“You and your damned short cuts!” Marcia yelled. “Now we’re totally lost. It’s so dark, I can’t see a freakin’ thing.”
“I’m pretty sure I used this last year to get to Lake Shasta when me and the guys went hunting,”Harry said. “I don’t understand what’s going on. Last year it was paved. This year it ain’t. I can’t imagine why they’d tear up a perfectly good road and turn it into something as primitive as this.”
“You sure this is the right road?”
“Of course. You saw the sign. Wait a minute. Somebody just lit a flare up ahead. Let’s find out what’s going on.”
When they approached the flare, they were surprised to see a man wearing a clown suit.
“What’s going on?” Harry called out.“Having car problems?”
“No. I heard your car. I lit the flare to get your attention. If you value your life, turn around and go back as fast as you can.”
“Did something bad happen?”
“Yes. The fact that you are on this road is very bad. Saints preserve us…they did it again.”
“Who’s they? What did they do again?”
“Demons. They moved the road sign to trap you.”
“Let’s get outta here,” Marcia said. “I’m scared.”
“Hold on. I wanna find out what’s really going on. Hey, Mister. You gotta be kidding me. Demons in this day and age?”
“Yeah. Very nasty ones. Go now!”
“Well, how come they haven’t grabbed you?”
“Please, Harry,” Marcia whispered. “It’s the middle of the night and the guy’s in a freakin’ clown suit. Maybe he’s an escaped lunatic.”
“We’ll leave in a few minutes. This guy’s so nutty, he intrigues me. He’s giving me a great idea for my next short story.”
“So, you say demons might get us?” Harry asked. “Let’s say they did. What would they do?”
“You don’t wanna know,” said the clown. “Listen it’s twenty minutes until 11:00. If you drive fast, you can make it back to the main highway in time.”
“I thought demons don’t come out until midnight?”
“Not this bunch. They strike at the eleventh hour.”
Marcia poked Harry in the ribs. “Let’s go now!”
“We will. Just give me another minute.”
“I was wondering what you’re doing here?” Harry asked, “considering this road is supposed to be haunted.”
“I come here every night to warn people like you who are misdirected to this road by the evil ones.”
“But why the clown suit?”
“It protects me. These kinds of demons don’t like clowns. Clowns are funny. Demons hate anything humorous.”
“Well, that’s a new one on me. Hey, is this a short cut to Lake Shasta or not?”
“No! It’s is a short cut to Hell!”
Harry chuckled. “That’s a good one. Short cut to Hell. Great title for a story.”
“If we don’t get the hell outta here right now, I swear I’ll file for divorce,” Marcia said. “You’re always taking stupid chances. This ain’t the time to be screwing around. Let’s go before this goofball tries something.”
“Well, thanks for the info,” Harry said. “Have a nice night. Oh…where’s the actual road that’s a shortcut to Lake Shasta.”
“When you get back to the highway, it’s only a mile from there. Route 11.
“Thanks for warning us. I sure don’t wanna be a Happy Meal for a bunch of nasty demons.”
Harry laughed hysterically, as he turned the car around and headed for the highway. “Wasn’t that a scream? Demons switching sign posts. And a guy wearing a clown suit standing on a dark road, in the middle of nowhere. This is worth its weight in gold. I can’t wait to get to the motel so I can start writing my story.”
They reached the highway, drove a mile, then saw another road sign that said, “Short Cut To Lake Shasta.”
Harry stopped the car. “Well, if that ain’t the weirdest thing.”
“Whadda ya mean?” Marcia asked.
“That sign says this is a short cut. The state doesn’t put up road signs telling people that roads are short cuts.”
“Well, maybe they’re finally getting driver friendly. C’mon. Let’s get going. I’m tired. I wanna get to the motel at Shasta.”
Harry turned onto Route 11.
Marcia put on the radio. The eleven o’clock news was nothing but doom and gloom.
Suddenly, flashes of horizontal lightening shot across the road. Weird, pulsating lights filled the sky. Wind and debris slammed the car.
Harry couldn’t believe his eyes when a fire-filled hole opened on the road. He hit the brakes so hard, Marcia’s head bounced off the windshield.
The car skidded to a stop, inches from the edge.
“Marcia. Are you OK?”
Harry shrieked when he saw her smashed, bloody face. “Hang on, Honey. I’m gonna get you to a hospital.”
When Harry threw the car into reverse, it smashed into something hard. The rear view mirror showed boulders that hadn’t been there just moments ago.
The engine died. While trying to restart it, Harry saw the back end of a tow truck emerging from the flaming pit. It bore a sign saying: STARVING DEMON’S TOWING SERVICE.
Panicked, he tried to open the door. It wouldn’t budge. Reaching across Marcia, he tried her door. Same problem.
Grabbing a pistol from the glove compartment, he fired through the windshield at the tow truck moving toward him.
The truck’s hook crashed through the Mustang’s roof, grabbed hold, and pulled the car toward the pit.
Harry thought he saw a clown with a carving knife and oversize fork standing on the edge.
©2013 Michael A. Kechula