Street lamps flickered giving growing berth to the encroaching darkness, but I knew the roads well. Familiar bumps along the poorly kept asphalt, and towering shadow swallowed buildings, served as navigational guides as I made my way to the Stardust Motel.
Only a few minutes had passed before I found myself speeding down a cornfield lined road in the unfettered darkness of the night. The headlights burned bright illuminating swaths of green cornstalks stretching out broad leaves in an attempt to snatch the car from the road.
At night the fields were unsettling. I could feel the hair on my arms stand on end, and a chill ran down the length of my spine. Urban legends and school yard stories of boogie men, satanic cults, and animal sacrifices played through my mind. I shivered at the thought of something watching me in the darkness.
“Get it together, Chris.” I said.
My foot fell heavy on the accelerator. I was pushing sixty-five miles per hour on a road meant to be traveled at thirty-five. I reached for the radio, believing some music might calm my nerves, when I saw her.
I slammed my foot on the breaks. The car swerved violently into a spin. Cornfields, the road ahead, the way I came, and more cornfields blurred out side my windshield. I fought with the steering wheel to regain control of the car.
It came to a stop just off the side of the road. Stalks of corn pressed in on the windows along the passenger side of the car. I flipped on the interior light.
Emily sat in the seat next to me undisturbed. Her porcelain eyes stared blindly forward.
“What. The. Fuck.” I said.
A gust of wind rushed over the car. The fields swayed violently. Outside I could hear voices whisper and giggle as the wind blew.
“Nope!” I said. “Fuck this. I did not sign up for this shit!”
I killed the engine, snatched Emily from her seat, and stepped out of the vehicle.
The doll shattered against the pavement. Beneath the heel of my boot I ground her into a ruin of dust and porcelain shards. The wind blew the delicate remains across the road and into the cornfields before finally dying down.
I stood dumbfounded in the middle of the road. My body trembled uncontrollably. My breath was deep and rapid. I could hear my heart pound against my ears.
On weak legs I returned to my car. I turned the key in the ignition, and nothing. No lights. No whir or whine of the engine. Just a heavy silence.