He turned the key, but the car wouldn’t start. Already sitting there for too long, Jim knew he was in trouble. The rain had started and he’d heard it was going to be one humdinger of a storm. Jim was stranded roadside on a remote stretch of Route 56. As the night grew darker and darker, traffic grew scarcer and scarcer.
The last car he’d passed had been hours earlier, before he was in need of help. Now, without daylight it wasn’t likely he’d encounter another anytime soon. From the looks of the thick forest he’d just driven through, he was in the middle of the 100 square mile wilderness preserve that bordered the edge of Brice Canyon.
Jim looked at his watch and imagined that Amy would be getting home shortly. It wouldn’t help, though because he’d left his cell phone on the charger, thinking he’d only be gone for a few minutes. That seemed like ages ago, before he’d taken that damned alternative route on his way to Old Man Johnson’s. After taking a wrong turn, he’d hit a pothole and blown a tire. To make matters worse, he had no spare.
Jim berated himself for being so stupid. Apparently the detour he took was a sure way to becoming hopelessly lost.
“As soon as the rain lets up,” Jim said aloud, “I’ll make a run for it.” He didn’t care if he got soaked to the bone because sleeping in his car all night was not the way he wished to spend it. Where exactly he would run to was unknown. In the middle of a forest preserve, there would be no businesses down the road nor houses nearby.
He fiddled with the keys still hanging in the ignition, then tapped out a tune on top of the steering wheel. The rain came down in sheets, obscuring his vision through the windows.
Suddenly, lightning struck and filled the air with a blaze of light. Through the torrent, Jim glimpsed the outline of a figure across the road. It appeared before him, ominously dark and absolutely still. It appeared to be staring at Jim from across the road. When another lightning revealed a distinct silhouette, Jim knew that the figure was not his imagination.
“Hello!” shouted Jim, forgetting that his windows were closed; nobody could hear him anyway. “Hello!” he shouted again, grabbing the handle and ramming his shoulder against the door to shove it open.
Sheets of rain poured down upon him as he stepped out the door and onto the rain-soaked ground. “I could use some help over he-,” his voice trailed off as he squinted across the expanse to the other side of the road.
By the time Jim stepped forward, managing to get a focus on the spot where the figure had stood, a sense of disappointment washed over him. The figure was gone. “Shoot!” he exclaimed into the growing darkness.
As he turned to get back into the car, he was taken aback by what stood behind him. It was the figure from across the street, but now at close range, Jim could see that it was not a human, instead it was merely a cloak – an empty shell. Inside its hood was nothing but darkness because inside, the thing was hollow.
As Jim realized what he was looking at, he began stepped backwards very slowly, not sure if he was in as much danger as he feared. The thing advanced. Another step backwards and the thing advanced once more. As Jim retreated again, it became a dance with Jim uncertain what the thing wanted or even what it even was.
After several long moments, he realized that he had moved too far from the car and that thing was between it and him. He glanced around quickly, rain soaking through his clothing, rolling off his hair and chin. He had nowhere to go except into the open road.
Without thinking, Jim stepped into the road looking down the way in hopes for any sign of life. But before he could look in the other direction, a semi truck bolted from the darkness, its hulking mass plowing into Jim and throwing him into the air. When he landed on the asphalt, he was mangled and broken. Blood trickled from his ears, nose and mouth.
As his life poured out onto the pavement, his eyes gazed blankly down the road. The last thing he saw was the semi’s license plate as it sped away. It read: “GOST GOT U.”
Back at the car, the hollow thing drifted back into the woods.