It was a warm summer night, born of a swipe and a text. Driving home from a frivolous Tinder date, I was jolly and carefree amongst the twists and turns of the country roads I traversed.
I cranked the radio, rolled down the windows and sang at the top of my lungs when my headlights crawled up the form of a man on the side of the road, standing next to a trash can. It wasn’t yet unreasonably late, so I assumed he’d been taking out his trash despite the way he stood and stared as I passed.
Struggling to regain my lost fervor, I noticed movement in my rearview mirror, just outside the dull glow of my brake lights, yet clearly persisting along the street behind me. It was at that same time another figure watched me drive past, I decided to observe this one. Keeping an eye on the road and another on the new figure, I watched as it walked, then jogged, then sprinted behind me, falling in line with the movement just beyond my rear view’s vision.
It scared me, it was irrational, unreal, and happening all the same. I sped up, hoping to lose them, but the faster I went the more people I past and the more figures fell into the mass behind my car. I was panicking, swerving through turns, burning through my gasoline far faster than I was comfortable with, and still far from city limits.
I kept glancing at the writhing mob in my wake, my gaze lingering too often. In the time it took my eyes to travel from mirror to road, a tree appeared in my path. Unable to swerve, unable to stop, I met the tree head on.
There was a gut-wrenching crash followed by the settling of leaves torn from their home. Saved by a seat belt and an airbag, I heard the footfalls of dozens rolling toward me. Dazed, I fumbled with my seat belt, struggling to move my fingers with enough precision to perform the simple task. At the peak of my frustration, and after the crescendo of falling feet, the world fell silent.
Under the new moon I couldn’t see a soul, but they were there. They could hear my heart hammering at my ribs as much as I heard the absence of crickets. They could smell the stink of fear as much as I smelt the leaking fluid from my totaled car. With the strike of a match, a looming face appeared in front of me, weakly illuminated. The face wasn’t what scared me though, it was the sickening smile upon it, and the glint of oil below.