Where the Shadows Thrive 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Josie Metcalf is back again, hunting for black-eyed children because they nearly killed her. She is about to learn that there are other things in the world just as dangerous and menacing as the
black-eyed children.

Submitted: April 26, 2018

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Submitted: April 26, 2018

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Where the Shadows Thrive 2

Hallow Jack, Arizona

October, 2005


 

Josie Metcalf had spent several years hunting for black-eyed children all over the continental US. Her search had taken her from the cold snowy roads of Montana, to the woodlands of North Carolina, across the desert strips of Texas and even to the sunny highways of California. Any remote region with desolate roads was her target. Josie was trying to recreate the exact conditions when she had first encountered the creatures.

Josie left her vehicle parked on the side of the road, even temporarily disabling it to appear broke down. She then walked toward the nearest town in hopes that the black-eyed children would try to assail her. So far, Josie had wasted hundreds of hours, driven thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars for nothing.

Her first encounter with the black-eyed children had been on a lonely mountain road in Kentucky. Her car had broke down and while walking home, she had tried to get help from a few kids that were playing on the side of the road. It turned out that they weren't children at all. She had been chased, attacked, nearly raped but she had made her escape by setting the entire forest on fire.

The black-eyed children had taken the time to collect her broken down car off the main road to hide it, probably because they were already planning to kill her. If a search party was sent looking for her, there would be no leads. The black-eyed children had kept a small garden, lived in a dilapidated property and had kept the remains their past victims on display. She was lucky to have made it out of the encounter alive.

Josie had found another very desolate highway in southern Arizona just outside the sleepy little township of Hallow Jack. She had parked her maroon Nissan Pathfinder, disabling the distributor cap and began to walk as if lost. So far, no other vehicle had appeared on the forgotten road to offer her assistance.

Perfect.

Josie had taken self-defense classes, done strength training, attended nature survival courses, practiced shooting and learned how to fight with weapons. She wasn't going to merely live through another encounter with the black-eyed children, she meant to wipe them out.

She was in the best physical condition she had ever been, even sporting a light six pack on her abdomen. For the first time in her life, Josie felt powerful, strong and fearless. Because of all the preparations she had made, Josie kept hoping that she would find the pale, black-eyed, hairless little creeps that nearly raped, killed and ate her.

This time, she wouldn't be caught unprepared. Josie planned for everything, even close quarter combat. She would not be potential prey, but an executioner. She would kill as many as she could, then burn their makeshift community to the ground. Josie felt a driving hatred for the little black-eyed bastards. They had left their scars upon her, not physical, but deep lasting scars nonetheless.

The night sky was completely clear of cloud cover. The heavens were clearly visible with a glowing beautiful backdrop of a half moon and sparkling stars that were so bright, she could actually see the road by them. The night air was dry and warm, maybe in the low 70s.

Josie never grew bored of these treks out in the middle of nowhere. Despite never finding what she was searching for, the long walks alone were calming, giving her plenty of time to reflect on her life, her decisions and her future plans. Although still plagued by nightmares of being devoured and raped by black-eyed children, Josie had never needed psychological therapy yet. She attributed her mental fortitude to these long therapeutic walks.

There were a few distant coyotes baying, a hooting owl and plenty of strange calls from insects and smaller desert critters accompanying her as she walked along the lonely road. Then, unexpectedly, the desert seemed to quiet itself around her, as if a giant invisible hand had slowly turned the volume down on the world.

Josie stopped walking. She surveyed her surroundings carefully, ready for anything. She always shouldered a large backpack full of supplies with her: MRE rations, plenty of water, a rope, a powerful flashlight, road flares, matches, a compass and a first aid kit. Josie was armed to the teeth with a survival knife strapped to her right hip, a 12 gauge pistol grip Ithaca shotgun slung over her shoulder, a .380 semi automatic pistol holstered on her lower back and a .45 caliber semiautomatic Colt handgun holstered on her other hip. Distributed in the pockets of her khaki cargo pants and vest were extra magazines and shotgun shells.

Every one of Josie's weapons was legal, licensed and registered to her. So far, she had never run into any problems with law enforcement, probably because the police usually didn't patrol the remote roads she traveled on. If Josie were ever stopped by police, she'd have a hell of a time explaining what the weapons were for. She kept her fingers crossed to continue being lucky.

