While making his way to the suspicious address, Phillip drove a bit slower than usual to allow himself time to think of any other options he had at that point. After a few brief moments of deliberation, he realized there was nothing else to do; nowhere else to go. Surprisingly, this conclusion did not make him feel sad or defeated. Phillip’s curiosity had peaked while speaking with the woman on the phone and he was eager to meet her face-to-face.
“She did sound a bit desperate,” he murmured to himself, “but her voice. So soft… so inviting. I can’t stop thinking about her!”
As he came to a stop at a nearby intersection, he looked up at the morning sky through his dew-spotted windshield. The weather, which appeared sunny and upbeat earlier that morning, showed a sudden ominous flair about it. He could see fast approaching clouds advancing over the distant mountains; their color’s hue changing from a light and wispy gray to a darker and more foreboding slate gray. Phillip squinted and frowned, as if to question the elements’ intentions.
He shook his head then proceeded forward, passing by a few residential blocks which eventually transitioned into vast industrial zones. Most of the buildings were lifeless, as if they had been abandoned and untouched for years. Stray dogs would stop in their tracks at the sound of his car approaching; their ears perking up and tails pointing horizontally as they immediately switched into a state of hyper-awareness. The road was becoming more bumpy than usual, which showed signs of deterioration and neglect.
Phillip approached a stop sign riddled with bullet holes. He had not been in this area before since he mainly kept close to the city’s suburbs as well as his place of work, which was located downtown. As he came to a halt, he saw there were only two ways to go: left or right. According to his phone’s GPS, he was supposed to take a left and travel into a wooded expanse. Before he made the turn, he peered into the distance and saw a colorful assortment of beech, oak and hickory trees. It was a charming view that put his mind at ease.
“She must live in a beautiful cabin. This might not be so bad,” he said to himself out loud.
As he continued to look on, a horn honked behind him. Phillip glanced at his rear view mirror and saw an old beat up truck. The driver’s face was difficult to make out, but he was able to vaguely see two piercing blue eyes staring back at him. The burly looking man furrowed his brow and grimaced slightly, as if he knew of Phillip’s plight.
“I’m going, I’m going,” Phillip exclaimed as he punched the gas and made a left turn.
After about ten minutes, he found himself driving on a long stretch of highway with virtually no civilization in sight. The tree leaves seemed to have turned from a bright yellow, orange and red color to a more depressing brown hue, with some branches appearing completely bare.
Phillip’s phone had been giving him various verbal instructions and cues throughout his entire trip. Although it helped him tremendously with planning a route from his old apartment to the desolate destination, it did not account for either the weather or the road’s condition. The asphalt he was traveling on was still rough and uneven, causing random jolts that demanded the driver’s constant attention. One large bump in particular knocked Phillip’s phone off its holder, resulting in it tumbling to the floor.
“Dammit!” Phillip proclaimed while instantly reaching down with his right arm.
His eyes still fixated on the road, he hunched over and swept his hand around the passenger side footwell, hoping to retrieve the phone. The device proved elusive and seemed to have made its way underneath the seat.
Not wanting to pull over, he quickly turned his gaze downward, hoping to see exactly where the phone landed. He spotted it and grinned, thinking to himself, “Gotcha!”
After picking up the phone, Phillip began to lift his body back up to a normal driving position. As his eyes turned back to the road, he saw a man standing in the middle of his lane, just mere feet away. Fearing a collision, Phillip slammed on the brake and veered hard to the right, landing in a ditch.
The vehicle came to an abrupt stop.
Breathing heavily, Phillip hastily inspected himself for any injuries. None. He looked around the interior of his car and saw that everything was pretty much in place.
“Man, that was close,” he mumbled.
Suddenly, he remembered the strange person standing in the middle of the road. He opened his door and stepped out into the open. Looking back, he saw nothing but trees on both sides and a long streak of tire marks leading to his vehicle.
“Who the hell was that?” Phillip thought audibly.
The oddest thing about the whole ordeal wasn’t the fact some random person was standing in the middle of the road, but rather his strange demeanor. Phillip recalled the man was wearing what looked like a black suit with a tail coat and bowler hat. This was pretty strange attire considering the location. The man was also swaying back and forth, his piercing eyes staring directly into Phillip’s. Before swerving off the road to avoid a crash, he caught a glimpse of the man’s mouth grimacing ever so slightly.
Phillip suddenly had chills. A loud crack of thunder echoed overhead and, shortly after, rain began to pour down all around him. Amidst the sudden chaos, he heard his phone’s ringtone sound off from inside his car.
He hurriedly sat down in the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut. The rain drops outside made a constant pitter-patter sound as they struck both glass and metal. Phillip grabbed his phone and checked out the screen: Unknown Caller. He pushed the talk button.
It was the woman’s voice.
I am so glad you are okay.
“Huh?” he confusedly thought as other questions flooded his mind. What did she mean by okay? Did she know I almost got into an accident? How is that possible? Is she watching me? Is she listening through this phone?
Before he could actually blurt out a reply, she spoke again.
Phillip. Please, you must hurry. Come now.
“Wait!” he yelled, but it was too late. She had already hung up, just like before.
Sitting in an almost daze-like state, he said to himself, “What is with this girl? It just doesn’t add up.”
Phillip was starting to lose his composure, but noticed the rainfall was coming down at an ever-increasing rate. He thought the area would be prime for a flash flood and swiftly inserted his key into the ignition, turning it once. The car started.
“It sounds fine. I should go,” he declared.
He set both hands on the steering wheel and pressed the gas pedal softly while repositioning the vehicle back on the road.
“Not too much further now,” Phillip whispered to himself.
To Be Continued…
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