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Authors: Karina Halle

Tags: #David_James

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BOOK: Red Fox
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He took a quick step back,
eyeing my ninja arms, then gave me an apologetic look.


Sorry, my flight got in
late, I was just renting the car.”

I barely heard his gruff
voice. I was focused on the fact that what used to be a very slight
dusting of facial hair on his lip was now a full-on
moustache.


Nice stache!” I couldn’t
help but exclaim with a laugh. He did somehow look different than
he did three weeks ago. Aside from the moustache, which I admit
suited him for some reason, his black hair was a bit longer and
shaggier, a swoop of it falling across his broad forehead. Even his
chin scruff was thicker and covered more territory.

His eyes were still dark
and intense though they had that sleepy, heavy-lidded look which I
had come to associate with his subdued moods. Thankfully, he did
look happy to see me.

He stroked his moustache
like a master villain and broke into his very Joker-esque smile.
“Thanks. I thought I would get a head start with Movember next
month.”

Movember, in November, was
the month where men decide to grow moustaches. Not many women
looked forward to Movember.


Well, luckily you pull it
off,” I said brightly, feeling just a little awkward.

He grinned again, shook his
head and fished a packet of Nicorette out of his pocket. He popped
a square into his mouth and bit down, looking at me the whole time.
I had forgotten about the unnerving way he studied people,
especially me.


You got everything?” he
asked, eying my bag.

I patted it. “I travel
light.”


Huh,” he said. “I didn’t
know women could do that.”

He turned and walked off
towards the doors. Even though he was already on the thin side and
had on a big navy hoodie and black cargo shorts, he looked like he
might have dropped some weight recently. His ass still looked good.
OK, I shouldn’t have been looking but I couldn’t help
it.

I followed him outside
where the dry yet surprisingly cold air nipped at my face and
seeped through my light jacket. It wasn’t raining like it would
have been in Portland, in fact I could already see many stars in
the sky despite the city lights, but it wasn’t exactly warm
either.

I brought my jacket in
closer around me and scuttled after him towards the parking lot.
For a guy that was only 5’9” at best, he did cover a lot of ground
with his strides. Then again, I was a good five inches shorter than
him with stubby legs that didn’t quite move as smoothly as I would
have liked. I blamed my flabby thighs for always slowing me down.
Damn friction.

As we walked, he spat out
his gum, reached into his other pocket, brought out a packet of
cigarettes and stuck one in his mouth. He looked behind him at me
and stopped, bringing out his gold lighter and igniting it with one
quick motion.

I caught up to him with
what must have been an incredulous look on my face.

He shrugged at my
expression. “At least I’m not smoking and chewing at the same
time.”

Yeah. At least. I gave him
a disapproving look and we started off for the car again. Funny
thing was that Dex wasn’t really a smoker. I remembered he only lit
up a few times towards the end of our last “adventure” and that was
only after we survived nearly getting blown up in the
lighthouse.

Then again, Dex wasn’t
normal. He admitted before that he was bi-polar but I wasn’t sure
if I believed that. I mean, he was strange and weird and quite
manic at times but I had never seen him depressed or anything.
Whatever he was, I did know he took medication for it. Whether that
medication did him any good, well, I didn’t know him well enough to
have an opinion. I hoped that by the end of our trip I would,
though. I had forgotten how much this man intrigued me.

We located the car (a Jeep,
in case we were headed for rough and tumble lands) and soon we were
on our way. Where? I had no idea.

I expected an element of
awkwardness while in the car with Dex. It always took me awhile to
get into the groove when meeting people again and he wasn’t the
type of person to ever make things easy for you. But surprisingly,
he was acting relaxed and jovial.


Where are we spending the
night?” I asked, watching the lights of the airport disappear in
the side mirrors.


I thought we would camp in
the middle of the desert. I told you we were doing this on the
cheap.”

I looked out at the
blackness and felt deathly uncomfortable from the fathomless
deserts that it hid. Camping in the desert seemed like a death
wish.

I tried to look at him as
calmly as possible but I could tell my eyes were raging. He gave me
a sleepy grin.


Relax, stress case. We’ve
got a motel. One we’ll probably be sharing with a bunch of hookers,
but I take it you’re pretty liberal.”


Hardy har har.” I glared at
him, enjoying our sparring. He gave me a wink and turned his
attention back to the road.


So, how are you?” he
asked. The sincerity in his voice made me suspicious.


I’m fine.”


You’re a terrible
liar.”

I cocked my head at him.
“What? I’m fine. I didn’t say I was great.”


You should be great, Perry.
You should be jazzed as shit. New Mexico, man. Just look at this
place.” He gestured at the darkness then took a quick peek at
me.


Something’s different with
you.”

I shrugged. “To be fair,
you don’t know me all that well.”


This is true. But there’s
something you’re not telling me.”

It was my turn to laugh.
“There are many things I’m not telling you.”

He peered at me, his brown
eyes glinted like black stones. A flicker of intensity ran across
them. “I’ll get to the bottom of you before this is all
over.”

I held his gaze while an
impulsive smile gently tugged at the corner of my mouth. There was
a current of tension in the car, but of what kind I didn’t know. It
was wishful thinking on my part to think it was sexual in any
way.

I looked away first and
just in time to see a car parked up ahead in the middle of the
road. We were seconds from colliding with it.


Dex!” I screamed and
thrust my hands out on the dash, bracing for certain
impact.

The rest was a blur. The
high pitched squeal of brakes filled my ears as Dex slammed on them
and whipped the wheel around. The Jeep slid and lurched beneath us
but thanks to his fancy maneuvering, we came to a stop on the
shoulder, a few yards past the car. The road was dark and devoid of
traffic at that moment, which probably saved our life.