The starry lit sky illuminated at least a hundred yards of the flat open desert plains in every direction. In order for anything to approach her, it was going to have to crawl or be small enough to hide behind the low dunes. This was ideal because Josie hated the idea of something trying to ambush her.

The desert was silent, as if waiting for something happen.

Josie caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye. Something crossed the road about fifty feet ahead of her. It was on four legs, large sized with a tail, moving fast. Most likely, it was just a coyote but Josie was still alert because one coyote would normally not be enough to silence the entire desert. If this thing crossing the road was not what was making the desert wildlife nervous, then something was still in the area possibly stalking her.

As the four-legged creature neared the edge of the road, Josie saw that its tail was thin and whip like, not bushy like a coyote's. It was also sleek and thin bodied as if it had no fur.

What the hell?

Josie took her backpack off her shoulders and fished out the powerful flashlight, just in case. It was a larger model, more like a searchlight, with a hand grip on the back built into it for easier handling. Then she slipped the backpack onto her shoulders again.

Josie hurried to the spot on the road where the unknown creature had crossed, her insides were fluttering with butterflies of dread. During her past encounter with the black-eyed children, Josie had saw one of them traveling on all fours, like an animal. Black-eyed children were also completely hairless and thin. She may have just witnessed one of her quarry.

Not taking any chances, Josie drew the .45 handgun, ready to shoot anything that moved.

She was on edge, trembling as adrenaline flooded her system. Josie got close to the spot where she had sighted the thing and switched on the searchlight, aiming the gun over her outstretched arm so she could shoot anything caught in the light. The powerful beam cut through the night like a knife, illuminating the dunes, cacti and sagebrush. Not seeing anything fleeing through the desert, Josie started looking for tracks along the side of the road.

She was amazed at how many tracks she found, assuming any winds would stir up the sand and blow the sign away. Her survival training had taught Josie to discern the different tracks left by common species. There were plenty of jackrabbit, roadrunner, quail, coyote and lizard tracks present. Josie didn't see any tracks out of the ordinary. Could she have just seen a coyote after all?

Josie was surprised that she was relieved not to have discovered anything, but why? The whole reason for her trip was to find and kill the predators that had nearly killed her. So why was she pleased that her suspicions had resulted in a strike out?

As Josie tried to understand her own reaction, she noticed something glowing brightly across the dunes. Two red glowing eyes, reflecting the brilliant glow of her flashlight. The eyes were radiant like twin beacons and when she directed the beam more precisely to identify the owner, the eyes turned and scampered off. Once again, Josie caught a fleeting glimpse of the creature. It had a canine's body, a large doglike head, gray hairless skin and a rat like tail.

Josie knew that the creature was not a black-eyed child but she was still unnerved because she still could not identify it. Nothing came to mind to catalog it's species. Perhaps she had viewed a new species, one not yet known to modern science. The idea was frightening.

The creature, whatever it was, traveled across the deep sands effortlessly and it stayed low behind the dunes, out of her line of sight.

Josie was still trembling from her adrenaline rush and the scary red eyes had sent a chill down her spine. Out on the open road she should be relatively safe because none of the local wildlife would ever attack a healthy adult human being. This thing, whatever it was, was not natural. It would not adhere to the same respect granted by indigenous species to a human.

Josie felt a fear building within her. All of her training should have prepared her for any encounter with the supernatural but now that she was faced with a possible conflict, she felt her confidence waning. Josie was glad that she was so heavily armed since she had no idea exactly what she was dealing with.

Not wanting to leave the highway, Josie decided to press on in her endeavor to locate the black-eyed children. The strange creature with red eyes seemed to have ran off, leaving her alone, Josie decided to do the same to it. If they gave each other a wide enough birth, there was plenty of desert for the both of them. She walked on, her mind still spinning for an explanation of the unknown creature.

After two more hours of walking, Josie gave up and started back to her vehicle. She drank from her water bottles but wouldn't eat until she was safely back inside the SUV. For a total of five hours Josie would have walked the desolate road, hoping to lure out her enemies but once again, she had been stood up.

