Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams Book 1)(7)

By: Abbie Roads

At the end of the driveway, Xander barely braked, just cranked the wheel to the right and skidded out onto the road, laying a strip of rubber and squealing the tires in a way any high school boy would admire. He gunned the truck’s engine to get to the top of the tallest hill in Sunny County.

Alcohol was less than six minutes away. God, how he needed a beer. Or five. Fuck that, he needed a case. Hell, he should go straight for the tequila. Anything to kill the voice.

As he neared the top of the hill, his headlights played over a motorcycle parked along the wide berm of road and then snagged on a man. A huge beast of a guy stood staring up at the centuries-old carved wooden bear like it was his own personal savior.

The animal posed on its hind legs, mouth open in a frozen snarl, looking real. Alive. Ready to attack. It wasn’t the kind of thing to attract tourists. It was more likely to repel them.

What the fuck was up with the carving? His father obsessed over it. And now this freak?

The man turned his face toward the truck, blinking from the brightness of the headlights. A thick black mark—what the hell was it—slashed up his face from mouth to cheekbone, giving him a sinister, half-evil look. He glared into the lights until Xander drove past.

Xander glanced in the rearview mirror. The truck’s taillights tossed a bloody glow over bear and man, highlighting the play of muscle and sinew hacked into the wood and making the black mark on the man’s face appear to be a gaping hole.

Xander’s breath locked inside his lungs. As crazy as it sounded, he half expected man and bear to move. To charge after him.

The truck raced down the hill, the man and the bear fading from sight. Xander’s gaze snapped to the road in front of him. Yeah, obviously, he was on the verge of losing it. It being his sanity.

Booze. Booze always helped. He needed to get some. Now.

Five minutes later, in sight of the gas station with its flashing neon BEER sign, a rush of energy stung his face and then rolled down his body—the Bastard in His Brain. The sneaky ass was about to stage a coup. Damn. All Xander could do was watch as he inexplicably turned the vehicle onto the highway and headed west—away from liquid salvation, away from reason and rationality, away from sense and sanity.

* * *

Three hours later, Xander parked on a mud strip that he suspected might have once been a driveway. The Bastard in His Brain had decided to take him on a vacation to Crazyland, where the only way out was through the funhouse. How else could he explain passing up alcohol and driving halfway across Ohio for this—a strange trailer secreted away among hundreds of acres of cornfields?

Despite dawn tipping the horizon in cheerful color, an ominous void and a bleak desperation hung over the place that went deeper than the structure’s disrepair. One side of the trailer sagged lower than the other, giving the impression of an enormous teeter-totter. Windows were missing, their gaping maws covered with boards or plywood or simple cardboard. The screen door dangled by its bottom hinge.

Xander wanted to reverse the truck and lay twin strips of fuck you on the asphalt on his way down the road. Wanting wasn’t enough—not nearly enough—to overpower the Bastard. He got out of the vehicle, leaving the keys in the ignition. He would run up, scan the inside of the trailer, satisfy the Bastard, then sort out his shit on the drive back home.

A miraculous hush fell across the landscape. No birds chirped, no insects chattered. No corn leaves rustled. Pure, undiluted silence invaded his ears, and it was more stunning and fascinating than anything he’d ever heard. He stopped. Listened. Nothing. Not one sound. He couldn’t even hear the rapid duh-dum, duh-dum of his heartbeat.

He closed his eyes, savoring the quiet. Was this why the Bastard had led him here? To find relief from the constant barrage of noise? Was there something significant about this location? Something significant about the trailer? He needed to find out. ’Cause if this spot was devoid of sound, he was going to be moving.

He walked up the crumbling cinder-block steps to the trailer, his boots crunching loud and startling against the decay. So much for the complete-void-of-sound theory. He reached through the skeleton of the screen and jiggled the knob. Locked.

From the other side of the door, the thud of heavy footsteps approached. Someone lived here? The place looked like it should be inhabited by rats and rodents, not humans.

“Open the door. Now. Or I’m bustin’ it down.” The urgency in his voice surprised him. What surprised him even more—he meant every word. He’d get in this trailer one way or another. Didn’t matter that he was trespassing or about to break half a dozen other laws. He needed to get inside. Not guilty by reason of the Bastard in His Brain—a.k.a. insanity—would be his defense.