Shitbox

When the engine burst into flames, I calmly turned the wheel and let my car slowly come to a stop by the side of the road. I got out of the car and watched the fire rage beneath the hood, long flames shooting up into to the arid desert sky, pouring black soot from their tips. I didn’t have a fire extinguisher. I didn’t know what to do.

The road stretched off to the horizon in either direction, a thin grey line disappearing into infinities.

I took my things from the backseat and stood a safe distance from the Chevy. I waited for the engine to explode, like in the movies, but it didn’t. The flames finally just died down, like in real life, and the two of us, me and the old Chevy, sat by the long line of gray pavement in silence.

What a shitbox, I thought.

I did this on purpose, you know, the car echoed back. This what you get for treating me the way you always have. For thinking you could take me on this hare-brained cross-country scheme you had planned to see that slut of yours without so much as giving me an oil change. So there. You deserve this.

You know what? Maybe you’re right, I thought.

The engine was smouldering. I grabbed the rest of my things from the back. No bars on my phone and maybe an hour of battery. A bottle of water. My suitcase. Miles and miles of desert.

What had I been thinking?

You brought this on yourself, the Chevy said with malice. You brought this on ourselves.

I know, I thought. I know.

I left the car by the side of the highway and began to walk.

In the trunk, her body was lifeless. I wondered if soon mine would be too.

Layover

The explosion tore through the terminal like shattered glass through sinews and flesh.

Then gunshots came – shotgun blasts, I thought they were, though of course I wouldn’t know – and people screaming. Then it was just this rising wave of panic that I could absolutely just feel in the open air of the terminal, and more blasts, echoing down the glass-roofed atrium past the ‘D’ gates, and screaming, and people were running, and the din of the wheels of their luggage rolling on concrete was deafening.

I stood, frozen, like a stone in a stream with a raging river passing around me.

Farther down I saw two security guards running, the crisp white of their shirts beneath their bullet-proof vests soaked red with blood, and behind them a man giving chase. Two men. Then a whole horde came stampeding around the corner. They were all bearing down fast on me and I just stood there like a deer in the headlights.

Finally I found myself and joined the fleeing throngs around me, the wheels of my luggage joining the cacophonous chorus being played, and I tore down the floor of terminal.

The second blast came from the other side of the airport in front of me, and this time the screams of everyone around arose immediately and loudly and the palpable panic in the air grew even higher. I saw more people come running around the other side on the far end, rounding the corner near the Mexican restaurant. They were waving their arms and their mouths were open. They were making horrible noises. They were covered in blood.

I heard the loudspeakers all around come alive into too-loud static, then into the voice of a woman, trying to sound as calm as she urged everyone in the terminal to be: “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain calm… this is an Emergency. Proceed to the nearest exit as quickly as you can. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain calm, and proceed to the nearest exit. Emergency response personnel are on their way… please remain calm. This is an Emergency…”

They were closing in and I was going to be pinched in the middle. Something overcame me, something hard and sharp and tight in my chest and I ran, ran and turned sharply and before I knew what I was doing I ducked into a handicap bathroom and locked the door behind me.

There was something wrong with them. Something in their eyes. Their skin too, I saw, at just the last moment. The screams are so loud now, they’re everywhere, and gunshots. I can hear them, those people, those things – growling, and sounds, wet sounds.

They’re eating them. They’re… they’re monsters. What do I do?