On the way back to her vehicle, the road seemed to stretch further than it had on her way out. She kept expecting to see the Pathfinder over the very next hill but it wasn't there. Checking her watch, she grew anxious because she should have found it by now. If the vehicle hadn't been stolen by human thieves, then perhaps the black-eyed children had finally taken the bait.

Josie readied herself, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of the little pale bastards.

The Nissan was there over the next dune, right where she had parked it. Josie let out another long sigh of relief and was confused by her reaction once again.

Her stomach was growling.

Josie put the backpack and weapons into the rear compartment and took out an MRE pouch. She then slid behind the wheel and starting stuffing her face on the calorie rich ration. She had promised herself this one last try. If, she had told herself, she didn't find any black-eyed children on this trip, she would call it quits. Josie's road trips were getting too expensive and time consuming for her to continue.

Something bumped against the vehicle, causing it to rock slightly. Josie sat straight up, quickly checking the mirrors and looking out the driver window for the cause. She didn't see anything.

Could it have been the wind? Josie immediately dismissed that idea because if the wind was blowing hard enough to rock the SUV, she would have found herself in the middle of a full blown sandstorm. An earthquake perhaps? No, not that either because earthquakes didn't just give one shake. An earthquake produced a series of earth rolling quakes, not just one small bump.

After a few minutes, nothing else happened and Josie didn't see anything out of the ordinary. She shrugged it off and kept eating, still wondering what could have caused the SUV to move. As Josie scraped for the last spoonful of the MRE from the bottom of the pouch, something struck the SUV again. Hard. So hard in fact, that she cried out in fear and heard the suspension of the vehicle creaking in protest. She dropped the MRE to the floorboard.

Her first instinct was to start the Pathfinder and drive away as fast as she could. Unfortunately, she was stuck. Josie had been so hungry when she finally reached the vehicle, she had eaten before fixing the distributor cap. The SUV was still inoperable.

The bump felt as if it came from the passenger side of the vehicle, so Josie looked fearfully in the mirror and out the window. She could still see nothing to explain the bumping of the Pathfinder. She had packed away her firearms in the rear compartment of the SUV. While in the front seat, Josie was unarmed. Although she could see nothing, she felt the danger, lurking like a circling predator, eyeing her vehicle hungrily.

Josie climbed between the front seats and into the backseat when the vehicle was struck a third time. This ramming against the vehicle was so powerful, Josie was thrown off balance and she heard the metal body of the Pathfinder groan as it was badly dented. Josie screamed in fear, despite trying to remain quiet. She looked out the side window and saw something on all fours, dashing away from the vehicle and into the shadows beyond her vision.

Josie's attacker was the red-eyed thing she had tried to track earlier. It had followed her for miles back to the SUV. She guessed it had taken an interest in her after all. Josie had no idea what she was dealing with but she was not going to just let it bust into the vehicle and prey upon her. She reached over the backseat, tossing aside supplies and grabbed the shotgun. With trembling fingers, she dug shells out of her pockets and reloaded the weapon.

Josie loaded the shotgun with four shells, chambered one of them then slipped a fifth into the breach. As she finished, she looked up at the side window and was horrified to see something propped up against the outside of the SUV looking in at her. Josie screamed again in horror at the awful sight.

The creature was monstrous, its head was twice the size of a dog's with a very long snout that left clear mucous streaked across the glass. Its eyes were savage, glowed red and she could see no ears, just strange spikes along its neck like the long thin quills of a porcupine. The teeth were horrendous, much longer and more powerful than a wolf's.

As quickly as the thing appeared in the window, it was gone again, loping off into the darkness. She was too taken aback to squeeze off a shot. It seemed to be toying with Josie, attempting to lure her from the vehicle. Perhaps she was safe so long as she remained inside.

She got a pretty good look at it this time, as it ran off. The body was thin but larger and longer than a dog's. When Josie had spotted it crossing the road earlier, she couldn't remember seeing the spikes along its neck which should have resembled the mane of a male lion at the distance she had seen it. Josie clearly remembered seeing the head and neck of the animal. There had been no mane.

Was there more than one of these creatures stalking her? The idea that a pack of these mutant creatures were circling the Pathfinder frightened Josie to a point of hysteria.

Perhaps the creature could fold the quills flat along its body like a porcupine only to bristling them out while threatened. Maybe the quills had been present there while it crossed the road, Josie just couldn't see them since they weren't displayed.

