The Dark Blue Truck

Written in response to: Write about a couple who fall out on the road.... view prompt


Fiction Thriller Horror

C.W. Animal cruelty, blood, violence

Darren and Mia drove through a vast desert of endless sand, spiky plants, and vibrant blue sky, without realizing a dark blue truck had followed them since they left the house. Sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car with wind tossing her golden hair in all directions, Mia stared out the window anxiously biting her lip. A song about cheating played on the radio, and she wondered if Darren ever cheated. A part of her hoped he did. Their engagement wasn’t romantic for her. Rather, she saw no way out. Everyone adored Darren and he treated her well, but something felt off. She didn’t have a reason to leave him but longed to. Their whole relationship became merely a crafted façade, like a mirage created from being trapped in this endless, hot desert. 

To him, their relationship was very romantic. He had never loved anyone or anything as much as Mia. He did do bad things though. While they were things that didn’t involve their relationship, it could have an effect. Most women didn’t want to be with a bad man. Maybe a rough around the edges, troubled man, but never a legit bad man. The plan was to never let her know. To quit and never do it again. A promise he created with purest intentions, but intentions aren’t solid enough to make something that lasts. A small crack already began to crumble the promise.

He turned down the radio and asked, “What’re you thinking about?”

The true answer would be that she had been thinking about the fact that while he was an attractive man by most standards, she didn’t feel any attraction to him. She tried to think of a time she felt attracted to anyone but couldn’t. This made her wonder if something in her was broken. What she said was, “About what we’ll eat for dinner later. What about you?”

For him, the truth would be that he thought of how great a place the desert would be for burying bodies. What he said was, “I’m losing my mind with this road. Everything’s looked the same for miles.”

Both accepted each other lies. Mia because it’s so Darren to complain about everything. Darren because all Mia ever talked about was food even though she didn’t seem to like it that much.

After driving a few more hours, he pulled over at a small, dusty looking metal diner with a neon sign that didn’t fully light. The bright pink letters spelling “Richa Din.” The real name being “Richard’s Diner.” Neither noticed the dark blue truck also parked there.

Their waitress looked to be in her seventies or older by her wrinkled skin and liver spotted face. Her hair looked like a ball of peed on snow strapped in with a hair net, and the stench of stale cigarettes she carried on her could be detected from a mile away. She led them to a booth with torn red chairs and a table Mia imagined a whole galaxy of germs lived on.

Mia ordered blueberry waffles and a hot tea. Darren ordered steak, extra rare, and fried eggs, with a coffee. Darren tapped away on his phone writing a long text. The way he grinned and laughed while doing it, Mia wondered again about cheating. A bit of hope swelling up inside her.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Best man.”

Mia held back a groan as she thought of Fred, Darren’s best man. Out of nowhere, Fred became Darren’s absolute best friend, and he creeped her out. Fred ran his own animal control business that she knew probably wasn’t legal. When she went to his house, cages and kennels holding raccoons, possums, skunks, and all kinds of animals captivate lined his yard. Something about it sent chills up her spine. She kept her distance from Fred as best she could. It always seemed like he had blood smudges on his clothes and grease of some sort on his face. It filled her with dread to know one day her parents would meet him, even if only on the wedding day.

The waffles looked like frozen ones that someone had thoughtless slopped some whipped cream on top of. Despite the presentation being so poor, Mia knew she could jazz it up for her social media. She careful cut a piece, held it up with a fork and drizzled glossy, amber syrup on top. Then she snapped a picture and used editing to blur the background. The waffle looked much tastier with her touch ups. She posted the photo with a little write up about the quaint little diner her and Darren thought it’d be fun to try. Wrote something about how it’s important to live the culture of the towns you drove through. The rest was fabricated. The old waitress became this doll of a young girl with a sweet accent and big dreams.

           Darren stabbed a fork into his egg bubble, popping it and letting the yellow yolk ooze down into the pooling red blood of the steak. He rubbed a chunk of steak through mixing the yellow and red, then ripped into it with his teeth. It took over a minute to chew, but he smiled the whole time. Then he proclaimed it to be delicious and raved about what a nice place this was. Mia tried to hold back the vomit that tossed in her stomach, but then excused herself to the bathroom knowing she couldn’t.

In the bathroom, she splashed water over her face to conceal her tears and fought to forget the image of the bloody yolks.

