by Jay Wilburn
She felt like the flashing lights appeared out of nowhere, but the highway grade spread flat in front of her and behind her for a long way. They had to have been in view for some time. She glanced over her shoulder for the gate to the rich people’s house, but it was nowhere in sight. She must have been walking for some time. She was either watching her feet the whole time or had been dozing off while she was walking. That couldn’t be possible, she thought.
Two firetrucks on one side of the road ahead bled red and white light across everything. Police cars on the other side competed with blue and white. An ambulance with no lights on sat diagonally across one lane. Three or four other cars wrapped around each other between. One lay upside down off the road between the ambulance and the first police car. Red road flares burned in front of and behind the scene. They seemed dull under the lights on the trucks and cars. As she watched, two of the flares burned out and went dark on the street.
Unless this just happened, the trucks heading west had to go around this.
She continued to approach the scene looking for the crews moving around, but could not see anyone through the assault of red, blue, and white which did not blend well as they strobed over each other.
“It’s time to give up,” she whispered. “Turn yourself in and go home.”
She knew her parents would be furious and insane with fear. They let another child wander out into the street. The police bringing her home would know it. Everyone in town would know and they would mention the boy who didn’t make it past three. They would say it behind hands and the rest of the family would say it with their eyes.
Addison would suffer under their fearful captivity for this sin, but she was sleeping on her feet now. It was one thing to hide and sneak around meth heads and weird sex parties around Trans Ams; it was another thing to think she could sneak past the police while she was ready to collapse from exhaustion.
She reached the firetruck and stared through the angry lights into an empty cab. The driver’s door hung open.
The police cars stood empty as well. A radio crackled inside one of them. A distant voice competed with the static for a few lost syllables, but then gave up the battle. The static pulsed through the speakers with the same dead rhythm as the radio in the Trans Am. The hair on the back of her neck prickled up and chills ran from belly up into her throat. She found herself wanting to draw close to the rich family’s fire. The thought of the open door with the lights pouring out into the darkness filled her with deeper fear as she looked at the open doors on the vehicles and the silent lights whirling on top.
Patches of oil spotted the highway in random splotches. Tire marks thick enough to be from the big trucks headed west stretched out from some of the puddles. The stuff she thought was oil spills looked deep enough to swim through. Light played across the glistening, greasy surface. The white lights hit in flashes between the other colors and almost made the spills look red like blood.
She heard something behind her and she turned away from the street. Addison felt a scream of fear rising inside her, but it caught and no sound escaped her mouth. The lights prevented her from seeing anything out in the dark grasses, but her mind provided the shapes of figures staggering about. They had filth down their chins and clothes in shades which could be blood under the right kind of light.
She turned and ran past the firetrucks. The lights still foiled her vision as she tried to see past her hallucinations into the reality of the night.