This prompt was from a FB Group I’m in called Writers Write It was actually the perfect prompt for me today, I had this idea for a story (paranormal, of course) and this prompt sort of, well, prompted me to start it…
UNTITLED AND ROUGH ROUGH ROUGH DRAFT. Just wrote to get it out…
Cate had traveled the same long stretch of road a million times. It was the only route that led to the highway. The road, in dire need of repair, was flanked by cornfields and dilapidated farmhouses. Cows dotted the pastures, grazing in the tall, unkempt grass. Old farmhouses, handed down from generations, were still inhabited but not lovingly. Despite the sun, blazing brightly in the summer sky, the scenery was grey.
Poverty was a fact of life in this Midwest town that barely even made it onto a map. All Cate could think about as she headed toward her job at the Wal-Mart was to step on in and drive right out of Dodge. She hated it here, the place she embarrassingly called home. Dreams of something better were a constant in her mind but her body was trapped here in this Godforsaken Hellhole.
6 years ago, right before Cate turned 12, her mom left leaving Cate in charge of her little sister Amanda who had been 8. Her father, devastated by a blow he never saw coming sought solace in the bottle. Cate had to grow up quickly but she knew her story wasn’t so much different from many of her neighbors. Most of the people she knew had been left. It was a town full of abandoned people, homes and businesses. And she couldn’t stand it here anymore.
Coming up to the end of the cornfield where the dusty, dirt road intersected with the highway, Cate turned on her left signal. Not that it mattered if her signal was on, the roads were pretty much deserted. Cops didn’t even bother cruising the area. There was never much going on aside from an occasional drag race, the cops hung out closer into their small town to bust the drunks coming out of one of the many bars, and there were a lot of them stumbling out toward their trucks at any given time of the day.
She sat at the intersection letting the wind whip her blonde hair around, the only relief from the heat of the summer. Cate still had plenty of time to get to work, she wasn’t in a hurry. Besides, it wasn’t a job she exactly looked forward to doing.
Desperation and despair hung over the area like a fog that never lifted, blotting out any light that could possibly filter in. Hope and faith were distant memories, hazy dreams long forgotten. Cate felt as though she were the last person to grasp onto those concepts.
Her job at Wal-Mart helped to pay the bills and the rest went to support her fathers favorite bar. She was able to save a little bit, here and there. She was trying to put away as much as she could so she could get out of this place. At the rate she was going, Cate wouldn’t be able to ever make a new start. Besides, she couldn’t just up and leave her sister who was starting high school. She wouldn’t do that to her, not yet. Her sister needed her.
As Cate was about to make her turn, a lone figure caught her eye. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket over a white t-shirt. He had a blue dufflebag sitting on top of one of his feet. She rolled down her window and called out to him.
“Hey, where ya headed?” She yelled.
He smiled, picked up his dufflebag and ran across the street toward her, “I’m not sure, I just need to get out of here.” He had a slight accent that Cate couldn’t place. Then again, she wasn’t exactly well-traveled and the only accents she’d ever heard were from tv shows or movies.
“Well, I’m headed into town. Work.” She didn’t feel she had anything to be afraid of, nothing bad ever happened here. Nothing at all ever happened in their town except drunken brawls, “I could give you a ride as far as the Wal-Mart.” She offered.
“Hey, that would be great.” He smiled at her as he opened the passenger door, “I’m Jake, by the way. Jake Kingston.” He slid into the seat and offered his hand.
“I’m Cate Livingston.” She shook his hand. His hand was strong and firm.
Jake slammed the door to the rusty old Ford and gave her a nod, “It’s nice to meet you Cate. I thought I’d have to hoof it. This place is deserted.”
“The folk are sleeping off their late night drinking.” She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. He was beautiful. Way better looking than anyone she knew from around here, “So, where are you from? How did you end up here?” No one put their town on a “must visit” list.
“I hitched a ride and the dude just dumped me off around here. I walked as far as I could but I’m exhausted. I just need a place to stay for the night and then, I’ll head out. I’m trying to get to New York City.” He explained.
