Adriana on the Slide: A Horror Short Story
Adriana squeezed toothpaste onto her toothbrush and began brushing. Every move she made these days was tentative, measured and usually uninterrupted. But it would only take one tug on her t-shirt, one jab in her ribs and she’d be packing and running again, looking for the next cheap hotel where she might go unmolested for a few days. But the thing wouldn’t leave her alone for long. It wasn’t as though she lived in a haunted house and could run out the door and be safe. This thing followed her wherever she went.
It had begun when she and some girlfriends had gone to a house of horrors on Halloween. They were feeling their way along a corridor where the gloom overwhelmed them like a rising tide of black water. Adriana heard what sounded like someone slurping or sucking very close to her ear. It was both disgusting and frightening at the same time. Who’s there? she had cried. Get away from me you pervert! She had thought it was another visitor to the place or maybe someone working there. But the thing hadn’t gone away since that day.
She was on the move so much, jobs were hard to hang onto. She had enjoyed the diner job, but after a string of dropped trays and spilled coffee climaxing in The Fall, she had been fired on the spot, even though the owner and his wife liked her. The Fall. It was the worst thing it had done up to that point.
A party of six sat at a round table in the back of the dining area. She was carrying a tray of plates above her shoulder on one hand when she heard the frightening and familiar intake of breath through moist teeth. It had been right next to her face, like some sick, sex crazed idiot, leaning in, ready to stick his tongue in her ear.
But there was no one there to see. She already knew that. Then she had been struck in the middle of her back with such force that it drove her between two women at the table who only wanted their salisbury steak and mashed potatoes but got Adriana on the slide instead. She landed in the middle of the table. Plates, entree’s and sides came raining down on everyone.
Of course no one was going to buy her story about an evil specter following her around, terrifying and physically assaulting her at random moments, so she didn’t offer to tell them. She just collected her tips and walked out the door with gravy dripping from the end of her nose.
She finished brushing and wiped her face. It was hot and in Georgia during mid summer that meant it was humid as well. Adriana pulled her thigh length t-shirt over her head and tossed it aside. She tugged on the chain hanging from the ceiling fan and lay down on the bed. The breeze cooled her skin and felt like a stream of cool water running along her body.
She had been sleeping for a couple of hours. What woke her was a tingling on her thigh, like finger tips lightly brushing across her skin. The sensation traveled slowly toward her navel, circled and traversed the valley between her breasts. She kicked the air and threw herself off the bed. “No, stop it, stop it!” she shouted.
But the thing wanted more this time and drove into her abdomen like a lineman on a football team. She landed on her back, the carpet grinding and burning her skin. The thing was on top of her. The sucking sound was next to her ear, and she felt teeth biting her neck. She clawed the air where there should have been a face, but her fingernails found no skin to shred.
Adriana kicked and fought until she was able to scramble to her feet. She grabbed her purse and a robe and bolted out the door. She put the robe on, jumped into her car and left a rooster tail of gravel behind when she exited the parking lot. Hopefully she had left that horrible thing behind as well.
She was on a four lane thoroughfare headed east, trying to obey the speed limit. Her heart had stopped racing and she tried to think about what to do next. Getting another room would be useless. She wouldn’t sleep and that thing would probably show up anyway. She decided she would go home to her apartment. Running wasn’t any safer than home, so she watched for the next off ramp. The traffic was normal, which meant there were a lot of cars on the road.
Adriana felt pressure on her right elbow. The pressure increased, and It grew harder to keep the steering wheel straight. She was drifting toward the center line dividing her lane from traffic going the opposite direction. The pressure exploded into a solid shove, and she was in the wrong lane with an eighteen wheeler bearing down on her. Adriana screamed and threw all her weight downward onto the right side of the steering wheel. The car veered back to her side of the road, and she recovered control.
She drove for a couple more miles. The lights of a police car were not a total surprise after what just happened. She could imagine the 911 operator trying to handle dozens of incoming calls about a lunatic driver on the expressway.
Adriana pulled to the side of the road, as far away from the speeding traffic as she could. Two officers approached her vehicle. One came to her side, and the other walked around shining a light through her windows.
“Ma’am,” said the first officer in a voice raised so he could be heard above the noise of the traffic. “Could you show me your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, please.”
Adriana’s heart was still racing, her hands shook with adrenalin. Sweat rolled down her face and dripped off her chin and nose. “Yes, officer. Just…a minute while I try to find it.” She was digging, looking for the envelope that held the documents. She felt the pressure point return again, this time on her upper back. She took the steering wheel in the chest. Cartilage cracked with loud pops, and ribs dislocated. She couldn’t take a full breath to scream.
The officer was stunned. “Ma’am?” He reached for the door handle but instead of stepping toward the car, he was thrust backward into the oncoming traffic. The sound of impact was almost imperceptible due to the speed of the automobile that took him out.
The other officer was standing clear of the door, firearm drawn, shouting at Adriana to step out of the car. He kept glancing toward the traffic, hoping against hope for his partner. “Get out of the car, ma’am, get out now!”
“Officer, it wasn’t me, I didn’t do anything,” she screamed back.
The officer’s arm raised slowly and Adriana took a shallow breath of relief. But the arm was bending at the elbow until the barrel was pointed at the officer’s face. Then it discharged.
Traffic had come to a stop on both sides of the expressway and an eerie silence fell over the scene. Adriana sat in her car, barely able to breathe. She heard the crunching sound of boots on gravel and waited for another officer to step up or maybe an ambulance driver. Had she heard an ambulance yet? Surely they would come. The crunching stopped. She looked out the window, but there was no one looking back. No one she could see, at least.
“Leave me alone,” she said. The demand came out as a whimper. Then, for the first time, it spoke.
“Hmmm, broken. I need a new toy.” The crunching sound resumed and faded into the night.
© 2016 Chris Mills