But alive and well or not,
I could barely breathe and my poor heart was skipping loudly. Dex
was leaning forward, clutching the wheel desperately. He slowly
loosened his grip and looked over at me. He looked absolutely
stunned.


Are you OK?”

I nodded, trying to regain
my breath.

He nodded too, as if to say
he was OK. He looked behind us. “What the fuck was
that?”

I turned around in my seat.
The car was a small compact and was parked at a diagonal across
both lanes of the highway. The lights outside and inside the car
were on and all four doors were open wide. There was no one in the
car at all. It was like they all ran out and vanished into the
darkness. That thought made me very ill and very afraid.


What happened?” I
whispered. He shook his head and then unbuckled his seat belt. I
immediately put my hand on his to stop him.


What are you doing, you
can’t go out there!” I hissed.

He unbuckled it anyway and
opened the door.


You stay here. People might
be hurt.”

And with that he shut the
door on me and left me in the car. Fuck that!

I quickly unbuckled mine,
leaped out of the car and ran over to Dex. I expected him to tell
me to go back but it’s like he knew I would join him
anyway.

There were still no other
cars around, which I thought was eerie considering we weren’t that
far from the city. The lights from the abandoned car and our Jeep
were the only lights we could see.

The car wasn’t running. We
saw no tire marks on the road to indicate they had to stop quickly
(unlike our Jeep which left hefty marks in its wake). It was like
someone calmly decided to park it there and leave.


I don’t like this,” I
started but Dex quickly threw his arm back at me and held me in
place, finger to his lips. He stopped and peered intently at the
car. We were only a few feet away. I wanted to grab on to him for
dear life.

I also wanted to ask him
what he was looking at but didn’t dare speak. Or
breathe.

He took a tentative step
forward.

Then I saw it.

Something popped up in the
backseat and then disappeared. I didn’t know what it was but I can
tell you it wasn’t human.

Dex slowly turned and
looked at me, the whites of his eyes glowing madly in the sparse
light.


We better leave,” he said
quickly, turning around and yanking me towards our car.


What is it?” I cried out,
still wanting to see despite the thick fear in my throat. I looked
back as Dex dragged me forward, his grip on my arm
strong.

Something shadowy moved in
the backseat again. The car rocked back and forth for a few
seconds…

The head of a coyote poked
out of the car. Seeing us, it jumped out of the backseat and onto
the road.

I gasped. Dex turned to
look and stopped.

The coyote held us in its
gaze, its eyes strangely familiar. I’d seen coyotes before; they
were a nuisance in the countryside around Portland. But there was
something strangely terrifying about this one. Maybe it was the
circumstances…had that coyote just eaten everyone in the
car?

I couldn’t tear my eyes
away from it. It just stood there, as still as the air around us,
but I had this feeling like it already had its teeth in me. Its
eyes were the strangest green color. They sparked with
intelligence. Did coyotes even have green eyes?

Suddenly, I felt a hard
pull on my arm again. Dex dragged me towards the Jeep. I looked
back and the coyote was gone.

It was like some heavy fog
lifted from my eyes, as if the last few seconds had been a dream
and I was finally coming to. We quickly got in our vehicle and
without saying a word to me, he thrust it into gear and we sprinted
down the highway at an alarming speed.

I stared at him. His hands
were back to holding the steering wheel with a Kung-Fu grip, his
mouth was set in a firm line and his eyes…well, his eyes weren’t
fearful but they were lost in thought.

I wanted to ask him what
had just happened…where did the occupants of the car go? Why was
there a coyote in the car? Why did we have to leave so fast? But I
could see I wouldn’t be getting anything out of him tonight. I had
to come up with the answers by myself. I turned my attention to the
blackness sweeping past us, made more mysterious now knowing a
party of people could be out there, just wandering the
desert.

I didn’t know what had
happened to the people in the car, but I knew they weren’t attacked
by a coyote. Coyotes wouldn’t dare attack a party of humans, no
matter how hungry they were. If anything, the car was abandoned and
the coyote was scavenging for any…leftovers. I shuddered at the
thought of rogue body parts in the backseat.

I wasn’t quite satisfied
with that conclusion but it had to do for the remainder of the
drive. Within an hour we were pulling up to a nondescript motel
perched at the edge of a deadbeat town. We hadn’t said a word to
each other the whole time.

 

~~

 

My room looked straight out
of a bad 70’s porn. The wallpaper was peeling in the corners, there
were nicotine stains on the walls, and the bed was one of those
coin-operated models. The only thing missing was the shag
carpeting.

I plunked my bag on the
lone chair, not willing to trust the patchy ground, and carefully
sat on the corner of the bed. I had a bad experience with bedbugs
once and that was in a quality hotel. I didn’t want to think of
what could be hiding in the scratchy sheets here.

I sighed and took stock.
Had my life really come to this? Staying in a gross motel in New
Mexico on some crazy ghost hunting expedition? Things always
sounded cooler before you actually lived them. We hadn’t even seen
any ghosts and already I had the creeps, which explained why I
jumped out of my skin a bit when there was a sudden knock at the
door.

I got up and peered through
the peephole. My heart eased as I saw Dex, though I wasn’t quite
sure who else it would have been.

I opened the door. He
leaned against the frame, not moving. He looked a bit stoned; his
eyes were glazed and looking past me at some blank spot on the bed.
A toothpick jutted about lazily in his mouth.

BOOK: Red Fox
4.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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