Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
The wind whipped through William’s hair as he finished strapping down his load. The smell of metal and his dirty tarp assaulted his nose as the wind blew across the icy road. William had spent the last three days fighting the storm the news had called “the storm of the century”. After spending most of his adult life behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, he prided himself on his ability to arrive at his destination on time, every time. He could easily be called a company man, although that was not a title he would ever consider giving himself.
William looked over his covered load with a feeling of satisfaction. He turned to walk back up to the cab of his truck and stopped suddenly as he heard the sound of his passenger side door slam.
What the fuck was that? He wondered.
He stood there for a moment stunned by the realization that someone had entered his truck.
That door was locked. How did I not see someone trying to break into my truck? He wondered, as terror began to invade his mind.
William quickly grabbed his tire thumper from the rack on the back of the cab and approached the passenger side door. His heart began to race as he reached for the door and pulled it open with a hard tug. Both seats in the cab were empty.
What the hell? He wondered, as he climbed in to inspect the sleeper section of the cab.
Empty? How can that be possible? He wondered, as his brain tried to make sense of what he had experienced.
William shook off the strange experience and got behind the wheel of his rig. The sound of the engine as he shifted through the eighteen gears soothed his mood as he laid more miles down on the asphalt.
William glanced down at his gauges and noticed his fuel tank was creeping towards the empty mark.
Good timing. I’m about due for a cup of coffee. He thought as he geared down and approached the upcoming exit. The engine brake bellowed in the night air, cutting through the silence of the empty, snow covered roads. The air brakes resonated a familiar sound as he pulled his foot off the pedal.
What the hell is that? He wondered as a figure stood motionless in the intersection.
William pressed his foot back into the brake pedal and stared at the dark silhouette. A strong gust of wind suddenly picked up and blew white powdery snow all around him. He lost sight of the silhouette as the blowing snow obscured his vision. The wind suddenly died down and restored William’s sight, revealing an empty intersection.
Damn minds playing tricks on me. I must need that coffee more than I knew. He thought as a laugh escaped his lips.
William pulled his old rig into the truck stop fuel bays and promptly tended to his starving fuel tanks. The fuel pumps clicked off as his tanks hit their fill limit. He looked around at his surroundings as he placed the nozzles back on the pumps.
Out of the corner of his eye, William could have sworn he saw that same silhouette disappearing behind a parked tractor trailer.
I’m just a little shook. That’s all. My mind is playing tricks on me because of what happened earlier. His mind rationed as he walked through the door of the truck stop.
William secured the lid on his styrofoam coffee cup and hurried to the cashier at the counter. The cashier lifted his head up from the counter, not even trying to hide the fact that he was sleeping. William set his cup on the counter and reached into his pocket for some change.
The man just stared at William as he set the change on the counter and waited patiently for the man to complete the transaction. After a moment of silence William glanced down at the floor, becoming anxious as the seconds ticked away.
“What is the one thing that scares you? What keeps you awake at night? What haunts your dreams?” The man asked William.
William backpedal, horrified by the questions.
“What did you just say? William asked the man.
“I said, will that be all?” The cashier asked him.
“You sure bud? I thought you said…” William started to reply.
“You Ok man? You don’t look so good.” The cashier frowned as he questioned William.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” William muttered as the man put the change into the register.
William walked out of the truck stop in a daze.
What the hell is going on tonight? He wondered as he climbed up into his truck.
William felt an icy finger brush against the back of his neck as a raspy voice whispered
“I am what keeps you awake at night.”
William screamed and jumped out of his truck.
“Fuck!” He screamed.
William fought the urge to run and instead, climbed back into the truck and searched the cab. He was relieved to find it empty, yet again.
“This is getting really old, really fast.” He growled.
William fired up his old truck and slammed the transmission into gear. The old truck roared as he accelerated away from the truck stop and back onto the frozen interstate.
“Goddamn shadows ain’t gonna mess up my night. Pull it together Will!” He screamed at the windshield.
William pushed his old truck hard up an icy three lane hill. As he reached the crest of the hill, his heart sank and his chest tightened when his mind processed the scene in front of him. A pileup had formed at the bottom of the hill and the realization hit him like a cold wind on bare skin. He hit his brakes and tried to slow his rig, but the ice prevented him from getting any traction. Just before William plowed into the pile of cars in front of him, he swore he saw that same shadowy silhouette standing before the pile.
Credit : Charles Truax
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