GAS STATION

Grit flew up from the tires and fumes spiraled out from the transmission. Music muffled by the loud engine boomed from the speakers and Rose shifted her head with the upbeat rhythm between puffs from her cigarette. John sat in the driver's seat beside her and Andy directly behind. Andy shouted over the noise, "I have to piss!"

John: "Huh?"

"I have to piss!"

John looked behind briefly and shook his head and shrugged his shoulders and pointed a finger at his unhearing ear. Rose leaned in and said, "He has to piss!"

"Oh!" John said. He looked back again to Andy. "Do you wanna find the next stop or piss in the desert?"

Andy shouted, "What?"

The exchange continued awhile with none thinking to mute the radio. It was settled that Andy would prefer to wait for a stop, and John thought it would be cooler to pee in the open desert, and Andy didn't want to take his dick out in front of Rose, and Rose said she didn't care and wouldn't be looking anyway (and privately to John how she'd rather look at his), and Andy said he didn't care and wanted to wait for a stop anyway. (He was insecure about the size of his penis and didn't want John to see more than he didn't want Rose to see because John made fun of it once a couple years ago when he accidentally walked in on him pissing.)

Rose found a gas station on the map that she was pretty sure they were coming up on rather than going away from and she said it looked like they should get there in ten or so minutes.

Twenty minutes later they happened upon the gas station. They were glad to have a full tank, the place appeared abandoned. Andy rushed out of the car and into the dusty, sandy building. He found a pair of doors and spent a minute or so alternately rubbing at them and squinting at them to figure out which one was the men's. He guessed right and proceeded to stand in front of the middle urinal, unzip, and release a lengthy yellow ribbon.

He shook his junk and repackaged it. He was surprised for a moment when the toilet didn't flush, and again when the faucet wouldn't turn on. He wiped his palms on his shorts and went out the bathroom and out of the building.

John was gone.

Andy knew John was gone because Rose was immediately running toward him while flailing and shouting, "John's gone! He's fucking gone!" She grabbed him on the shoulder and tugged and said simultaneously in a dozen different ways that they needed to move and that they needed to move *now*.

Before Andy could formulate a questioning response a slender, black arm fell down from the station roof and the spindly fingers at its end hooked his shirt. The hand shot back up and out of sight and it brought a shrieking Andy with it.

The shrieking stopped abruptly.

Rose suppressed her own shrieks. Maybe it didn't know she was there. Maybe it didn't see how many of them had arrived. She inched toward the car. She hardly breathed for fear of making any sound. She feared the black thing could hear her heartbeat since it hammered so loud in her own ears.

Somehow she made it without incident. In a single motion she opened the door, threw herself inside, and slammed it shut behind her. She moved herself sideways into the driver's seat and fumbled at the ignition. Her fingers found a problem: there wasn't any key. She yelled curses while she opened the glovebox and she searched on the floor and she prayed she didn't truly remember John pocketing the thing when he got out. She turned around to see if it chanced to be in the back seat.

There wasn't any key in the back, but there was an arm. And legs, and a body, and a revolting black face that ate up the shadows so it seemed it must be flat and empty except for the four pits of yellow eyes scattered unevenly upon it.

It was the last thing she ever saw.

Written by Sophie Kirschner