Chapter 1

Down pouring rain river streamed down the pavement of Route 305. Wind tore through a field, bending the weeds horizontal. The sky was darkening, bringing night early on this November evening.

A green ‘93 Corolla came around the curve with a broken windshield wiper scraping against the glass and a disconnected rubber piece flapping in the rain and a back bumper covered in stickers.

Inside, the Corolla’s dash had layers of cigarette ash and the glove compartment hung open with a gas station hot dog container on it.

The driver and owner of this beauty, Ray, gripped the steering wheel’s red duct taped areas at ten and two. He was a dreamboat with blue eyes, blond hair short enough to comb, but long enough to be messy, and perfect skin. When standing, he was six foot… two inches when he wore his boots, but tonight he went for his green high top Chucks that were as soaked as his denim jacket.

Missy rode shotgun with her hand stuffed down the ripped hole of Ray’s pants. To the jocks and bankers, she was a manic pixie dream girl; her flawless, long brown hair with a blue streak framing her face. She was a rocker chick in a leather jack, Eels tshirt, tight blue jeans, and faded boots.

“I’m not singing,” Freddie said from the backseat.

Missy leaned around her seat to look at him.

“Yes. You are.”

Freddie was Bizarro Ray. He was tall with shaggy black hair and gray eyes, not bad looking, but unlike Ray, he didn’t hit every branch of the attractive tree. He wore a long john under a t-shirt, unripped jeans, and black low top Chucks. Where Ray came from a well-to-do family who were a little confused how Ray’s behavior became so liberal; Freddie tended toward long sleeves to hide old scars and often slipped by his parents as the only living son with two younger sisters.

“Ray back me up, here.”

“You’re singing, Pally.”

“You guys…”

“Band manager has spoken!” Ray yelled and pounded his fist into the roof.

“Jesus, don’t blow the roof off,” Missy said, ducking down.

“I vote we get a new manager that’s not sleeping with the band leader,” Freddie said.

“Motion denied,” Ray said. He kissed Missy’s hand, she put his hand back on the steering wheel.

“Please, pay attention to the road.”

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Missy pulled the sun visor down to flip the mirror up. She went heavy handed on the mascara, then turned to her deep-pocketed purse for lipstick.

Breaking the silence, Ray sang

“And you know nothin lasts forever… nahnahnah hearts can change…”

Freddie joined him for,

“In this November rain!”

“You guys are terrible,” Missy said.

She turned to look at Ray, her open Mulberry lipstick held in her left hand and the cap in her right.

“Shit!” Ray yelled and slammed the breaks, but the wheels skidded on the wet road.

A boom followed by a metallic thud hit the car as the body of a six point buck flipped onto the hood and went full force through the windshield. The buck’s antlers pierced Ray as he pulled at the wheel, but the Corolla’s balding tires did nothing against the road’s slippery texture. The back end was snagged into the loose dirt shoulder and the rest of the car followed.

As the Corolla began falling, Freddie remembered the gravel pit behind them. The gravel pit was usually to their right when driving down the road, but at this very moment it was behind him, about a hundred more feet down the hill.

“Ray!” Freddie screamed.

The car back flipped, landing hard with tires popping.

For minutes, there was only the sound of rain hitting the car’s roof.

The buck’s body was twisted with a broken neck. The windshield had a gaping hole where its antlers tore backwards in the fall.

Missy sat unconscious; her head rolled against the window and blood in her hair.

Freddie stirred in the backseat. A stream of blood came down his forehead. His hands were bruising already.

“Missy?”

Her name came out of his mouth like crumpled paper.

“Miss, you okay?” He opened his eyes this time.

Ray was bad. Ray resembled a zombie in the low-budget horror movies they rented from Movie World; only this was real. The blood on his jacket… the steering wheel… the hood of the car…

“Ray! Shit.”

Freddie pulled the door handle, but the door was jammed. He leaned back, gripping the handle with sprained fingers, and kicked it open.

He scrambled out, falling to his knees from disorientation. He stood up, hanging on the door to open Ray’s. His shoe was caught in the mud and ripped from his foot. When he took a balancing step, he welcomed the cold shock to his system.

“Missy! Missy, wake up! You’re gonna be fine. Somebody help us! Come on, Missy. Wake up!”