Silence screamed at the trees peopling the highway as she walked into the fading light of the setting sun with measured steps. Late again. No buses or anything that would take her home at the this time of the night. "Take a step, one at a time, and we would find some way to go home", she promised her feet as they ambled along, unknown of the distances that they would walk among alien foliage, at a time when you could cut through the darkness with a knife. The streetlights, sparse as neglected diamonds, winked at her knowingly, seemingly aware of the fate that seized travellers at this hour.
The rat had woken up and was starting to crawl around now. It went sniffing around at first, trying to find whatever defences it could chew through. There was still time. The night was young, yet, and it would have a whale of a time in the coming moments. It knew she could not run away even if she wanted. At least once it was awake. It now was. Soon it would be scurrying across, causing some massive mayhem and total upheaval. It knew she had a name for it.
She called it Fear.
The car was old for sure and you could make it out from the peeling paint at places. It was not a very lavish car either, but one look and you could label it as someones bygone royalty. The entire structure now creaked occasionally, like a rusted almirah, when it got rolling on wheels which had seen younger days. Tonight, it rolled along, a silent nightmare. It now crossed the trees which had stood as silent spectators when the girl had crossed them, covering distances in a fast gallop. Another five minutes and it would be with the girl.
She walked along, now counting stars, now humming a song. The trees still refused to speak to her, unlike crickets who seemed to be exchanging treasure troves of knowledge among themselves. It was totally dark now, and there were goosebumps popping on her flesh. She occasionally turned to praying, hoping that she would find some mode of travel. She could now hear the faint noise of an engine drawing closer.
The rat was totally awake now.
He lit a cigarette and puffed like a wheezing vacuum cleaner. The leather on the seats were dull and the speedometer, weighed down with journeys beyond memory, had finally breathed its last. The fuel gauge looked unsure as well. A little skeleton head, perched on crossbones, dangled merrily from his rear view mirror.
She heard the car approach and saw it halt at a few steps from her. She walked on, head bowed, hoping to pass by like a spirit, unseen. The car idled, a figure moving towards the passenger's seat. The door unlatched and opened exactly at the same time as she reached the car. She had the first view of the guy who would be giving her a lift tonight.
The rat was scurrying frantically now.All hell seemed to have broken loose. It went around scratching, gnawing at whatever it could. Not long now. The rat would soon reign supreme.
Fear would rule...
She stepped into the car with her nerves giving her a mighty hard time. It was okay after all.
Strangers were not supposed to take you off the road and then...
(dont think dont think)
They were the last people who would ...you know...
Her gaze shifted to the guy driving the car. Unknown to her, his left hand had slid into the left pocket and clutched something.
(not a gun oh lord please not a knife oh god shitshitshit)
He came out with a cigarette and lighted it. The skull dangled on, uncaring about the situation of the new passenger. He drove on not as much giving her a second glance since the time she had got into the car. They raced along into the night, turning roads into forgotten memories. The rat seemed to have settled down for now.He finally turned to her and said,
" Say...Would you want to hear a ghost story?"