“Wouldn’t it have been easier to just take a bus or fly? Or even drive your own car?” Cate was starting to get strange vibes from Jake.
“Listen Cate, it’s a long story and I’m beyond tired.” He stared out the window, his bright blue eyes taking in the empty highway and the dying cornfields, “Sorry, I just don’t feel much like talking. Thanks for picking me up though.”
“Sure. No problem.” They drove the 15 minutes into town in complete silence. When she turned into the Wal-Mart parking lot, she turned to him, “Hey Jake, can I buy you a coffee?” There was something about him, maybe it was just that she was jealous of the fact that he was headed out of this town, but she wanted to find out more. Strangers were infrequent around these parts.
Yawning, he looked at her and she noticed the dark circles shadowing his eyes, “Yeah, you know what? That sounds nice, thank you.”
“We don’t have any fancy coffee shops here but we can grab a cup inside.” She pointed to the only highlight of town, the Wal-Mart, where everyone hung out when they weren’t drinking.
Jake laughed, “I can tell that this isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis.” Cate watched him as he inspected her, “Why do you stay?”
“Long story. C’mon, I’ve gotta punch in first. You’re in luck, I’m working the food counter this morning.”
Jake followed Cate inside, “Stay here, I’ll be right back.” She called over her shoulder.
“I’m not going anywhere seeing as I have nowhere to go!” Jake stood there, a stunning contrast to the dismal surroundings.
She punched in her time card and walked back to find Jake exactly where she had left him. He smiled slowly at her and she couldn’t help but smile back. She didn’t know what it was but she had liked him immediately.
“Come sit down, let me get you coffee and something to eat.” She led him to the small cafeteria and stood over him as he settled himself into a two-top.
He looked up at her and waved his hand over to indicate that she should sit down too, “I have something to tell you, Cate. It’s going to seem really strange and far-fetched.”
Cate slid into the seat, a weird feeling coursing its way down from the nape of her neck, “Um, okay?” She narrowed her eyes to slits in concentration.
He reached over and grabbed her hand, his mouth open and closed a few times before he actually spoke, “I’m not going to beat around the bush, Cate. I didn’t just come here by mistake. I came for you.”
She pulled her hand out of his, “Oh yeah. Sure you did. You didn’t even know me until a half hour ago. Far fetched? Understatement.” She stood up, “I have to get to work. I’ll bring you coffee and some food and then, you should probably get going.”
Jake grabbed her arm as she was walking away, “Cate, you have to believe me. You’re in danger and I was sent to protect you. I have nothing, no proof that I can show you to make you understand. You just have to trust me.”
“Listen Jake, I’m sure that line works with other girls in other small towns. But, not with me. Good try though.” She went behind the counter, grabbed a bagel and cream cheese, poured a cup of coffee and placed it in front of Jake who was now standing in front of the cash register.
“It’s not a line. You’re life is in danger. You need to come with me.” He stared directly into her eyes. She saw nothing else but the blackness of his pupils as he spoke. Everything around her disappeared except for Jake’s eyes. She was hypnotized by the way the blue swirled like clouds, she was lost in them, floating freely.
Cate took off her apron and threw it on the ground, “Okay, let’s go.” She suddenly had no control over herself, whatever he said, she’d do.
Jake nodded and walked toward the door, Cate followed. None of this mattered, her sister, her drunk father, saving money to leave. Nothing. Except Jake showing up to save her, to take her away from an unknown danger.
“I’ll drive.” Jake stated. Cate handed him the keys and then entered the passenger side, the door creaking on its hinges as if in warning.
“Where are we going?” Cate looked over at Jake who was running a hand through his black hair.
“I’m taking you home, Cate. Where you’ll be safe.” Jake turned to her and smiled.
She was suddenly so tired, the last thing she remembered was saying “Okay” as Jake turned on the radio and drove off toward the highway that would take them wherever it was he planned on taking her.