John Trent took a quick look at the clock as he loaded a bucket with ice. He frowned with worry when he saw that it was already a little past ten thirty. John's shift ended at ten, but two other workers had called in sick. Friday nights were always busy, and being short two workers had just made keeping up harder.
The ice, cup lids, napkins and condiments in the dining room needed to be filled up. It was John's responsibility, to take care of that when he wasn't waiting on customers. Maybe Todd will cut me some slack tonight, John hoped. He had worked really hard all night, and he had already worked more than a half hour over. I can ask him to let me go after I finish filling the ice, John thought.
The teen finished filling the ice machine as quick as he could. Then, he went to find his manager. John found Todd in the office. The manager was talking to his girlfriend on the phone.
"Excuse me, Todd," John said. Todd's smile turned into an annoyed frown.
"Yeah, John," Todd said. "What do you want?"
"Can I clock out?"
"Is everything full in the dining room?" the manager asked.
"No, sir," John answered. "I was 'sposed to go home at ten and-"
"What's the hurry, John?" Todd asked. "You got a hot date with another emo boy? You emo boys kiss and make out, right?"
"No," John answered sharply. As if I could be that lucky, he didn't add. John wasn't even sure that he was even really emo. He dyed his hair black, but he didn't wear the classic emo cut. He wore his hair kind of long and parted so that some just naturally fell over one eye. John believed in being truthful about his emotions, which was emo. His life wasn't a lot of fun sometimes, but he didn't feel his life was as painful as it seemed to be for most real emo kids. "I need to get home before the curfew." Minors weren't allowed to be out alone after 11 PM.
"Forget the curfew," Todd said. "They don't really enforce it. Get your work done. Then you can go."
"It's pretty easy to tell somebody to forget the law when you're not the guy who ends up breaking it," John said.
"If you don't finish your work before you clock out, you can start looking for another job, John," the manager threatened. John didn't like Todd, and he didn't like his job. The teen had almost quit a few times, but John knew his parents would throw a fit if he lost his job.
Bill Trent didn't approve of his son dyeing his hair black, the music he listened to, his friends, or just about anything else John did. The fact that the boy was such a hard worker was the only thing that John knew made his dad happy. He didn't want to disappoint his dad again. John went back to work, and Todd went back to his phone call.
"You wouldn't believe the spoiled brats I have to babysit," John heard Todd saying as he left the office.
It was 11:13 when Todd finally let John clock out. John said some rushed goodbyes as he hurried out to his 1985 Diesel Escort. The Ford was old, ugly and built for somebody shorter than John, but it was the only car he had found that he could afford. The little Escort ran most of the time, and it was 100% his.
John would usually drive through town to get home, but he knew that the police really did enforce the curfew. There was a back road through the county and over Yellow Mountain that he could take. It was a longer trip, but John guessed that he wouldn't see as many police going that way.
The trip through farmland and growing suburbs went well. John didn't see a single patrol car, and traffic was really light. But things went wrong on the trip across the foothills of Yellow Mountain.
The old Ford crested one of the many hills and started down a steep slope. John pressed down lightly on the brakes, but this time there was no feeling of resistance. The pedal went all the way to the floor with a thud. The Escort rolled faster and faster down the hill. John shouted with wordless fear and his tires squealed as he took a sharp turn. There was another turn before the bottom of the hollow, and John knew he wasn't going to make it.
John desperately grabbed the emergency brake and yanked it. The car shuddered and skidded across the road. The rear end began to swing around, and John thought the car would start a roll. But luck was on John's side. Instead going into a deadly roll, the car swung all the way around. The passenger side slammed into the guard rail with a crunch, and John's car ended up facing the way he had come on the other side of the road.
John sat still for a minute, getting over the shock and fear. He didn't know how tight he had been gripping the wheel until he let go and his fingers started to ache. He took off his seatbelt and started to open his door, but stopped. John checked to make sure there was no car coming before he finished getting out of his car. It would be kinda stupid to get hit by a car after making it through that wreck, the teen thought.
