Jason L. McPherson
A gleaming, bone-white moon towered over Glassy Mountain as Harvey Thomas sped along the tight, winding curves that descended the mountain like a graveled serpent. Next to Harvey in the passenger seat, his wife, Wanda, in labor nearly five weeks early, groaned with the pain of another contraction.
Harvey and Wanda were vacationing in a rented rustic cabin high atop the mountain, when on the third night; Wanda had doubled over in pain. She had felt the warm liquid gushing down her legs and knew, early or not, the baby was coming. “Harvey!” She screamed, “My water broke!”
Harvey grabbed his keys and in his haste, had almost left without her.
Now, barreling along the winding, curvy mountain road, Wanda warned him, “Slow down or you’re going to kill us both!”
“You mean all three of us.”
“God It hurts!” She glared at him, “You did this to me!”
With a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, Harvey sped down the mountain, nearly losing control as the rear wheels slid around the loose gravel turns, slinging a rooster tail of fine grey dust and rocks behind. The thought of trying to deliver a baby in the seat of his truck crept into his mind, the fear of it gnawing at him.
Wanda doubled over groaning in pain, as the truck plowed through thick pockets of fog, giving way to less dense pockets, like layer upon layer of opening curtains as the truck barreled along. Worried, Wanda screeched at him, “Harvey, damn it slow down, you’re scaring me.” No sooner than the words came out of her mouth, she doubled over again, releasing a long, painful groan as they came to another steep curve.
Wanda grabbed hold of his leg, clamping down hard as the contractions gripped her insides. As her fingernails dug into his leg, Harvey knew he had to be strong.
“It’ll be alright, you’ll see. We’ll make it to town in less than an hour.” He faked a big smile, “We’re having a baby!”
“Why in the hell did I let you talk me into this?”
“I...I just wanted us to get away before the baby came. I thought you would enjoy it. How was I supposed to know the baby would come early like this?”
“Just watch the road, Harvey, for God’s sake!”
As he came around the next curve, through the thick fog, Harvey saw something take form ahead of them in the road. Harvey leaned over, narrowing his eyes, as if it would help him see through the thick blanketing fog, what the hell…
As the truck barreled towards it, Harvey’s breath caught as he saw the man, staggering in the middle of the narrow gravel road. Instinctively, Harvey snatched the steering wheel, but felt the thud and heard the double thump, thump of his body slamming into the bumper and ricocheting from the hood of the truck.
The truck fishtailed, veering from the road. Harvey jerked the wheel with all he had, but the truck hydroplaned on the loose gravel and ignored his commands.
Wanda’s startled scream came to a jarring halt as the truck slammed dead center with the enormous white oak, and that was the last sound Harvey Thomas heard as his head bounced hard off the dash, the steering wheel disappeared deep in his chest, and Harvey’s world turned black. A cloud of grey dust engulfed the truck, steam rose from the radiator, the front bumper and hood had crumpled around the white oak, hundreds of windshield fragments lay scattered around the base of the tree, glowing in the pale, bluish light of the moon.
Wanda slowly raised her head, “Harvey…”
She heard nothing, but the hissing radiator and the ticks and pings of what was left of the engine under the crumpled hood. Harvey did not stir, and her eyes filled with tears as her mind slowly came to grips with what had just happened. Pain pulsed throughout her body and she held tight to her swollen belly
The baby, oh my God the baby!
Through the shattered window, she saw movement through the billow of fog and spotted a man standing awkwardly in the road, his head cocked to one side. Something about him did not seem right, but she pleaded. “Help us! Please help! I’m in labor! He’s hurt bad, please call an ambulance!”
He responded with a raspy, inhuman squeal, hobbling towards the truck, lips curled in a snarl, exposing yellow and bloody teeth. He made it to her window, clawing at the glass with a shrieking, raspy howl, pressing his face to the window. The thing’s nostrils flared, as it smelled her flesh. Its milky, lifeless eyes locked on her.
Wanda screamed as it pounded on the window, howling like a wild animal, trying desperately to get at her. Wanda realized with a primal fear, that whatever this thing was, it was no longer human, not in the way she understood. This thing was evil, soulless and above all else, hungry. Through the pain and panic, she remembered Harvey’s revolver in the dash. The gun! He had taught her how to shoot it once and she prayed she could remember how to use it as she fumbled with the latch until finally getting it open, snatched it out of the dash and pulled the hammer back, cocking it. She pointed the shaking pistol barrel at the things face against the windshield, closed her eyes and squeezed the trigger, but it would not budge. The safety!
With shaking hands, she finally switched off the safety, placed the barrel mere inches from the things face as it was attempting to gnaw through the glass. The windshield bloomed in a small fragmented circle, the thing’s head snapped backwards and it fell limp across the crumpled hood of the truck, unmoving, and for several moments, the world was completely silent.
As hear hearing began to restore, she saw movement and watched another of the things stagger from the dark woods. It stood in the graveled road, sniffing the air. Its ragged breathing increasing as it found her scent.
She pulled the hammer back, and the metallic click drew its attention. Its head snapped her direction. The thing squealed and lunged towards the truck, dead soulless eyes locked on her now.
Her first shot missed completely, but the second hit it square in the chest, staggering it back a step, but still it came, clawing at the truck and onto the hood. She fired again and missed again. This time, though, she took careful aim, and the bullet sent brain matter and skull fragments flying into the night sky.
Wanda opened the chamber and saw there were no more bullets left. She realized the noise had attracted them and hoped if she stayed completely quiet, maybe no more of them would find her, but that hope ended quickly as a third came from the dark woods. Wanda ducked down, listening to its dragging feet as it staggered out onto the gravel road. The thing had stopped now, and the urge to look at it was irresistible for her. Her heart pounded in her ears as she tried to listen, then she doubled over again, in the grips of another strong contraction. She felt an enormous pressure building inside her, and an overwhelming urge to push, “God not now!”
Although pain ripped her insides, she bit her lip and bared it, as fat tears rolled down her cheeks. Now unable to resist the urge to push, she hiked up her dress, slid her panties down and pushed with all she had. Stifling a scream, she pushed until she ripped, as the crown of the baby’s head made its way out of her. She breathed as quietly as she could, in short bursts, and then she pushed, as half the baby and a pile of something wet came from her. She pushed again, and the cab filled with the raspy, wailing cries of new life. It was the most beautiful sound she had ever heard, and the most terrifying.
Mere seconds later, the enraged and hungry thing slammed headlong into the driver side door, staggered around the truck, snarling screeching and hobbling on a badly broken leg. She recognized him as the man they had run over.
She scooped the bloody newborn up, holding it to her chest, when another urge to push hit her, and a pile of afterbirth and placenta fell to the floorboard.
Fighting the urge to scream, she gently rocked the baby as it squalled. She tried to comfort the baby, quickly glanced back at the road, but saw nothing. The thing was gone. She leaned forward, trying to see where he was.
Beside her, Harvey flinched, she thought he was coming to, but then watched a pale hand claw at his hair, yellowed fingernails dug into Harvey’s neck, and the thing violently hauled him out of the shattered driver side window, screeching its pleasure.
Now, she screamed.