Jack Bennett could feel his heart pounding so hard that he thought it would burst right through his chest, as he gripped the steering wheel tightly. His eyes stayed focused on the expressway in front of him, watching the headlights of his Mustang piercing through the darkness of the night. The only sound that could be heard was the racing of the engine, as he started to wonder why he was driving down this dark, silent expressway. Jack only hoped that nothing would happen to his car, which would leave him stranded on the side of the road. For no one would probably come passed him or even seem him until it was too late.
The shadows of the night were so thick, that he probably wouldn't be able to see his hand in front of his face. That of course was normal around here, considering there was nothing around but farms and large empty fields, as far as the eye can see. Jack tried to calm himself down, while his mind searched for the reason for what he was experiencing. Was this just anxiety? If so, then why? Yet, what really bothered him was if it was something else. Something much more serious which he wouldn't be able to handle. But this was not the time or place for him to be thinking about it. All that he could concentrate on was getting back to Chicago, back to his home and his own bed. He already had a long trip so far from St. Louis to this point somewhere in Central Illinois. Jack had to attend a writing conference, just so he could push his new book. At least that was what his publisher had told him. It was mainly him answering so many questions from the people who were so obsessed with his work. But why should that matter, after all, if it wasn't for his fans he wouldn't be where he was. Normally, he would have taken a plane, but with all the terrorist acts going on in the world, it didn't seem like a good idea. Even though it was just paranoia, he just let it go with that.
The only thing he couldn't figure out was why he was in such a hurry to get home? Back to a place where there was no one waiting for him. His wife had left him two years ago. Her reason was because of what he wrote. Terrified of the darkness, which he seemed to be attracted to. (Figures a Christian bible thumper like her would say something like that). The way she talked to him about it, she started to think that he believed it was reality. But that was nothing more than bullshit. His stories were his way of letting the nightmares out of his mind. Since then he had lived alone, diving into his work as an escape from everything. But the isolation and madness, which he was surrounded by, started to effect him. That was the main reason why he was now driving down this silent expressway. The only truth that he was willing to except.
"God, what I wouldn't give to see the lights of a city or town right now. Just to know there was life around here." he muttered under his breath.
But in a way, Jack just wanted to see another person's face or even a car coming from the other direction. In a way he wanted to know that he wasn't alone, within this blackness, which started to feel like true isolation. As if the world around him, reality, had vanished. Now he was driving through the dead of night, of what he believed was some sort of different dimension. Yet, he knew to well that was something that was impossible.
"Jack old boy, you are starting to think like a character in one of your stories." he said out loud, then laughed,
It was almost like a nervous laugh, to relieve the haunting feeling, which he needed to forget about. The truth was he needed to find a place to stop at before he fell asleep behind the wheel. Or died from the pain in his chest, which continued to be unrelenting. He tried to keep his attention on the road, forcing himself to stay alert. The last thing that he needed was to be found by the state troopers in a ditch on the side of the road. It was then the he had seen a sudden flash of light in front of him, which blinded his eyes for a brief second. The whole moment it happened, a strange feeling came over him. One that he had never felt before. It was as if something deep within him was suddenly rising up, trying to reach the unknown destiny, which waited for him. In his mind he believed that it was nothing more than some bird that landed on the electrical post of the towering power kind, The type of supports which he had only seen in the B-rated horror flicks, when Godzilla attacked Tokyo.
After about a half-hour had passed, he was able to see the faint glimmer of light far in the distance. Even though that half-hour felt more like an eternity to him, now it really didn't matter. The only thing, which did, was for him to reach that town or whatever it was that was illuminating out there. He knew it had to be some sort of rest stop, diner or something for the travelers to stop off at. Whatever it was, Jack was determined to reach it. His eyes stayed focused on the road, trying to find some sort of sign which would tell him what was waiting for him up ahead. But each sign that the headlights illuminated was something that he really didn't need to see. Mainly information about certain landmarks, speed limits and one that caught him by surprise. For all that said was, " Turn Back Now Before It's Too Late." Nothing else underneath it, which would tell him more.
"What the hell kind of sign is that?" he said and thought. "It must be someone's idea of a practical joke. Probably some local just forgot to take it down."
