A/N: So, I was going for spooky. I think I got amusingly quirky more than anything. Damnit.
Knights in Shining Armour
It's not a place you go if you can help it. Not even teenagers go there for kicks. There's a difference between the thrill of being somewhere that might be haunted and just getting freaked the fuck out like you do in this place. It is, of course, the place where Emily's car breaks down, just stutters to a halt. Everything but the kitchen sink just stops working, and Emily's pretty sure that's just because her car doesn't have a kitchen sink.
Emily checks her phone and, nope, that's out too, which doesn't really surprise her because weird shit like this is always happening around here. It's only another half a mile to the town, which she'd walk if she didn't know, deep in her bones, that getting out of the car right now would be a really bad idea. She tries the car again in vain before resigning herself to the fact that she's just going to have to wait it out; she wouldn't be the first to. Waiting until either another car comes along, or the sun rises. Either way it's going to be a long wait. Emily's annoyed with herself for not leaving her sister's sooner, staying for dessert had seemed like such a good idea at the time.
She's kicking herself now, as she pushes back into the car seat to try and get rid of that itchy feeling of being watched. She pulls her handbag into her lap and rifles through it for her nail file, because she's damned if she's going to look out the window. The dark road disappearing over the crest of the hill is spooky enough, like hell she's going to look at all those tall, dark, shadowy trees, which are freaky enough in the daylight if you ask her. She is absolutely fine with ignoring everything outside the car and concentrating on her nails thank-you-very-much.
It would be a damned sight easier if it wasn't so dark. God, where's the moon when you need it? Freakin' new moon, freakin' clouds, freakin' goddamn freaky forest. Goddamn car too, goddamn phone, goddamn tasty desserts. She could go on for a while. Instead, she concentrates hard on her nails, because they're about the only things that won't remind her that she's stuck in this godforsaken place.
Crap, what if she needs the toilet?
No, she's not going to think about that, she's going to think about her nails and how she's currently well on her way to filing them out of existence. Damn. She's got nothing else to do. She could read the car manual if she gets really bored, and if she wants to strain her eyes. Why doesn't she have a flashlight in the car? Though, she supposes, a flashlight would be just as much use as her phone is. Or, in fact, going back to earlier topics, it'd be just as useful as a kitchen sink in a car. Having said that, a kitchen sink would pass quite nicely for a toilet in a pinch (and this is what Emily would describe as a pinch).
Dear God, she's contemplating the pros and cons of getting a kitchen sink installed in her car! Some would say it's the sign of a deranged mind. She'd say it's the sign of a mind trying really hard not to think about exactly what's waiting for her outside the car should she choose to get out. No one really knows what would happen because no one's ever gone wandering through the woods on their own in the dark (a record Emily has no intention of breaking) but everyone agrees that nothing good would happen. There's a reason this place has the more car crashes than the rest of the county put together.
There are theories and stories about what's wrong with this place, but mostly stories. Tales of a witch that cursed this spot because... well, no story's ever come up with a reasonable explanation for why a witch would curse this place, which usually has Emily brushing them off, but now she's stuck here, the stories are spinning around her head.
She should get some sleep; that'll make time pass quicker. She glances at her watch to find that the hands haven't moved she glanced at it when her car first broke down. Well, that's just fucking great. She'll have to tell the time by the barely-existent moon or some shit like that. Well, whatever, unconscious is still going to be the best way to spend this night.
Easier said than done. She can slouch as far down in her seat as she wants but it still feels like there's someone behind her. For the first time ever she wishes her car was a two-seater so she wouldn't have that great gaping blackness between her and the back of the car where anything could be hiding. Not that she's going to look, because if she looks then she'll have to keep looking and then she'll have to keep glancing out the windows to check that there's nothing out there either and then she'll be too wound up to even contemplate getting to sleep.
She's going to shut her eyes, pretend she's warm and safe at home, and go to sleep. Nothing can get her if she stays in the car, she doesn't really know why it can't, but she doesn't need to know why, she just needs to know that it can't. Anyway, it doesn't matter because she's at home in her bed and whether or not things can get her when she's in her car is completely irrelevant.
Somehow she does get to sleep, and wakes up fuck knows how much later for no discernible reason. That's really annoying, because somehow it's gotten even darker, even though that didn't actually seem possible and now she's awake. The only thing she can really do is go back to sleep.
Except that's really not going to work because did the wind just pick up? It better have just picked up because the trees are i not /i moving on their own. And, oh man, are there twigs snapping outside? Is something snapping twigs? The wind, the wind is snapping twigs, seriously, it's nothing. Fucking wind. She's going to have a fucking heart attack at this rate. All she needs now is a fox or something to scream and the night'll be complete. God, car breaking down in some spooky place and getting freaked out by the wind; such a fucking i cliché /i . It would annoy Emily if she weren't so busy getting freaked out.
