Road to Moab- a Flash Fiction Tale

With a dull headache, I drift in and out of sleep. My legs are hot, but the breeze from the open window cools my face. Our Jeep hums over Highway 70, and I squint at the road dust and the setting sun. A few more miles, and we’ll be in Moab.

I smile and tilt my seat back upright. “I know it’s getting late, but how about we swing into Arches Park to get a few sunset shots before we check into our hotel? Maybe we’ll get a postcard shot.”

“That’s not on the schedule,” Mick answers.

“I know. But let’s do something off-schedule for once. Let’s do something spontaneous.”

“Our next scheduled stop is our hotel.”

“Good grief. You’re such a fuddy-duddy. In all the years we’ve been married, we’ve never once done anything spontaneous.” I cross my arms and sink down in my seat.

We pass the turn-off to the park and head into town. I stretch and rub my eyes.

“You know, I’m not feeling too well,” I say. “I think that salad I had for lunch might have had some spoiled dressing.”

“Hold on, Kim, we’re almost to the hotel.”

“Oh god, Mick . . pull over. Pull over! I’m gonna be sick. Here it comes.”

Mick jerks the wheel to the right and slams on the brakes. I grab my camera from the back seat, jump out of the Jeep, and start jogging back to the park road.

“Kim, what are you doing? Get back here!” he yells, backing up the Jeep.

“I’m taking some sunset pictures, silly. I’ll meet you at the hotel.” I cross the highway and wave back at him.

Mick makes a U-turn and pulls alongside me. “You can’t do that. Get back in the Jeep. This is crazy. It’s not on our schedule. Please, Kim. You don’t understand.”

“You’re right. I don’t understand. And neither do you. Now move along, Mr. Schedule. You’re blocking traffic.” I walk further down the shoulder of the road, and onto the parched grass.

Mick hits the steering wheel with his palm and it beeps. I jump and look at him through the open window. His face looks purple.

Must be the low light.

Mick guns the engine and drives ahead. He turns onto the park road and stops at the checkpoint. A few minutes later I catch up to him.

“Did you get your pictures? Can we go back to the hotel now?” Mick asks, shuffling from side to side. His face is a deep violet.

I touch his cheek and he flinches. “Mick, why is your face purple?”

“Did you get your pictures? Can we go back to the hotel now?” he repeats.

“What are you talking about? I just got here. We’re at the park entrance. You’re scaring me.”

I circle around Mick and the Jeep, and up to the checkpoint station. It’s empty- no park rangers. Then I see the trail behind the station is barricaded with huge illuminated barbed wire balls, interwoven with tumbleweeds.

There’s a notice posted on the station door. It’s written in a foreign language. I look down and my sandaled feet. My toes are covered in glowing red dust.

I get back in the Jeep, and Mick does the same.

“I don’t know what’s going on. But I know this isn’t Moab. Tell me I’m right.”

“You’re right.”

“You’ve known all along this isn’t Moab. Right?”

“Right.”

My heart pounds and my face feels hot. The lights along the barricade gradually dim to a dull glow. “Mick,” I break the silence. “Do I even know you?”

I look out the window. I wait for Mick to speak. He doesn’t. I bite my lip, close my eyes, and count to 100.

“Odottamaton vieras.”

I open my eyes. “Odottamaton vieras?” What the hell does that mean?” I turn to look at Mick. He is gone.

I fling open the Jeep door and reach around to grab Mick’s bags. “Hey you forgot your bags and your camera, Mr. Vieras-”

But all Mick’s gear is gone.

I hop out of the Jeep. I scream until I’m dizzy. Only then I notice the barricade lights are on full blast again.

“I’m not done with you odd-dot-man vieras,” I yell into the night. I grab the jack out of the Jeep and throw it at the window of the station. It bounces off and thuds against my shin.

Whimpering, I limp to the side of the station and try the door handle. It’s open.

“You psychos forgot to lock it!” I call out.

I open the door-

But maybe it’s a trap. But I don’t care anymore.

All four walls are flanked with what looks like monitoring equipment. Buttons and knobs and switches and dials of every color and shape. I start in a corner and work all the way around the room, pushing and turning and flipping and spinning all the controls, and cursing Mick under my breath.

Every few seconds I hear a beep followed by a recording of seemingly random words:

“untuck”

“uncoffin”

“brusqueness”

“capsella bursa-pastoris”

“flintymouse”

I stop muttering and stand still. A final beep and the words also stop.

I take a deep breath. “Vieras. Odotta . . od-odottmaton vieras,” I stutter.

“Visitor. An unexpect-un-unexpected visitor,” the recording plays.

hissssss

I look up. Green gas is billowing out of a vent in the ceiling. I turn and leap for the door and-

I’m slowly floating through the air . .

Eyes surround me, large and unblinking and black. Long fingers reach for me, they cradle my face, squeeze my skull, pressure, pressure . .

With a dull headache, I drift in and out of sleep. My legs are hot, but the breeze from the open window cools my face. Our Jeep hums over Highway 70, and I squint at the road dust and the setting sun. A few more miles, and we’ll be in Moab.

 

————-

Thanks to Chuck Wendig for this flash fiction challenge!

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Love it? Hate it? Can’t decide? Let me know below!

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15 Comments

  1. Oooh, you’re creeping me out! I just rode last night for 3 1/2 hours with my husband. He didn’t seem irritated when I asked for an unscheduled stop. That’s good, right? Right…?

    Reply
    • 3 1/2 hours? I’d say that’s still OK. But I wouldn’t recommend “unscheduled stops” on trips longer than 4 hours. 😉

      Reply
  2. This was great! Loved it!

    Reply
  3. Very uncanny (I’m tempted to say “as usual”). 🙂
    I like how it sort of came full circle at the end and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the surroundings. Not too much, but enough to give a really good impression.

    Reply
    • Thanks! (and I’m tempted to say “as usual” lol)

      Full circle . . but is Kim exactly back were she was? Is Mick? 🙂

      Reply
      • Hehe. 🙂
        Well, verbally full circle, then. I don’t think any of them are back exactly where they were …

  4. Love it! I’ll be checking back for more…and thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

    Reply
  5. Loved it!

    Reply
  6. Great Story! Def. going to link to it!

    Reply
  7. Nice story. This seems like one of those that could repeat several times and yet never be the same.

    Reply

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