It really didn't seem to matter to him at the time; still there was something familiar about it, which lingered in the back of his mind. Like some faded memory, which he wasn't able to totally understand. Jack thought it was just the fatigue of the drive, which made him feel this way. Most of the time he would get that way when he was traveling. Feeling as if there was a moment of da-ja-vu, which seemed to come to him. Yet, it always seemed to happen after he had a long flight to LA or New York. Then he would just blame it on jetlag and leave it at that. In this instance he didn't had the opportunity to do that. There was something else too; a strange feeling that suddenly enveloped him, making him feel uneasy. As if he knew there was something in the air telling him to keep moving. Not stopping until he got back to Chicago. It seemed so ridiculous to him. Of course the exhaustion he felt won over the feeling or warning that came over him. He knew he had this feeling before and it always came true. The last time was two years ago, right before his wife left him. That cold, clammy feeling, like death coming for him, that made it impossible for him to concentrate on anything. The closer his car drove to the illumination, the stronger this feeling grew. But it was something, which he had to try and ignore.
"Come on Jack, you know there is nothing else around here for miles. You have to stop before you find yourself in some ditch further up road." he thought.
He knew that he was right and it was the logical thing for anyone to do. Whatever it was that waited for him, he would have to face, that is when and if it would reveal itself to him. He could feel himself starting to become tired, as he forced himself to stay awake. And the only thing, which could do that, was for him to remember the conference, which he had attended. The way his fans tried to rush to him through security, for an autograph and ask him questions which he and heard so many times, he thought he would scream. And that was the one thing, which kept him awake. For he could feel the regret of actually attending such a thing. Mainly because he was a private person and didn't like being around large crowds. Especially when they were swarming around him because of his success. Making him feel as if he couldn’t breath and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which luckily that was the one thing, which never happened.
After a couple minutes, he found himself pulling onto the exit ramp which led to a large truck stop. The neon sign of the place tower high above it on a large poll, illuminating the night with yellow, red and blue that read "Rose's Truck Stop". It really didn't matter to him what it was, as long as he could get some coffee and wake himself up. The parking lot of the place was practically deserted, except for a large eighteen wheeler truck that sat a couple feet away from the diner. When he parked his car, Jack sat there for a moment behind the wheel. His eyes gazed at the place, as he remained silent for a moment. Yet, there was still that feeling deep within his soul, never letting him forget that something was coming for him. Or at least that was what he thought. His hand slowly reached over and opened the driver's door, then got out. The hot summer air slapped his pale face, while he slammed the door shut. The smell of gasoline filled the air around him as he made his way to the sidewalk.
"Another greasy spoon rest stop in America's Midwest." he thought as his pace quickened.
Most of the high brow, so called friends he made, wouldn't ever be caught dead in a place like that. To them it would be beneath them to even associate with anyone who would stop there. But to Jack, these were the people he liked to be around. Mainly because they were real, not acting as if they liked you, not trying to impress someone with their wealth they had, just average people doing what they can to survive. Just like him.
When he got inside, he could feel the cool air conditioning hit him, which felt like such a relief. The diner was just like any other which you would expect to see. A line of booths along the windows and a long counter on the other side of the room. At the end of it, a heavyset truck driver with black hair that was slightly gray sat. His eyes glanced over in Jack's direction as if he would start trouble, while his hand ran over his unshaven chin. But his glance was only for a brief moment, and then he turned back to face the counter.
As Jack made his way to the counter, he could feel the pain in his chest throbbing once again. Not as severe as it had been before, but still enough for him to show it on his face. AS he sat down, his mind kept thinking about the strange sign, which he had seen on the road. TURN BACK NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! He felt like going back to it and writing his response on it. I CAN'T, BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU ARE FORCED TO TRAVEL IN DIRECTIONS THAT YOU SHOULDN'T! With his luck though a state trooper would stop him, then arrest him for vandalism. But of course it was something, which he wasn't crazy enough to do. His attention stayed away from the trucker, so that way no trouble would start. Looking over at the old neon Coca-Cola clock that hung on the wall behind the back counter, he noticed what time it was. Seven-thirty. Could that be right? He felt that it was much later than that. Maybe it was just slow or had been turned off for a while, and then someone forgot to set it. It was then he heard the sound of a young woman' voice coming from in front of him, when he started to look down at the counter. When he looked up at her, he noticed a waitress with black hair standing there, smiling at him. Wearing a white uniform with a nametag that had the name Nikki on it.
"What can I get you darlin'?" she asked in a pleasant tone, with a slight Southern accent.
"Just coffee, that would be great." he replied.
