Sam shivered, staring into the gloom as she closed the office door, and she cursed her dodgy old car. There was no public transport at night, and the local taxi driver was off with the flu. She pulled her handbag over her shoulder and stuffed her freezing hands into her pockets in resignation. She would have to walk more than two miles in the Winter chill.
Her pace quickened as she reached the crest of the hill and her breathing evened out. A flickering streetlight cast an eerie dance of shadows beneath her feet as she passed beneath it. She walked faster, glancing around her as she walked through the deserted town centre. The only sounds she could hear were the wind and her footsteps echoing into the darkness.
She neared the corner and paused where the path had disappeared into the bullgrass. The concrete had crumbled and it shifted beneath her feet as she tried to step around the sodden mess. The sludge seeped into her new shoes as they slipped further into the mud. As she tried to balance herself, a piece of concrete gave way, and she felt herself falling sideways. Pain shot through her ankle as she landed in a spattered heap on the side of the road.
She groaned as she pulled herself up. She was soaked from the waist down from the frigid pool of water. She shivered as she pulled her coat around her and picked up her bag. Her ankle throbbed as she took a step forward and and tears welled in her eyes. She hobbled to the other side of the path and looked around her. Half a dozen lights in the distance were the only sign of life. There were a few houses out this way, but it could hardly be called suburbia. Why had she ever come here? The peace and quiet was proving to be bad for her health.
Her family had told her she was mad, that it was too soon to make any rash decisions after Jeff’s accident. She was beginning to think they were right as she looked down the long dark road towards her old farm house.
The last streetlight was lost in the mist, and the path gave way to potholes and loose gravel. Her ankle throbbed and she cursed with every step. A bat flew out of the trees above her and circled for a moment. It swooped, clawed at her hair and flapped into her face. She screamed, staggered backwards and waved her handbag around her in panic. The bat flew off and shrieked into the night air, as she landed on her backside in a tangle of twigs and leaves. She sat there for a moment and rubbed her ankle. Her night wasn’t going well at all.
She saw the headlights, and her spirits lifted. She might be able to wrangle a lift from one of the old farmers on their way home. As it moved towards her, the engine purred softly, and her enthusiasm evaporated. It wasn’t one of the old clunkers from around here, that was for sure. She tensed as the headlights flashed and she was caught like a rabbit in their rays. The car slowed to a crawl, but passed her without stopping. She stood up and moved back into the bushes as the brake lights glowed.
She waited for a moment. Maybe they were lost. She waited for the window to wind down and a friendly voice to cut into the rhythmic purring of the sleek machine just metres away from her. Nothing happened. Her imagination started to twitch. Maybe it was time to leave. She picked up her handbag and hobbled up the rise.
She heard the car moving away and the crunching of gravel as it slowed again and turned around. It was coming back. She watched it as it slid by her and braked ahead. She moved further up the path away from the road. This didn’t feel right. Her stomach twisted into knots.
The headlights burned into her back and the engine revved as she moved past it up the rise. The path was moving away from the road and there was a ditch in between her and the car. She sighed. It was probably just some nut out to get his jollies before dinner time. She would be home soon in a hot bath. She relaxed. She could make out her front porch light as she squinted through the trees. She reached inside her handbag for her keys. They were gone.