Once upon a time a couple of weeks ago, I got story ideas from a song.
So I wrote a short story.
And we all know what that means.
Me being me, I have a new novel in the works now. Despite the fact that I had one I was supposed to be working on, plus like two others lined up.
I’m not even mad. There’s barely any plan here. I didn’t start out with an end goal so I’m sorta building the tracks in front of me as I go. We’ll see where this goes, and you guys feel free to pelt me with questions and ideas in the comments.
So, on to the story idea itself. I’ve always wanted to write something to do with time travel. And listening to the lyrics of this song gave me a lot of ideas, so I’m going off that.
A song and a dream, folks. I’m pumped. -thumbs up-
Part 1: Headlights and Why To Use Them
Usually, driving late at night relaxes me. But not when some maniac comes barreling up out of the dark at me on the wrong side of the road, with no headlights on.
My scream and the squeal of tires as I spun the wheel to steer the car away shattered the calm quiet of being on the road at night. The crunch and screech of metal rang through the air as the other car smashed into the back of mine. I jerked against my seatbelt, my teeth clacking together.
And I’d just taken the trouble to fix that dumb back window this week, too. My old Honda really needed more dents in its life.
My car skidded a few more yards in the dry grass off to the side of the highway, then came to a stop.
The near-silence after all that excitement was almost more jarring. Tires screeching and metal against metal still echoed in my ears, along with my heartbeat.
I just sat there. Shaking. Gripping the steering wheel as hard as I could and clenching my teeth. Like I was bracing for if whoever that was came back for a second round.
My car heater rattled a little, but still hummed along just fine. Music still played from the radio, calmly continuing as if nothing had happened. The blue glow of the clock numbers dimly lit up the grubby inside of my car.
I eyed the radio through my hair that had jerked into my eyes at the sudden stop. Then I carefully peeled one of my hands off the steering wheel, bringing it up to tuck my hair back as I let out a shaking breath. I pulled my keys out with my other hand and made myself lean back against the seat.
There was no way that guy was going the speed limit. And he was on the wrong side of the road. Not to mention no headlights.
What a wacko.
I was lucky I saw him when I did.
My heartbeat was slowing down a little bit by now. I took another breath and looked in the rear view mirror.
It was hard to see in the light of just the partially clouded-over moon, but the car was definitely still there. Just skidded off to the side of the road like I was. I couldn’t hear the motor running.
Then again, that might be the radio. It seemed louder than before as the ringing in my ears faded.
“Dadgummit, who is he and what is he to you?… Dadgummit…”
Frowning in annoyance, I whacked the button on the side to turn the radio off. Yeah, more or less what I’d like to know. I gave the rearview mirror another glance.
I rolled down my window and heard a vague hissing noise. The other car’s radiator, probably.
And then… someone talking? I couldn’t make out words but there was some kind of muttering.
Are they okay?
I frowned. I mean, yeah they were the jerk that ran me off the road and smashed the back end of my car. But I could see if something was wrong. Plus… I had to admit I was curious what the heck he thought he was doing. Slowly, I grabbed my phone from the cupholder.
I set my jaw, ignoring the way it still hurt from smashing my teeth together, grabbed my coat, and popped my door open.
My shoes crunched on the dry grass. I shivered a little against the cold air, pulling my jacket on as I walked and folding my arms tightly across my chest.
There was the pop of a lock opening and the creak of a badly oiled hinge. The passenger side door opened.
I stopped, tensing a little. Maybe I should have grabbed some kind of… something for self defense. And I was getting even more weirded out by this point, getting a look at the car. This was an old car. Like old.And looked abandoned. Like whoever was driving this had just hauled it out of a 1980s junkyard and barely gotten it working again.
“Hello?” I called out. “Are you okay?”
A shadowy shape came out of the car almost like a jack in the box and whoever it was stumbled a few steps.
I sucked in a breath and stepped back. Great. Now I’d probably just become that stupid girl at the beginning of all those horror show episodes who got killed for being too curious. This wasn’t looking good.
I started edging back towards my car. Smashed or not, I could still drive it back into town. And I could live without knowing what this weirdo was up to.
“Wait!” called whoever-it-was. “Wait, please! Please, I need to…” A man’s cracked voice. He stumbled another step, caught himself against the roof of his car.
He sounded like he might be hurt.
I wasn’t totally sold on that, but I stopped for a second, squinting in the dark and trying to make out more what he looked like.
I decided I wasn’t seeing right.