As she poured his coffee, her eyes stayed on him every few seconds. It was as if she knew him, but had a sudden doubt if she was right. Jack knew right away that she would probably ask him if he were who she thought he was. Something, which he had experienced so many times before and would have loved to lie by saying that he, wasn't. But lying was the one thing, which he had never been good at. And any woman would be able to call his bluff right away, which was always embarrassing. Yet there was something about this waitress, which seemed so familiar to him. It was as if he had known her for years. But that was impossible, for Jack had never been around Central Illinois before. Or maybe it was just the fatigue, which he was dealing with so far.
"Are you alright sir? You look like you have just seen a ghost." she said in a curious tone, as she placed the coffee in front of him.
"It's been a long trip so far that's all." he replied.
"And your journey has yet to start Jack. Rest up now while you can." a voice said.
"Pardon me?" Jack asked instantly as he looked at her.
"I didn't say anything." she said innocently.
"Right. Sorry." he replied as he shook his head.
The waitress just looked at him with such a concerned expression, as she stood there in silence. Just from the expression she gave him, made Jack wonder more about her. Yet, he said nothing about it, for he didn't want to look weird. Especially when it was with someone he didn't know. He could swear though that she said something else to him, something which he had not been able to catch. And there was the feeling that he knew her from somewhere too.
"Where you from?" she finally asked.
"Chicago. That's were I'm headed now." he replied, then took a cigarette out from the pack in his jacket.
The waitress looked at him with such a child-like interest in him. In a way he guessed, not many strangers came around here and probably made the night boring. Now that a stranger was here, she wanted to know as much as she could about him. But that was something Jack never really liked to do. Still, he knew that he had to keep this polite conversation going. The only thing, which he wasn't sure about, was what it would lead to? That was if it would at all?
After he lit one, he looked at her again. His mind kept trying to find the answer to where he had met her before. The only thing, which he could do, was to forget about it and return back to the road. Jack figured the one thing that mattered was him getting home. So hat way he could escape once again into his writing, just to escape into another creation of a new novel. Or as he liked to put it, returning back to the madness of his nightmares. It was then something struck his mind, as his eyes stared deftly in front of him at the back counter. Not realizing that the waitress was still standing near him.
"Nikki Harris. That is who she is. Nikki Harris from the small town of Bearsville. Born and raised there." Jack said, not realizing that he was speaking out loud.
"How do you know my name and where I live mister? I never met you before, have I?" she asked in a frightened tone.
Jack turned to face her, his face drained of all color, eyes showing such terror, as he tried to find the words to say to her. But the way she looked at him, he could tell that she was determined to find out the truth. If he were to reveal how he knew about her, she wouldn't believe it. In a way, Jack couldn't believe it either.
"You're not going to believe me if I tell you."
"Well…, the reason I know about you is because you are a character in one of the novels I wrote a few months back. It was called Shroud of Eve. You were one of the main characters in it."
"So you are saying that before you wrote this novel, I didn't exist?"
"No, but it is a coincidence that you are exactly like the character in that book. And I have never met you before, like you had just said."
"Right." she said in a slightly nervous tone as she started to walk away from him.
Jack knew that he shouldn't have said anything, for now he had the trucker's full attention. And that made him feel that he was going to get killed any minute now. No matter what would happen next, he knew that it was time for him to leave. Without saying a word, he stood up and made his way to the door. He had embarrassed himself enough as it was, and had no idea why he had said that he had to her (even though it was the truth). Or at least that was what Jack thought. Right at that moment he wasn't sure about what was right and what wasn't. As if his mind had suddenly been lost within a mysterious fog, which blinded it. As he had made his way back outside, he found himself unable to stop thinking about the waitress. How she resembled the character from his book, only he really didn't want to except it was reality. And what about that sign he had seen on the side of the expressway? Where had he seen that before? And what could it really mean? When he back to his car, he sat behind the wheel once again. He thought about the sign once again, the way he now saw it in his mind. In his mind it was day, not night, and the tall grass hid the mutilated bodies of the townspeople that were lying around it. Their blood splattered not only on the sign but on the ground as well, making it seem as if some wild beast had left their remains to rot in the summer sun. In front of it was the waitress's decapitated body, her head sitting on her firm stomach with a terrified expression on her face.
"Never knew what was coming." he thought.