God, please let there be only one of these damn things out there.

Josie heard a raspy sound, broken and uneven like someone hyperventilating then realized the sound was coming from her. She tried to calm herself, to stop herself from shaking as though she were freezing. Josie looked out the side window again, saw nothing then looked out the back window.

The creature was galloping straight at the SUV. Without slowing down, it rammed into the tailgate, sending Josie tumbling to the floor and the impact of the creature shattered the back window. Luckily, the safety glass held but hundreds of cracks, like tiny spiderwebs, spread over the surface of the back window. She glanced out through the ruined glass and saw the damn thing loping away again.

It was going to keep ramming the vehicle until it somehow gained entrance.

Josie was shocked that the thing had not sustained any damage as it acted as a battering ram. Surely the repeated impact of its soft body against the metal of the Pathfinder had to be painful to it. The creature was obviously as tough as coffin nails.

Tough or not, Josie knew she couldn't sit around and wait for the thing to destroy her only conveyance out of the desert. She was petrified to leave the safety of the vehicle but forced herself to reach forward and pop the back hatch. The springs of the hatch did the rest of the work, raising the ruined glass up and out, allowing her a clear view behind the vehicle.

The creature was no where in sight.

Josie was still trembling like as though suffering from withdrawals but she slowly climbed over the dented tailgate. Shotgun at the ready, she carefully set her feet down firmly on the ground.

The desert around her was as silent as a mausoleum.

The landscape seemed alien now, no longer just a collection of sand, dust and tumbleweeds but like a completely different planet. Josie felt like an astronaut, bravely taking a first step onto the surface of the moon. The quiet of the desert was responsible for the transformation. Without the nightly yips, hoots, cries, whistles, howls, chirps and calls from the indigenous species, the dunes were as lonely as the surface of Mars.

Josie's eyes were watering. She was so focused on spotting the creature that she had forgotten to blink. Her mouth was dry, her heart was drumming in her chest and the MRE in her stomach was threatening to bubble up into her throat. Josie's legs were rubbery, as if at any moment, they would give out on her.

The creature was no where in sight.

Josie reached behind her into the back of the SUV and retrieved the .45 pistol holster. As quickly as possible, Josie put down the shotgun and wrapped the belt around her waist, buckling it into place. In case she ran out of ammunition with the shotgun, the .45 would be her backup.

Josie had not gone looking for a hairless, spiny, wolf thing with red eyes. She was hunting for black-eyed children. Josie had no intention of confronting this unknown beast if she could help it. She wanted to pop the hood, quickly fix the distributor cap, get behind the wheel and drive the hell out of here.

Josie's eyes darted back and forth over the landscape. The last thing she wanted was to be taken by surprise. The sheer power of the thing was apparent by the bodily damage it had already inflicted upon the Pathfinder. Josie could only imagine what sort of damage it could do to her. She shivered with revulsion.

Sweeping the shotgun toward the front of the vehicle, she walked around the tailgate to the rear tire, her body rigid with vigilance. There was still no sign of the beast.

Where had it gone? Had it given up chase? Perhaps it recognized the shotgun as a weapon and had fled the area, Josie hoped.

The fine hairs on the back of her neck suddenly stood on end. With a paralyzing fear gripping her, Josie knew the creature was close, but where? Her instincts were screaming at her, telling her that the thing was practically breathing down her neck but Josie couldn't see anything. The aimed the shotgun around herself blindly, desperately attempting to locate her attacker.

The monster was on top of the SUV staring down at her with its red glowing eyes.

Josie froze like a deer in the headlights.

The creature was only two feet away from her. Josie was so surprised by its close proximity that instead of shooting the damned thing, her first instinct was to scream and throw her arms up to protect her throat and face. At her sudden flinching movement, the creature sprang backward away from her, disappearing over the roof of the Pathfinder.

Josie felt lightheaded, maybe in the early stages of a cardiac arrest. Her heart was pounding in her chest painfully. The creature had scared the living shit out of her. Why hadn't it attacked? From where the creature was, it could have pounced on her back while she was turned away from the vehicle, searching for it among the dunes, but it didn't. Was it merely toying with her after all?

If the creature didn't mean to attack and was only curious of her, Josie decided to seize her chance. She went to the front of the SUV and tugged on the hood. She cursed herself silently. Josie had unwittingly forgotten to pull the hood release latch inside the Pathfinder.

