Have you ever felt like you were losing control?
The character in the story I’m about to tell you certainly has. His whole life has been flipped upside down, and it seems the road he’s on is full of side roads, and junctions, yet he refuses to turn off. There’s something powerful keeping him in the seat, and it binds him; forcing him to tag along on a journey that once was his own.
Perhaps you will relate to him, or perhaps not. There is, however, one thing I know for certain.
None of us want to lose control.
“Would you like another whiskey?” he asked, turning down the next junction, onto a single lane highway lined with evergreens, which shadowed us on both sides. It created the delusion of being suffocated in a dark tunnel, though I knew we were on the open road.
I wasn’t sure how to answer, or what he was even asking. Did he really mean another drink, or was it just a metaphor for something deeper; something darker? Long roads go so far, and this one seemed to go on for an eternity. No matter how hard I tried to, I couldn’t recall just how long I had been sitting shotgun. All I knew was the person in the driver’s seat had a certain agenda. Fulfill his sordid desires; that’s what he lived for. It’s what he was born for. I know because they were my desires as well.
It was that which led me to bring this stranger into my vehicle. It told me to let him take control; to sit back and relax, as he drove to places I never wanted to go. Trapped; confined to the passenger seat by one shoulder strap and waistband that I could easily unbuckle, but somehow I couldn’t get my fingers to do the work.
“Yes,” I replied, thinking to myself that whiskey might help. The man in the driver’s seat opened up the centre console, and pulled out a twenty six ounce bottle of Crown, half full.
“I’d pour it in a glass,” he said, offering me the bottle. “But I don’t want to make a mistake and run this car off the cliff or something. Or who the hell knows, maybe I do? Been a long journey, my friend.”
He looked at me; his eyes colored the vibrant green of a freshly budded leaf. Underneath the moon they glimmered like an emerald, tempting me into their dark embrace; to lose myself as I had so many times before.
He began to laugh, and I had to look away. When he laughed, a hidden monster was revealed. It was a call to summon the evil that lay inside.
How did this all begin?
I uncapped the golden plastic lid and took a swig of the fiery liquid, as I tried to recap when, and how I came to be sitting in the passenger seat. It was more than just a voice, but was it all to blame on desire? There had to be a reason for the sinister being in control of my vehicle. There was a reason why he commanded me.
He took care of everything, it seemed. I just watched and rode along. He told me where we were going to go, how we were going to get there, and how we were going to get away from there when we were finished.
His laughter ceased, and I looked over at him, daring to see his still face. Without laughter, he wasn’t so terrifying.
I wanted to see the details of his appearance, not for the first time. I was hoping it had changed. I hoped it had been an illusion, for each time I looked at him, I only saw my own reflection.
It hadn’t changed. The only differences between his image, and my own, were the green eyes, and the monstrous smile that would eat your soul.
I looked away, toward the cracked open window, not wanting him to see my fear. I turned window crank to open it further. A cool breeze flowed through the car, creating a sense of wakefulness. This was his request. He felt it best we kept sharp. When he was in control, you never knew what would come next.
“Why are you here? Why do you have to bother me? Why me?” I sounded like a child about to pout and throw a tantrum, and I felt the same. I was frustrated, and perhaps realizing it for the first time since our journey began. I needed to stop the darkness that pushed the gas pedal to the next…to the next…
I didn’t even want to think about it.
How did this hitchhiker gain control? Why did I ever let it happen to begin with?
That didn’t matter. Not anymore. Now I knew better. What mattered was that I wanted control of the vehicle. I wasn’t about to ask, and there wasn’t going to be a friendly exchange.
“I am here because you need me! Don’t forget it! Without me you’d be gone; deserted; never to be thought about again! You’d be nothing! At least with me, you have purpose!” His scream felt like it was echoing from two places: inside the car, and deep inside my head. The feeling tore into my brain, scattering it to pieces. The next thing he said helped me realize that I could put it back together.
