Driven Insane
Randall thought about the superhero packed movie he and his friend Eric had watched earlier that evening. Randall glanced down to the 45 to 50 miles an hour reading on the speedometer not really paying attention to the R&B music playing on the radio. After rounding a curve and passing a few houses, Randall approached the highway that would take him home. Randall turned on the right turn signal, came to a complete stop at the intersection, and looked both ways for oncoming traffic. Randall turned right and drove down a slight decline in the road. Static replaced the music and Randall reached to find another station. As the new, gold Kia Rio continued down the highway, Randall felt a sinking in his stomach. I should not still be going downhill. The thought was blaring in his head. Randall’s heartbeat started to quicken and his eyes widened as he became more alert. He looked in the rearview mirror to see if anyone was behind him. There was only darkness. He slowed to a stop on the right side of the road and turned the radio off. Randall had lived in Sumter County all his life, preferring small towns to big cities, and he knew the lay of the land and this wasn’t right. Randall got his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed his friend Eric. Nothing! The car lights were on high beams and it looked all downhill from there. From the time he last turned onto the road there should have been a car repair shop and a few houses. Okay, I guess I will turn around and go to Eric’s house. It isn't that far. Maybe I can call someone from there and get someone to follow me until I get home. With the car still in DRIVE, Randall eased off the brake and made a u turn and headed up the hill. The steep incline became level, but there was no side road as far as he could see. It seemed to him that, besides the car lights lighting the woods and the road around him, he was driving into nothingness, oblivion, or limbo. Which is it? I will have to look it up when I get home. If I get home, Randall thought. Maybe the next house I come to I will get help, if I come to another house. I hope I don’t think this way—negatively—all night. After several minutes of driving without seeing any houses, Randall stopped the pavement became a dirt road. This is ridiculous! Randall put the car into PARK, and mashed the button for the emergency lights. Maybe it’s best not to go anywhere. Just stay put until tomorrow, well morning, since it is already 1:11 a.m. Randall made sure the windows were up and locked all the doors and prepared for a long night. Randall picked up his cell phone that was lying on the passenger seat and dialed Eric’s number again. No signal going through. Randall dialed home, knowing it would be a lost cause. His thought was confirmed. The same nothingness. No signal. Randall put the cell phone back on the passenger seat and reached for a paperback book on the back seat. It was something to get his mind off thinking the worst and looking into the dead of night. After trying to read for a while and not being able to remember what was read, Randall closed the novel and glanced at the digital clock. It was 1:30 a.m. Randall had about half a big cup of sweet tea and some fries remaining that he had purchased after the movie, and his bladder needed to be emptied. Randall got out of the car and walked in front of the headlights. Randall turned away from the car and unzipped his zipper. His shadow was starting to move while he was standing still. He looked back and his heart skipped some beats. The car was much farther back. He ran towards it until he reached it. The urge to urinate was gone, but he stood at the driver-side door and forced himself to go. Randall finished as quickly as possible and got in the car, thinking how odd it was for things like that to happen. I wonder if I’m in some kind of backwoods, country triangle, like the Bermuda Triangle. I wonder if I am ever going to get out of here alive. Randall tried 911, then texting. Nothing was working. Somebody must have tried calling me by now. Nobody was driving or walking by. There weren't even animal noises. Randall’s thoughts were racing. To ease them he fantasized about the movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, and the special abilities he would like to have. The best special ability to have would be telekinesis, like Jean Gray. Randall thought about the older movie Carrie, and the remake. Mind powers would be great. Randall pondered this until he drifted off to sleep. *** Randall was awakened by loud knocking on the driver side window. It was a man smiling broadly. Randall thought maybe this was his ticket out of this place. The man was skinny and disheveled. Can I trust him? “You don’t know how glad I am to see you out here!” the man said quickly and excitedly. “Can you please help me?” “Of course, get in.” Randall cleared the passenger seat and unlocked the door. The man quickly got in. “It’s nice to see someone, anyone, out here.” the man said through tears. “Finally, some company, someone to talk to. My name is DJ. I’ve been lost out here for God only knows how long.” DJ sobbed. His bony, white hands kept coming up to wipe away the steady stream of tears. “You got something to eat or drink?” “I have some fries, but they are cold, and some tea.” Randall said. “Cold fries are better than nothing at all.” DJ said eagerly, awaiting anything to eat and drink. Randall let him have the rest of the big tea and the fries that were in the bag on the back seat. The man wolfed down the food and tea. Randall waited to ask questions. When DJ was through eating, Randall asked, “DJ, how did you get out here?” “I was driving through Alabama in my logging truck and I got lost. I stepped away from my big rig and lost it. You are the first person I saw in a long time.” Randall told his story about what happened to get him there. After a while, the late night was starting