Kilt peered out into the darkness as the automatic doors opened wide to release him from the bountiful confines of Barner’s Groceries. The moment he stepped forward, the falling rain seemed to intensify, even more with the next step. He paused on third step, that one that would move him from the relative safety of the door’s overhang and into the brewing elements, as a gust of wind forced the rain at him, as if almost a warning.
He turned his head back to the store just as the automatic doors closed behind him leaving him to stand alone in that moment of decision, back to the store or forward into…whatever this was.
As his brain began to weigh the pros and cons, the rest of his body was working toward the as yet to be realized decision. He shifted all three plastic bags into one hand, then grabbed the collar of his jacket with the other and pulled it over his head. Surely, he didn’t look as ridiculous as he felt. One deep breath later, he lunged into the downpour and made a break for the truck.
The wind and rain intensified still, blowing him sideways a bit and drenching him to the bone no more than three steps deep into the parking lot. He could see nothing. He heard only rain. He tried to move instinctively to where he thought the truck was parked and hoped he was right.
Two steps later, his brain sent out a single message, “Keys,” and the hand that held whatever protection he got from the jacket released it and plunged into his pocket. He felt for the fob and pressed what he knew to be the unlock button, squinting through the sheeting water to see a flicker of light from the truck’s tail lights.
A quick course adjustment, three steps and a splash later and he was clawing at the door handle to get inside.
Once he slammed the door shut, he sat for a moment listening to his breath mingle with the sheets of wind driven rain blasting his windshield. He tried to wipe some of the water from his face, but really just pushed it around. Everything was soaked. He could end up sitting here all day, he thought, but he didn’t want to. Whatever he was feeling earlier in the day manifested itself in his head which throbbed now. Better to get home.
He put the key in the ignition and turned the engine over. He loved this truck. The dashboard blower started in earnest, working to remove the building condensation from the inside of the glass while the wipers slapped water away as fast and efficiently as it could…which ended up being not very good. He put the truck in reverse and backed out of his spot slowly. So far so good.
From what he could tell the roads were fairly deserted. And why wouldn’t they be? What kind of idiot drives in something like this?
Even on a fairly bad day, the trip to the store takes about 12 minutes, max, but Kilt, ever diligent in his desire to doing something stupid as safely as possible was determined to take his time. The wind began to add small branches, leaves and bits of garbage to the mix of rain it hurled at him, but he pressed on.
As he neared the left onto Crestview, the rain seemed to hiccup just long enough for him clearly see the sign and notice that the street was clear of anything he could run into. The brief reprieve allowed him to stop squinting long enough to realize how hard he was working to see…anything, and, how much his head was pounding.
“Note to self,” he muttered. “Get food before stupid storm hits.”
Taking advantage of the minor pause, he spun the wheel to take the turn. The rain returned the second the car banked around the corner and his visibility once again disappeared.
He straightened the wheel, then raised his foot gently to press on the gas. If he had the ability to record the moment and review it over an over again, his story would stay the same. As he pressed the pedal to urge the car ahead, a blood curdling…scream, for lack of a better word, coincided with his movement as if he created it.
The noise tore into his head and in one movement, he slammed his eyes shut, slammed both feet onto his brake pedal and gripped his steering wheel to prevent his head from banging into it. The lurched into a skid that was not likely to occur on a dry street, but there was so much water, every movement was amplified.
Despite what he confirmed just before making the turn, that the street was clear, the sliding truck came to an almost immediate and jolting stop, the force of which drove his chest into his steering wheel, cutting his breath. Mixed with the sound of water and debris washing over him, came the sounds of grinding metal, breaking glass and something else.
Another roar tore through the air, causing him to cover his ears with his hands. His body lurched as he fought for a new fresh breath.
Another car? A tree? His aching brain seemed to spin in his skull. What could he have hit? God, let it not be another person…a kid or something!
The new noise, a soft grating, came up from the newly accordioned hood of his truck. As he gasped holding his chest, he blinked at the new batch of water hitting his face through the newly demolished windshield. Whatever it was, it was alive, and it was huge.
One more deafening roar later, and as if by premonition, he looked out into the storm, lightning flashed and he saw them as clear as anything for the first time…teeth.