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  Table of contents Issue Twenty HITCH



ou’re amazing.

The words reverberate, colder than they had been moments ago. The rain is a pulse that will soon enough fade, though the smell of wet asphalt and gravel will linger. Wet clothes will dry in the cold of the air conditioner. Lightning will illuminate something, though this truth will be concealed.

We drove to the farthest reaches, where the nagging glow of streetlights gives way to black. We drove where the woods stalk the roadway, where headlights catch glowing eyes and cast upright shadows capable of keeping up. We stopped at intersections so void of light that a million madmen could have approached the car without notice. They would come to the side, where the headlights fail to make any mark. They would stand so close that their breath would cloud the window and you’d wonder, for a disillusioned moment, what made the deer so brave. It needn’t be madmen. It needn’t be fiends. One shudders to think what would bring any sane person down these midnight, rain-soaked roads. There are times of night when even seeing one’s closest friend, alone on a woodland road, would whiten the complexion of any logical person.

Fiends or friends, night was steadfast and unrelenting.

She flipped a coin in the LED glow. I kept my eyes forward, certain her features shifted. Certain that if I even let her come into my peripheral vision that I would see a distorted and menacing face staring at me. I would see eyes like ink and lips that blurred at the edges and gave way to too tight skin. She flipped a coin over and over again, rhythmic and hypnotic, but I could not be sure she wasn’t staring right at me. I didn’t look for breath on the windows and I didn’t look for the possessed in the passenger seat.

Rain fell hard on the roof of the car and for a mile, I imagined that something had jumped down, from a tree or an overpass, and sprawled itself overhead. I didn’t imagine possums or feral cats. I imagined something that contorted its body until its head lowered, its eye just cresting the top of the driver’s window. I imagined something peeking in. I imagined it looked at me and at her and that she stared back and that I was caught between these two hellish gazes. I imagined it could get in if it wanted, but that it recognized I’d already let something more evil in. I imagined that it saw her face, her eyes like ink and lips that blurred at the edges and gave way to too tight skin, and that it sympathized with me. After a mile, I came to a stop and willed myself to imagine that it climbed down and stood at the side of my unlocked car door. I willed myself to imagine that it wanted to go unnoticed and waited for me to disappear down the road. “Some other car.” it would whisper to itself. “Not that one.” it would whisper to the ones that stood near it.

The road suddenly inclined. This was the place. A long stretch of raised earth supported a train track and kept my eyes from whatever transpired on the other side. The dull tap of the coin stopped. The passenger door creaked open and, before slamming shut, she spoke. “You’re amazing.” Cornfields flanked the narrow road and I backed my car into a small section of gravel that carved into the field. My headlights never illuminated her and the red glow of my reverse lights never exposed movement. I imagined, for a while, that she had merely moved to the backseat. I imagined, if I looked in my rearview mirror, that I would catch sight of her eyes like ink and lips that blurred at the edges and gave way to too tight skin. I imagined, when I stopped at the intersection where I had let the other one off, that she silently slipped out and that the other, and all the others, tried to hide in the woods out of sight.




D. S. Thomas is a theology student living in the woods of Wisconsin. He writes both fiction and non-fiction and often explores the way his own anxiety disorder distorts reality in his creative writing.

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