When Mia walked out of the bathroom, she noticed a woman sitting a couple booths behind theirs glaring at Darren. The woman had long brown hair, a pink baseball cap, and a pretty face. Her hands clutched so tightly to the coffee mug in front of her, it looked like she might crush it to pieces. When the woman noticed Mia, she quickly looked down and pulled the tip of her hat down lower.

           Oblivious to all of this, Darren continued laughing at his phone and scrapping his plate for every bit of bloody juice. The sound of the fork scratching across the plate irritated Mia’s ears.

           “You okay, babe?” Darren asked when she sat.

           “I don’t feel so good.”

           “You look pale.” He slid his phone off the table and into his pocket. “There’s a motel nearby we can stay at.”

           The last thing Mia wanted to do was stay at a motel, but she knew it wasn’t Darren’s fault. They were in the middle of nowhere, so the options were limited. Still, if they held off a little longer, they might find their way to a nice hotel. Her stomach flipped as if in response.

           “That’s a good idea.”

           When the check came, Darren thanked the waitress and praised their fine establishment. He left a more than generous tip and even a kind note on the receipt. Mia noticed the woman in the pink hat waved for the check immediately after they did.

           They walked out, and the woman followed just far enough behind them. Mia noticed she wore a golden heart shaped locket with a paw print on it, and a pink flannel shirt. What she didn’t notice was a gun or any kind of weapon, which soothed her fears. She didn’t see one, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t one. The woman was the kind to keep a knife tucked into her boot, and a gun hidden in her back pocket by the oversized length of her flannel.

           Outside, a man sat on a bench surrounded by a cotton candy vape cloud. A golden retriever sat beside him.

           “Aw, can I pet him?” Mia asked.

           The man nodded and started telling her all about Datsun. The dog was two years old and a stray when he found him. As the man talked, Mia noticed Darren staring at the dog in a way that made the vomit burn up her throat. She cupped a hand over her mouth to hold it in. Datsun licked Mia’s hand and wagged his tail, but when Darren stepped closer, he bared his teeth and shrunk back.

           “Dogs don’t really like me,” Darren shrugged.

           The man narrowed his eyes at Darren, sizing him up. Then the man turned to Mia and said, “They say animals are a good judge of character.”

           A buzzing noise caused Darren to pull his phone out of his pocket and step away.

           “Are you alright, Miss?” The man asked Mia.

           Mia turned to see the woman in the pink hat shaking her head. Pure rage lit her face as she kicked a rock and cloud of dirt, then stepped up into her dark blue truck.

           “I’m not feeling so well. Maybe something I ate.” Though she didn’t eat anything.

           The man looked concerned. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a wallet, and then a card out of the wallet. “I’ve been keeping these on me since a thing happened with my sister. I’m not saying you need it or suggesting anything. I just feel better if you take it with you.”

           He discreetly slid the card into her hand making it look like a handshake. Darren wasn’t paying attention to them, but the man looked nervous about being caught. The card was a hotline number for a domestic violence agency. Mia shut her eyes tight to hold back the tears. This wasn’t something she needed but the fact that someone thought so meant her carefully curated façade was cracking. People were supposed to see her as happy and in love. Since Darren never did anything to hurt her, she assumed it was her misery that sent this message and not anything he did that rubbed the man the wrong way.

           After putting the phone away, Darren returned to wrap his arm around Mia’s shoulder and lead her to the car. The woman still glared at them from inside her truck, and the man still looked on suspiciously as he patted his dog’s head.

           “I love dogs. Always wanted to have one,” Mia said. This was true. When she was little, she asked her parents for a dog. They said dogs were dirty and would destroy the house. “Have you ever wanted a dog?”

           “No,” Darren turned the radio up, so it was too loud for her to be heard. A sign he was done with this conversation. 

           Glancing back, Mia noticed the truck following them now. It might have been a coincidence, but it seemed odd.

           Mia turned the volume down. “Did you talk to anyone in the diner?”

           “No…well, I mean the waitress. What do you mean?”

           “There was a woman who seemed…very interested in you.”

           “I didn’t even notice. I don’t notice any women but you.”

           Mia rolled her eyes. “I don’t mean that way. It just seemed odd. Like she knew you from somewhere.”

