Second Chances

June 7, 2010

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For the last year, a serial killer had been slaughtering stranded motorists on the night of the full moon.  The Marauder had carved up twelve victims.  A motorist stumbling across the body of his fourth victim had glanced up and noticed a maroon car escaping into the distance.  This tiny scrap of information was the only clue to the identity of the killer.

From his home three states away, Dallas Roberts had been closely following the activities of the Marauder.  Dallas was unhappy with his own life.  He had failed to make any sort of mark upon the world.  He had failed in his career and failed in love.  On this night, he was determined to become famous.  He had driven six hundred miles to be in place for his destiny.

Roberts was parked on the side of the road with his hazard lights on.  The clock inside the car showed that the time was 1:45 AM.  Dallas was sure that his wait would be short – the Marauder always attacked between 1:57 and 3:48 AM.  Tonight, he would achieve fame – becoming the thirteenth victim of the Moonlight Marauder.

Dallas was shaken from his thoughts by lights in his rear view mirror – a vehicle was pulling up behind him on the shoulder.

A moment later, a form appeared next to his window.

“Need some help?”  Dallas looked up and saw a tall, blonde woman in her early twenties.

“Got a flat,” he explained.  “I’m waiting for a friend to get here.  Can’t very well change the flat with this broken wing,” he explained, showing off the arm sling that he was using as a prop.

“No need for you to wait.  Pop the trunk and I’ll change it for you.”

This woman was ruining Dallas’ perfectly laid plans – but he couldn’t think of a good way to get rid of her.  Dallas popped the trunk and jumped out of the car.

The woman effortlessly grabbed the spare tire and jack.  She loosened the lug nuts on the tire and quickly jacked up the car.

After changing the tire, she grabbed a flashlight from her back pocket and inspected the tire.

“Wow.  You’ve got a big chunk of metal in this tire.  I’m afraid you’re going to need a new tire, sport.”

Dallas was well aware of the magnitude of the damage to the tire.  After all, the damage was his own handiwork – to ensure that that Marauder wouldn’t sense a staged scene and pass him up as a victim.

“Name’s Megan White.”  The woman held out a dirty hand for Dallas to shake.

“Dallas Roberts,” he said, shaking the extended hand.

“What sort of work are you in, Dallas?”

“Unemployed at the moment, I’m afraid.  I’m a web developer when I can get work.”

“Oh?  What sort of web development?”

“Mostly PHP, but I dabble in Java from time to time.”

“Give me a call in the morning.  I run a small web consulting company, and we’re a bit short staffed on the PHP side of the house.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more of you,” she said as she smiled broadly and gave Dallas a wink.  Megan pulled a business card out of her pocket and handed it to him.

Dallas’ heart jumped in his chest.  Was she flirting with him?  He would definitely take her up on the offer.  He’d love to have the opportunity to start earning money again, and he thought he’d enjoy working with the smart, athletic, attractive woman.

“Keep safe,” she shouted, as she got back in her truck.  “The Moonlight Marauder has been known to strike in these parts.”

Dallas had a smile on his face as he jumped back into his car.  He pulled back onto the interstate and started looking for a motel that was open at this time of the night.  The few places he passed had “NO VACANCY” signs buzzing atop the inns.

Twenty minutes later, Dallas noticed a vibration and then felt a tire blow out.  He pulled to the side of the road and ditched the useless sling.  As he popped the trunk to grab the spare tire, he came to the realization that Megan had put on the spare to replace the perfectly good tire that he had carved up.

As Dallas pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and wandered around trying to find a signal, the sound of scattering gravel told him that another car was approaching.

“Help you, son?” asked a tall, grandfatherly man.  Dallas glanced up and noticed that that the car parked behind him on the shoulder was a maroon Taurus.  When his eyes shifted back to the right, he saw the light of the moon glinting off the blade of the Moonlight Marauder’s knife.

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Plotkin
    Jun 08, 2010 @ 15:13:11

    I just want to let you know how much I enjoy reading your short stories. Growing up, my favorite stories were those “five-minute” mysteries (I had a pretty short attention span!) You create magic with so few words and I’m always surprised, excited, blown away by your endings. Thanks for a great read!


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