As well as my satirical newspaper “The National Harold-Gazette”, from which the majority of the posts on this site have originated, I have tried my hand at writing several short stories. Some shorter than others. Unlike the newspaper, these are not satirical or humorous in nature. I am not sure exactly what classification most of these stories would fall under. They are fiction; I’m not sure if science fiction would be correct though. Nor horror either. Many of the stories have a “twist” ending to them. One of my other inspirations was the late Mr. Rod Serling and his “Twilight Zone” series. So, perhaps whatever classification that would fall under?
Anyways, I will try to post one of the short stories at least every month or two for your perusal. I hope you enjoy them.
This is one of the first short stories I wrote. It is approximately 25 years old. So do not be surprised if some of the terms may seem a bit old.
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“The Long Road Home”
“It’s almost 8:30pm. It has been a long thirty six hours driving home. Especially in this miserable weather. It’s been snowing off and on all day. With these sales, though, I won’t have to worry about being on the road anymore. Plus, being away from the family so often.”
John Thurman was thinking aloud. He had been dictating notes into his microcassette recorder for the report he will have to do tomorrow when he returns to his office. John was on the last leg of a ten day sales trip to six companies in three different states. He was on his way home. For good this time. John works as a district sales representative for Resnick Corrugated Packaging Company. He needed at least four sales to qualify for promotion into upper management. John struck gold and signed accounts with all six. He would no longer have to spend most of his time on the road as he’s done for the past seven years. The promotion will allow him to spend more time at home, and get to know his wife and two children again.
John was about twenty miles away from home when heavier snow started falling. “Well, the weather report did call for an eighty percent chance of getting more of the white stuff before the end of the day.” John was still talking into his tape recorder, which he kept in his shirt pocket. “I don’t have much farther to go. As long as I stay on the interstate I shouldn’t have too much trouble. The maintenance crews usually do a good job of keeping it clear in this kind of weather. I just wish the snow had waited until after I got to the house. Nuts! No more coffee! Well, I guess I can stay awake. It’s only a few more miles, and then I’m home for good.”
Home. The more John thought about it, the more he missed it. He thought of the comfort and security it gave him. The warmth of it when surrounded by his family.
The family. He loved all of them very much. “If only there were some way I can make it up to everyone for all the times I’ve been gone,” John said, again thinking aloud. He thought of his children. David, ten years old, has had to be the man of the house while his father’s been on the road. Not anymore. David loves sports, especially baseball. Every spring he tries out for Little League Baseball. This season John will finally be able to watch his son play.
His daughter Heather, eight years old, has been spending most of her time learning to play the piano. Her music class will be putting on a recital just before Christmas. John always seemed to have to be away whenever they did a recital. Not this year. He wouldn’t miss this one for the world. Both children liked to go fishing. John will have the time for that now too.
And of course his wife Caroline. There wasn’t a moment that John did not think of her. He thought of her beauty. Her warmth. Her gentle touches. John thought of all she’s had to endure while he’s been on the road. He especially wanted to make that up to her. And for everything she’s done. He wanted so much to make love to her again.
“When I get home, I will check on the kids.” John was thinking to himself. He looked at his watch. “They will probably be asleep by then. After that I’ll go downstairs, and build a nice, cozy fire in the fireplace. With Carol by my side, we’ll pop open the bottle of champagne I bought. Relax in front of the fire, and celebrate my success. And then we’ll make love. Right in front of the fireplace. Just like we did the first night of our honeymoon.”
The snow was falling even harder now. Visibility was getting worse. John was beginning to find it difficult to keep his eyes open. He rolled down the window hoping the cold air will help to keep him awake. John thought to himself that it was only a few more miles until he reached home. The air was making him too cold so he closed the window.
He tried to think of ways to keep himself from falling asleep while driving. Turning the radio on, he only found news and updated weather reports. John wanted something livelier. He tried singing to himself, but could not remember most of the words to the songs. “Don’t panic, John ol’ boy. No need to get yourself worked up. We’re almost there,” he said to himself.
Without any warning the car’s engine stalled while it was still in motion. “What the. . . What happened? Don’t tell me I ran out of gas. No, the gauge looks fine. Still about a quarter of a tank left in there. Damn!” John tried to guide the car to the side of the road. He applied the brakes gently. With all the snow on the highway and the speed with which John had been driving, the car skidded down the embankment, crashed head-on into a tree, and came to a rest.
“Damn! What do I do now? I should wait for a patrol car or a snowplow to come by and help me out of this mess. Who knows how long that’s going to take though.” Without any further hesitation John gathered up his briefcase and overcoat, and got out of the car. “I know it’s not too far to go. I can walk the rest of the way. I’ll come back tomorrow when the storm’s over to get the car. Right now I just want to get home and see my family.” As he was putting on his coat he felt a sharp pain around his neck and shoulders. “I’ll have to see the doctor about that tomorrow I guess.”
The strong winds and heavy snowfall kept John from walking at a quick pace. He slipped and fell twice, the second time increasing the pain he felt in his neck. “I can do this,” he kept telling himself. He had barely gone a quarter of a mile. The exertion was getting to be more than he could take. His breath was getting short. John stopped walking. “I’ve got to take a break for a minute and catch my breath.” He laid his briefcase down in the snow then sat on it. “All this darkness. Not a solitary light to be seen anywhere. And the cold. It never used to bother me as much before. I’m so tired. I can’t take much more of this,” he said quietly. John’s upper body ached with such pain. He was having trouble catching his breath. “I just want to go home!” he yelled into the night, the frustration catching up with him.
John tried to get up so he could continue, but couldn’t. It was as if a heavy weight was holding him down. He felt dizzy. He didn’t want to pass out. The pain was searing through his upper body. With all his remaining strength John stood up and again yelled out. “Please! Somebody help me!” Blackness enveloped him, and he collapsed to the ground.
Officer Ben Rivera of the Highway Patrol noticed the tire tracks in the snow, leading off the road and down the embankment. He radioed for assistance. The officer got out of his car and walked over to the wreckage. The door on the driver’s side had been flung open. He shone his flashlight inside the vehicle. The body of John Thurman was covered with a thin layer of snow. The seatbelt had kept him sitting straight, his head tilted to one side. The force of the impact snapped John’s neck.
As the ambulance drove away with Thurman’s body Officer Rivera gathered his personal belongings. He picked up the microcassette recorder that fell out of John’s pocket while the ambulance crew was placing his body on the stretcher. It was the kind of device that would begin recording whenever someone would speak. Office Rivera rewound part of the tape then played it back. The patrolman heard John’s voice through the tiny speaker. It played some of the notes for his report and personal comments. John Thurman’s last words were: “Please! Somebody help me!”