Then he turned on the engine, knowing it was time for him to hit the road. As he pulled back onto the dark expressway, Jack started to wonder what could he happening to him. It had tot be just a coincidence that happened, nothing more than that. As he continued to drive through the night, his thoughts started to focus on all the stories he had written so far. Wondering if any more of his characters had come to life. It seemed like a bizarre thing for him to be thinking about, yet it was the only thing that stayed trapped in his mind. Because of it, he started to laugh for no reason. But the laughter soon faded, as he felt the pressure building inside his brain, so strong he thought it was going to explode. And it seemed to have started when he thought about his stories. But why? That was something, which he couldn't figure out. In his head he could hear the questions a few of his fans had asked back at the conference. One that he had heard so many times in the past. "How do you come up with such strange ideas?" "When is your next book coming out?" And of course, "Does your work ever scare you?"
Does it scare me? That was the one thing, which seemed so foolish to ask. Of course he had felt afraid when he wrote them. That was how he was able to write the stories he did. Using the fears and nightmares, which consumed his sub-conscious. Right now he could feel his fear starting to build within him. Never to really know what shall come about for him further down the road. For some reason the shadows of the night seemed even thicker that before. Not even the headlights of his Mustang could pierce through it. Making him think that he was driving through a thick sea on nothingness, that had no end. The only thing, which he could see was the yellow lines on the side of the road and the broken white lines in the middle of it. Even though he had no idea where he was headed, it seemed that it really didn't matter anymore. All that did was for him to find his way back to the lights and traffic of Chicago. So that way he would be able to relax, knowing that he was home. But all that Jack could see was the eternal void of the eve. The only sound that could be heard was the engine as it speeded up and the music of the fifties once again. He figured the music would be able to help him relax. But, there was something around him that brought about his fear. His hands gripped the steering wheel, unaware of the destination that was waiting for him anymore. He thought of all the pressure, which he had to deal with, and how he wished it would all be nothing more than a dream. The questions of the fans at the conference echoed in his head, especially the last one. "Does your work ever scare you?" A simple question, yet one that seemed too ridiculous to really answer. His fear was the one thing, which he relied on for his stories. That and the images within his subconscious which haunted him so much. Was there something that he didn't know that would come about for him? Would there be more strange events that would happen like back at the truck stop? Or was it just the pressure of all he had to deal with making him feel this way.
It was then that he noticed the image of headlights quickly approaching his car. The high breams starting to blind his eyes, as he wondered what this person could be up to. Within seconds the headlights grew stronger within his rearview mirror and illuminated the inside of the car. Jack felt a sudden rush of terror filling his eyes, as he tried to focus of the road. But all that he could think about was that the driver was that trucker who was out for revenge because of what he had said to Nikki. The headlights of his car intensified, showing the signs of the expressway, than meant nothing to him. In a way he was hoping to see another sign, like the one before. But for the first mile, sure if he would see something like that. All that he could see was the eternal darkness before him and that damn driver's headlights behind him. The bright illumination behind him suddenly vanished as he was consumed by the night once again. Was it that whoever the driver had been was forcing him to go in this direction? If so, then why? Before he could even try to come up with an answer, a sudden bright flash of light illuminated in front of him. He could feel his body jump slightly, as he tried to keep the car on the road. Jack figured it was just a bird that landed on one of those large power lines he had seen around here. But for some reason after that, he felt a strange sensation that everything around him had changed. As if he was transported into a silent domain of its own realm, watching as the reality he knew melted away. Even the only radio station that he could pick up turned to static. Still he kept moving toward what he hoped was the direction of Chicago. Or any other town right at that moment. Jack found himself lost in slight confusion, yet he forced himself to continue forward. He had to try and get home, where he belonged. A place where no one would want anything from him and he could be himself. Yet, that wads something, which he knew would be coming soon. Was it all in his mind what he was had been going through? Or was it something that wasn't ready yet to reveal itself? More questions which he knew there were no answers to.
It was then that he noticed a sign on the side of the road that said SUNSET INN AND BAR. There was something about it, which made him feel that this was a place that he needed to go to. For some reason he felt drawn there. A place a half a mile away from the expressway, with nothing else around it, yet the parking lot was filled with cars. Obviously, it had to be something more going on in the tavern, rather than the motel. But that was only a guess and nothing more than that. He pulled off the expressway and into the crowded parking lot, where he was able to find a space near the front door. When he went inside, he noticed the woman behind the counter, who instantly looked at him, smiling politely. Her long blond hair fell over her back as her blue eyes stayed focused on him and the cleft of her blouse revealed a brief view of the soft flesh of the top of her breasts.
