|Alice (standard:horror, 1615 words)|
|Author: kendall thomas||Added: Oct 30 2002||Views/Reads: 1986/1226||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story Tears glistened on her cheeks. When I touched her shoulder gently she gave me a brave, little smile that must have cost her greatly. We started back, and after several false turns managed to find the car as it began to rain. When I started the engine, she asked, “Please, could we just drive awhile?” It was the voice of a small child who has been completely broken and no longer hopes for anything. “Sure, no problem,” I said. “Any place in particular?” She shook her head without enthusiasm, then, suddenly, she brightened as if she had just thought of something wonderful. She lost her look of grief and replaced it with one of excitement and gayety. It was such an abrupt transformation that I was astounded. “Let's go driving down River Road,” she said, almost bouncing in her seat. She looked at me -- all eagerness now. River Road was where the make out park was, but I couldn't believe that's what she had in mind -- not unless she had a split personality. But I complied, nevertheless, curious to see what she was up to and because I didn't want her to lapse into her sad state again. Perhaps she was trying subconsciously to divert her attention from her grief in this strange manner. Grief can make anyone act crazy at times. “Faster,” she cried when we entered River Road. But I was reluctant to go any faster than I was already going. River Road was narrow and curvy, and even on a good day it would have been dangerous to exceed the speed limit. But raining as hard as it was it would have been suicide. When she saw I wasn't going to go any faster she slumped in the corner flashing a petulant look at me. Suddenly, as we were approaching an intersection called Harrison Lane, she lunged over toward me and jammed her foot on top of mine forcing the gas pedal to the floor. The car lurched forward, the rear tires spinning on the wet pavement causing it to fishtail precariously. As we hit the intersection, Alice gripped the dashboard with both hands. I glanced at her as I fought to bring the car under control. Her eyes were wide with terror. She screamed. A loud piercing scream that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. When I brought the car to a stop, she was lying back against the seat, her eyes wide and motionless. I shook her and called out her name, but she seemed oblivious. After a moment she came to. “Please take me home to my mamma,” she begged. “Please take me home to my momma.” The rain had put the quietus on trick or treaters. Pumpkins cast their glowing grimaces on empty, rainwashed streets. Candles flickered like abandoned spirits in windows. Cardboard skeletons and witches did a lonely dance macabre back and forth hanging on their strings from porch ceilings. But there was none of this macabre gayety on Alice's front porch when I pulled up in front. I couldn't get her to move. She stared straight ahead, as if in a trance. I hurried up the stone steps to a darkened house and knocked on the door. Then louder, harder, but there was no response, no light coming on from inside. “Hello,” I heard a woman's voice call out from the porch next door. She was elderly, thin with gray hair. “Can I help you?” she asked. “I'm trying to get a hold of Alice's mother,” I said, feeling foolish as I realized I didn't even know her name; I had never met her. The old woman's stooped shoulders drew back as if she had received a shock, then she said: “She doesn't live here anymore; not since her daughter, Alice, died a year ago.” “You mean Alice's sister?” I said, thinking that she was addled in her old age. “I've been dating Alice for a month now; this is where she lives. This is where I've always picked her up.” The old woman shook her head impatiently, as if she half suspected I was playing her for a fool on Halloween. “Sister? Young man, I don't know what you're about, but Alice was the only child, and she got kilt last year on Halloween in a car accident on River Road . . . where Harrison Lane intersects.” She paused, staring fixedly in the yellow glow of a pumpkin, as if her old mind were wandering back in time. “Don't forget a thing like that.” The words came out slowly as if she were in a daze. “I held her mother on my shoulder while she cried her heart out. Her only daughter . . . the light of her life; such a pretty child, too. Just had started to college . . . had her whole life before her. It was so horrible. According to the police officer, who was the first to arrive on the scene, her last words were ‘Please take me home to my momma.'” The old woman shook her head sadly. “A person don't forget a thing like that.” I stared at her, dumbfounded. Either she was the greatest actress in the world or crazy as hell, but when she quoted Alice's last words, I knew she was neither. I glanced down the sloping embankment of the lawn to the darkened interior of my car. A street light far down on the corner cast only a dim light through the flickering shadows and the rain. “If Alice is dead,” I said, feeling a tightness in my throat and a sudden tingling sensation move down my spine, “then who's that sitting in my car?” The old woman cast a cautious look down the embankment, then back at me. “I don't know, young man,” she said, her voice suddenly vigilant, “but if I were you I wouldn't go back down to see.” Tweet
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