Runaway Vampire

By: Lynsay Sands

One


Mary stifled a yawn, and then gave her head a shake, trying to ease the sleepiness closing in around her. Having slept in this morning, she’d started out late and shouldn’t be tired yet, but it turned out driving for hours at a stretch was exhausting. It hadn’t seemed tiring when she’d had Joe with her on these travels down to Texas from their home in Canada. The two of them had passed the time chatting about this and that and the miles had seemed to fly by. Of course, he’d also helped by plying her with coffee after coffee as well, as she had done for him while he drove. Now, though, it was just endless hours of long roads and nothingness.

Bailey sat up beside her to nudge her arm with a concerned whimper and Mary smiled faintly. Keeping her eyes on the road ahead, she reached down blindly to pet the German shepherd. It was as if the dog had a sixth sense when it came to her moods and was always offering comfort whenever Mary’s thoughts turned to her deceased husband.

“It’s all right,” she assured the dog. “I’m fine. We’re almost there. Another hour and we should reach our next stop.” She forced a smile and sat up a little straighter in the driver’s seat as she returned her hand to the wheel.

In the next moment, a thud startled the smile off her face, and Mary slammed on the brakes as the right wheels of the RV rocked over something in the road. Despite pretty much standing on the brake pedal, the vehicle continued forward a good distance before coming to a shuddering halt that sent drawers and doors flying open, loosing items to tumble out onto the floor.

Jaw tight, Mary glanced into the side mirrors, then the rear camera view as well. She’d hoped to see what she’d hit, but there were no streetlights on this lonely back road and the side mirrors only reflected darkness. As for the rear-view camera screen, despite the camera’s night vision capabilities, she couldn’t spot what she’d hit. She’d have to get out and look, Mary realized with a sinking heart.

“Probably just someone’s trash tossed out and left on the road,” she muttered reassuringly to Bailey. Certainly she hadn’t seen anything before the thud, just the paved road revealed by her headlights.

Maybe she didn’t have to get out and look.

Mary barely had the thought before she was pushing it away. Her eyes weren’t as good as they used to be, but she might be more tired than she realized. Had she hit a deer that had lunged out of the trees? It might even have been a pedestrian in dark clothes or something. It was the possibility that she might have hit someone walking on the side of the road that forced her out of her seat.

Pushing the button to ease the driver’s seat back several inches, she stood in the space she’d made and then paused, kept in place by Bailey, who had stood up and was now blocking her way.

“Move, girl,” she ordered and the shepherd obeyed at once, trotting toward the door behind the passenger chair. Able to move now, Mary shifted to the right a few steps and opened the pull-up doors above the front passenger window to retrieve the large flashlight that was stored there. These doors were among the few that hadn’t slammed open in the stop, she noted. A good thing too; she and Bailey would have taken a beating had these opened and allowed their contents to crash down over them.

Flashlight in hand, Mary moved up behind Bailey to reach for the lock on the door. It would have been easier without the dog in the way, but it was a dark lonely road out there and Mary was more than happy to let the shepherd lead the way. Not that she was that worried. Of course, she’d heard the stories of RVers getting jacked on lonely stretches of highway and such, but most RVers wouldn’t take this route, they’d stick to the highways. Surely smart criminals wouldn’t sit around out here for days or weeks on end waiting for that one idiot RVer who eschewed the highway for the more scenic route?

On the other hand, who said criminals were smart? Mary asked herself as she pushed the door open. Bailey immediately bound down the steps and disappeared into the darkness.

“Bailey! Wait for me,” Mary barked, rushing down the first two steps, only to pause on the last of the inside steps so that she could turn on the flashlight. She then swung the beam over the gravel and grass below, before stepping down onto the metal stairs that had dropped down when she’d opened the door.

Cool damp air slapped her face as she stepped down onto the side of the road, but Mary barely noticed, she was shining her flashlight around in search of her dog. Catching a glimpse of Bailey’s tail end disappearing around the back of the RV, Mary muttered a curse under her breath and moved a bit more swiftly, which still wasn’t very fast. The side of the road was uneven, littered with stones and weeds. The last thing she needed was to stumble and fall and break something in the middle of nowhere. Help would not come for a while out here, if at all.

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