"Mr. Bennett, we've been expecting you. I thought that you weren't going to make it." she said.
"You have?" Jack asked, not sure of what she could mean.
"Why of course, I have your reservation right here. Your room is all ready and the bar is open if you wish to have a drink." she said.
"Yeah….. sure, that sounds like a good idea." he said.
From across the room where he stood, he could hear the sound of loud music and people's laughter coming from the doorway of the tavern. He could swear though that he could hear them chanting something inside there, which he wasn't able to make out. But figured it was nothing more than his own imagination playing tricks on him. He decided to just go to his room, so that way he could relax and try to figure out what was going on. He took the elevator to the fourth floor, then got out and made his way down the hallway. Nothing made sense to him anymore. It was as if he had somehow got himself to enter into the world that he normally only written about. Even though it was ridiculous, there were still so many things that made him feel it was true. The waitress named Nikki, the bizarre sign on the side of the expressway, and the way he remembered how he had seen it before when he was writing his book. There had to be a logical explanation for everything that he was witnessing. That was as if there was any explanation behind it at all. As he made his way through the silent hallway, he could feel the eyes of someone on him. Yet, there was no one around him. All there was, was the dimly lit hallway, the fluorescent lights flickering on and off in such a hypnotic way, making him have a headache.
"What the hell is going on here?" he said in an uncertain tone.
Jack had no idea what the answer could be, as he continued down the hallway. The only sound, which he could hear, was his footsteps on the wooden floor. When he reached the door to his room, he stopped in hesitation for a moment. It was as if he expected something to happen once he opened it. Of course, he knew to well that was a ridiculous thing to think of.
"Come on Jack, don't let yourself believe such bullshit. You just need some rest and then you'll be fine. " the voice said.
He opened the door, then made his way inside. Once he was in, he sat on the edge of the bed, as his arms stretched up over his head. So many thoughts ran through his brain, yet none of them made any sense. The only thing, which he could come up with, was that it was because he was so exhausted. But for some reason he didn't believe it. There had to be some reason for what he had experienced so far. Whatever it could be, it wasn't making itself known. Jack got up and turned on the lamp that sat on the light brown dresser, across the room from him. It was then he noticed a door a foot away from it. He didn't think too much about it, as long as the people in the other room didn't decide to come in to see who was in here. The silence in the room seemed almost deadly, as he swore he could hear his own heartbeat. But he had to try and forget about everything he had witnessed so far. Before it made him go mad.
It was then he heard the sound of a couple in the next room, engaged in a moment of physical pleasure. Jack could hear their voices clearly through the adjoining door, The way the woman moaned and begged him to continue on with what they were doing. The more he listened to them, the more he realized how alone he truly was. Even though he knew a couple women who he could have a relationship with, he never did. Not wanting to have to have to worry about being hurt all over again. Yet in a way, he did miss the moments of tenderness they would share with him. Making him feel so important and so full of life. That was something, which wasn't around him right now. And in a way it really didn't matter any more. All that did was his writing. That and nothing else.
His eyes glanced over at his reflection in the mirror that hung on the wall across the room from him. In his mind he thought about the next book, which he was suppose to start, which now he felt, wasn't a good idea. It was suppose to be the continuation of the novel, THE SHROUD OF EVE. Yet, his agent had convinced him that it was a good idea. Especially since the first one had been such a great hit. Jack really didn't want to do it though, for it make him remember why he wrote it. For that had been the novel he had wrote after his wife had left him. His way of letting his anger out and escaping into a world of his own. Still, he agreed to write it, and now had seven hand written legal pads filled. Luckily though he had left it on the passenger's seat of the car, so he wouldn't become obsessed to get into it.
Still he found himself wanting to write, to let the demons in his mind run free. But with that woman screaming in such pleasure, he probably wouldn't be able to do it. Now, there was not only the sound of her moans, by the rhythmic banging of the bed against the wall, which made the mirror shake. In a way he found it humorous, so much that he couldn't help but laugh. For the couple probably believed that no one could hear them, even though he was able to. It lasted for an hour, as her laid on the bed, his eyes gazing up at the darkened shadows that loomed over him. Jack was just about ready to drift off to sleep, when he heard the woman scream through the door. But this wasn't the type of scream, which he had heard a moment ago, this one was the sound of sheer horror.