Then come the screams. Sheesh! She'd only thought it, she hadn't i actually /i wanted the foxes to come out! The thirty or so foxes that must have come out to create a racket like that. It's a fox war. The foxes are out to get each other and if Emily stays inside her car, she'll be perfectly safe. Really, she will. Foxes can't get into cars, and neither can anything else.
She suddenly turns to check the back seat, to check that nothing i has /i managed to get in while she was asleep. Nothing there. Fuck, what did she have to go and do that for? Now she can't get the idea that there's something in the back seat out of her head. If nothing else, this night is going to drive her completely insane.
The screaming's dying down now, so that's good isn't it? Someone won the fox war and now they're all going home. Home is such a good idea. Emily turns the key in the ignition but still nothing happens. She half-heartedly checks her phone but it's completely dead, just as she suspected.
She sits up abruptly in her seat when she hears a new noise; one that doesn't fit in. It's the throaty roar of an engine and exactly what she's been waiting for. She's got her hand ready on the door handle and is watching her rear view mirror for headlights because she's not getting out of this car any earlier than she has to. The bright beam of headlights shines from around the corner of the road (at last!) and Emily opens the door and gets out.
All that stuff about staying in the car being a good idea? Yeah, staying in the car is a really fucking good idea. And no, that's not sarcasm.
Outside, it's the quietest night Emily's ever experienced. There's no wind, the trees are still as statues and there's no other car to be seen. Fuck this, she's getting back in the car and staying there until the sun's good and high in the sky. But just as she turns to climb back in, the door is wrenched out of her grasp and slammed shut. Emily swallows her scream and concentrates on breathing calmly and deeply. She is i not /i panicking and there is i nothing /i freaky going on here, it was the wind, it was the fucking i wind /i . She has to tell herself this because hasn't got a goddamn clue what to do if it's not the wind (which it is). It's all fine, anyway, she'll just open the door and get back in.
Of course, opening the door is a hell of a lot easier if you haven't locked yourself out.
Mothershittingfucking i hell /i this is not happening. She is not in some lame horror movie and she sure as hell has not just locked herself out of the only safe place there is. Except for the part where she has. But has she really? She tries the handle again and, unsurprisingly, she really has locked herself out. She tries the handle yet again, but it's still locked and yeah, okay, she might be panicking now and shouting at your car and hitting it probably isn't going to help it unlock but there are i things /i watching her and--
"Are you all right?"
"Jesus fucking Christ on a bike!" Emily yelps as she spins to face this guy who's just appeared out of i nowhere /i . She plasters herself up against the car because the car's safe and this guy apparently enjoys creeping up on people on the creepiest nights ever and then wonders why they stare at him like he's a complete madman.
"Uh, miss? Are you all right?" But then again, she i was /i just yelling at her car and telling it to let her back in, so she's probably got her own little madwoman thing going on.
"Where the hell did you come from?" Emily decides is the most pertinent of all the questions rushing around her head. The guy frowns slightly and, with a bemused smile, gestures back down the road to where a car is parked.
"We were just driving by and saw you. Thought you might need some help." Emily examines the car as best she can; it's a black, classic muscle car of some kind, with an engine that almost certainly sounds like the one that lured her out of her car in the first place. There's also another guy standing by the car, staring at the forest in just the way Emily's been avoiding for, heck, it's probably been hours now. "Do you?" Emily's attention is brought back to the guy standing in front of her.
"Do I what?"
"Do you need help?" Emily stares blankly at him for a little while longer because she knows logically that yes, she does need help, but since these guys and their car turned up, she's lost that feeling of being watched and nothing seems quite so urgent any more.
"Yeah, I suppose I do," the guy raises an eyebrow and it practically disappears under his bangs; he really needs a haircut, "I mean, I've locked myself out of my car and my car's broken down anyway and I think it'll probably need more than a jump start to get it going again..."
"You need us to take you home?" She gives the guys and their car another once over, and then realises that she's not getting home any other way and if she's not getting home, then she's staying here locked out of her car and with that damn forest to contend with. Call her mad, but she'd rather take her chances with the guys.
"Yes. Please. If you wouldn't mind." The guy smiles, revealing some killer dimples.
"Not at all," he says.
"Emily," says Emily, holding out her hand because it's only polite.
"Sam," says the guy, shaking her hand with his own, it has to be said, somewhat huge hand. How someone quite so much larger than her manages to feel safer than an empty road, Emily has no idea, but she can remember just how scary that empty road was until a few minutes ago, so she's not going to waste energy questioning it. She just hopes her gut feelings are right.
Sam leads her back to his car. "This is my brother, Dean." Dean drags his gaze from the trees to nod at her, she smiles and waves back, mostly because she's a complete dork like that sometimes.
The doors creak and slam as everyone gets into the car.
"Where we going?" asks Dean, looking at Emily in the rear view mirror.
"I live just in town, like five minutes away."
"Sucks to break down so close to home, you couldn't have called someone?" Emily half expects the car to not do anything when Dean turns the key, but to her great relief, the car roars to life and moves away. Taking her home.
