The family van whined as it pushed up the last big hill of the journey. The rear view mirror was still, nothing but corn and the gentle, roiling track of asphalt behind them. The children were quiet. Adrian was gazing deeply into the screen of his mother’s tablet. Caroline was drooling into her harness. For the first time in the thirty four hour drive, the car was quiet. Peaceful. Alex smiled.
Beside the driver’s side window, something shimmered and flashed. Alex wished it was a mirage, but a second later he heard the words.
“Don’t let her get away with it.”
Alex winced. He pressed a little harder on the gas peddle and the shimmer slipped behind him. Kristine turned and flashed a smile at him. She reached over and grabbed his hand. Somehow she failed to notice the cold sweat that had gripped him.
The final stretch was low and smooth. Alex waited until he saw the sign to wake the children. Aleswich; pop: 507. Adrian glared out the windows and sneered. Caroline looked around the car blankly. Then she cried. Kristine turned and hoisted her from her booster seat. It took a bottle of formula and a minute’s antics of Elizabeth the Elephant to quiet her. Alex sighed as he pulled in.
Hi parents owned a small stretch of land along a lonely stretch of highway. It hadn’t been a highway when he’d lived there, but somehow it all looked the same. The house was a squat, tired looking thing perched on the rocky edge of a desolate gulch. He’d hated it, even growing up, and the smile he wore as he turned into the long gravel drive was forced.