Back in the early 1990s, I got an idea for a ghost story in which a serial killer gets his come-uppance from a haunted semi. I even took a class on the psychology of serial killers to research the story. Here’s the opening.
The highway stretched for seemingly endless flat miles to the East and to the West. The hitchhiker walked westward. From a distance, he looked as if he floated, it was so hot.
A car approached from the East. As soon as he heard it, the hitchhiker turned and stuck out his thumb, adjusting his backpack.
The car whizzed past him and soon disappeared into the illusory waters along the horizon.
He was excited.
West. He headed West.
The East had given him all he wanted. He had squeezed it of its juice. There was nothing left for him there.
Ah, but West. West was fresh and new. Full of juice. Tasty, warm juice.
A second car approached. It was silvery blue and had four doors. Richard L. Thomas was driving out to see his fiancée.
He saw the hitchhiker, pulled over to the side of the rode and stopped.
“Where you headed?” Rich said.
“West,” said the hitchhiker.
“I can take you as far as Checkatah, then I’m headed South.”
The hitchhiker got into the car.
“You know, I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but I’m feeling pretty happy today, and it looked so desolate to just leave you out there.” Rich started the conversation.
The hitchhiker just stared forward, occasionally mumbling a “yes” or an “uh-huh.”
“I’m getting married next month. In fact, that’s where I’m headed. To see my wife-to-be that is. She’s really pretty. Would you like to see a picture?”
Rich took one hand off the wheel and opened the glove compartment. “It should be right in there.” He pointed to a pile of paper to the right of the compartment. The hitchhiker took the pile out and found the photo.
“Isn’t she beautiful?”
The fiancée looked out at the hitchhiker with girl-next-door eyes. She was wearing a pink sweater and a big smile. She was in a restaurant, and had obviously been photographed off her guard. She had shoulder-length brown hair, and brown eyes. She and Rich made a lovely couple.
“Yes, she is pretty,” the hitchhiker said. “Do you think we could pull over? I have to take a leak.”
“Oh, sure. No problema.”
Rich pulled the car over to the side of the road. There were no cars in either direction.
The hitchhiker got out and went over to the ditch at the side of the road. He looked down, and then yelled over his shoulder, “Hey, come see this!”
“What?” Rich yelled back.
The hitchhiker turned around and motioned Rich out of the car. “You have to come see this,” and he pointed into the ditch.
Rich got out of the car and walked over to the ditch and looked down. “I don’t see anything.”
In one quick move, the hitchhiker slashed Rich’s throat with a knife and pushed him into the ditch. Quickly, he followed the still sputtering body down into the ditch. He took a cup out of his backpack and began to fill it with the blood oozing from Rich’s neck.
Rich sputtered a bit, and then his eyes glazed over.
The hitchhiker’s cup was full. He raised it to his lips and drank.
“Mmmmmm. Warm juice.”
When he had finished, he used Rich’s sleeve to wipe his mouth. Then he went back up to the car and drove it away.