“You need me, there’s a monster inside you. You know what you are, and you’ll never change. You need me to keep feeding that monster. I’m the only one with the real strength to do it. You’re just a pussy.” As we went around steeply banked curve, Ahead was an old bridge, that stretched across one of the widest rivers I’d ever seen.
I looked over at the real monster. I wasn’t sure how to get rid of him, but I knew he had to leave. The hitchhiker had to die.
“What do you want with me?” I asked him, taking another shot from the bottle. What I was about to attempt was going to require alcohol. Quite possibly the rest of the bottle, so I drank up, cringing as the whiskey made my insides hot; fueling the sudden hatred I had for him. I felt the hatred grow, and started to smirk.
“Jesus you drunk,” he replied, sneering at me. He had eyes that could only be conceived from a monster, but at first glance, they seemed beautiful. They were rare in their own way, until you looked deeper.
“Remember what we‘re going to do. Keep your fuckin head straight. What did you say? What do I want with you?” He laughed, “I want to control your life. I want to end all the things that I feel are wrong, and correct all the things you can’t on your own. Here’s the list for you maestro: you’re pathetic, you’re a waste, and you don’t deserve your life or your body. Isn’t no more complicated than that.
“I want it, I want it all. I am stronger then you, don’t you see? I don’t care about human affection, I don’t care about family. I only care about our satisfaction. That’s all that you should care about, friend.”
I heard him, but something was snuffing him out. There was a voice in my head. It was distant, and unfamiliar. It wasn’t the power of our desire but something stronger, something different. The desire we shared came to me as a vile, almost snake-like voice. But the sound I heard in my head at that second could rival the voices of an angel.
You’re strong, you’re better than this. You can fight. You can always fight.
Don’t you ever give up.
I took another sip of whiskey. The liquid in the bottle was almost gone. Combined with the words, the two had only given me little courage, but little was more than none.
The dark passenger looked at me again, and for the first time, I was able to look back and hold my stare. His face was still my own, but something had changed. The skin was decomposing on his cheeks, revealing dark bones and rotten teeth. His eyes were no longer green but they were beginning to fade to grey.
What happened to him in the last minute?
“You…Cannot escape me. You will not escape me. I live inside everything you know; everything you feel. You will never be free.” He turned his head back and suddenly his face returned to normal. I almost vomit, as I watched the transition of decaying flesh receding like some sort of movie effect.
I had to ignore it. It was time to end the hitchhiker, and his damned desires.
You know what was really ridiculous? I couldn’t even remember what it was we were going to do anymore. But as he turned the car onto the bridge, I no longer cared. The next moment moved quickly.
I screamed. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t stop myself. I let out a roar that sound like it wasn’t coming from the heart of a human, but a lion.
The hitchhiker looked back, and once again I could see rotting flesh on his face. The car was halfway down the bridge, and he was slowing down. Maybe it was because I was distracting him, or maybe it was because, for the first time, I was in control.
I stretched over, and my hands gripped the steering wheel as the hitchhiker attempted to fight back.
“What are you fuckin doin? Are you nuts? You’ll off us both!” His cries echoed through the car so loud it crashed what was left of my brain.
Whatever, I thought. I knew that silence was on its way.
The car swerved into the metal barrier of the old bridge, somehow tearing the hard steel as it crashed through. And why shouldn’t it? After all, wasn’t this my own nightmare to begin with? It was my turn to take control of it.
I could see the fear and terror in the hitchiker’s eyes. I smiled and winked at him.
“One or both of us gotta die for this to end. Guess I’ll take my chances you son-of-a-“
Before the words exited my mouth, water was filling my lungs. Then a sheet of nothing blanketed my every sense.
The hitchhiker was gone.
I awoke a few moments later. I was in my own bed, safe, and at home. My dog lay next to me, happily asleep; kicking his leg as he dreamt. I smiled, as the sunlight from the window hit my face, then patted his head.
A pull started to surge through my gut, striking up in between my lungs. It was a signal, the signal. I got up. It was time to start the day.
Certain needs had to be met.
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