Part 1 1/2
I stared at Nancy for what felt like years before I finally saw her move again. She just shifted in her seat a little at first, then started to reach up towards her head. I felt a weight lift off my heart - I hadn’t killed the poor thing after all.
“Stay here, sweetie,” I told her, leaning across the seat and giving her a hug. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
It wasn’t a lie, exactly. I certainly hoped that was what would happen, though I had my doubts. But I had to do something… Nancy may have gotten us into this mess, but I was the one who’d crashed the car and trapped us here. And, besides, Nancy was helpless now, innocent. Looking over at her, in her little dress and her wet diaper, I couldn’t bring myself to blame her for anything that had happened.
So I got out of the car, making sure to lock all of the doors before closing mine, and hiked up the ditch to the trunk. I wasn’t sure how much good it would do against this guy, since he obviously had some kind of magic mojo working for him, but the tire iron made me feel a little more confident that I wasn’t just blindly heading into his path, a lamb to the slaughter. I didn’t bother to close the trunk before running off down the road, towards the sound of his engine, wanting to keep him as far away as I could.
How exactly I was going to do that, I hadn’t quite figured out - I didn’t so much have a plan as a general desire to keep Nancy safe. I knew his truck was big enough that it could probably run me over without a second thought, but I was hoping that he wanted a little more than to just kill us. Then again, I didn’t know if he cared about me either way; he could just be after Nancy.
I guess I could have tried to hurl the tire iron through his windshield as he drove by or something, but I didn’t trust my aim enough to risk my one weapon that way. So, as I saw the headlights coming around a corner, I simply stood there, in the center of the road, staring them down. I could feel my teeth rattling in my skull as the truck grew nearer and nearer. “Come on!” I screamed at it, half wishing he would just run me down and get it over with.
As if reading my mind, he decided to defy me, instead opting to pull over to the side of the road. It sat there, rumbling, a beast ready to pounce. I didn’t give the man the satisfaction of watching him, chancing he would see the fear in my gaze, though from the corner of my eye, I saw him moving about. Was he deciding whether I was worth getting out for? He did seem the sort that took the time to think through his decisions, the kind who had a plan that he liked to stick to, and hated it when somebody, like me, threw a wrench into it. I could only hope that was the case, and I had pissed him off, even just a little. A few moments later, the truck turned off, and the door opened.
My fingers tensed around the tire iron, as I tried to prepare myself for whatever he could possibly throw at me. He stepped out of the truck, gliding effortlessly towards me, looking taller in the darkness, at least until he banished it by flicking on the lighter again. Then he looked taller in the faint light sent off by the flame,.
“Well, little lady,” he said, a smile playing across his half-lit face, fire reflecting off his too-white teeth, “are you two all right? I saw you run off the road up there, thought I’d come make sure everything was fine.”
“Leave us alone!” I demanded. “Haven’t you done enough already?!”
The lighter clicked off, and then on again. In the brief darkness, he seemed to have changed faces, now wearing a mask of concern and kindness that I’d have bet was close to the one he’d used to snare Nancy. “I haven’t done a thing yet, honey. Now, why don’t we go get your friend…”
“You’re not going anywhere near her!” I told him, taking a tentative step forward into the darkness, as the lighter went out. “You tell me how to fix her, and then get the hell out of here.”
“I’m sure she’s just fine as she is,” he grinned, lighter flicking back to life with him standing much closer, his eyes traveling up and down my body as if they were already ripping off my costume, and the skin underneath. “But you…”
He started to move his other hand over towards the lighter. I wasn’t about to stand there and see what he could do with that, so I leapt forward, swinging the iron back, and then into the side of his head. The lighter clattered on the road as he stumbled back, towards the front of his truck. I held my weapon out between us, threateningly.
“What do you think you’re doing, you little bitch?!” he yelled, ignoring the threat and launching himself at me. For a few moments, we wrestled in the dark, until I had gotten both hands on the tire iron, and managed to push him backwards, past his truck and into the ditch beyond it. He stumbled at the edge, though he might not have fallen had I not followed him, hitting him again. I had planned on aiming for his chest, but my swing went a little high.