to take its toll on Randall again. Talk had quieted. Randall’s eyelids were getting heavy. After a while, Randall stopped trying to keep them open *** Randall shifted in his seat with the back down. He was hearing mumbling mixed with a little cursing. It was DJ’s voice. Was someone else around? Randall slowly opened his eyes and looked over at DJ. He was staring out the windshield, talking to himself. Randall cleared his throat of nothing really, and motioned to let the back of the seat up. “So, you’re awake. You didn’t sleep long,” DJ said. “I heard something and I woke up,” Randall said, thinking that DJ would catch the hint. “Are you starting to hear the voices?” DJ asked. Randall was perplexed. “The voices?” “Yeah, sometimes I hear voices of a guy who intends to hurt me,” DJ said seriously. Randall didn’t know how to respond. Randall turned the ignition switch enough for the time on the digital clock in the car to appear. It was 5:22 a.m. “Well, at least things will be better when daylight comes,” replied Randall. “Daylight never comes. It has been night for as long as I remember.” Randall really got worried. What was there to do? Was he going to end up wasting away and going crazy like DJ? Randall stared at DJ. DJ then broke the silence by saying, “I need to step outside to take care of some business. I’ll be right back.” DJ got out of the car and Randall’s eyes followed, wanting some kind of explanation about what DJ said about the continuous night. DJ, standing outside the passenger-side door, bent down and said, “Do you mind looking away? I’m going to handle my business.” “Okay,” said Randall, still shocked and wondering what to expect next. Then a thought occurred to Randall to crank up the car while DJ was away and get while the getting was good. Randall’s conscience started to act up. It wouldn’t be nice to just leave the guy. But he talks to himself, and who knows what he might eventually do. Another thought came to Randall's mind: decide quickly before DJ gets through. Randall cranked up the car and stepped on the gas. In the distance, Randall heard, “Hey! Come back here! Don’t…”, then it faded and the noise of the tires over the dirt and gravel was all that remained. Randall’s conscience continued bothering him—that it was wrong to abandon the guy. He quickly justified his action by telling his conscience that he had to look out for himself, to survive, to find a way back home. That man already ate what was left of his food. It’s good I got away from him. Some part of it seemed right. Just one part of the craziness of this place he had escaped. What if the guy follows my tracks and finds me? Then what? Randall had been going for a while when a tire blew. Just my luck, he thought. Randall got out of the car and examined the tires. It was some hard thorns that damaged the front driver-side tire. His thoughts turned to the spare in the trunk but he quickly dismissed it. The other tires also had thorns embedded in them, so it would be only a matter of time before some of the others would be flat. The big thorns seemed out of place in this field of low grass. Maybe someone put them there. Randall got back in the car and tried the cell phone again and was disappointed but not surprised by the results. His peripheral vision caught sight of movement, not of a person or animal, but of the landscape changing. Before, the field of low-cut grass went on as far as the eye could see. Now, the lights picked up the edge of the field, where the bushes and trees began, and something else on the ground. Randall couldn’t quite make out what the object was and he was not going to leave the car to see what it was. Randall closed and locked the doors and drove closer, mindful of the damaged tires Having traveled several yards away from where the tire blew out, Randall could now make out more details of the object. Randall stopped, refusing to go any farther. The object was a pile of human bones with the left profile of a black man’s head. From the looks of him, he had been eaten. Randall’s mind ran wild. Is this how I will end? Was this DJ’s doing? Will I ever see my family, friends, and neighbors again? What can I use to defend myself? There was nothing in the trunk but the spare tire and an old book bag that was packed with a change of clothes and a booklet about what to do in certain emergencies. The booklet surely didn’t cover being eaten by…God only knew what or who. Antifreeze was in the trunk, and that was about all. Maybe he could use the tire iron or whatever tools came with the car. Randall turned the car off and cracked the window and listened for any noise. After a while, Randall got out and made his way to the trunk to get what would now be a weapon. Randall closed the trunk and got back in the car and locked the doors. After what amounted to hours, Randall started to nod off into unconsciousness. *** Randall bolted awake as two figures dressed in old clothes, each wearing a brown sack over his head, beat on the driver side window with big, steel pliers, no doubt from DJ’s truck. Their clothing was brown and dingy, stained with dried blood. They were connected by a thick rope tied around their waists. They figured out a way to stay together in this place and survive, Randall thought. Maybe DJ could have been helpful if I had only trusted him. Randall didn’t have much time to think, but the lifeless pile of eaten remains returned to his mind. As the cracked window gave way, Randall’s mind raced through memories of the recently watched movie, then the superhero cartoons he usually fantasized about. Randall shouted, “This boy will not be your next victim!”

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Synopsis
Driving home from the movies, Randall gets stuck in some zone in the woods where the landscape changes. He meets a crazy man in this zone that may foreshadow his fate.
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