I cursed at myself as I stumbled to my car. I should have been smarter. More aware. I had been camping before in all sorts of locations and had never once gotten into an accident. Sure, I had had some scrapes here and there. A trip down a hill. Stumbling into a maze of thorns. Even a close call with a lumbering bear that one time in the Northwoods. Throughout all of those, though, I had managed to be safe. So, with that in mind, I had assumed that sleeping out on the ground so I could see the stars would be a valid way to go to bed. After all, I hadn't gotten myself into trouble yet. Why would it happen now?
I had fallen asleep staring up at the endless expanse of dark sky and peppery little bites of stars dwarfed by the looming moon. It was peaceful in a way I can't describe and that most people tend to ignore as the ramblings of that hippie (as I have been so charitably nicknamed by those coworkers who dare to talk to me during work hours). Gazing out into that blackness made me feel so small but comfortable at the same time. I had drifted off as my mind sailed among the ancients.
I woke up, however, to a stabbing pain in my body. It felt like electrical wiring had gone off and acid was leaking into my bloodstream. I bolted upright with a strangled gasp, just in time to see a shape disappearing into the bushes. Oh, screw me, I thought. A rattlesnake had just bitten me. This was bad. This was very bad. I needed to get to a hospital as soon as I could before my heart gave out or whatever nightmarish crap happens when you get bit. Hence, groggily dragging myself to my feet and the five hundred feet to where my car was parked. The nearest town was about twenty miles away so I would have to floor it. Hopefully I wouldn't die before then.
The drive...well, I don't remember it. Not exactly. I know I made it. I know that it was a close call. I mean, I think it was. I didn't get a whole lot of answers. Just that they did a blood transfusion and made everything all better. Anemic was the word they used, but they didn't mention one word about poison. Strange that. Not that it mattered, I supposed. I felt better and wasn't dead. I needed to celebrate.
I stopped off at Scarpelli's for a slice of my favorite pizza and savored the heat steaming from the cheese and bread as I stepped outside. I took a bite and my stomach heaved. I bent over and threw up on the ground. Blood came out. Clearly they hadn't gotten all the poison! And why the hell did I just puke? All I did was get my favorite: meat-lovers with a garlic butter crust. What the hell?
Just breathe, Lucas whispered in his head. You're going to be fine. It's just a car accident. Everyone has them at some point in their life, right? He sat on the hood of his car and waited as patiently as he could for the authorities to arrive. He hadn't even seen the SUV turning into his lane. All he had seen was the light going green and him accelerating. He had been late for work then. Now? Well, that was the least of his worries.
The other driver, an older man, hadn't been kind. He had burst from his car screaming and waving something at Lucas. The adrenaline from the accident spiked Lucas's heartrate and, without a second's thought, reached into his glove compartment and pulled out his (legal) pistol. Just as the man reached his window and slapped his wallet with insurance information on the glass, Lucas aimed and fired three shots. The first one took the man's eye out and he stumbled back. The second two just finished the job. Then it was all over.
Lucas crossed and uncrossed his legs as he sat and stared at the body on the ground, a halo of thickening red around its head. It was curious, Lucas thought, that the man had been so aggressive with the insurance card. That wasn't how normal people acted. That wasn't how people in control acted. And he was normal. He was under control. He was perfectly content to sit and wait for the whole situation to resolve itself. Surely the authorities would understand! He was in fear for his life, after all. You don't sit and think. You act. That was what normal people did.
How did it go again? Lucas thought as he tried to lock in the memory. He had gotten out of his car to try to explain but the man started yelling at him and pulled a tire iron, so Lucas shot him. Self-defense, obviously. How would he explain the window, though? The man's window was shattered from where the bullet had struck it. It wasn't his fault, though. The man cut him off in traffic. It wasn't done! That's not what normal people did. They drove respectfully of others. They watched themselves and managed their emotions effectively. They didn't dream of t-boning someone in an intersection to cause harm, did they? No, Lucas thought, they did not. And neither did he. Because he was a normal person with normal feelings.
Lucas was fine, he told himself. Everything would be fixed as soon as they got here. Everything was managed. All he had to do was tell the truth. As always. No problem. That the man had been sleeping with his wife and he took revenge. No, wait, that wasn't right. Was it that the man was random? No, that wouldn't fly either. He needed something more effective. More...poignant. He wasn't worried, though. Eventually, it would all sort itself out. All he had to do was remain in control.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.