As she made her way to the driver side door, Josie saw the creature glaring at her from behind the vehicle, its red glowing eyes sending a chill racing through her body. She could only see the head, the rest of the body was hidden behind the rear bumper.

Josie couldn't risk a shot. Although she used double aught loaded shells in the shotgun, the spread could still damage the SUV at this range maybe even flatten the back tire. Josie deftly slung the shotgun over her shoulder and drew the .45 handgun. Once again, the creature retreated out of her line of sight at her quick movements.

Josie opened the driver's door, reached in the popped the hood. She made her way to the front of the SUV but faced yet another dilemma. As she raised the hood, Josie realized she'd have to reach far into the engine compartment to reach the distributor cap, effectively blinding herself to the creature's approach. She only had to reconnect two of the leads but it would still take a few seconds for each one.

If the creature had been hesitating to attack, perhaps it was because Josie was so well armed and the beast didn't want to risk being injured. She'd be much more vulnerable with her head stuck inside the engine compartment. Josie realized that if she risked fixing the vehicle and exposed herself, this move could be just enough to incite an attack.

Josie glanced at her watch. It was 5:39am. The sky was beginning to show signs of sunrise, the blackness fading away to a bluish hue. Somehow, Josie knew the creature was probably nocturnal and would quickly disappear after the sun rose. Maybe she could just hide in the vehicle and wait the creature out.

A scream pierced the darkness and drove deeply into Josie's nerves. She was jolted by the sudden cry as if hit by lightning. It was a terrible guttural scream, angry and menacing. There was no doubt the creature had let it loose. Josie knew she was going to be attacked at any second. Since she had no idea where the scream came from, she decided to retreat. She hurried to the driver door and climbed in, slamming the door behind her. The instant the door was closed, the SUV was once again rammed but this time, the impact came from the driver door.

The creature had been right on her heels, chasing her. Josie had barely escaped its fangs and claws.

“You miserable son of a bitch!” Josie cursed it. She swore and yelled back at it, threatening to blow its balls off if it dared break into the cabin. Josie saw the creature glaring at her from in front of the vehicle, its red ferocious eyes just visible over the edge of the front hood. She was tempted to shoot at it but that would break the front windshield and possibly damage the radiator.

The creature vanished and she could hear its clawed feet digging into the sand as it ran by the driver door toward the back of the Pathfinder, staying low and out of her line of sight. Josie followed its movements and realized she had left the back hatch wide open.

Fuck!

Josie was so frightened that the .45 was slippery to hold onto because of her sweaty palms. She was breathing hard and rapidly, as if she has just finished a set of wind sprints. Her entire body was alive with crackling energy, fueled by her deep terror. Josie aimed shakily at the opened hatch, expecting the creature to burst inside at any second.

The open back hatch was like a breach in her security perimeter, as blatant to her enemy as a bright neon sign flashing, 'Enter Here'. The open air of the desert was threatening to her now, as if it were toxic. She felt the air stirring inside the cab from the opened hatch, reminding her just easily the creature could get inside through such a large opening.

As scared as she was, Josie knew she had to close the damn hatch but her body was unresponsive. The thought of even getting close to the breach was so dangerous that her inner consciousness was begging her to stay where she was. No. Josie could not leave the hatch open if she planned on waiting for dawn.

Taking a deep breath to try and steady her nerves, Josie started to squeeze between the front seats. As she did, she saw a flash of movement and screamed in horror.

The creature was faster than she expected it to be, lunging through the open hatch into the rear compartment in an instant. Josie kept screaming hysterically and fired the .45 twice at it but the creature ducked down beneath her view, behind the back seat. She propped herself on her knees on the front seat so that she could see all the way to the back. The creature was hidden from her view, crouched down out of sight. Josie couldn't tell where it was so she fired three times right through the backseat hoping to wound the damn thing.

The creature screamed again, a piercing peal that hurt her ears. The beast clambered out of the open hatch like a shot and back out into the night. Josie quickly scrambled over the backseat to close the hatch and locked it. Through the shattered and webbed glass of the back hatch, Josie saw something that made her stomach drop to her feet and nearly made her heart stop.

