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It clattered, knocking before it slid off the roof. Aaron frowned into the rearview mirror. "What did you leave on the roof?"
"I didn't leave anything." Rowan sighed, gritting her teeth as she turned on the hazard lights, pulling over. The headlights caught on a hare, illuminating its eyes before it darted back into the darkness of the desert. She put the car in park and turned to him. "You probably left your wallet on top of the car when we got gas."
"My wallet wouldn't sound like that," Aaron grumbled, unbuckling. Rowan left the car running as she got out, leaving the door open, letting cool air blow in. The day had been reaching 90 degrees but Aaron had told her that the desert got cold at night. He had left his map he had bought from the gas station sitting creased into itself on his seat. She picked it up, smoothing it out again.
Rowan turned to tell out the door, "Did you find it?" She couldn't hear him respond. She frowned, turning down the radio. "Aaron?"
Everything was quiet besides the grumble of the idle motor.
Rowan was about to shout again when Aaron finally responded. "Turn off the car, you're wasting gas," he said, shouting to be heard.
Rowan tossed his map in the backseat, letting out a breath. "Well, I didn't think it would take you this long!" Aaron didn't respond. she rolled her eyes, sitting back. After a few seconds, she turned off the car, falling into silence.
Rowan drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "Aaron, it was probably nothing, just give it up."
"Turn off the headlights!"
Rowan turned around in her seat, trying to look at him. "Aaron, just come on!"
She couldn't spot him in the dark. Rowan squinted. It looked like they could see the light of his phone. It didn't look like it was moving. She took a deep breath. "...Aaron?"
There was a long pause.
"Turn off the headlights!"
Rowan was still. "...Why?"
He didn't respond. She slowly went to lock the doors, remembering then that Aaron had left his door open. "Rowan, turn off the headlights, you can't see the stars."
The voice sounded closer that time. She glanced at his open door then back over her shoulder, looking for the light of his flashlight in the dark. "Aaron, come on!"
"Turn off the headlights, you can't see the stars."
The voice didn't sound like Aaron anymore. Rowan unbuckled, reaching across the center console, her fingers grasping at the handle. The door resisted, sticking in place for a moment before she grabbed the handle, closing it with a bang. She sat back, breathing hard. The light in the car slowly faded, only the yellow beams of the headlights shining through the black.
The back of the car slowly creaked as something weighed it down. Rowan spun to look out the back window to find nothing there.
The car's frame creaked again, shifting from the weight. She sat frozen as it stepped along the back of the car until it was on top of her. There was silence then, the only sound her heartbeat in her ears. "Rowan, turn off the headlights." She squeezed her eyes shut. "You can't see the stars." Rowan slowly took a deep breath. She opened her eyes and looked up through the skylight. The sky was full of stars. Billions of pinprick lights shone through total pitch-black darkness. More stars than Rowan had ever seen. Her eyes were wide, staring up at the light. The stars blinked.
Rowan grabbed the keys, slamming them into the ignition and throwing the car in drive. The car sputtered to life, struggling back onto the road, screeching as Rowan threw the wheel. The car hurled down the straight endless road, desert surrounding them on all sides, flat with the sky taking up most of the world. Rowan's knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
It knocked.
Rowan swore under her breath, pressing the gas pedal down harder.
The car's headlights bounced over uneven road, illuminating the dust and dirt on the edges of the abandoned street.
The knocking came again. A polite tapping against the roof of the car. There was less time between when it knocked again.
Rowan set her jaw, focused on the road. It knocked again. Asking to be let in. Rowan picked up speed, trying to get it to lose its grip. The pauses between knocks disappeared leaving only a pounding on the roof of the car. Rowan started to scream, drowning out the sound of the constant knocking pounding on the roof like hailstones. The sound of ripping metal shook the car, stars shining bright through the skylight. Rowan braced her arms against the steering wheel, squeezing her eyes shut as she slammed on the brakes. The car screeched, airbag exploding from the steering wheel turning everything white as Rowan's head slammed forward. The thing went tumbling off the roof, shattering the windshield and hitting the ground with a thud. The car's headlights had gone off. Everything was dark.
Rowan sat, breathing hard. Blood dripped from her forehead, and aching pain rattled her skull. She finally looked up.
Galaxies of stars surrounded every window. They stretched in every direction, enveloping the car in speckled lights glowing white, spiraling around themself like universes given life, always creeping closer. Light reflected off of Rowan's eyes until they were glowing brighter than the stars as they blinked out one by one. When the sky was black and darkness surrounded everything they slowly reached to turn on the headlights.
The world returned.
Blood was dripping off the steering wheel. Rowan released her white knuckle grip to wipe a tear from her eyes. Aaron was lying in the road in front of her, thrown from the roof and discarded. They stared at him, mouth hanging half open. There was the sound of crickets in the desert now. Rowan let up the brakes, driving slowly around the body before continuing to drive down the empty road toward the next town.


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Image of Abigail Haworth
Abigail Haworth · ago
What the ****????

I have so many questions. This was both confusing and genuinely terrifying.

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Abigail Haworth · ago
I'm gonna hear "turn off the headlights" in my nightmares tonight O_O
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Abigail Haworth · ago
Who is "They"? I must know! Please explain
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Abigail Haworth · ago
Is the ending that Rowan is possessed now, I guess?
Image of Abigail Haworth
Abigail Haworth · ago
These are probably wisdoms questions that you can't answer and that's okay but just know that you've caught my interest 😆