He reached underneath the counter and handed me a room key. “That’ll be only twenty-eight thirty two.” I handed him a wad of bills.

            “Keep the change,” I said silently, slipping the rest of my wallet’s contents into the tip jar. His eyes bulged when he saw the bills overflowing from the small jar. His mouth hung open as if he wanted to protest, but he seemed to think better of refusing the money. He waved even more enthusiastically than he had before as I moved silently toward the staircase.

            When I reached my room, I didn’t bother to look around. I threw the duffle bag onto the bed and turned on the TV, flipping nervously to a news channel. I stared unseeingly as the newscasters moved through the weather and came to more breaking news in the nearby area. I sat down on the edge of the bed, leaning forward and listening intently.

            “In recent news,” the woman on the screen said matter-of-factly. She consulted a sheaf of papers in front of her. “A local man and his wife were found dead in their home this morning. A neighbor discovered their bodies in a pool of dried blood and investigators think they have been dead for several days, now with three bullet wounds in the chest. Police are still investigating and as of yet, they have no solid suspects but fingers are being pointed toward the couple’s twenty-three year old son who disappeared two days ago.”

            I recoiled as my picture filled the screen. I turned the TV off and threw the remote against the wall, my heart hammering, threatening to burst from my rib cage. I felt my empty stomach churn and knot. I retched, though nothing came up. I moved toward the window and threw it open, letting the cool wind brush against my sweaty face.

            “They know,” I whispered to myself. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a burst of laughter. For some horrifying reason my situation seemed to humor me. I continued to laugh while I gazed out of the window, enjoying the sun for the very last time in my life.

            When the laughter subsided, sadness rushed in and I stumbled backward. I let it course through me. Salty tears rolled out of my eyes, staining my cheeks and dropping to the carpeted floor. As the despair overtook me I prayed for the first time in my life. I didn’t bother to pray for protection or wealth. I didn’t pray for happiness or a long life. I prayed for forgiveness. I asked God to show mercy and more than anything I asked my parents to forgive me for what I did.

            I lurched toward the phone, the flow of tears now coming in ragged sobs. I dialed 9-1-1 with a shaking hand. The operator picked up after the second ring. “I’d like to report a crime,” I said between sobs.

            “What kind of crime, sir?” The woman on the other end of the line asked with concern.

            “Murder,” I gasped. The word seemed unfit for my throat and I had to work to get it out. But I needed to accept it. It’s what I had become. I shivered, my body shaking uncontrollably. It was difficult to keep the phone to my ear as the operator asked for my name. My voice shook. “David,” I whispered. “David Thomson.”

            The operator hesitated, “Thomson?”

            “Yes,” I said, moving toward the duffle bag on the bed.

            “The police have been looking for you,” the woman said, her tone unidentifiable.

            “I know,” I said. “I’ve done something terrible.”

            “Where are you?”

            I unzipped the duffle bag and removed the item nestled inside it, splattered with dark red. “Hopefully,” I said without emotion, “I won’t be in hell.” My finger twitched and a crack ripped through the silent room. I felt great pain spreading through me and I dropped to the floor. “Forgive me,” I whispered.

            And then I felt no more. 

© 2008 Guardian


Author's Note

Guardian
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Reviews

this way very well written and the detail is amazing. this was a great story

Posted 11 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow. Somebody's gone over to the dark side of psychodrama.... Anyway, this was fabulous, I love how strongly the fear and guilt played out to the point where he went nuts. (you like naming messed up characters David, don't you?) The ending is just fabulous. Wonderful work!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lol, I never noticed the blank space. Thanks for pointing that out! I appreciate it!

Posted 11 Years Ago


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Dude, you've got a HUGE blank space at the end. It's nice for review points, but you should probably get rid of it. It's a very dark story you've written. It keeps you reading, slowly unfolding until it all snaps together at the last moment. Very disturbing, but a very great read.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

To be honest, it is gruesome and very dark, very descriptive and morbid.
Though the pieces come together really well!

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on November 8, 2008
Last Updated on November 26, 2008

Author

Guardian
Guardian

AZ



About
I live in Arizona where the sun is always shining. Writing has always been my passion. I love to read and write. I'm also involved in drama and music. I write a variety of things. Everything from poet.. more..

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