           “Can’t say I recognized anyone in that place. We’re miles from home. How’d I know anyone around here?”

           With a shrug, Mia continued to watch the truck in the side mirror. Her mind played out this story of a vindictive other woman coming for her. The woman would confess everything to Mia, and she’d storm out. Being the victim would be a nice ticket to freedom. People would feel too sorry for her to hassle her about staying single. For a while at least. She wouldn’t be the bad guy. As she imagined being alone, her eyes closed, and a serene smile spread across her lips. She’d be free as a bird.

           After they checked into the motel, Mia wandered down to the pool. She found a chair that looked decently new. The plastic wasn’t discolored or broken, at least. She folded a towel into a swan and placed it delicately on the chair. The chair she put next to the pool to get the blue water background. Then she took a photo. Some quick color edits and it looked almost like she was at a nice spa. Looking around at the dusty dump the place really was, she couldn’t help but laugh. This level of deception took talent. She sat on the pool’s edge with her feet dangling in the water and read through the comments of her diner photo. Each comment talked about how droolworthy and delicious the place looked. Lie accepted.

           The pool allowed Mia a view of the parking lot and she noticed the truck. If this was another woman, she sure put a lot of effort into tracking Darren down, and Mia couldn’t imagine him eliciting that kind of desire from anyone. Nor could she imagine ever feeling that kind of desire. What would it be like to love someone so much? Would she ever feel that?

           The woman wasn’t with Darren though, because he came over to the pool. He sat behind her with his legs around her and massaged her shoulders. He went on and on about how he was worried about her and loved her and missed her in the two minutes she had been gone. It felt like she was drowning in that over chlorinated pool water. This wasn’t healthy, and she was glad to have no idea what it felt like to be that way.

           His phone buzzed and she picked it up. He tried to grab it back but failed.

           “Sometimes I worry you might be having an affair with Fred. You two talk too much,” Mia joked. The message was from an unknown number and it said, I know what you did.

           “That’s weird,” Darren said. “Probably a prank.”

           “What did you do?” Mia asked. Then typed, I’ve done a lot of things. Be more specific.

           “You shouldn’t talk to them. Could be some sort of weird scam like those people who send emails about sending videos of you watching porn at work to your boss.”

           The phone buzzed again. This message was a video.

           “Don’t click that. I’m telling you, it’s probably a virus.” Darren said and pulled the phone away.

           “Let her see it,” a woman’s voice said. They both looked up to see the woman with the pink hat.

           “I…I don’t know who you are. I don’t know who she is.” Darren said. He stumbled back away from Mia like he might run, but he didn’t run. He stepped closer to the woman. “I don’t know who you are, but you should─”

           The woman pulled the gun out from her back pocket and aimed it at him. “I wouldn’t try anything. I’m a really good shot and I certainly have no problem killing you.”

           “What…what…why?” Darren stuttered.

           Mia noticed Darren dropped the phone while walking towards the woman and reached over for it. “The message is from you?”

           The woman nodded. Mia knew she should feel terrified, but the feeling sparking through her was raw excitement. She pressed play.

           The woman drilled into Darren’s soul with her murderous glare. “I’m going to chop you to pieces with an axe like you did my dog, Asshole. I’ll never get those screams out of my head.”

           Mia couldn’t watch the whole video. She stood up, tossed the phone in the pool, and bent over heaving. Since she didn’t eat anything, only bile burned her throat and ripped at her stomach as she forced it out. The little bit she saw of the video showed Darren and Fred laughing. There were animals and there were tools. There was so much blood and she couldn’t handle any more than that.

           Darren’s hands were shaking. His vision blurred. All his mind could think was that he didn’t want her to know. Didn’t want her to find out this way. Knew she wouldn’t forgive him. Wouldn’t love him. Tears streamed down his face. “Please tell me you won’t hurt her.”

           “Why would I hurt her? She’s clearly got nothing to do with this,” The woman said.

           “She needs me,” Darren blubbered.

           The woman laughed. “You can’t honestly believe that.”

           “If you kill me, you’ll be as bad as me.”

           “You skin animals alive, pull them behind trucks.” The emotion caught in her throat and it took her a moment to clear it. “There’s no one worse than you.”

