Suggested Audio Candy
 Tom Waits Rains on Me”
 Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again”
 John Carpenter “Angel’s Asylum”
“Storm’s heading this way you know. Make sure you take care out there”
“Shit. Do you know where the nearest town is from here?”
“Yeah it’s about ten kilometres to your north-west. Just follow the signs for Sandhurst and when you get there look out for a motel on the left called Cassidy’s. It’s clearly lit, you can’t miss it. Their rates are reasonable and they’re good folk. They’ll take care of you”
“Thanks but we won’t be stopping. Just grabbing some provisions. Got a long drive ahead of us still”
“You’re not thinking of setting out in this are you?”
“I’m alright, driven in worse conditions than this”
“You flat-landers are all the same”
“Flat-landers. City folk. All bravado and not an ounce of common sense between you”
“Listen, thank you for the advice. I’ll take what you said into consideration. Now I’d better get going if I’m gonna stay ahead of this storm you’re speaking about”
“It’ll catch up son. They’re forecasting over ten inches before the night’s out. If you’re not going to listen to me then I can’t make you. But I’m telling you, get yourself to Cassidy’s and wait for it to pass. You’ll thank me when you do”
“Unbelievable. You haven’t got any intention of taking my advice have you?”
“Look, I’m tired and already behind where I wanted to be”
“You ain’t getting there tonight. Last time and then I wash my hands of you. Mess with mother nature and she’s going to mess with you right back”
“Got it. Cassidy’s right?”
“Cassidy’s. It’s on your way, you can’t miss it”
“Heading there now. Thanks again”
“No problem kid”
Harry Anderson shook his head as the youngster headed back to his friends in the van, clearly with no intention of heeding the old man’s warning.
“He’ll do the exact opposite you know”
Harry rolled his eyes.
“Thanks Doris for your always appreciated two cents and marvelous powers of perception”
“I’m just saying. It all went in one ear and straight out the other”
“If I had a nickel for each time you say I’m just saying, I’d be in Vegas right now getting blown by a transgender hooker named Duplicity”
Doris adjusted her hearing aid.
“What was that dear?”
“Doesn’t matter. Go back to your coma”
“I think this thing is on the blink you know”
“You’re going to have to talk up”
“I said fucking A. Hopefully your tongue will drop off in your sleep and then I’m on easy street”
“It’s no good. I can’t hear you”
“In which case, last night I used your electric toothbrush to floss my asshole with”
“There. I’m back online now. Now what were you saying?”
“I said I’m going to lock up and go to bed now. Your toothbrush is fully charged alright”
Harry had a cunning grin stretched across taut his cheeks as he ascended the stairwell to the couple’s en-suite. Little was he aware, his wife of forty-seven years had witnessed her spouse’s villainous act from the doorway the night before and switched the heads on their brushes at lunchtime unbeknownst to him.
“That has to be a record”
“Don’t blame me. I got collared by the old geezer. Going on about some storm”
“I know Tucker. While you’ve been in there bonding I’ve been catching up with the weather warning. They’re recommending nobody attempts to drive tonight. It’s gonna be bad apparently”
“He was saying. So what do you think we should do then? There’s a town about 10 k further on, shall we just crash there for one night?”
“I think that would be wise don’t you?”
“I dunno. I really wanted to be there by lunchtime tomorrow at the latest. We’re already way behind”
“You’re the driver so it’s your call”
“I think I’ll just chance it. If it gets really torrential then we can just pull over until it passes”
“We should get going then”
“Dead to the world. Totally medicated”
“Speaking of which, we got any left?”
“I can probably pull together a one paper torpedo from the dust that’s left but it’s gonna be harsh and I’m not sure it’s a good idea getting any higher than we already are to be honest. Let’s just level out a bit, see what the weather does. Where’s the cheesy popcorn?”
“They didn’t have any”
“So instead you got..?”
“Shafted. The greasy old bastard didn’t give me my fucking change did he!”
“And that is supposed to be of more importance than the fact that we’ve got no munchies?”
“Hold on. I’m gonna go sort this out”
“Leave it Tucker”
Jackson Tucker wasn’t about to let seven bucks slide. Upon finding the door deadlocked, he started pounding his fist on the front window while squinting to discern any movement. Nothing, but there was a light on out back so he tried again, this time with greater urgency. Inside, Doris switched off her hearing aid while Harry was too busy furiously cleaning his teeth to notice the ruckus.
April rolled down the passenger side window.
