They all woke up early in the morning ready to leave. Josh woke up grumpy because he never slept well that night. None of them slept well that night. Billy had nightmares of that guy and still couldn’t get him out of his head. They just wanted to finish the rest of the trip to Darwin and go back home and relax. David slipped his arms around Tracy and watched the sun rise. Tracy felt the eye of Sarah on her. She quickly turned her gaze from Sarah and tried to look on the bright side of things, which was hard for her to do because of Sarah.
They were all tired and weary, but they didn’t seem to show it. Once again, Billy drove with Sarah in the front and the others in the back, switching seats from time to time. David reached under the seat and grabbed a bottle. Sean stared at him.
“You gonna hog all the damn bottles?” David reached under the seat for two bottles and gave one to Sean and Josh.
“That’s better,” Sean replied and took a long swig. David stared at him with a smile on his face and watched him chug it down his mouth and reached for another.
“Nothing.” Sarah turned and gazed at them through the mirror.
“You got a problem?” Sean staggered.
“How about drinking water for starters?” Sarah pushed.
“Tried. Doesn’t work for me.”
“You wanna pass me one?” Billy turned his arm for one while he drove with one hand. David was about to reach a bottle for him, but Sarah stopped him.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Sarah glowered.
“Why not?” Billy almost shrieked.
“Remember what happened at Michelle’s birthday party after we left?”
“Good times. Good times,” Sean smiled and turned to Josh who laughed. They were all drunk that night. Billy was drunk more than his friends were. He kept making jokes and laughing for no reason and staggered to the car. When he started the car, he didn’t realize that it was on reverse, and he drove right into a tree.
“Remember that time when you were drunk and you were trying to back out of the driveway and you drove all the way back and hit the neighbor’s car?” Josh laughed hysterically and stared at Sarah. David, Billy, and Sean joined in.
“Or how ’bout the time when Sarah almost got out of a ticket from a cop when she was flirting with him?” Sean brought in.
“Please stop,” Sarah turned to the window wanting the conversation to end.
“I don’t know why I even brought that up,” Sarah sighed while the rest of them laughed.
“Oh come on Sarah have a little fun. We’re just joking around. Besides it was just a one time thing. It’s not going to happen again. Trust me,” Billy waved his hands in the air with a smile all over his face. His smile faded when Sarah didn’t bother to take it all as a joke.
“I don’t care. I don’t want to take that risk again,” Sarah ended the conversation and turned back to the window. Billy kept looking at her from time to time. He wanted to change her mind, yet at the same time she won’t let him. He finally drew a heavy sigh and not a word was spoken to each other. Sean and Josh kept glancing at each other waiting for the right moment to laugh and they did. Heather and Tracy talked quietly between each other.
They thought that they saw Sarah give Heather a menacing glare because she was talking to Tracy. They ended their conversation between each other and Tracy moved back beside David and he hugged her close in his arms. They all fell asleep in the car with soft music playing.
The night finally drew near and they were still on the road. One by one, they all caught a cold that lasted for about a couple of hours, and they were each getting on each other’s nerves. Billy gripped the steering wheel as his hands began to slip. He drove on until he found a gas station.
Turning off the ignition, he tried to sleep, but couldn’t. The gas station was still open on the inside so he decided to go in since he wasn’t going to sleep at all. The light was bright, but it dimmed a little. The aisles were so close together that you almost had to squeeze right through them. Everything was strewn around as if someone tried to hurry it up during a burglary.
There was a stale stench in the air that seemed to cling to everything around it. The freezer doors at the end were foggy and unclear. The handles seemed mired to the other side as Billy tried to open one. He tried walking over boxes that were either empty or full with whatever was inside them. It was hot and stuffy and damp inside.
“Can I help you?” someone answered from behind. Billy jumped from the deep voice behind him that startled him. He reeled on his feet to turn around. Besides his deep voice, the guy looked scrawny and big. His facial features were gray and bold with a slight mustache that he gripped with his hand.
