John woke.The sheets around him were drenched in sweat, clinging to his skin, suffocating him.
He peeled them away, gasping for air. Hyperventilating from the previous night's dream.Stumbling into the bathroom he quickly tore open his bag and rummaged for his meds. After for what seemed an age, he had the familiar tube in his grasp. Twisting his way through the child lock resulted in a comforting pop. He downed the meds, and some painkillers for good measure. He finally managed to bring himself to open his eyes and look at himself in the mirror. As his headache subsided, the mirror image was slowly flickering as the pills took effect.
This had been the same ritual for the past 7 years. The same morning spent woken not knowing where he was, surrounded by darkness and guilt. And always, the bed sheets soaked in fear-inspired sweat. John knew that his illness was killing him. And it was only a matter of time too. He looked at himself again, closely examining his weathered face. He looked like a corpse walking.
'You look like shit.' He said quietly to himself.
Great, he thought. Now I'm talking to myself.
After a brief shower and other hygiene practices to make himself feel slightly more 'normal', John looked around the motel room for the first time really. Last night he was too stressed and tired and he had crashed out on the bed after throwing his bag in the bathroom, so he hadn't inspected the room much.
It was your typical motel room, like those that one would see in movies. It wasn't crap, which made John worry how much he'd spent on it. The wallpaper was a dull cream colour, peeling in places. And there was a singular framed picture on the wall.
It was a photo of Katie, Bobby, and Roseanne.
John let out a deep sigh, and put the picture on the ground, facing the wall.
It seemed his mind was always turning everything against him, even in his calmest moments. He was his own enemy, from which he could not escape. Forced to gobble down his banquet of pills every day just to keep mostly level-headed.
He gathered up his bags, looked once more around the room, then walked out, leaving his nightmares behind.
The road map stared blankly up at John, and he back at it. His destination was further than he had first anticipated. His eyes gazed down the desert road into the horizon. The sand about him was flowing with the wind, brushing up against his grubby jeans.
He leant against the red pick-up that had been his only companion for the trip so far. Apart from the disgruntled receptionist at the motel, he'd had no real human contact at all. It was times like these that he'd wished he had never cut himself off from society. Since the accident, he had alienated his friends, his family. All that he had left himself with was his sister Marie, who had been the only one he was willing to see.He could barely remember these early stages, and he guessed that he had been very difficult for all involved. He didn't care. These lapses of memory helped ease the pain. Why feel bad about an old friend when you can barely remember their name, let alone their face?
For the next few miles, John just had to go straight on this road (not that there were many turns) then he assumed that the day would be done.
He looked across the desert one more time, into the horizon. He felt a slight pain in his head as a singular white car puttered past, leaving behind a dark deathly smog.
John coughed as he opened the red door.
John had been stuck behind the white car for hours on end. Black clouds billowed out of the exhaust pipe, and wrapped around the truck. Frustration was beginning to boil up inside of him, a feeling that he rarely experienced. He'd tried countless times to overtake the car, but somehow he was still stuck behind it. He was beginning to wonder if the car was just another figment of his imagination, his mind tormenting him. It seemed real enough, with the choking smell coming out the car's back end.
His torture was soon to end though. At some time around midnight (John assumed so) There was a small
gas station and rest stop to the side of the road, into which the white car had also pulled into.
The road map indicated that this was as good a place as any for a long while, so John pulled the pickup into the corner of a well-sized parking area.
Inside the gas station, tiredness was just setting in while John picked out his dinner; two chocolate bars and 1 bag of corn chips. He was stumbling over to the counter to pay, when he sighted the man with the white car, standing out in the lot, by himself, puffing on a rolly cigarette.
Something came over him.
John charged through the gas station doors and began a brisk pace toward the man, who was blissfully ignorant of his approach.
It was only until the last moment.
The final thing that John remembered, was the horror in the stranger's eyes, and the blood that spurted from his smashed nose.