“Tucker. Come on. It doesn’t matter. I just wanna get moving”
“That’s our gas money he’s taken”
“Well it’s about time the others cough up anyway. Get in. Please”
Without a second’s notice, the storm arrived. and Tucker reluctantly gave up his quest for the pilfered coinage and darted back to the camper van with his jacket pulled over his head for cover.
“You know where this motel is supposed to be?”
“Yeah. Can’t miss it according to the old guy. Mind you, I’m not sure I trust a single word he’s saying now”
“Let’s get going shall we before this storm gets any worse”
After a couple of spluttering misfires, the vehicle fired up and he pulled out of the rest stop forecourt and back onto the country road.
April perched both bare feet on the dashboard while applying her nail varnish. Tucker had a thing for toes, especially his girlfriend’s which were perfectly formed.
“How do you expect me to drive with that going on?”
“They’re just feet babe”
She removed her right foot from the dashboard and began gently rubbing his groin with her toes.
“That’s so not fair”
“What’s wrong? I’m just keeping them warm”
“I’m gonna pull over in a minute you know”
“And do what?”
Tucker’s manhood was beginning to swell in his pants and April knew exactly what. He glanced over at her and this just gave her more cause to tantalize him further. One subtle nibble of her lower lip and he could take no more.
“That’s it. You’re getting it”
“Tucker, watch the road!”
He had precious little visibility through the windscreen as it was raining particularly hard outside but managed to spot himself veering off the road just in time to swerve back on course. Tucker’s van was long overdue a service and all four tires were well shy of driveable standard. As he hit the brake pedal hard, the rear of the vehicle began to swing out and control was taken out of his hands momentarily. Mercifully, he managed to grind to a halt just before hitting a waterlogged ditch by the roadside.
April instantly removed her toes from his crotch and returned her seat to its upright position.
She wasn’t, at least now that catastrophe had been averted.
“You’re too much, you know that?”
“On the plus side, they still haven’t woken up back there”
Tucker unbuckled and checked the back seat. April’s best friend Tiffany and her younger brother Todd were indeed still comatose and neither were any the wiser to the road accident which very nearly played out moments earlier.
“Unbelievable. Are they narcoleptic or something?”
“That was really strong weed Tucker. I reckon they’d still sleep through you fucking me right here in the front seat you know”
April took this as a further come-on and began unbuttoning her denims, while still maintaining unbroken eye contact.
“You know you don’t mean that”
She slid her three middle fingers down the front of her underwear and began to massage her clitoris, panting softly while gently biting her lower lip once again. For once, Tucker was distinctly disinterested with her seduction technique.
“I can’t wait until you learn to drive you know”
“Because maybe then you’ll understand how close we just came to dying back there. Look at this shit”
She did as he requested and it did look as though the coarse rain was beginning to fall harder.
“We’re almost at that motel right?”
“Yeah, should be coming up any time now on the left”
After discerning that Tucker was visibly shaken from their close shave, April removed her hand from her panties.
“Well just take a minute then. Let the storm die down a bit”
“Yeah I think I’d better. Check my hands out”
He held them out before him and they were shaking uncontrollably.
“Baby. I’m sorry”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m telling you though, I’ve never driven in conditions like this before. It’s like a fucking monsoon outside”
“I think I’d better roll that joint”
Suddenly, there was an almighty shunt which was sufficient in heft to knock Tucker spark out on his steering column, leaving April with a severe case of whip-lash. Neither Tiffany nor Todd had slept through the collision and were both sporting head injuries from the impact. Todd was the first to question the obvious and looked straight towards April for answers.
“What the fuck was that?”
“Have woken in more serene circumstances if I’m honest. Tiff, you alright?”
“My head hurts”
“Seriously April. What the fuck?”
April declined to answer as she had spotted Tucker out cold slumped over the wheel and instantly thought the worst.
The teen was non compos mentis but managed a vague groan and she breathed a huge sigh of relief. Just as she did, there was a frantic knock at her window.
“Hey. You all alright?”
April could barely make out the man crouching outside, so wound down her window to half mast.
“Yeah I think so”
“What about him?”
“He’s concussed I think”
“Well listen. We’re gonna need help fast. My wife’s back there and she’s in a bad way”
Todd leaned through the partition, still discombobulated by his rude awakening.
“Can someone tell me what’s going on please?”