He let out some weird mix between a sigh, a laugh and a sob, and almost ran over towards me. “I-I was hoping I’d run across another soul on this lonely road.”
“Whoa, buddy!” I put up my hands and backed up more, my heart rate spiking again. “If you think you’re…”
The guy just came to an unsteady stop about a yard away from me and started fumbling in his pockets. “I have the… wait just a moment, please.” His voice cracked more, sounding almost like he hadn’t talked in years. And he had a… British accent.
I wanted to back away. To get back into my car and just squeal out of there as fast as I could. But I couldn’t stop staring at him.
If I thought the carwas weird.
The man was wearing a long coat that looked like it was from the Revolutionary War, a plaid flannel shirt, and about three different types of scarves. I saw a pocketwatch dangling out of one pocket and glinting in the moonlight. Then the combo of jeans with holes in the knees and tall, pirate-looking boots with a ton of buckles on them.
I just stood there, confused.
Where was this guy from?
“Aha!” he yanked something out of one of his many pockets and straightened back up. His untrimmed curly hair flew back from his face and I got a glimpse of his wild, dark eyes. I took another step back, my gaze flicking over to what he was holding in his hand. Some sort of paper…
He strode closer to me, closing the gap faster than I expected. The dude had some long legs. He held up the paper to my face, leaning in. I could see the shadows in the hollows of his cheeks. His haunted eyes stared into me past the curls falling over his face.
“Have you seen her? Have you seen this woman? Please…” his voice cracked again and his hand holding the picture trembled. “Please say yes.”
I’d been wondering before what sort of person would be so insane on the road? Well yeah this guy fit the bill. He looked like he’d be that insane anywhere.
“I-I…” I swallowed hard and glanced over at the picture. It was wrinkled and had creases in it like it had been folded and unfolded many, many times over. But I could still make out the picture with my eyes adjusted to the dark. It was black and white, but I could make out the light hair and smile of the woman he was talking about.
Something twisted in my gut. Déjà vu.
I felt like I’d seen that face before.
No name came to mind. No place that I’d seen her. But I could easily fill in the extra details I couldn’t see in the dark.
Not like I was about to tell Mr. Crazyman that.
I backed away slightly, swallowing. “Look, I’m not sure who you even are. Much less who… whoever it is in that picture is. I was just… I’m gonna go…”
The man paled, fumbling his picture back into his coat pocket and putting up his hands in a pleading gesture. “N-no, wait. Please madam…”
Madam? Who says that anymore?
I squinted at him, curiosity winning the tug-of-war in my mind for the moment. “Who even are you?”
He ran his hands back over his hair, just staring at me. “I…” his voice was a croaky whisper. “I… need help…”
“Need help doing what? Where are you from?”
He swallowed and shook his head, patting over his pockets and muttering quietly to himself.
I frowned and stuck my cold hands in my coat pockets. “Hey, seriously. If you’re gonna go around like this, somebody’s gonna call the cops on you eventually. You’re lucky I didn’t.”
“The… cops?” he looked up at me again.
“Yeah, you know, the police?” I frowned, propping my hands on my hips.
He blinked a couple of times, shooting a glance back at his car. I could still hear the radiator hissing.
I blew out a breath. “Come on, if you need help, I guess I could help out. But you gotta give me something to go off of here. Something about you.”
The man shook his head again. He put a hand to his forehead, sounding out of breath as he spoke again. “I-I beg your pardon. What… what year is this, exactly?”
I raised my eyebrows. “Twenty-eighteen…?”
“Oh.” He scrunched his hand in his hair.
Was this some sort of prank? Was this guy drunk or…?
My heart skipped a beat, clicking together that last question along with his weird outfit. I wouldn’t be half as mad if my car had just gotten smashed by a time traveller.I took a step closer, tilting my head. “And what year are you from?”
He shook his head, letting out a tired, shaky sigh. “I-I don’t… I don’t know. I don’t remember anymore.” He looked up at me again, pulling out the photo from his pocket once more. “But I know I need to find her. Are you absolutely positive you haven’t seen her? She’s my… my…” he trailed off, wavering for a second before he toppled over backwards.
I yelped and jumped back.
When the lump of trenchcoat and scarves and untrimmed curls didn’t move for another ten seconds, I finally moved to pull my phone out of my pocket. Not taking my eyes off the guy on the ground while I pulled up Chase’s number.
Hopefully he wouldn’t mind being woken up for a time travel emergency.
Well. So begins our latest adventure in the land of writefury serial stories. 😀
Where do you guys think this one will go? Do you like it so far?