Instantly Jack sat up and turned on the light, his eyes looking over at the direction of the door. He could feel his heart suddenly stop, as the screaming continued and something pounding on the other side of it. The woman pleading for her lover to stop, in between her sobbing. But it was obvious that her lover had no intention of stopping. She screamed a couple times more, then he heard her body slam against the floor, before everything was silent. How tempted he was to open the door and see what had happened. But it was none of his business, and anyway he was to scared to do it. From the bottom of the connecting door, a thick dark red liquid seeped from under it. Jack knew that it was the blood from the woman who he had heard. He could hear the sound of a man's wicked laughter, then a door opened and closed. Silence once again returned, as he sat there motionless. No wanting to move, afraid that the madman would come breaking through the door and after him next.
How he wished that this was nothing more than a dream. But he knew to well that this was really happening and he had to do something about it. It was then that the darkness of the room consumed him, as the sounds of his own rapid breath faded. He could feel his head spinning and a sharp pain burn on the back of his head.
The next thing, which he knew, he found himself running down the street of some small town. his eyes wide and filled with panic, as he struggled to keep up his pace. He could feel his thighs throbbing in pain, as if they would collapse at any moment. Behind him he heard the horrid sound of people yelling at him. Saying such words in a fiery rage, as the scent of burning torches filled the air. Moving closer within seconds, as his anxiety overwhelmed him. he refused to look back, not wanting to see the ghastly faces of the creatures that closed in on him. For he knew that they were not human, because the tone of their voices were low and ungodly. Feeling the hot breath of relenting death on him, as their snarls echoed around him. Jack felt as if he couldn't take any more, wanting to collapse from his own weakness. After a couple seconds, his body fell forward, hitting the dirt ground. before he could even turn onto his back, the growling of the beast loomed over him. Paralyzing him for a moment, unsure of what would come about for him. Slowly, he turned, knowing that either way he was a dead man, so why should it matter. Ready to face the beast, to look into its eyes as it took its deadly strike. The sweat rolled down the side of his neck, as the fear overpowered his senses. The rank odor of death was the only thing, which he could smell in the air. Feeling its hot breath hitting the pale flesh of his face, as he stared into its eyes of hellfire. He closed his eyes, ready for the beast to strike, yet it didn't.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself standing by the shore of Lake Michigan. The cool breeze floated around him, while the faint sound of the traffic on Lake Shore Drive could be heard. Slowly he walked down the shore, not sure of what was happening to him. He had no idea how he had got from the side streets of some small town with a wild beast chasing him, to where he was now. As he continued to walk, he felt slightly at ease, because he was home. Back in the city that he knew, where he wouldn't be able to get lost in. It was then that he saw her standing there by the edge of the cement shore. The wind blowing through her long fiery red hair, as her eyes looked at him with such terror. Even though he was angry with his ex-wife, he could never let her do anything that would hurt herself. When he got closer, he could see the tears falling down her cheeks, as her attention stayed focused on him. Just from the expression on her face, he could tell that she wanted to run to him. In a way, he wanted to do that same thing too. Just to feel the warmth of her body next to his, even if it would only be for a brief moment. But that was the one thing which he knew would not happen.
"Jack help me. Please…. don't let me die this way." she begged as she cried harder. "Don't let it kill me. Please….. don't let it."
"Let what, Shelby?"
Before she could say a word, her back arched forward, eyes bulging in terror as her mouth opened as if she would scream. But not a sound came from her lips , only one last long breath, Her chest exploded open as a shattering report filled the air. Blood and pieces of flesh scattered on the cement and floated in the water. Then her body fell to the side, diving into he abyss of the lake. Jack wanted to scream out in terror, yet not a sound came from his lips. Behind her was the waitress from the truck stop, Nikki. Standing there holding a hunting rifle with its barrel smoking.
"You aren't going to get away from me that easy. You created me, brought me into this world and now you must be with me. We were meant to be together." she said.
" I have no idea what you are talking about." Jack said as he took a step back.
"You created m out of what you believed was the woman you wanted to find. Now I am here for you my darling." she said as she moved closer to him.
Jack couldn't believe what she was saying, for she was nothing more than a fictional character that he had created. She was nothing more than a dream, something that his mind had made up. Or at least he hoped that was what she was.
"You are nothing more than a dream. This is not real, none of this is. I'm going to wake up and find myself back in my own bedroom. Or some hotel room somewhere." Jack said in a frantic state.