“Listen buddy, can you help me? I have to get to a phone quick and I need someone to stay back there with my wife and make sure she’s okay”
“Don’t you have a cell? You can use mine if you like”
Todd began fumbling in his jacket pocket and produced his antiquated mobile phone. Upon flicking it open, he was instantly greeted with a flashing icon symbolizing a depleted signal.
“Won’t work here. I drive through here every night and it’s a dead zone. Look, there may not be much time, she’s losing blood”
“Alright. I’m there”
Todd stepped out into the torrential rain and followed him back to his decimated vehicle which had made head-on impact with the van’s rear and come off decidedly worse. The man’s wife was sprawled out on the back seat, in considerable pain, and visibly in the latter stages of pregnancy.
“Shit. You didn’t tell me she was pregnant”
“Almost full term. Can you just hold her hand and keep her calm until I get back?”
“I don’t know what I’m going to be able to do to help”
The man took exception to this and pinned Todd up against the side of the car.
“Listen pal. If I don’t get someone here fast she is going to die alright?”
“Her name’s Katrina. Just keep her talking and don’t let her fall asleep okay. Can you do that?”
He released the teenager.
“We’re about two kilometres from town so I should be no longer than about twenty minutes if I hurry. You’ll take care of her won’t you?”
“Course but I ain’t a doctor and I’ve never delivered a baby either”
“You won’t have to”
Todd looked again and this time cast his eyes a little lower. There was a significant bleed between her legs and it looked unlikely that there would be any birthing tonight.
“Is she aware yet?”
“God no. Just try to keep her occupied alright?”
“And what if she asks?”
“Buddy, I appreciate your help but I haven’t got time for this”
A saturated Todd climbed into the wreckage reluctantly and the man headed off into the storm.
Back in the van, Tucker had come to and noticed the desperate man pass their vehicle.
“That’s the guy who hit us. Todd’s keeping an eye on his wife while he goes to town to get help”
“I’m going with him”
“And you’re just gonna leave us here?”
“I’ll be back before you know it”
Before April could muster an embittered response, her boyfriend had vacated and set off to catch the man up.
Tiffany was still finding her bearings and sporting a large bleeding contusion on her forehead.
“April. What’s going on?
“We’ve had an accident”
“Todd’s fine. You alright?”
“Killer migraine right now”
“Yeah that looks bad. Lemme take a look”
“There’s no time. I’ve got to get to town”
“I’ll come with you. What’s your name?”
“Ben. Look, you’ll forgive me if I’m not particularly chatty right now but time is running out”
It was taking Tucker’s best attempts to keep up with Ben and both men were struggling to make headway against the force ten gale blowing in their direction.
“For what? You don’t look like you’re hurt”
“My wife’s miscarrying as we speak”
“There’s a motel just up in front and they’ll have a land line we can use”
“Yeah. You know it?”
“The old guy at the rest stop was telling me about it”
“Not from around here then?”
“No. Passing through”
“Did anyone mention to you that your back lights are out?”
“I know. Keep meaning to get them fixed”
“Well it’s because of your lack of responsibility that my baby’s dead”
“Hold up. You hit us remember?”
“Yeah because I couldn’t fucking see you. In case you haven’t noticed kid, the lighting down this road isn’t exactly stellar”
“Look I just want to help okay?”
“You know how you can help?”
With that, Ben reached into his jacket pocket and produced a firearm.
“You can die slowly”
He fired off two initial shots, one into each of Tucker’s kneecaps, shattering both in their brackets. The teenager fell headlong face down in the dirt, screaming in pain, but his agony was short-lived as the man emptied the remainder of the chamber into the back of his skull, killing him outright. Utterly remorseless, he watched as dense rivulets of rain seeped into the gaping wound. They had traveled a few hundred yards and the shots would have been lost in the downpour so he calmly slid the weapon back into his jacket and turned back round to pay the girls another visit.
“You’re gonna be okay Katrina”
“Where’s my husband?”
“He’s just getting some help”
“I’d advise you don’t move at the moment. I’m sure the baby is fine”
Todd had never been a particularly prosperous liar and there was nothing in his tone to suggest that was about to change. She lifted her head and was instantly greeted by the excessive bleed to her abdomen.
“Oh my God”
“Please try to stay calm. I’m sure it’s worse than it looks”
“Worse than it looks? Worse than it fucking looks?”
