Head
By: Matt Wall

The drive up the mountain was one of my favorite things about living some 7,000 feet above sea level. During the day, the two lane road was always packed with slow 18–wheelers, weekend warriors, bicyclists, families in mini vans and road crews fixing things that didn't need to be fixed. That said, I only made the trip up or down in the middle of the night. It was quiet and beautiful. You could see every star in the sky and the cold air coming in through the window smelled great.

It was sometimes hard to focus on the road. Sometimes, deer, rabbits, coyotes, and other woodland creatures would dart out in front of my truck and I would have to swerve or slam on the brakes. One time, a rabbit came out of some bushes, jumping into the road. It saw my headlights coming fast. Instead of hopping back where it came from or taking off as fast as it could to the other shoulder of the road, it turn to run from me. I was driving slowly now, watching it with a smile. Then, it was next to me. The moon was full enough to light up the little fur ball. I coasted for about five minutes while this crazy rabbit hopped a jog next to me. I started talking to it. Asking it what the hell it was doing. It didn't answer, and finally realized that if he just turned to his left, he could rest.

I drove up and down the mountain slowly. It was relaxing. It was my peaceful time. My time. One night, the night that started all of this, all of this…madness, I guess you would say, I was driving up the mountain at about three in the morning. I didn't even think to check what my speed was, but when I saw headlights in my rear–view mirror coming up rather quickly, I stepped on the gas and looked at my speedometer, it was just about to hit 30mph. My old truck just wasn't able to pick up speed that quickly, going up hill. I squinted my eyes and braced for impact, but the sound of tires squealing behind me, made me think that maybe I'd be okay.

The car behind me began flashing it's brights. There wasn't a place to pull over and let the car pass for about a mile and the next passing lane was four miles away. The car behind me swerved back and forth wildly, gaining the courage to try to go around me. The road was winding and you never knew what would be around the corner. Finally, the car pulled into the oncoming lane and floored the gas pedal. As it became parallel to my truck, I saw that it was a newer corvette. Bright red. convertible. The driver turned to look at me and our eyes met. Her eyes were bright and her blonde hair danced wildly in the wind. Her lipstick was as red as her car. She didn't look mad. I thought she would be mad. She looked indifferent. Then, as she passed me, she darted back into our lane and sped off around the curves of the mountain. The sound of her car grew fainter.

The sound of metal crunching was louder than I could have ever expected. I heard it, but I didn't see it. I thought it came from up ahead, but couldn't really be sure. I thought again of the beautiful, indifferent blonde. I hoped she was all right. I thought about why I would care. I didn't have an answer. Around a few more bends, I had to slam on my brakes. In front of me was what was left of the red corvette and a pick–up that was a little bigger and a lot newer than my own. I stopped and got out of the truck to see if anyone needed any help.

"Hello?" I shouted. "Is everyone okay?" There was no response.

The engines were still grinding. There was some sound that sounded dangerous. I covered my ears with my hands and shut my eyes as tightly as I could. A few moments later, the noise had stopped. The only sound now was a hiss that was coming from one of the autos. One headlight on the truck still worked and was shining light back into my eyes. I didn't want to see what happened to the girl in the corvette yet. I didn't think I could handle it. I walked over to the truck and stood on the floor boards and looked in. I don't think I had ever seen a man so dead. His eyes were open, they were looking at me, but I could tell there was nothing behind them. His beard was slightly long and under his mouth, it was soaked in blood. A thick metal pipe from the bed of his truck, had come through the back window, through the seat and through his chest.

I looked at the back of the truck and ground around it. There were metal pipes of all different sizes rolling around the road. On the top of the truck's cab, were a few thick pieces of thick sheet metal that were almost as long as the truck. The truck didn't look like it was meant to carry all of it. My guess was that he drove up and stole all this stuff and was hurrying down the mountain.

I let out a low whistle and walked around the front to see what the damage was to beautiful blonde. I saw that one of the pieces of sheet metal came down on her car and went through the windshield. I wasn't crossing my fingers anymore. The drivers seat was cut in half. Not much blood at all. Then, I forced the door open and squatted down. There she was; from the neck down at least. You couldn't tell what she was wearing. It was all blood and reflecting the light coming from the truck's headlight. I didn't throw up, but I thought that I might.

I thought about waiting around for Highway Patrol to be some sort of witness, but after looking at the scene, there didn't seem much of a point. It was pretty evident what happen. Two cars going way too fast, heading towards each other. I wiped my hands on my jeans and headed back to my truck. If I hadn't turned my head to spit, I never would've seen it. It was on the small, south–bound shoulder of the highway. It nearly fit in with the rocks. I squinted my eyes and walked over slowly. It was exactly what I thought it was. I reached down and picked it up. I held it at eye level and used the light from the crashed truck's headlights to get a good look. It was her. It was her head. The cut was amazingly clean on her neck, but that wasn't the thing that struck me. What struck me was the look in her face. It was a calm indifference. It was almost the same look she gave me when she was passing me. I stared into her eyes. They seem as dead as the man's, but she obviously was more so, if that was even possible. Time seemed to slow; stop even. I had no recollection of how long I stood there with her head. The wind was what broke the gaze. Her hair blew wildly like it did before the crash. I smiled.

Next thing I knew, I was driving away from the scene. Up the mountain like normal. I shook my head and didn't know if I had dreamt the whole thing or if it really happened. Then I looked at the passenger seat and saw her head looking back up at me. I had wrapped it in my flannel shirt and set there apparently.

What the hell was I doing with a head? How do you even care for a head? What in heaven's name did I think I was doing?

I was sure that as soon as the Highway Patrol looked around they would notice a woman minus one head. Maybe they would assume that it flew over the cliff side and would be lost down in the wilderness…

Headlights were heading down the mountain towards me. I had to play it cool. No swerving. Nothing to remember. Nothing to report. I was almost to my turn off. Just a couple minutes. I thought maybe I could even beat the headlights to my turn, but then realized that may be worse. I slowed down to a reasonable speed and saw the Highway Patrol SUV pass me. I didn't look, but I was sure whoever was driving was looking right at me. As soon as I couldn't see it's taillights anymore, my foot dropped heavy on the gas.


THE END

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