The Road – A Short Story
Ethan glared at the stationary car ahead of him and turned the question over in his mind. How could they sack him? He was one of their best, he knew that. Always exceeded his targets and everyone – nearly everyone – liked him. Aggressive, they’d said. Too negative.
The fingers of his left hand drummed an angry tune against the dashboard.Would the traffic never start moving? The sky was already turning dark. It was going to be a warm night, despite the time of year. Ethan could feel beads of sweat forming beneath his shirt collar.
At last, the cars were moving. With a sigh of relief, he pressed his foot down on the accelerator. He wanted to get home. Start planning his revenge. A lawyer, that’s what he needed. He’d sue the bastards. Beverton had always had it in for him. He was certain the old man just wanted his cock. At least that’s what Ethan used to tell the others. Maybe it had got back to him.
The rear lights of the car ahead were dimmer now. The air was full of exhaust fumes, moving like banks of fog around his car. It must be something to do with the heat.
Ethan turned on the radio, more for company than anything else. A pop ballad blared into the car. Not his sort of thing but it was comforting to hear sounds other than his own, suddenly hoarse breathing. Perhaps he was ill? His head felt muzzy and his limbs were so heavy.
Maybe he should pull over for a while? No. He had to get home. He was still young, he told himself. Even if he couldn’t sue them, he’d find a new job easily enough. One that paid twice as much as he’d been on before.
He thought about opening a window to get some fresh air but that might make him feel more sick. Ethan couldn’t make out the taillights ahead now. He couldn’t see anything but the swirling grey clouds of exhaust.
His head was getting worse. It was an effort just to keep his hands on the wheel. In fact…were they on the wheel? He strained his eyes to try and check but the inside of the car had become as foggy as the outside.
The radio cut out. Everything was absolutely silent. He couldn’t hear the sound of his own breathing any more.
The fog lifted. Suddenly. Like a curtain being drawn back to reveal the night.
The road was empty. His was the only car. The buildings were gone. Bare earth stretched away to empty horizons.
Ethan kept driving. He would get home somehow. He had so much to do.
The frame of his car rusted to orange and brown. It flaked away to dust. Ethan’s skin peeled slowly away as his insides turned to fluid and then evaporated into the air.
Still his mind, with all its thoughts of revenge, travelled on.
A stream of consciousness on a road without end.
Damian Mark Whittle