Gay Horror Speculative

This story contains sensitive content

This story contains themes of death, mental health. Mentions of toxic relationships are also present. Please use discretion.

When the GPS ate it, Clover was near sleep, sandal-clad feet on the dash. The car seat was reclined as far as it could go, stitching and French-braided hair pressing patterns into her bare neck. The sky was black as it could be that far into the brush, a fat moon hanging yellow in the sky, the constellations eating at the dark. Lyla was squinting at the road’s vanishing point, hands at ten and two. She swore at the gear shift, and then at nothing in particular as she watched the GPS screen go dark. 

Lyla pulled to the side of the road. She shook the thing. Clover blinked, grasped at the door handle as if it were her tether to the waking world. 

“Batteries died. That must be it.” Lyla murmured. 

“We got any in the back?” Clover took a cursory glance at the haphazard pile of camping gear. 

“Don’t know. Why don’t you check?” Lyla said, and Clover responded by undoing her seatbelt and craning her pale body into the back seat, rummaging. She pushed aside a deflated air mattress and got at the bear-proof snack bag below. Clover undid five zippers in quick succession, hands busy. 

Then, the car was alight. Something buzzed, faintly. A single green line spilt the grainy darkness. Clover dropped the trail mix she’d held in her fist. She turned her neck, tentative. Lyla held the GPS at arm’s length, screen brighter than it had ever been. There was only one road, displayed in near-blinding neon. 

“Guess it just went out for a second.” Lyla muttered, starting up the car once more. It sputtered like it always did, stubborn. 

“Lyla,” Clover slipped back into her seat. 

“Yeah?” Was the reply. The car set out onto the road. The only road. The buzzing remained. 

“D’you know where we are?” 

Lyla said nothing for a moment, brown eyes fixed ahead. “Yeah. We’re on our way home. About three hours out.” 

“Continue straight for 1 Kilometre.” The GPS chimed. 

Clover lurched forwards. “Three? It was two when we packed up.” 

“Got a little lost. We’re back on the path now.” Lyla tapped the device. 

Clover settled back once more, leaning her head into the seat. Letting the car’s swaying and purring aid her in a half-sleep. She placed a hand on the cool of the window. Turned so that the piercing green was essentially undetectable. Yet somewhere, eating at the veil of rest was that buzzing, growing detectably louder. There was an almost vocal quality to it, like the reverberation of some drawn out syllable. 

“Continue straight.” The GPS reiterated. Clover whipped around to stare the machine down. The voice was different, somehow. The tone had remained the same, but the odd gaps and stutters characteristic of the text-to-speech device were gone. The words sounded eerily natural. 

“You alright?” Lyla asked, glancing at Clover. She was driving towards something. Not just following the green line, or listening to the spoken directions. Clover was sure of this. She’d seen the face before. When Lyla was cooking or gardening. It was more than focus, but Clover had never been able to entirely place it. It was like a look of accomplishment, as if she were gaining speed on the last kilometre of a marathon. It was a misplaced sense of almost. 

“What’s that?” Clover managed to reply. Ahead, down the arrow-straight dirt road, was light. 

“Home.” The GPS chimed, and Clover jumped. 

Lyla paused, and then began to giggle. Clover tentatively laughed along with her. 

“Creepy coincidence.” Clover murmured. 

“Probably another campsite. Or a car.” Lyla shrugged. The sleeve of her tank top rolled down her shoulder. 

“Probably.” Clover nodded, though she wasn’t entirely convinced. She rested her freckled arms on the dash and leaned as far forwards as she could bear, eyes fixed on the light. It wasn’t even, like a campfire. There was a flicker to it, and when it swelled it exposed the thick evergreens surrounding it. There was a blueness in the centre. Perhaps her eyes were playing tricks on her. Perhaps it really was a campsite. 

Clover watched the light flicker for some time. She timed the flickering to her breathing, tried to predict the surges. The act calmed her, strangely. It was meditative. She hardly noted the words when they broke through. 

“You remember, don’t you?” 

Clover looked to Lyla first, who didn’t look back. Then, she lowered her eyes. The green line met her gaze. 

“You remember, don’t you?” The GPS repeated. 

Clover paused, drawing her head back. She placed a hand on the machine, traced the edges of it. It was surprisingly warm. “Remember what?” 

“Where we’re going.” 

Clover shut her eyes, her thoughts suddenly disorganized, her memories tangled. She attempted to speak, but she was unsure if any sound had come out amidst the peculiar buzzing. The buzzing had not grown much louder. However, the sound had expanded outwards, separated into distinct harmonies, lines of song. What was once a flat, unpleasant note had become a fractured melody. Then, the sound stopped. The car stopped. There was a soft hand on Clover’s shoulder. 

“Clover?” The voice was Lyla’s. 

“I’m sorry. There was this sound.” Clover coughed, and her eyes were open. The forest was dark. Lyla retracted her hand.

“We shouldn’t have come out here.” Lyla looked ahead again, hand clenching into a fist and then releasing. Over and over. Her eyes were swimming. 

“It was your idea.” Clover wrapped her long arms around herself. The cold was growing less tolerable. 