Further down the road, behind the SUV, she saw at least a dozen sets of red glowing eyes watching the vehicle.

God, please no!

The creatures were moving toward the SUV, spreading out as if they meant to attack from different directions.

Oh God, no!

Josie climbed into the middle portion of the Pathfinder deciding it was her best chance at making a defensive stance. The creatures weren't running toward the vehicle at full speed. They were trotting, as if savoring the precious seconds before they attacked and killed her.

The creatures were fifty feet away and closing fast.

Josie was in a panic. She couldn't believe that the creatures were going to carry out an organized assault against her. In unison, they casually approached, moving like a well trained militant hit squad.

Josie felt lightheaded and was hyperventilating. She tried to get a grip but her body was not cooperating with her mind. Sweat poured out of her skin as if she were in a sauna.

The creatures would probably come in through the windows to get her, breaking through the glass in unison, timing their attack so that Josie would only get a few shots off before one of them got a hold of her. She felt hot tears streaming down her cheeks. Josie was not aware that she had been crying.

Josie was not a very religious person but she glanced towards the heavens then bowed her head and said a silent prayer. She begged for a way out, praying that she could somehow survive until sunrise. If her prayers were answered, she promised God to take up religion and would start reading The Bible everyday. If not, Josie prayed that she would at least be brave enough to kill as many of the damned things as she could before she was killed.

The creatures were only twenty feet away for the Pathfinder. She could see them clearly now, their muscles flexing and jumping under the thick gray skin as they trotted. They didn't have paws but long fingered appendages, not unlike human hands except that instead of fingernails, there were powerful curved talons used to grip and tear at their prey. Their black tongues were lolling out of their mouths like dogs, the quills around their necks were flattened against their bodies. The glowing red eyes of each of them were watchful and menacing.

Josie held her breath. At any moment, she knew they would break out into a dashing run and begin to crash through the windows. The creatures had spaced themselves out so effectively that Josie had to swivel her head back and forth, as if watching a tennis match, in order to keep an account of their actions.

Do it, Goddamn you! I'm ready!

The creatures were still approaching steadily. They were only ten feet behind the SUV. She could see the long deadly fangs, the wet muzzles and the some of the creatures were drooling, no doubt in preparation for the meal to come.

Any second now.

Josie prepared for the worst, waiting for her death. She accepted her fate. If this is where she was going to die, then it was for the best. She was leaving no parents behind to grieve for her, no lover, boyfriend or husband to go on through life without her. Josie never had any children, so there would be no one orphaned after her death, no siblings would be emotionally scarred over the loss of their sister, since she was an only child.

Without meaning to, Josie had prepared for her encounters against the supernatural better than she had imagined. She was ready to die, the fear suddenly leaving her, fading away as water evaporates in the hot sun. Josie was determined to put all of her training to the test and dish out as much hell she could muster.

A few of the closer creatures disappeared from her line of sight because she was in the center of the SUV. The rest of the creatures continued their approach.

Any second now.

“Come on, damn you!” Josie screamed angrily at her tormentors, “Get it over with!”

She lowered herself onto the seat, the shotgun aimed at one of the close side windows and the .45 at the other. As soon as the first one showed itself, Josie was going to blow its fucking head off. She had no idea what the creatures were doing now because she was so low in the seat.

The suspense was almost too powerful to bear. Josie had been ready but as the seconds ticked by and nothing happened, she grew apprehensive again.

Josie bolstered her courage by letting out a bellowing roar, goading her attackers to come, “What the fuck are you waiting for? Come on and bring it, you motherfuckers!”

More seconds ticked by. Nothing happened.

What the hell?

After ten or fifteen minutes of waiting, Josie finally raised her eyes over the edge of one of the side doors and peered out. The sun was rising, the sky was a light blue striped with orange rays of sunlight with thin pink clouds higher up.

There was no signs of the creatures. They had trotted past the SUV, probably to return to their burrows to escape from the daylight.

I made it!

Josie could hardly believe she had made it to dawn, had outlasted her attackers and had survived. Weeping tears of joy and appreciation for the lovely day, of which she thought she wouldn't live to see again, Josie climbed out of the Pathfinder, replaced the leads on the distributor cap, closed the hood, got behind the wheel, fired up the SUV and sped off home.


© Copyright 2018 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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