Truck Stop Drip
By: Timothy Law

Drip. Drip. Drip. That sound, constant, rhythmic and slow. It is all you hear as you pass through the Roadhouse sliding doors. Gas was cheap here so you pulled in to fill up. Now you wonder if it was a bad idea.

"Hello?" you call.

There is no reply.

The place seems deserted. Your feet squelch as you take your next step. By accident you find you've trodden in a puddle of stuff that still drips from above.

The puddle is dark, a red-brown color that resembles neither the Orange Crush nor Mellow Yellow slushies that whir quietly, almost apologetically on the bench. A number of cups have been knocked across the floor, you wonder if the staff member onsite has ducked out the back to find something to clean up the mess. It is late, possibly half nine or even ten in the evening. You think maybe they considered now the time for cleaning, tidying. A not so busy moment, but you cannot be sure. The road trip has been long. You know your brain is not running on all six cylinders, probably not even all four. Your stomach rumbles and you think of food.

"Hello?" you call again, hopeful that someone, anyone will come soon. It has been days since you last spoke to a human being, so long since you said goodbye to your mum and dad.

There is another drip that falls at your feet. You look up beyond the lights and squint. You notice something hidden among the shadows. A droplet falls. It tumbles from beyond the lights and swiftly descends. Imperfect timing perhaps, it arcs slightly and drops straight between your parted lips. Your tongue tastes blood. Disgusted you spit, trying to expel the horrid taste, the terrible thoughts that rush through your mind.

"Ruuuuuuuuuunnnnnn…"

A voice crackles and moans, the word garbled and barley comprehensible.

"Hello? Are you ok?" you call, upward, confused.

"Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnn…" the voice states again, it seems to take all effort just to make that noise. You wonder if there is some urgency the second time, is it encouragement to flee, if so from what?

"Do you need me to call someone?"

Another drop falls and you sidestep just in time to watch it fall and add to the puddle.

From behind the fridges there comes a scuffling, snuffling; it's the kind of noise you would expect a rodent to make. As the noise begins there comes a keening from above, something that emanates pain and fear and a giving up all mixed in to one.

Your focus swings from snuffling to keening and back again. The figure hanging among the lights above scuffles away, trying with all might and muscle to draw deeper into the darkness.

"What are you afraid of?" you ask, confused. "What did this to you?"

And then you see it, the creature; all claws and teeth and the promise of death. Not a swift death, nothing animalistic, a pure need, killing for sustenance. This thing has a look in its eyes that says it knows, it plans to twist and cut and prolong this torture. It promises that the night has just begun. In those eyes you can see your future, a destiny you should have run from when you'd had the chance. In those eyes you see your own fear, you see that journey of a young life come abruptly to an end. For you it will be a new journey, in the dark, above the lights in a place that will be so far from heaven.

An hour passes, maybe two… Perhaps it has been a day. Your eyes want to close but the pain is too great. For the moment the monster has left you. There is a noise, you still your shaking muscles, use all of your remaining strength to try to not make a single sound. With the remains of your right ear you strain to hear.

"Hello?" a voice calls.

You whimper in the dark, wanting so desperately to cry out.

"Go away! Go far! Run, flee, while you still can!"

All of these things scream over and over in your mind.

You can't cry though. Your lower jaw hangs by your shoulder and your tongue has been torn free. All you can do is drip… Drip… Drip, hoping whoever is below you is smart enough to run, run, far away. While they still can.

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