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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Paranormal · #2294760
Madison is fleeing something in the desert but she doesn't realize how much is hunting her
Her car lurched in response to the engine sputtering. Madison slammed her hands against the steering wheel.

“No! No, not here.”

Somehow, she guided the dying vehicle to the side of the dark road. The car gave a few more weak stutters before the engine died completely. She turned the key a couple of times, listening to it try to turn over but the engine didn’t want to.

“Holy hell, why out here?” She groaned and plopped her head onto her arm on top of the steering wheel. When she swallowed down the self-pity, she raised her head and studied the road. No headlights or tail lights lit up the dark stretch. Even the moon didn’t cast much illumination on the thick blackness.

She hit her hand against the steering wheel again. Desperation made her reach over and pull her phone out of her purse. Taking the risk of being tracked she switched it back on.

No service. He couldn’t find her, but she couldn’t call for help either.

“Oh gawd, what am I going to do?” The terrible suspicion that her husband would find her if she stayed in one place gnawed at Madison’s stomach. It was so dark. Too dark. She would never know if someone snuck up on her until too late.

She examined the lock on her door before she leaned over to check on the passenger door. Movement caught her eye and she looked out at the shadowed desert. In the near distance, orbs of light danced, like the beams of flashlights. There were too many to be Jason. Maybe they belonged to someone who would help out.

Common sense told her the orbs couldn’t be Jason, but fear still made her hand shake when she pulled her keys out of the ignition. The sound of the door shutting behind her sounded so loud in the silence, she jumped. With the dim glow of her otherwise useless phone she picked her way through dead weeds and stumps.

The lights weaved and bobbed, so she held up her cell to try to see them better. She called out, “Hello?”

Only silence greeted her. Her feet tangled on something jutting out of the ground. Madison caught her balance, but when she turned the weak illumination on the source of her near fall, her breath caught in her throat. A stone cross with a faded name engraved on it rose about a foot out of the ground. Using her cell phone, she turned in a slow circle, realizing she’d found her way into a very old graveyard.

The lights!

She whirled back around, but they were gone, and she was alone in the quiet cemetery. No crickets chirped or night birds spoke. The wind didn’t even rustle up a leaf. A sickeningly sweet scent perfumed the air, a hint of decay of a bouquet of flowers left out too long. She needed to get out of there, book it back to her broken down car.

Trying to ignore the prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she turned around in the direction of the road. How she made it through before without kicking a headstone was beyond her. The silent sentinels of people long past loomed everywhere.

When she reached her car, she froze. A man leaned against the hood of his over-sized truck, the red glow of the tip of his cigarette the only indication he breathed. When she stepped towards her little sedan, he stood up straight and cleared his throat. Madison didn’t like his face hidden in shadows. Her fingers inched toward her pocket, where she kept a small switchblade hidden.

“’Scuse me, Miss, I couldn’t help but notice your car pulled over here. Is everything all right? Do you need help?” His voice had a southern accent, warm and inviting.

Not Jason. Even so, he radiated danger in rolling waves, choking off Madison’s air supply and making her head spin.

“No, I…” She stammered and looked over her shoulder. She couldn’t run back into the cemetery, but maybe down the road. Get out of sight in the darkness. Hide beside the road in some underbrush, just until he went away. He took another step towards her, and she decided to do just that.

She bolted like a scared bunny. Her fingers pressed the power button of her cell phone, turning it off so he couldn’t track her. His voice echoed behind her, but she ignored him. All she cared about was living another day. Twenty feet out, she ran into someone who wrapped their arms around her.

“Let me go,” she screamed.

A voice whispered near her ear, comforting and femininely sweet, “Shhhh, relax. You’re going to be okay.”

Madison checked over the stranger’s shoulder at the lights moving in the distance, just like at the cemetery. A mechanical beep shattered the silence, bouncing around into the dark behind her. The woman continued to hold her, running a hand through her hair and crooning at her.

Feeling comforted but frightened by this new arrangement, she jerked back and powered her phone back on for the light. Before her, the woman’s eyes crinkled at the corners with a smile, her light brown hair caught up in a messy bun on the back of her head. Her face, it appeared so familiar.

Another beep blasted through the quiet. Madison shook her head, trying to remember where she knew the woman from. And what was that ridiculous noise? The lights? What happened to the man?

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Madison stepped back and grabbed her head, desperate to rationalize the madness in this desert. The woman followed her movements and reached out an arm, stopping just shy of her head.

“It’s okay. You’re going to be okay.” Her words didn’t sound right.

The lights, they seemed bigger, closer. Were they moving their direction? Madison took another step back and the beeps became louder, more desperate. A sadness touched the woman’s smile. She clasped her arm to her chest as if Madison stung it.

The desert didn’t seem so quiet anymore. Voices whispered behind her and yelled a long ways off in front of her. Someone, besides the strange man and woman, was out there, moving in the shadows and closing in on her.

“I don’t understand.” Her feet tugged her another step back. The lights withdrew a bit. A weight lifted off her chest and she could breathe again.

The woman shook her head and extended her arms. Her voice sounded so old, so pained, when she said, “Don’t go that way. Come back. It’s important you come back.”

A shiver passed down Madison’s back as she thought of the man, his face hidden save for a single burning glow. Unconsciously, she took a step towards the woman, away away from him. The voices grew in volume and the lights definitely seemed closer.

The beeps thundered so loud she wanted to cover her ears and scream for silence. They threatened to swallow the whispers, pulsing with her heartbeat.

The woman tucked her arms around her again and whispered, “Come back to us. Don’t go yet.”

Pain blossomed in her chest, tingling through to her toes, her fingers, her brain. She screamed but couldn’t breathe in again, her lungs collapsing into themselves.

Everything slipped away into the moment where she managed a deep gasp. Blinding white light met her when she opened her eyes. Blurred faces moved about her, slowly coming into focus. She lay in a medical room, wires and tubes attached to her, a defibrillator beside the bed.

A nurse in a white suit with light brown hair stood beside her, adding something to the iv dripping into her arm. When her warm, blue eyes met Madison’s, she broke into a huge smile.

“I knew we’d save you. It wasn’t your time yet.” Her voice sounded so familiar, but Madison couldn’t remember anything, especially not how she got there.

“Where am I?” she asked, the words straining her throat.

“You are at the county hospital.” She gestured at the machine being wheeled away by a young man in white scrubs. “You died, but we pulled you back.”

“How’d I get here? I don’t remember.”

“You were in a car accident. You were real touch and go there for a while. Slipped into a coma, gave us all a good scare.” The nurse smoothed her hair off her forehead.

“Was I the only one in the car accident?” Madison’s question made the nurse’s smile drop into a sad frown. She shook her head.

“Did they survive?”

A shake of the head prompted Madison’s last question. “Who was it?”

“Your husband, Jason. I’m so sor….” The kind-hearted woman began but Madison shook her head.

She couldn’t bear condolences for an abusive monster, not when she wasn’t sorry he was dead. Though she didn’t remember her dream adventure in the cemetery, she remembered a southern accent laid on a touch too heavy, a disguise meant to ensnare.

He almost got her but she wanted to live.
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