The Road to Persnickety

Submitted for Contest #40 in response to: Write a story about friends who wind up on a misadventure.... view prompt

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“I told you to bring a map! We’ve been driving for hours! Are you sure we’re in the right place?”

“Yes I'm sure! We have Siri. She’s never wrong.” Even as the words came out of his mouth, John wasn’t entirely positive that he believed them himself, but he’d never admit that out loud.

“Look around, John! We’re in the middle of nowhere.” 

“I can see that! This is a shortcut…I think.”

“Some shortcut. Do you even know where we are?”

John scoffs loudly, “Uh, yeah! We’re on…um…Highway 27…in Brickston, North Dakota.”

Andy wasn’t impressed. “You have no clue at all, do you?”

Checkmate. “No.”

“Why don’t you just check with Siri since, according to you, she knows everything?”

“Good idea.” John reached up to access his phone off the car mount and opened the details menu. He skimmed the various turn-by-turn directions until he reached the red pin signalizing the final destination. A smile crept across John’s face. “Well, there’s our problem,” he exclaimed as if he were running for president, “I got the address wrong. It’s taking us to Brickston, South Dakota!”

“You’re an idiot. At least we know the problem.”

“Just let me just update the destination and…oh no.”

“What’s ‘oh no’?” Andy slowly looked at his friend for clarification, but John’s expression answered everything. The phone’s display had turned black, replaced by the dead battery symbol. 

“Please tell me you have a charger in the car.”

“Of course, it’s in the armrest.” John grabbed the handle and flipped open the armrest storage compartment.

Andy’s heart sped up as he frantically tore through the various CD’s and miniature car trinkets as he searched for the elusive charger. “It’s not in here!”

“What do you mean it’s not in there?”

“Which part of that was too ambiguous for you?” 

“Dammit.” John paused for a second, then said, “Wait, couldn't we use your phone?”

“Oh, you mean the one we’re going back to pick up? Yeah, let me just get…oh, that’s right!”

“Okay, Andy! You made your point. Why don’t we just pull over and get our bearings.”

“Good idea.”

John expertly maneuvered the car over to the shoulder of the highway, the rumble strips letting them no that they were now exiting the official road. They tried to look around and get a feel for their surroundings but couldn’t make out anything through the pitch black sky. Anything that was remotely visible was within the twenty foot cone of light in front of them from the soft yellow hue of the headlights. They sat in silence for several minutes, wondering how they were going to make it back to the cabin. 

John and Andy had been invited to their friend Danny’s bachelor party. Although they didn’t approve of the skank named Lisa, they came to show their love and support. The bachelor was pretty laid back, only a small group of close friends were invited. A mutual friend, Eric, had offered the use of his cabin in a secluded area in the area in the middle of the woods far from civilization (yes, it sounds ridiculously ominous). The cabin seemed like a better choice than the the clichéd strip—I mean gentlemen’s club. Their plan was merely to cook out, get drunk, and set off illegal fireworks. The cabin also had a full surround sound home theater, a ping pong table, pool table, and a bar that boasted an impressive collection of wine, liquor, and beer. A good time was inevitable at the cabin. 

But the timing of the party couldn’t have come at a worse time for John and Andy. Both of them were partners at the same “Snap, Crackle, & Pop” Law Office and were about to undergo the case of their career. Unwilling to take the risk and spend the weekend at the cabin, they decided to leave the party early. Against their better judgement (they would later come to realize), John and Andy said their goodbye’s and left at midnight. At least John had the foresight to get the GPS directions loaded into Siri’s navigation system while they still had access to wifi. 

Conversation about the party swirled freely between the two of them as they headed home, neither of them realizing that they were headed in the wrong direction. At about the hour mark, Andy began getting a little agitated when they didn't seem to be getting closer to their home and then…

“Okay, so we’re basically just heading in the opposite direction than we should be. If we turn around, we should come across the exit for the cabin again.”

“That sounds about right.”

“We’ll grab your phone and we should be good to go.”

“Except for the two-plus hour delay you’ve caused us!”

“You mean a delay you caused. It's not my fault you forgot your phone!”

“And it’s not my fault that you didn’t think to bring a map or a charger.”

“Let’s just get back on track.”

