Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus

Posted on Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Jack beat his fists into the steering wheel. He had searched everywhere in the car he could think for the spare key. Nothing. He looked back up at the keys on the concrete not more than thirty feet from him.  He must have dropped them when he first saw the man next to the car. The girls choked back on their sobs, more scared by their dad’s outburst than anything. He noticed the silence in the back seat and turned around in his seat to face the girls. “Hey, easy now. I didn’t mean to scare you. Everything’s O.K.”

Becky spoke first. “Who is that man?”

“Listen, that man was probably someone who doesn’t have a home and he was caught in the rainstorm. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone.”

Sarah whispered something. Jack leaned toward her. “What did you say, sweetie?”

She didn’t answer him but just stared out of the window, shaking her head slowly.

“Sarah, honey. It’s O.K. Talk to me.”

The little girl kept looking out the window. She whispered, “No, I don’t want to.”

Jack was confused. “You don’t want to talk to me?”

Sarah turned away from the window. “Not you Daddy. I wasn’t talking to you.”

Jack leaned into the back seat to look out of her window. There was nothing there. “What do you mean, sweetie. Who were you talking to?

“The man. I was talking to the bad man.” Before Jack could say anything she turned to him and whispered. “And you’re wrong Daddy. He does want to hurt us. Especially you.”

“Sarah, honey, that’s not true. Why would you say that?”

“But it is true, Daddy.” Her eyes welled up with tears as she pointed out the window. “The bad man just told me so. He said he’s gonna take me with him. Is it true, Daddy? Is he going to take me?”

“No honey. It’s not true.”

“He said I should open the door or I’d end up like Melissa. Who’s that, Daddy? Who’s Melissa?”

For a few seconds all other noise faded from the world. The only sounds Jack heard were his own breath and the blood pounding in his temples. He stared at Sarah trying to understand how those words could have come from her mouth. Becky stared at her little sister and then back at her dad, her eyes wide. Thunder tore through the sky above them, so close that it felt like an earthquake. The girl’s squealed and Jack jumped in his seat.

“All right, we’re getting out of here. Girls, listen. I left the keys on the pay phone over there. I have to go get them.”

“Noooo. Don’t leave us here.”

“I’ll be right back. I promise. The car will be locked. No one can get in.”

“I want to stay with you,” Becky pleaded.

“Don’t leave us here.”

Jack looked at his terrified girls and then back to the pay phone. He could be there and back in half a minute. If he took the kids with him it would take a lot more time and leave them all exposed.

He hadn’t seen the stranger since he tried to force the passenger door open more than five minutes ago. Maybe he realized there was a problem when Jack didn’t start the car right away. He felt a surge of panic. What if the man saw the car keys on the ground by the payphone? He’d be able to open any door. Jack wasn’t worried about fighting the man, but if the stranger had a gun, or even a knife, there would be no contest. The man could shoot him through the window if he had a gun.

If he kills me, what will he do to the girls?

Jack knew he had to get them out of there. Waiting in the car was not an option.

“I’ll be right back, girls.” He checked to make sure the man wasn’t crouching outside. Nothing. Blocking out his daughters’ screams, he threw open the door and burst out into the storm.  

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Genre – Supernatural Thriller

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.jeffgunhus.com/


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