The teen checked out the damage. The passenger side was badly dented by slamming into the guard rail, and the rear wheel on that side was knocked crooked. Aw man! John thought. Fixing that will probably cost more than I paid for the whole car! John went back to the driver's door. He turned on his hazard lights and grabbed his cell phone. John couldn't think of a way to pay for fixing his car, but he thought that he could at least call home for a ride and some help.
"Home," John said when he opened his cell phone. The phone tired to connect and dial John's home. It didn't work, and "No Signal" appeared on the phone's screen. John looked at the hills all around him and guessed that they were blocking the signal. He was about to start up the hill to see if he could get a signal when he saw light coming from the other side of the hill.
A large black car crested the hill and started down. John went to stand behind his car until the other had passed. But instead of going on, the big car slowed way down. It was barely idling as it crossed the road and pulled onto the shoulder in front of John's car. The word "MARAUDER" was made of silver letters across the front of the big car above its grille. The only sound was the rumbling purr of the black car's powerful engine.
John tried to get a look at the driver, but the windshield was dark even with the Escort's headlights shining on the front of the other car. Maybe it's somebody stopping to help, John told himself. He couldn't shake the feeling that there was something sinister about the old fashioned car. John remembered the kids who had gone missing the year before.
Steve Adler's car had been found on the access road that led to the old quarry during the past spring. Steve and his girlfriend, Teresa Plumber were never found. Then, Charlie Fletcher and Jerry Clinton had disappeared. They found Charlie's car parked under a bridge trestle 100 yards from the road. There was no sign of the missing boys. It was spring again and John worried that he was about to become missing kid number 5.
The driver side door swung open. John took an involuntary step back as the driver got out of the other car. His imagination painted pictures of ax murderers, blood soaked slashers and fiends of all kinds. One thing he didn't expect was the teenager who stepped into the light.
"Hey, man. You ok?" the blond boy asked. The driver looked to be about John's age. He wore jeans, boots and a plain white t-shirt. His hair was short and shined like it was wet. The driver looked fit but not beefy. His clothes fit him well but weren't tight, giving a hint of his attractive body without being obvious about it. John thought he was really cute. He's probably a jock, John thought. And he's probably straight. "Are you ok, man?" the handsome blond asked again.
"Uh, yeah," John answered. "I'm not hurt, just kinda shook up." The other boy came closer. He looked at the damage to John's car and shook his head. He bent to get a closer look, and John took the chance to get a closer look at the other guy's butt.
"The crash really did a number on your ride, man," the blond said as he turned back to John. The other boy was close enough now that John could see he had some kind of oil or gel in his hair, holding every strand in place. His eyes had looked blue at first, but now John could see that they were violet. "Your car's not goin' anywhere without a wrecker. I can give you a ride if you want."
The blond stranger smelled like apples and he was being really nice. John felt silly and ashamed for thinking he might be a killer. John thought about asking the stranger for a ride to a pay phone. He guessed he could probably get a signal if he walked up the hill, but the hottie had offered to help. John thought about getting to spend more time with the stranger and that made up his mind.
"Sure, that would be great," John answered. He held up his cell phone as he closed it. "I can't get a signal. Maybe you could take me to a pay phone?"
"Be happy to," the other boy answered. He held out his hand. "I'm Cian Doran, by the way." John shook Cian's hand. It was warm and strong, and John felt a pleasant shiver thinking about how the rest of Cian's body would feel.
"I'm John Trent," John answered.
"Cool," Cian said with a smile. John didn't let go of Cian's hand right away. There were times when it was only safe to be honest about his feelings with himself. John thought now was definitely one of those times. But his feelings didn't care what his mind thought.
"Dude, you have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen." Cian looked surprised for a second. Then, he started to laugh.
"Y'don't need to turn my head with flattery, man," the blond boy said. "I already said I'd help."
.... There is more of this story ...