John puts the car in drive and makes a u-turn to correct their route. Both men are silent as the car quietly zooms down the darkened highway. Andy thought about the worst scenarios that could happen in the next hour, hoping that their survival techniques would be up to par; John wondered what he was going to have for dinner that night.


They were on the road for another hour and a half before John’s eyes started to become heavy. Andy had fallen asleep. The rumble of the car increases, the speedometer rises. 55 miles an hour…65 miles an hour. 80 miles an hour. It’s as if John is trying to qualify for the Indy 500. The flashing yellow lines in the middle of the road blink back at him rapidly, blurring in a consistent line. John is unaware of where he us and what’s going on around him. His eyelids keep betraying him, trying to cover what vision he still had. He notices something in the distance. Something grotesque. The car gets closer. The blurry outlines of the mysterious image begins to come into focus. John’s heart jumps to his throat. He sees a human head impaled upon a road sign. He feels the wind escape him. He can’t talk, can’t breathe. He looks away from the horrible image, yet he feels pulled to return his gaze. He risks one more look at the severed human head, which had transformed into a yellow traffic sign that reminded you that the roads are “slippery when wet.” John rubbed his eyes. A false alarm. His mind is playing tricks on him. Or was it?

Andy wakes up feeling the car rush down the road at 90 miles an hour.

“How fast are you going, John?”

“60 miles an hour.”

“It feels like Mach 1.”

“We should be getting close soon. Keep your eyes peeled for the exit.”

Instead of slowing down, the car seems to continuing speeding up. 80…95…110. Andy styled his shoulder-length hair as if we getting ready for his feature on a car chase show on TV. John leans forward on the steering wheel, staring intently ahead of him, hoping that maybe that would prevent the hallucinations of road signs morphing into severed human limbs. Ironically, in his extreme focus, John misses the exit for the cabin. 

“LOOK OUT!” Andy screams as a massive buck slowly trods onto the highway. His hulking frame remains still as their vehicle comes to a screeching halt just inches away from collision. The giant antlers ominously reflected the soft glow from the headlights. His coal black eyes stared menacingly at the two frightened passengers as if sensing their fear and relishing the fact that he was the cause. For several seconds, the buck remained perfectly still, wondering who would make the first move. 

John honks the car horn. “Get out of the street!” The buck continues to stare, seemingly unfazed by the sudden noise. After a few more seconds of the stare-down, the deer slowly makes his way to the driver side door. John can feel his pulse quicken, his breathing becoming more shallow. Andy stares in horror as the enormous animal runs right up to the driver side window and begins hammering his horns against the car like battering ramps. Shards of glass shower down upon John. Twice he was almost stabbed by the antlers through the car door. Andy screams, “Get us out of here!”

John quickly throws the car into drive and pushes away from the deer, who tries to follow the car on foot, but gives up after a while, snorting with contempt at his victory. 

As the drive returns to normal and John and Andy’s blood pressure returns to a healthy level, Andy breaks the silence, “Are we getting close?”

“I don’t know! Have you seen the exit?”

“I don’t think so. Have you?”

“Don’t you think I would’ve taken the exit if I had?”

“Fair point.”

As they continued backtracking across the country roads, the car began making some weird sounds. Rumbling and rumbling, the car started losing the motivation to move forward. It stuttered to a halt on the side of the road. “Great, just what we needed.”

“What?” 

“The car is out of gas!”

“Are you serious?”

“No, I’m being sarcastic.”

John shot a bitter look at Andy that left no question that he was, indeed, serious. 

“Andy, we’re screwed. We’re lost in the middle of nowhere with no map, a dead phone, and a car that’s out of gas. Not to mention it’s darker than hell outside.”

“We’ll have to wait until it’s light.”

“What good will that do? We still can’t drive!”

“Oh. Right. Why don’t we wait until it’s light out and walk to see if there’s a house nearby where someone can help us out.”

“I guess that’s all we can do.”

“Yeah.”

Silence.

“Hey, John?”

“Yeah?”

“Next time, bring a damn map!”

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2 comments

Maggie Deese
03:25 May 05, 2020

Wonderful story, Joshua!! I loved the dialogue and it was such a fun read!

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Joshua Hopper
18:15 May 05, 2020

I'm glad you liked it! I actually had a hard time with this week's prompts. Please don't hold back on any criticisms you may have! :) I am trying to get better so I can hopefully publish a novel one of these days.

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