“You always do this. Freak out. Leave me to pick up the pieces. Like at my sister’s wedding, or our trip to Seattle.” Lyla’s voice was sharp, sarcastic. It was drenched in the same bitterness Clover had been hearing for the entirety of the trip. 

Clover looked to the light again. It was lower. “I’m not leaving you to do anything. I said sorry.” 

“I should’ve just brought Mary.” 

Clover blinked. “Mary isn’t your girlfriend.” 

The car started once more. “Neither are you, remember?” 

The blue in the centre of the light flared, grew vibrant. Clover could barely keep her eyes open, but it was as if Lyla was used to staring into the brightness. The world swayed with it, it seemed. The grass at the sides of the road followed the same pattern, tossed side to side by a finicky wind. 

“Home.” The GPS repeated. 

Clover looked down at it. “That’s where we’re going, isn’t it?” Her voice was curious, not cross. Not afraid. 

If Lyla heard her, she didn’t make it obvious. She was fixated on the light. 

“Home before skin. Before dogs sleeping at your feet. Before the garden of eden. Before love. Before you could speak, or see, or touch. Before the world was something you could bite into, something running hedonistically down your chin.” Replied the GPS. 

Clover turned the thought over in her head like an archaic coin. “Why?” 

There was a burst of static. The sound hurt, manifested as pins all over Clover’s body. Then it was gone. “Why does anyone return to anything?” 

“I don’t know.” Clover kicked uselessly at the carpet below her seat. 

“Why do birds fly north? Why does the earth orbit? Why do perennials flower again? Something calls you back to where you began.” 

The light was much closer, though Clover couldn’t get any better of a look at its source. She looked up at Lyla, unable to keep her eyes forward. 

“Do you even see the light? Hear the GPS? Any of this?” Clover choked, gesturing wildly. 

Lyla pressed her mouth shut, and then opened it once again. “Yes.” 

“Yes? Jesus, Lyla, turn around! Stop the car!” Clover’s voice was desperate. She grabbed at Lyla’s bare arm. The car slowed, and then parked. Lyla brought a hand to Clover’s cheek, held her eyes. Clover could feel the heartbeat in her wrist. It beat in time with her own. 

“I can’t turn around. Neither can you.” Lyla whispered, and then pressed a kiss to Clover’s forehead, between her bangs. 

In the marrow of her bones, Clover knew. Like a salmon fighting upstream, the urge was biological, impossibly strong. She felt a warmth at the idea of treading forwards, stronger than fear, stronger than logic. Did the salmon know that she was to die after spawning? Was the journey a martyring or a foolish mistake? 

“I’ll miss you.” Lyla bit at the inside of her cheek, the words unceremoniously falling from her mouth. 

“Where are you going?” Clover asked, though something inside of her knew. 

“You’ve felt it too. The hunger. As if you’ve been deprived.” Lyla started. 

Clover breathed in, squeezed her eyes shut. She could feel it then, the animalistic want. A constantly-whining speck within the meat of her body. 

“I spent twenty years empty, and then I met you. The gnawing didn’t disappear, but it quieted. I thought that it was love. It was close to love. Now I’m here, and I feel it. This whole, calling me back. You weren’t the source of the quiet, Clover, you were a fragment of it.” Lyla was more animated than Clover had ever seen her, face stinging pink, eyes glossy full of tears. 

Clover tried to speak, but her mouth was lax, unable to spit out anything but disjointed sounds. Lyla only nodded and tore her gaze away. She stepped out of the vehicle. The light died down. 

Perhaps the salmon could only think of the softness which awaited her at the end of everything. 

Ahead of them was a deep crater. It was filled with wildflowers and grasses, greener than anything else in the brush. The light emanated from there, but had no traceable source. Clover watched as Lyla wordlessly slid from the even ground into the crater. She got to her knees and looked back at Clover, locking eyes with her for a moment before bracing her hands over her head. In a second, the growth had overtaken her. And her body was stiff. 

Clover breathed in, shakily, overtaken by a sense of Deja Vu. The act hadn’t shocked her. She thought it ought to. 

“I loved her.” Clover whispered, more reassurance than protest. 

“And now her flesh is gone. She is eaten. It is unfortunate, but hunger is more painful than love.” Replied the GPS. 

Clover looked down at her body. “I should go too, shouldn’t I?” 

“Your body knows that truth more than I.” It spoke. The voice was softer. 

“I loved her. I didn’t like her. I didn’t want to love her. This whole trip has been me mitigating her anger and hating myself-“ Clover was cut off by her own sobbing. The GPS began to speak. She tore it from its place on the dashboard and threw open her car door. 

Clover held the GPS to her chest as she climbed into the crater. She knew the act as if it were muscle memory. She fell to her knees, plunging the GPS into the ground. Growth came from the centre of it, flowering instantly. The green line flickered. Clover knew that she’d reached her destination. 

She felt a warmth pulse under her. The light around her grew blinding. She curled into it like a cat. The world, the remains of Lyla, and the GPS encased her. The world, the remains became her- were her, always. When Clover was whole, she could not imagine anything otherwise. It was a primordial thing, encased and unmoving within the earth. Knowing, slumbering, waiting to hunger again. Like freshwater, like sleep. 

May 09, 2024 23:34

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