“Come on, asshole!” I screamed down at him. “You wanna fuck with us?! This is what you get!” I heard my breath hissing out into the night air as I stood there, chest heaving, staring down into the ditch. For a while, there was no other sound, nothing, so finally, I started to turn, to head back to the car.
Then I heard the crackling of the dead leaves that filled the ditch and littered the road, and I spun, all of the force of my turn channeled into my arms as they brought the tire iron around one more time, slamming into him once again with a wet thud. He fell again, his body sounding much heavier this time, more limp.
“H-Hey,” I said quietly, bending over a little. “Hey, are you okay?” It was kind of a silly question, I knew, to ask someone I’d just bashed in the head a few times. He wasn’t moving, and I couldn’t hear him breathing, so I moved a little closer, poking at his body with the tire iron, the end of which was glistening wetly. He rolled over, revealing a similar wetness on his temple, and splashed all across the side of his face.
I felt my fingers start to uncurl, threatening to drop the tire iron to the road with a crash, but I forced them to stay closed, to grip tighter. Had I really…? It certainly looked like it, and in that case, I wouldn’t want to be leaving the murder weapon just laying around with my fingerprints on it.
But no, it wasn’t murder, was it? I mean, I had done it to protect myself, and Nancy. Would anyone believe that, though? Maybe they would if the spell didn’t wear off Nancy, yet if it did, even if she remembered the whole thing, everyone would think we were just making the whole thing up. And what if she didn’t get better? I’d just ruined any chance, however small, we might have had to get him to change her back. It looked like I had royally screwed us both over this time.
My gaze darted up and down the road, searching for anything, any light, from a car or a house, or whatever. There was nothing. Maybe there was hope, then… At least, as long as I didn’t do something stupid, like stick around and get caught at the scene. I stumbled back to the car, freezing as each gust of wind shook the tree branches, freeing them of the last few leaves still trying to hang on, my heart thumping faster and faster as my head started spinning. More than a few times, I found myself tripping over my own feet like I was Nancy, and each time I barely kept from falling. About halfway back, as the realization of what I’d done continued to wash over me, I lurched over into the woods a few feet, and bent over, as what felt like everything I’d eaten in the past week forced its way back out of my mouth.
I paused, resting against one of the trees, gasping for air; luckily, once I’d gotten a lung-full of it, I felt quite a bit better, as with it came reason. I’d done what I had to do. It was over now, nothing I could do to change it, so I might as well just make my peace with it and move on to more important things, like getting back to the car, and getting it out of the ditch. If Nancy was better, she might be confused as to where she was - if she wasn’t, she was probably scared to be all alone in the dark. Either way, I needed to get back to her.
I stuck the tire iron into one of the plastic bags in the trunk, making a mental note to wash it off in the garage sink sometime before my parents got back from their trip, then went around to check on Nancy. She was laying still, but after a few tense moments, I noticed her chest moving in and out, and realized she was sleeping, sucking her thumb, and not dead. I told myself that wasn’t necessarily a bad sign, she could have just been sleeping before the man had died. It would have been nice to have her awake and re-grown, though, to help me with the car.
I reached slowly past her, into the glove compartment, where I had several napkins tucked away, and a bottle of water. I wet one of them slightly, then bent over to clean the blood from her forehead, being careful not to press too hard. After a little scrubbing, I saw that the source of all the blood was a fairly small cut that was beginning to bruise a bit, nothing that looked too major. It wasn’t even swelling up like her little brother’s head had when he’d tried to catch a baseball with his face. I knew I wasn’t a doctor, but I was willing to believe, unless I saw evidence to the contrary, that she would be fine, at least in regards to that.
As it turned out, luck was still with me when I got out and set to the real work, and just a few pushes had the car mostly back out of the ditch. I climbed back inside, crossing my fingers, and was pleasantly surprised when it did the rest of the work for me, grinding a bit, then jolting backwards, and up onto the road. The motion woke Nancy, who gave a little stretch and yawn while I got the car aimed in the right direction, then hit the gas, just wanting to get the hell out of there as fast as possible.
“Home?” Nancy asked, popping her thumb right back in her mouth.
I sighed, staring out the window as we rocketed by the truck, half expecting the man with the scar to come popping up out of the ditch again. He didn’t. “Yeah, baby,” I told her, with as much a smile as I could muster, “we’re going home.”