           The woman’s anger fueled a certain type of confidence, but she wasn’t a killer. Darren had been slowly creeping forward this whole time. She swore he wouldn’t get her. She said she’d fire this gun any second. Her trigger hand shook. Her mind yelled at her to call the police. All her videos were enough evidence to lock him behind bars. Prison was more of a punishment than death, wasn’t it?

Then Darren fell forward after Mia whacked him over the head with a pool skimmer. Startled by the forward movement, the woman abruptly fired the gun putting a bullet through his right shoulder. The woman dropped the gun, jumped away, and screamed like it had come to life on its own.

Mia’s shoulders slumped. Tears pooled in her eyes. Finally getting a reason to leave, didn’t feel as good as she hoped. Why didn’t I do it sooner? Why did I need a reason? Obviously, my gut tried to tell me something.

“Is he dead?” The woman asked quietly.

“I don’t know. Depends what the bullet hit. We better the call the cops.” Mia sucked in a deep breath and wiped the tears. The façade crumbled. The perfect life shattered. She stood up straighter. Reality could be molded by the way a person tells it, and she knew how to tell a tale. This didn’t have to be sad. This could still be freedom. She could still come out strong. Maybe even a touch heroic. It was long past time to trust herself. Time to build something she genuinely wanted.

September 09, 2021 16:25

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Alex Sultan
18:49 Sep 16, 2021

Thrilling story. I like your style for it - the sentence structure reads fast, especially near the end. One of your best yet :)


Annalisa D.
20:19 Sep 16, 2021

Thank you! That's awesome to hear and I really appreciate it! Thanks for letting me know!


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Alex B. Tomsett
23:42 Sep 13, 2021

This is great, such an intense read. I really enjoyed how you built tension and the way you handled such violence with eloquence. Good work!


Annalisa D.
00:40 Sep 14, 2021

Thank you for reading and the comment! I really appreciate it!


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16:02 Sep 10, 2021

Holy moly guacamole that was a twist oh my gosh big word punches to the gut and wow that was great writing


Annalisa D.
16:04 Sep 10, 2021

Thank you so much! I appreciate the nice comments and hearing what you thought. Thank you for reading!


16:13 Sep 10, 2021

Yep you did a great job on the intense parts and the suspense and the worried feeling that somethung us very wrong. Keep up the great work!!


Annalisa D.
16:16 Sep 10, 2021

Thank you!


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Charli Britton
23:13 Sep 09, 2021

Starting the story I was very interested to see where this was going, and then WOW it certainly took a turn. I liked your story, and your plot was well thought out, I could tell.


Annalisa D.
00:46 Sep 10, 2021

Thank you so much! Both for reading and the comment. I'm glad to hear you liked it and that the twist surprised you. Its always hard to know as the writer putting in the little clues if they'll be too obvious or not, so that's great to hear. Thank you!


Charli Britton
15:37 Sep 11, 2021

I agree. You're welcome.


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Eric D.
21:53 Sep 09, 2021

Wow that took a turn, made me sick and uncomfortable reading the ending but kudos for writing tough and heartbreaking story. You really dont know what to expect from the beginning at first I thought the little bickering and tension was sweet but weird and wondered what's going on with Mia then I was upset with Mia because Derren seemed like a great guy and I felt like she should just leave if she didnt love him rather than string him along with the relationship. I guess there were some hints with his choice of friends because Derrens friend ...


Annalisa D.
22:02 Sep 09, 2021

Thanks! I felt sick writing it haha so I'm with you. I'm kind of glad you felt that way with Mia. I was hoping to keep the reader sort of in her mindset of being like well hes a good guy, so what's the problem. Then you see her gut instincts shouldn't have been ignored. I do think people struggle with that. Thanks. I wouldn't have thought western but I don't understand that genre so that's interesting to hear. Thank you so much for the thoughts!


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Danny G
21:25 Sep 09, 2021

Oo that was dark. I liked the analogy between Mia’s life, the food photos and in the end how she could build her own narrative. Very dark but very good. Parts of it relatable with Mia’s thoughts on their relationship and wanting an excuse to get out rather than just getting out. Well done :-)


Annalisa D.
21:38 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you! I appreciate you reading it and commenting. I'm glad to see the examples with the photos connected well. I hoped they did. I'm glad you liked it despite how uncomfortably dark it may be. I'm glad she was somewhat relatable. Thank you!


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