the short story project


Justin Carr

The Man at The Station

Turn around now? You’ve got to be crazy, Marty. I am in the thick of it, do you understand me? Now I need you to wire me that money. I am this close to getting the biggest story we’ve ever had, and so what I’m a day or two late, this story isn’t going anywhere. I mean Jesus Christ the energy of this place is incredible, Roswell is going to go down in the history books, alright? Now let me do my job, I’ll have us an interview with Harry S. fucking Truman by the time this is all said and done, okay? Alright, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Richard hung up the phone and said a prayer. “God, I don’t know if you’re awake at…” he pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time “I don’t know if you’re up at 3:23 in the morning, but if you are, I need help, real bad. The Chevy went and broke down on me, and I just used my last nickel to call Marty and lie through my teeth. I’m a sinner, and I need your help. Amen” He ended the prayer and looked forlornly around to see if any miracles were on the horizon. There was nothing. Sand and cacti stretched as far as he could see. It felt dangerous out in the open, but he was lucky enough to break down in front of a gas station. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a soul to be seen at this hour. He climbed into the backseat of his broken down Chevy and shut his eyes. It was going to be a long night.

The hum of electricity brought Richard out of his sleep. He’d slept clear through the night. He yawned, and slowly sat up in his seat. It was still dark out, but the neon lights of the gas station stung his eyes… wait, it was still dark out? He pulled out his pocket watch again. It was 4:15 AM. He’d only been asleep for half an hour. Richard felt his pulse rising as he scanned the parking lot, and as he expected, there wasn’t another car in sight. So why the hell was the gas station door opened, with the lights on like it was ready for business?

Richard stepped out of his car, watching in amazement as the rest of the lights inside the gas station flickered to life. “Hello?” He called. There was no reply. Inside the station a can of oil fell from one of the shelves, spilling its contents onto the tile floor. Richard had never felt more uncomfortable in his life. Something was incredibly wrong here. He wished desperately that he could start his car and drive far away from this place, because around him the buzzing of the neon signs seemed to grow louder, the wind was blowing and it seemed to carry whispers with it, and the eeriness of it all was making Richard’s skin crawl.

Just when Richard thought he couldn’t take another moment of this anxiety, a man stepped out from the gas station, gazing at Richard who was still standing by his car in the parking lot. As shocked as Richard was to see someone, he gladly accepted it. Maybe the man simply walked to work, and that’s why there was no car. He was early, sure, but this explained everything. “Come on in!” The man called, waving to Richard.
“Thank you but I’m alright. Say, you know anyone who could look at my car? Something’s wrong with it.” The man stroked his chin, never once removing his eyes from Richard. “Well, I think I know somebody, but he won’t be up for a couple hours yet. Why don’t you come inside, I’ll call and see if I can wake him.”

“If it’s all the same I’ll wait out here,” Richard yelled back, waving his hand apologetically. The man gave Richard a bad feeling. As desperately as Richard wanted to believe the man had walked to work, it just wasn’t adding up. Why walk all the way to work at 4 AM? There was nothing for miles around here, surely no one lived near here. The man still hadn’t moved from the doorway of the station, his figure was still watching Richard intently.

The man called out again, this time his voice much more serious. “You need to come inside here.” Richard glanced hurriedly around, but there was no escape. Vast nothingness stretched for as far as the eye could see. The wind was picking up again, the humming intensifying. “It’s not safe out there.” The man called again. He began to close the gas station door as the wind lashed wickedly across the desert, stinging Richards face. “You don’t know what’s out there…”

The man was right. Richard ought’ to consider himself lucky this guy was even offering to take him in. It was time to make a decision. At full speed, Richard began running for the gas station door. The wind was blowing so hard that he could hardly see inches in front of his face, but somehow Richard knew just where to go. One hand covered his eyes while the other swept back and forth like sonar, praying to feel the cold glass of the gas station door against his fingers.

Dear god, what on earth was that sound? It seemed as if mother nature itself was screaming into Richard’s ear. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was hearing the voices of people, but why? Perhaps the wind was carrying the voices from Las Vegas? Eventually Richard found the glass door, but instead of swinging the door open like every fiber of his body told him to do, he did something else. Richard pressed his face and hands against the glass and peered into the station. Staring directly back at him was The Man. Stubble lined his cheeks and chin, and his forehead was marked by and intense widow’s peak. His jet black hair was slicked, and stylish. He was very handsome, and Richard was about to open the door when he noticed one thing. The Man’s eyes. His eyes were as black as the night itself, and they pleaded with Richard. “Open the door” The Man mouthed. “Open the door”.

But Richard ignored the man. He would rather die outside than be trapped with that man. It was a gut instinct, and it was stupid, but he just didn’t trust the man at the station. He turned from the door, and noticed the Man’s expression went from smiling warmly, to frowning, to rage. The man lunged at the door and screamed in a voice that seemed to make the earth shake. Richard turned quickly, sprinting his way through the storm until he somehow found the door to his Chevy, slamming the door shut as dust began flying all around the car. It was so intense that the car was shaking. Richard began to pray again, his heart beating wildly. Sand blocked his vision as the wind jostled his vehicle. The wind seemed to be screaming at him. It was so much that Richard fainted, falling lazily against the steering wheel… Six hours later he awoke, his car covered in sand. The car was parked on the side of the road. There was no gas station.

In the sea there are Sirens… evil creatures, often beautiful women, who sing lovely songs and lure sailors to their death. These types of things exist not only in the sea, but in the desert too. Deadly mirages hell bent on taking your life. Richard was lucky. By not accepting the demon’s invitation, he was able to avoid death. These demons, succubus’s, mirages, will offer you whatever you most desperately need, only to kill you the moment you accept. Just remember, the voices of those who lost their lives before you will call out on the wind, trying to stop you. In the end, only you can make the choice between life and death. Pray that you never have to.


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