This is my writing blog, where I will be shamelessly posting my work. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, extracts from novels...they'll all be here. And if you don't like any of that, just play with the tiger.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Crossroads

Following a prompt from Writers' Island (see sidebar):

Usually the SatNav woman had plenty to say for herself, but not today.
‘You have missed your destination,’ she conceded, a little sheepishly.
‘I bloody know that,’ Kathryn remonstrated. ‘But where the bloody hell am I?’
SatNav woman merely repeated her previous remark.
Kathryn, feeling hot and itchy about the armpits, pulled into a side road and stopped. First she texted Mark (‘wrong turn. Be bit late.’), and then attempted to re-establish communication with SatNav woman. The machine bleeped dutifully as Kathryn pressed buttons, but then suffered one of its habitual blackouts.
‘Come onnnn,’ hissed Kathryn, giving the machine a slap.
It had been sweet of Mark to buy it for her, but it was so like him to have got it from some dodgy geezer down the pub instead of a proper shop. So long as it was cheap, and it worked…sometimes. There was no hope today, though. Kathryn smoothed her hair, preparing to try and find her own way, when her phone chirped. Mark. ‘Wrong turn! Story of ur life. B quick. Dinner ready.’
The itchy-armpit sensation returned. Their first anniversary - of all the days to get lost! After she had spent the afternoon in the alien serenity of the beauty parlour, being made up and waxed and tweezed. She surged back out into the road, trying to remember which direction she had come from, but it was useless. In the looming dusk, all the hedges and fields looked the same. Kathryn trailed forlornly along until she reached a crossroads she seemed to remember. She slowed, and for the first time noticed the car behind her, its headlights off. In a sort of inspired desperation, she decided to ask for directions. She signalled to pull in, at the same time making beckoning motions in the rear-view mirror. The other car lumbered to a halt behind her. Kathryn got out, and tottered to its window on her unaccustomed high heels. A cool breeze welled, fingering her legs in their sheer stockings.
‘I’m so sorry,’ said Kathryn to the window, as the driver whirred it down. ‘I’m terribly lost, and my sat nav has broken down. Could you tell me the best way to Crawsdale?’
‘Crawsdale! You are lost!’ The man in the second car laughed, his eyes twinkling as his eyes assessed what portion of Kathryn was visible. He waited a few seconds before continuing. ‘It’s pretty simple, though. Right at the crossroads, straight on ‘til the third roundabout, then left at the lights.’
‘Thank you,’ Kathryn smiled, repeating the directions like a mantra inside her head but already secretly certain that she was remembering left when he said right, and that there would only ever be two roundabouts.
‘No probs, love. Enjoy your evening. Looks like you’ve got plans.’ The man smiled thinly, and his window whirred back up.
Kathryn got back into her car, and made the right turn. Within a few hundred yards, the road narrowed into a rutted path, pitted with stones and with nettles inching over its surface. This couldn’t be right. The man must have said left. The road, or rather path, was too narrow to turn around in. Images of spoiled dinners parading before her eyes, Kathryn threw the car into reverse and sped backwards. Glancing into her mirror, she was startled by a sudden glare of headlights behind her. She stopped, waiting for the other car to go back as there was no room for overtaking. It didn’t move. Kathryn squinted hard at her mirror. Impossibly, it was the car from the crossroads.
The driver eased out of the door, and began a slow, determined tramp to Kathryn’s door. Transfixed, she watched his approach in the mirror. He was still wearing the same thin smile, but now his hand was lowering a zipper instead of a window. Kathryn, feeling sick and ridiculous in her finery, suddenly came to life and grappled with her phone. Her hands shook and refused to obey her. She tried to dial 999, but fumbled and only managed to re-open her text to Mark.
Wrong turn, the phone flashed silently, as the man calmly reached out to open the door. Wrong turn. Wrong turn.

7 comments:

rebecca said...

wow! oohhh, i got chills....scary and very well written.

tumblewords said...

Ouch. Chills. Well written - a crossroads, a fork and a wrong turn - nifty story!

SlyGly said...

Nicely paced and a vivid painting of a chilling scene! Well done!

gautami said...

That is a very engrossing story. Keep those coming...


fluted

Viki Lane said...

Thanks, everyone! Can't wait to read all your blogs. Thanks for giving a Writers' Island newbie a lovely welcome.

xVx

AnneK said...

Why did I read this just before bed.... Great story!
Anne x

Viki Lane said...

lol, Anne! You know my writing is liable to induce nightmares :-)

xVx


With thanks to Graeme