“I meant better. Shit lady. What am I supposed to say? I’m not good under pressure”
“I want my husband now”
Todd placed his head in his hands in despair. He had no idea what to say for the best and was still vaguely buzzed from the joint he’d smoked earlier. As he placed his weary head back on the head rest, the woman grabbed it from the back seat and ran something across his throat. Before he could react, Todd’s voice box began to open up, revealing a white layer beneath the epidermis. He clutched at the fresh wound and blood began gushing through his fingers at an alarming rate.
“It’s because of folk like you, you know”
Todd was powerless to respond and beginning to drift out of consciousness as the blood loss became more severe.
“It was stupid kids like you that got us killed. Let’s see how you like it shall we?”
The youngster had began to choke now on his own blood and could only gargle as the wound opened up further.
“Cat got your tongue kid? Not a lot you can say in your defense is there? That’s alright, I’ll just watch you die slowly like I did my husband”
“There’s somebody coming April”
“That’s the other guy. Where’s Tucker?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s gone ahead to get help”
Tiffany reached across and opened the door in advance of the saturated man arriving back and he jumped into the driver’s seat.
“Where’s my boyfriend?”
“He wanted me to come back and take care of you two. He’s at the motel now. Help should be here soon”
“Thank God. Shouldn’t you go check on your wife?”
“She’s been dead for ten years. Here, take a look at this”
He shuffled around in his seat to face the two girls who were both utterly dumbfounded by his revelation, lifting his shirt to reveal two huge gaping holes in his midriff.
Tiffany and April both shrieked as the man jubilantly showed off his scars, both of which looked decidedly fresh. April was frozen in fear, while a hysterical Tiffany reached for the door beside her but, before she could scramble out, he had produced his firearm once more and fired a single close-range shot straight through the back of the girl’s head execution-style. The top half of her torso slumped out onto the rain-sodden tarmac, leaving behind two twitching legs and a horrified April.
There was no time to react as the man then gripped April around her throat and pinned her up against the passenger side window by her cheek.
“Are you familiar with the term exit wound?”
“Let me go. Please. no!”
Using his other hand, still clutching the weapon, he used his knuckle to open her door and followed her momentum out of the car, where she landed under his full weight, facing her best friend’s lifeless eyes. The somewhat tidy bullet hole at entry point was nothing in comparison to the far messier point of exit. The single shot had entirely shattered her left cheek bone, causing the eye to blow out in its socket.
“I know all about exit wounds you see. My wife has a real beauty. Tell you what, I’ll show you if you don’t believe me”
“I believe you. No. I believe you”
He knelt astride her and relocated his palm, this time grasping a clutch of the desperate girl’s hair and dragging her straight across Tiffany’s body to the wreckage behind the van for a formal introduction. April resisted all the way so a couple of jabs to the forehead with the butt of his gun helped him maintain the upper hand. On arrival, he flung open the door and bundled her in length ways across to the driver side where she had a clear view of Todd’s staring dead eyes.
“Meet my wife Katrina. She may not be very hospitable as she’s grieving you see”
“Please. Please don’t”
“We were on our way to the hospital as her contractions were pretty close together and she was practically ready to drop. How long is it since you had a contraction honey?”
“I don’t think any babies are coming do you?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I’d say that was clear wouldn’t you? An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Isn’t that how the expression goes?”
“But I didn’t do anything to you”
“It was senseless little pricks like you that are the reason I have to do this now. I’ve already killed your precious boyfriend and that sniveling whore back there. And as you can see, your friend here didn’t fare too well either. Each of them paid their price for one of our deaths. Isn’t that how retribution works?”
April was beyond frantic at his revelation, although offered a distinct glimmer of light by something she’d discerned during that last statement.
“Three people have died. That means you have to let me go right? You, your wife, and her baby. That’s three right?”
“Oh did I negate to mention our good news?”
“What good news? What are you talking about? Please let me go”
“Honey. Do you want to be the bearer of our glad tidings?”
The woman leaned forward and adopted a position directly in April’s direct line of sight.
“We’re having twins”
It was a full three hours until the rain subsided. The impact with which Tucker had hit that tree by the roadside had been sufficient to kill him instantly. He had been thrown from the wreckage at least a hundred yards and his head had opened up as it hit the granite like an over-ripened melon while his three passengers sustained injuries significant enough to ensure they didn’t make it far either.
Harry Anderson discovered the collision the next morning as he traveled into town to purchase some new heads for his electric toothbrush. His heart sank as he pulled up behind the obstruction as it had been a devastation as final as this ten years prior during a similarly tenacious storm which claimed his daughter Katrina, new son-in-law Ben, and the couple’s unborn twins.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2016