Readers' novels no 10: Afflicted

Image caption "The brake lights were off and the vehicle was silent, signalling that the engine was either off or dead"

The Magazine published a story about people who attempt to write a novel in a month. Readers shared 350 word extracts or their novels. Here is the tenth, and final. It's a tale set under an overpass by Emalie Humphreys.

"Uh," Parker muttered, pulling Blaize to a stop as he stared off to his left. The bay-colored gelding fidgeted in place a bit, something that was very uncharacteristic of such a highly trained animal. "Am I seeing things, or is there a green SUV parked under that overpass?"

I blinked a few times, part of me expecting my vision to clear and find that the forest green Jeep Liberty that was parked in the middle of the turn lane under the overpass was a mirage of some sort. The brake lights were off and the vehicle was silent, signalling that the engine was either off or dead. I rubbed my fists over my closed eyes in one last attempt to clear my vision. The vehicle remained.

"Well, as much as I would like to say it's a figment of your imagination, my friend, there is most definitely a green SUV parked underneath that bridge."

A green Jeep parked on the street wasn't what was concerning me at this point. A single vehicle sitting silent and idle was not something that any living person on this Earth would be worried about. The unsettling part about the situation was that the Liberty was sitting in the middle of the road, almost like it was preparing for a poorly-executed turn and had rolled to an uneasy stop. The fact that the vehicle was quiet suggested that the driver had shut it down, but turning a car off in the middle of the road under a bridge seemed like a rather idiotic thing to do.

As I pondered the sight before me, Parker spurred Blaize forward a few steps and flanked the SUV, examining it further from a distance. When the horse was a few paces away from the machine, Parker reined him in with a jerk of the reins. The pair froze, and I blinked a few times as I waited for his explanation. Instead of hearing words, I heard nothing but an uneasy silence.

"Parks," I called, trying to snap him from whatever had sent him into wordlessness. Parker didn't flinch at all.