"No, my cell broke too."
"That's weird," says Sam.
"This whole place is weird." She watches the forest warily as it goes past, still looming spookily over the road, even though that deep something-is-wrong-here feeling is gone. "I'm not the first person to break down here, happens all the time and people spend the night out here because they don't want to get out of their cars. Lots of crashes, too. Freaky place, just doesn't feel right." Sam's looking at her and nodding sincerely, while Dean's just watching the road.
Emily directs them to her house. She's going to have to clamber up on the trash can and struggle through the tiny kitchen window because her house keys are locked back in her car. Just great. Perfect end to a perfect night, really.
Just before they pull up in front of her house, Dean pushes a tape in. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival plays quietly and – though Emily's not quite sure why the word pops into her head – ominously. It's odd because Emily's always liked the song.
"Dude, do we have to listen to this?" Sam asks wearily.
"Yes," Dean replies just as wearily and Emily's just about to ask why they have to listen to it when they both so clearly don't want to listen to it, when the car comes to a halt. "Your stop," says Dean helpfully.
"Thanks so much for dropping me off, I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't turned up."
"No problem," says Sam with that dimpled grin of his.
"Yeah, wouldn't want the big, bad forest to get you!" says Dean with a smirk of his own. Emily climbs out of the car, but leans back down before she closes the door.
"Have a good journey!" Both of them snort like she just made a joke and Emily realises she didn't ask anything about where they were going. She's too tired, she decides in the end.
"Night, Emily," says Sam. Emily waves in return and shuts the door.
Walking up the driveway towards the trash can, Emily can still hear the engine idling behind her and, strangely enough, the music, even though it had seemed quiet in the car. She smiles; it's sweet of them to make sure she actually gets into her house safely. Lord knows her trash can is hardly one of the most stable things to stand on.
She turns around to wave in thanks because, really, she can't thank them enough, but they're not there. The sound of the engine is gone, disappeared the moment she turned around, but the music is just fading into nothing. A shiver runs up her spine that's almost – but not quite – fear. She stands for a few seconds more just staring at the empty spot that a huge black car should be taking up before she bolts for the kitchen window and bed and the i end of this freakin' night /i .
The next morning Emily goes down to the garage and explains how her car broke down and that it's still out there. One good thing about living in the town where you grew up is that people know you and your parents and are your friends and are much more likely to give you a free tow back to the garage. Emily's incredibly thankful and hops into the cab of the tow truck, not at all looking forward to going back to that place, but she'll be glad to get her car back.
They head out, Rob asking about her night and how much of it did she spend out in her car and what happened while she was out there, a strange kind of glee about him. Emily finds his approach very annoying and refuses to give him any satisfying answers.
Emily leaps out of the truck the moment it comes to a stop. Her car's still there, untouched as expected. She walks up to the driver's door.
"Oh yeah, I locked myself--" the door swings open when she pulls on the handle. "Oh," she says, "Never mind." She grabs her handbag and then moves to the side of the road to let Rob do his thing. She turns on her cell phone, which is now working and, actually, the car's probably working now as well, but Rob's already hooking it up and she doesn't really want to bother him. Emily's surprised to find that the cell has almost full signal, because this particular spot only ever gets two bars at most, and that's if you're incredibly lucky and the sun's shining and the wind's blowing in your favour, or whatever it is that gives you a better signal.
Emily immediately becomes aware of the fact that she's been standing with her back to the forest, which is something you i just don't do /i . Then again, one reason you don't do it is because of the uncomfortable feeling of all the hairs on the back of your neck trying to crawl their way off you. That feeling just isn't there. She turns to look at the wood and that's all it is; a wood, a bunch of trees. They haven't been just a bunch of trees in decades, maybe even centuries; there's always been something extra about this bunch of trees. But not any more. Now they're just harmless trees.
She takes a few steps closer and peers in between the trees, placing her hand on one to keep her balance. She feels something uneven under her hand and moves it to find some kind of symbol carved there. It looks like it's been there for years but Emily's pretty sure it hasn't because surely one of the stories would have worked it in? She looks down and finds that the ground beneath her feet has a fine sprinkling of – she crouches to get a better look – salt, which stretches far as she can see.
Emily gets an idea. She stands up and hurries over to where that big, black car was parked last night. The ground isn't dry or hard, there should be some evidence that it was there. There isn't. There's no sign of any car other than her own, or that anyone was here aside from her. Unless you count the part where she somehow got home. And that the extra sinister something about the forest is gone.
She stands in the spot where the car was, but also wasn't, pondering upon things like spirits and curses and ghost-hunting ghosts and getting nowhere because she doesn't know the first thing about any of them.
"Hey, Emily, we're ready to go!" calls Rob. Emily looks around her. Not up, she doesn't think that they're anywhere up. She whispers a small thanks into the soft breeze and then leaves.
Hope you enjoyed!