"No, I'm as real as you are. Either you stay with me, or else suffer the same fate as your ex-wife." she said.
She stood not even a foot away from him, her eyes staring at him with such passion. He had no idea what he was suppose to say to her. The only thing, which he wanted, was to get back to the motel room he had been in, so he could leave and get back on the road. But even if he did, Nikki would still follow him. Waiting for the right moment to appear again. And this time she would probably kill him. He had to take the chance on getting away from her. Instantly he reached over and took the rifle out of her hands and pointed it at her. His eyes burned with rage for what she had done to Shelby, and now she was going to pay.
"You don't have the courage to pull the trigger. And anyway, you don't want to kill me. I'm the woman that you are waiting to find. The one who you believe will understand you." she said as a devilish grin appeared on her lips.
"I'll take my chances." Jack replied, as he pulled the trigger.
Fire licked from the barrel of the rifle, as Nikki's body was sent hurtling backwards. What she had said was true, that he really didn't want to kill her, but he had no choice. He didn't know what she would do if he let her live. He looked down at her body, laying there on the cold cement, in a pool of her own blood. Her eyes remained open, staring up at him, as if she were going to say something with her last breath. But she was already dead.
Right then Jack could feel his chest pulsate in agonizing pain as he bent forward, his hands dropping the rifle to the ground. This time he knew there was no way that he would be able to make it stop. His eyes closed as the pain continued its relentless torture on him, which his brain became lightheaded. Everything around him suddenly seemed to become silent for a brief moment, then he could hear the sound of muffled voices around him. He wanted to open his eyes, yet found himself unable to do so. Till finally, he knew that he had to. When he did, he found himself laying in a hospital bed. His agent, Larry Neylan stood by the side of the bed, smiling when he saw him wake up.
"Hey Jack, you gave me quite a scare there. I told you that you should have taken a plane, but you just wouldn't listen to Me." he said.
"Where am I ?" Jack asked in a weakened voice.
"You are at a hospital in Champaign. Illinois. The state troopers found your car in a ditch and you were pretty badly banged up. I guess you pushed it too far and fell asleep at the wheel. They also said that you had a slight attack." he said.
"That's impossible, I was in a motel room at the Sunset Inn and Bar. And before that at this truck stop called Rose's." Jack said.
"Boy you must have really hit your head good. Jack, those are places that you wrote about in your book. Don’t you remember, you made them up." he said.
Larry had left him for a moment, to talk to the doctor in the hallway. The whole time that he had been in the room with him, a nurse had stood a couple feet from his bed, with her back facing him. Jack kept his eyes on her, afraid to see what she would look like when she turned around. When she did, he could feel his body starting to shake, then relax. For the nurse was an Oriental woman with short black hair. She smiled at him as she made her way over to the side of his bed.
"I’m nurse Chang, I will be taking care of you tonight. Is there anything that you need?" she asked.
"No, I'll be fine." he said as he turned his head away from her.
"Are you sure there isn't anything that I can do to make you happy, Jack?" Vikki's voice suddenly said.
When he turned back to the nurse, his eyes widened with terror as he saw Vikki standing there by the side of the bed. Her eyes glaring with rage as a devilish grin appeared on her lips. Jack wanted to scream, yet nothing came out. Within a second, the image of Vikki had disappeared and nurse Chang stood there once again.
"Mr. Bennett, are you alright? What's wrong?" she asked as her hand touched his chest.
"Don't let her get me! She is going to kill me, so that way I will stay with her in her world."
The nurse tried to calm him down, then walked out into the hallway. When she told Larry about what Jack was doing, he just stood there looking at her in disbelief.
"I can't believe that he snapped like that? Jack Bennett has been such a success in the literary world, how could this happen?" he said.
"I don't know, but it probably is just temporary. I'll do everything I can to make sure that he recovers." she said.
"Thank you …….." Larry started to say.
"Nurse Harris. Nikki Harris." she replied as a devilish grin appeared on her lips.
She watched as Larry made his way down the hallway and disappear around the corner.
"Oh yes, I'll make sure that he is back writing the stories from his world very soon," she said as she lifted her right hand that held a razor sharp hunting knife in it.
Then she started to laugh as she turned and made her way back into the room. The sound of Jack screaming flooding into the hallway. But all the staff knew was that he had a mind snap, nothing more.
The End !
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