His handsome features seemed to fade away as he got older. He fingered his unshaven mustache and beard as if he was thinking something over. His muscles were broad and heavy. His bluish-green eyes sparkled and glimmered in the light. He rocked on his heels like Billy’s dad always does. His smile was nothing but a scowl.
“Uh no. I’m fine,” Billy finally spoke.
“Are you sure? You look kind of restless,” there was something about the guy’s voice. He sounds concerning and nice, Billy thought.
“I’m just a bit tired. My friends and I are headed to Darwin.”
“That’s a long drive from here. How many hours are on you?”
“I’m not sure. None of us are keeping track of time,” Billy said, following him to the counter.
“What happened here?” Billy surveyed the rest of the small place.
“My family used to work here. My parents gave it up for some company, but my older brothers took it out of their hands. So now I’m left to take care of it. It’s been very messy here lately. I’ve been robbed twice as you can see, but I happened to manage it all. I was never able to put things out anymore. Who knows I just might get robbed again. Money seems short. I barely have anyone coming in these days.” There was tension between them. The only noise that could be heard was the low humming noise of the electricity running.
“So do you need anything?” He replied after a long moment of silence. Billy stood there in a daze. His voice got him back to reality. Billy poured a bunch of snacks, chocolate bars, and a beer for himself on the countertop. He smiled at Billy and at the stuff that he wanted. He smiled back at him and gave him more money than he half expected Billy would give him. Billy left with two bags and a bottle in his hand and the bell rang when he opened the door and left.
Outside, Billy let out a sigh of relief. He smelled the fresh air which was refreshing than the stench inside. He checked his watch and saw the sun peeking out a little from behind the scene in front of him. He turned around when he heard a groan.
“Where are we? Why aren’t we moving?” Sarah moaned under her breath.
“Don’t worry. Relax. We only stooped for a short bit,” Billy replied. Even though he knew that it was more than just a short bit that they stopped for.
“Are we even close? I’m getting tired of this,” Sarah whined.
“We’re all tired, so quit complaining,” Sean uttered in the back seat. Billy finished the rest of the beer and threw it in the trash and quickly got in the car before a fight erupted.
“Who wants to switch spots with me, I’m sick of this spot. I’ve been sitting in it for hours,” Sean complained.
“I will. I need the back anyways,” Sarah answered giving Billy a hard glance before she moved. Billy just shook his head. When they switched spots, they made themselves comfortable.
“Now I’m in shot gun. Ha ha,” Sean relaxed. Billy watched him sink deep into the seat. It was quiet for a while after they were on the road. Sean put the radio on and switched to the cd that played soft music.
“So Billy what do you think of Josh,” Sean brought up conversation in the hot damp car. He stared at him and smiled and waited for him to reply. Billy just ignored him and pretended he didn’t hear him.
“What do you think of David?” Billy brought in.
“I think of him as being annoying. He’s so loud.”
“Like you would know,” David came along.
“Tell me that’s not loud?”
“You’re louder than me. Remember that time we had a screaming contest. You were the loudest. You practically broke every window in the house.”
“He’s right. You are loud Sean,” Josh put in.
“Yeah well, he was just jealous because I won the contest.”
“Yeah right. My ears were plugged for weeks because of that.”
“Anyways, come on Billy answer my question.” Sean turned away from David who made a face at him.
“I don’t know. I think he’s weird that’s all,” Billy announced.
“You think I’m weird?” Josh shrilled. All the guys laughed at him. Billy didn’t exactly see where he was going because he lost himself in the conversation. Someone was supposed to head him in the right direction but nobody was leading him.
The passing of other cars stopped. Instead of turning left where he was supposed to, he turned right. Soon enough, signs were missing; the once dense trees were beginning to grow scarce. The road that was once smooth gave in to hard gravel.
Billy stopped talking and laughing and his face went pale and was filled with confusion. When they all realized that they weren’t on the road, everyone stopped talking all at once and their faces were filled with confusion and fear.
The only noise that Billy could hear was the beating of his heart and his mind screaming in agony and frustration. A hard bump on the road brought their conversation to a halt and brought them back to reality. He stopped for a minute to think things over. In the silence in the back, Billy heard Tracy let out a short gasp.