"You girls need a ride?"
October looked up, letting her eyes stray from the gravel beneath her feet. She had been walking along the highway for so long she had started counting her steps to pass the time, hoping that when she finally looked up she would see civilization. Abigail ran to the truck driver's passenger door, haphazardly pushing past October as if she had never ridden in a vehicle before.
October glared at the driver's soiled clothes, greasy hair, and crooked teeth. She imagined his smell which made her gag uncontrollably. It was as if his unkemptness was setting off red flags in her head: "Never talk to strangers. And never accept rides from hillbilly truck drivers in the middle of nowhere."
"Where are you headed?" Abigail questioned playfully. Even though she was a few years older than October, it seemed to make her more reckless than wise. Before the driver had the chance to wheeze whatever location in Kansas he was headed to, October yanked the sultry temptress to her side - and waved a pleasant dismissal.
She pushed the uncooperative Abigail along the road until the driver finally began moving again. He drove past the couple slowly as if hoping they would change their minds. However; October knew only too well what he was interested in. Without looking up, she heard a heavy scoff and imagined an irritated expression as the truck sped off along the empty road surrounded by grasslands.
Abigail sighed impatiently, like a child who didn't understand why they couldn't stick forks in the power outlet. Her boots kicked loose rocks aimlessly, as if she were begging for any small amount of attention. "Look," October began, refusing to play her little games, "We'll just keep walking until we reach a house, and then we'll call a tow truck. Someone has to live out here, there's corn everywhere."
Abigail smirked, as if she had just realized her friend was the biggest idiot in Kansas. "That guy could have had a cell phone that actually gets signal out here!" October shoved her lightly, trying to be gentle but stern. "Yeah, but at least this way we don't get raped and scarred for life just before I move into a coed dorm, okay?"
Abigail smiled and returned the shove, signifying that she understood. "Always at risk, but never the risk taker. Huh, October?" They grinned warmly at each other and locked arms as they'd done for years. The two continued their tread down the road, talking about the upcoming school year to pass the time. October considered all the courses she would take her freshman year and Abigail pondered all the parties she would crash and the hot frat boys she'd hook up with as a junior. When the giggling finally died down and they realized they'd walked an hour without seeing any barns or a bar of signal on their phones, something recognizable finally came into view.
The large black truck they had been invited to board earlier was parked along the side of the road. It was as if the girls' bad luck was contagious. Recognizing this moment from any b horror movie, October stopped in her tracks. Her eyes darted back and forth as if she half expected the driver to jump out from an obscure hiding place.
It seemed that the truck driver had reached the beginning of the only forest for miles and either broke down or was lying in wait for any number of ghastly reasons October was imagining. That's when Abigail sprinted for the truck.
October gasped and darted after her. However; she wasn't nearly as fast as Abigail, even in her tennis shoes. Before October could even cry out, Abigail had the driver's door open and was hopping inside. October ran to her side and grabbed her arm, attempting to pull her out of the driver's seat.
"Get out of there, Abby! Before he comes back." Abigail slammed her hands against the wheel. "Damn! He took his keys." As the girl ducked her head under the dashboard seemingly hunting for a spare set, October began desperately yanking her by the foot. "What the Hell are you thinking!?"
Abigail turned to face her, a mischievous smile playing along her lips. "You said you didn't want to hitch a ride with the guy? Okay, fine. Then let's ride without him." October was about to snap back when they both noticed the unusual sound of water splattering against the Earth. They both carefully looked around the corner of the truck where the driver stood in plain view.
He had unbuttoned his pants and was publicly urinating on the side of the road. He released a disturbing groan, feeling the relief of an empty bladder. As he refastened his pants, he turned slowly and stared directly at the feuding girls. A malicious smile creased the wrinkles of his face. His unnaturally tanned skin and sweaty brow accentuated the deviousness that October could only imagine lurked within. He began chuckling evilly and started walking towards the two.
Mutually overcome by panic, Abigail jumped from the truck and the two girls sprinted towards an opening in the oncoming forest. They ran aimlessly, dodging limbs and loose dirt in an attempt to put as much space between them and a possibly vengeful redneck. When they had both hopelessly ran out of breath, they stopped in a dark grove where any movement would have sent them into a panic attack.
The girls leaned on each other, still reeling from the adrenaline. Finally October caught Abigail's wandering eyes, and they both fought the urge to smile. Their hesitant laughter filled the woods as they shrugged off their previous fears. "Always the risk taker. Right, Abigail?" October coughed out a friendly chuckle.
"That's okay," Abigail began, "All I have to do is outrun you." They both started giggling frantically, allowing the relief to wash over them. Until they heard a branch crack under an overweight foot.
In the shadows October could barely make out the sinister silhouette of an approaching truck driver. She recognized his smell, however; and the sick way that he chuckled. He stepped out into the grove, his face lit by the falling sunshine. He was smiling.
October grabbed Abigail's arm and screamed, "Run!" Abigail's face was genuinely terrified as they sprinted further into the woods. Every once and a while they could hear the clumsy steps of the driver's heavy feet as he pursued them. October cried to Abigail who had taken the lead, "See if your phone has service, call the police!"
October watched Abigail search her pockets in vain. "Shit, I lost it! Even if I hadn't, what are the odds!? We have to do something October!" October's breath had finally run out. She collapsed against a tree as Abigail ran to her side. Abigail urged her to keep moving but when she realized their was no hope, she dragged October to a dune partially hidden in brambles.
Abigail raised her fingers to her lips, urging October to be quiet. Abigail skirted around the dune and hid behind the trunk of a large tree. She glanced around frantically until she spotted a large, moss covered rock. Abigail dug it from the ground and looked to October for approval. October was scared, but she nodded back, knowing that even if they could call the police, it would be too late.
The two silenced their sobs long enough to hear the approaching driver. He had slowed to a walk, unable to keep up with the athletic girls. He pushed an overhanging branch away from his face and looked around in the darkness. When he saw nothing, he huffed and put his hands on his hips, shaking his head in defeat. Still he continued on as if he were still enjoying the hunt.
As his boots crunched along the forest floor, Abigail help the rock too her chest until his shoe appeared on the other side of the tree. October shifted and unintentionally released an echoing "Craccckkk!"
The driver darted for the sound. That's when Abigail appeared. October stared, horrified as Abigail bashed the driver in the back. As he fell to the ground, she lifted the rock above her head and dropped it down on his skull. October grimaced as she did it again and again until not only the rock was covered in blood, but so was Abigail.
She threw the rock into his face, leaving him no longer recognizable as a human being. He was scum; a rock to meld into the Earth and eventually be covered in blood-stained moss. After a few more thrusts, Abigail tossed the rock aside lazily. She fell to her knees and sighed with absolution. October crept from the dune and put her hand on Abigail's shoulder. "Are you alright?" She muttered shakily.
Abigail nodded, her voice solid and grim. "I am, he's not." The girls leaned into each other, exhaustedly relieved. As October was about to stand, a small gleam of light on the forest floor caught her eye. Falling from the driver's open hand was a cell phone. October bent down and pried it from his finger tips. She scoffed, "Huh, his phone looks just like yours, Abby."
Abigail's eyes widened. Her face was white and her hands began to shake. "What's wrong?" October stammered, already sensing their mistake. "Oh God, October," Abigail began to weep, "That is my phone!"
As Abigail burst into tears, October stood in the darkness, phone in hand. She stared down at the mutilated corpse that was once a man and realized,
"We're the murderers."