The following is a story I had to write for my Fiction Writing class. A condensed plot was provided, and we simply had to expand it. So...here it is (and excuse the numbered headings from every page, it was just a pain to try and get rid of them):
The glow of the setting sun caught the rusty dashboard of the old Ford Tempo and illuminated the otherwise-humdrum hue of this ancient relic. The bronzy-orange finish was peeling in multiple areas, but you could hardly tell due to the fact that the unveiling of the rust underneath was almost the same color anyway. The entire landscape seemed to have a color theme of oranges, yellows, and browns. The orange of the setting sun complimented the browns and yellows of the vast expanses of wheat fields for miles in every direction. The wheat was tossed about delicately by a light wind that had been steadily dying down from the mid afternoon.
It was evening now. The Ford was parked on the side of a winding country road that wrapped around the countryside and nothing but, for miles in every direction. It was as remote a spot as any two love birds could hope for in small town smack dab in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas.
Nowhere, Kansas was all Harry and Ellen needed. They’d been dating for two years now. This romantic escape was celebrating this two-year milestone. It was a storybook romance. Both had grown up in this small town, gone to the same school, same high school, and they were even both attending the same university. The proposal was only a matter of time. In
fact, Ellen’s mind began to drift off on the soft music of the crackly radio as she daydreamed of wedded bliss with her childhood sweetheart.
“Harry,” she whispered, eyes closed, face nuzzled up against his chest, “let’s not ever move. Let’s just sit here and fall asleep in this moment, so it never has to end. Let the music carry us away…”
Harry smirked at her girlish sentimentality. “Well Ellie,” he said in the most matter-of-fact tone he could muster, “at some point, this old junk heap is going to give out on us and then there won’t be any more music to float on, you know.”
His playful sarcasm brought her abruptly back to reality as she tried to stifle a smile. “Oh, come on now,” she said trying to sound annoyed. “That’s not funny.”
The sun had almost set beneath the field now, as the color in the sky slowly diminished into a darker blue. Harry and Ellie decided to lay words aside and took Ellie’s advice, as they began to drift off to the sound of the radio.
The romantic moment was short-lived, however. The music suddenly came to an abrupt stop. The crackling that replaced it brought Harry and Ellie back to reality once more as they curiously sat up and reached for the radio dial.
Harry refrained from switching stations, however, when a man with a very serious tone came on the air with the words, “This is not a test.” Looking at Ellie curiously, he resorted to turning the volume dial instead. The voice continued, “I repeat, this is not a test. All citizens of Teller County and surrounding areas are asked to return to their homes immediately. Word was
just been received that a convicted murderer has escaped from Teller Country Prison and his whereabouts are currently unknown to authorities. He is at large in the area and is very dangerous. He is approximately 5’ 11”, dark brown hair, approximately 175 pounds, and has hooks in place of hands.”
Harry almost had to chuckle at this last bit of information. “Are they serious?” he asked.
Almost in response, the voice continued, “I repeat, this is not a test. Please take this information with the utmost seriousness and get to safety as soon as possible.”
“Baby, I think he’s serious,” said Ellie shakily. “Come on, we better leave.”
“Ellie, come on, are you kidding me? A murderer with hooks for hands?”
“Harry! I want to leave!” Exasperated, Ellie violently switched off the radio and reached for her seatbelt. “If you don’t start this heap of metal Harry, I will.”
Harry was obviously annoyed at her sense of urgency, not to mention the loss of the romantic mood. “This is the best part of the evening, baby. Come on, we can’t leave now. The night’s just begun.”
Ellie refused to respond with more than a heated death glare that scared Harry more than any hook-handed murderer.
“Ok, fine, you win,” he retorted, obviously perturbed. “I cannot believe you’re letting this scare you. This was going to be our special night, nothing was going to bother us, remember?”
“I think a convicted murderer on the loose is cause for an exception, Harry!” It was never a good sign when they started using each other’s names in every sentence. Doing his best to appear incredibly put out, he dramatically reached for the keys and turned them in the ignition.
The car noisily sputtered into gear, making Ellie glance around suspiciously. Wanting to accentuate his exasperation, Harry slammed his foot down on the accelerator as the wheels spun amid the dirt and gravel, trying hard to get a firm grip on the road. Once the old Ford accomplished this feat, Harry sped down the winding dirt road back towards whatever civilization waited for them back in town.
It was not, however, fast enough for Ellie. She couldn’t help darting glances here and there every time she heard a leaf rustle, or a rock roll.
As the lights of the town came into view, Harry decided to break the silence at an attempt of reconciliation. “Come on now Ellie, I really don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”
Ellie’s mixture of morbid fear and annoyance at Harry’s lack of concern resulted in indignant silence. Harry sighed and turned the radio on again, weighing down on the breaks as they entered the sleepy little town. The gas station was the first sign of life coming in from the countryside. Glancing over the shadows of the rusty old general store attached to the station, Ellie’s heart suddenly stopped. A gasp escaped her lips as she clutched Harry’s arm with enough solidity to cut off his blood circulation.
“What is it now?” demanded Harry, not pleased with the swerving her clamp had caused.
Ellie said nothing as she climbed over him to look out his side of the window. Not uttering a word, her eyes unwavering, she unlocked his car door and slowly climbed out, still not breaking her line of sight.
“Ellie, what are you doing?” asked Harry, more sternly this time. “Come on, get back in the car. What do you see?”
A few feet from the vehicle, Ellie froze in her tracks, her gaze deepening as she strained her eyes to see in the dark.
Slightly unsettled, Harry climbed out of the car and gently touched Ellie on the arm, sending her reeling around with a shriek.
“Harry, don’t!” she yelled.
“Well come on, what are you looking at? Just get back in the car.”
Not getting anything from her, Harry attempted to follow her line of sight. Following hers, his gaze landed among some shadows between the farthest two gas pumps on the northern side of the building.
From behind the first pump, he immediately became aware of Ellie’s apprehension. Barely visible from behind the apparatus, he made out the form of a curved, metal piece jutting out from the shadows.
Letting the silence linger a few moments longer, Harry let out an obviously stifled laugh as he slapped Ellie on the back. “Ummm, darling,” he said lovingly, between chuckles, “that’s
the gas pump. Now, I know you’re paranoid, but there really is nothing to worry about. So, let’s get back in the car and get you back to your apartment.”
Still laughing, he walked over to her side of the car, opened the door, and helped her in. Sauntering back to his side, he couldn’t help laughing to himself over the whole ordeal. Now, off to her apartment it was.
The old Ford slowly screeched to a halt as Harry pulled in front of Ellie’s off-campus apartment building, just down the road from the small town junior college that they both attended.
As Ellie reached for the lock button on the car door, she gazed out the window to her front door. The gap between her and home seemed an eternity longer than any of the other million times Harry had brought her home, just the same way. She hesitantly reached for the car door and set her feet on the cool pavement.
“Walk me to the door, Harry?” she pleaded, almost pathetically. Harry had never seen her this way. Still rather amused by the whole ordeal, he hurried over to Ellie and offered her his arm.
“Now, I’ll get you inside all safe and sound, and tomorrow you’ll be laughing about this just like I am.”
Ellie didn’t respond as they made their way up the sidewalk to the front door. Harry, deciding to maintain that gentlemanly façade, reached for the door doorknob to open the door for her.
As his hand touched the cold metal, the amused smirk on his face immediately froze in one of utter horror. The doorknob wasn’t round. The doorknob wasn’t a doorknob at all. As the moon momentarily moved in front of the menacing clouds overhead, the brief gush of light illuminated a shiny, thin, metal hook.