Flash Fiction Challenge #4 – Don’t Take the Dirt Road

challenge, Flash Fiction, horror, thriller

Our Flash Fiction Challenge this week from terribleminds.com was to use one of 60 Completely Unusable Stock Photos and write 1000 words about the photo. Or we could write a story based on the photo. I did a mixture of both. I won’t have you guess which one, because I’m sure it’s pretty obvious. Below is the picture, and the story. Enjoy.

Don’t Take the Dirt Road
The only thing thicker than the humidity was my suit material. Black clouds to the northwest loomed, threatened to send rivers of rain down the mountainsides. I was already caught in a floodplain, the road I had taken in my detour still closed from the previous rainfall.
Being stuck on this forty-mile long dirt road on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, nor was sitting for eight hours in a hot suit in a hot car. I had stopped to air out, and to take a leak. After all, there was no one around for miles.
It was when I turned away from the desert and the lone cactus tree a quarter mile away, and headed back towards the car, that I saw it, stepped in it. I turned back, wondering what in the hell had caused my balance to shift so, and found giant carving in the sand. It was meant to appear as though a massive foot had created it, but being a lawyer, and practical, I could spot a lie with my eyes closed. After all, you only recognize traits that you yourself possess and can identify.
I scrutinized the unusual drawing. Where the pad of the foot was to have stepped, the sand was still wet. I glanced back towards my substitute urinal. The sand there was already dry. The sun was so damned hot that despite the humidity in the air, no liquid could withstand the power of the radiant rays.
This footprint had to have been created mere minutes ago to be feasible. I gazed about, but saw no one. The silence in the thick air precluded any noise outside of my one-hundred foot diameter bubble to reach me. If someone had been here just minutes before me, I could not see or hear their vehicle. Besides, what an odd thing to do.

I traipsed through the sand back to my car, a new silver Porsche, a vehicle that would be going back to the dealership now that the air conditioning had bit the dust.

Before I stepped into the car, I gazed towards the mountains. The clouds had grown darker and were now just a few miles from reaching me. I had to hurry up and get off this road before I was washed away like tumbleweed in the wind. I slid into the car and got moving again. Tried the A/C once more, but the thing just rattled and spit out hot air.
The tire tracks that I followed still held puddles. ATV tracks also lined the road, zigzagged across, up the banks of the road, down again. This road would be a perfect riverbed if those clouds let loose.
Two miles further into my drive, a black shape on the road came into view. I wondered if it was a mirage. After all, it was the desert, and heat waves emitted from the hood of my car without relent.
I slowed the car down and finally shut it off as I peered at the thing on the road. It was no mirage. Lying on its side, facing the opposite direction, it was huge, probably the size of Volkswagen Bug, and the colour of dark pewter. The skin was bumpy, rough, and thick, like that of a dinosaur. I had never seen anything like it.
As I stared, the first raindrop of the storm splattered on my windshield. This creature was blocking the road. Trying to drive around it would wedge the Porsche between it and the outer banks. Maybe I could push it out of the way. It looked dead. Maybe it had even rotted out, leaving just a light, hollow shell.
I stepped out of the car and pulled my cell phone from my pocket, glancing at the LCD screen to see that there were still no bars. No cell phone reception, no help. I only wish I knew how far I was to the next highway.
I walked around the creature, to its front, and my heart jumped into my throat. The head of the thing was hideous, looked like a combination of a Rottweiler and a gorilla, no ears. Giant ram horns curled out of its skull, the left horn jutting into the sand, causing the creature’s head to lie at a strange angle. Although the creature appeared a quadruped, with giant paws for hands and feet, I had a feeling it could stand on two feet should it feel the need.
And suddenly it growled. Startled, I hurried away from it, watching as it roused from its position. I looked around again, but there was no one to be seen. Just me and this fucking ugly creature in the middle of the desert.
And it was alive.
The creature suddenly mutated, its skin and all that it was made of contracting into a pulsating lobulated mass. Before the unthinkable happened, it had shrunk to the size of a large dog, and then it stretched, tall, six feet tall, and began to take shape again.
When it had finished transforming, I was looking at an exact replica of me. My replica growled and stepped towards me with, despite appearing human, an inhuman gait. I stepped backwards, snatching for my cell phone, heart thundering in my chest.
“Come back,” the creature said but in my own voice. “Need.”
It took all my willpower not to scream. I knew I would need that breath and energy for running.
The spitting rain had become a light shower.
Need!” the creature shouted, my voice but with more gravel.
“Need what?” I cried, still retreating through the rain. “What do you need?”
The creature suddenly darted at me, and I did the only thing I could think to do: run.
Any hope that I might win this foot race diminished when I glanced back to see that the creature had changed back into its previous form, and was charging me on all fours.
© Lindsay Mawson 2011

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