There were long stretches of road in Texas that were absolute dead zones. If you didn’t know the fields on either side were the result of human cultivation, you could be forgiven for thinking the paved road and occasional green signs were the only evidence that an intelligent species resided on this world.
It was along one such stretch of road that Andre Pittman was driving his truck. He’d been driving this route for going on seventeen years now, taking expensive electronics imported from Japan and China and bringing them further into the country. It was an easy job, and it was a job he loved.
Miles and miles of road in front of him, miles and miles of road behind him, and not a single damn person around. He’d used to use music to keep himself occupied. Now it was Audiobooks. Grisham, Clancy, Koontz, and King were his companions on this route – and if he ever wanted them to shut up, he could just push a button and make them go quiet.
It was paradise.
Sometimes he saw strange things. Nothing that was as weird as the shit he was seeing on the news, that’s for damn sure. Nothing about gods and monsters and demons. But strange things. He’d seen a light in the sky once as he passed through Arizona, one that moved like no other light had done before, zipping about at impossible angles. Another time he’d seen a man that, from a distance, had looked far too tall and far too hairy. Andre hadn’t gotten a good look at his feet through.
He assumed they were big but couldn’t prove it.
Tonight, he wasn’t expecting anything strange. Of course, that’s the nature of strange things. If you expected them, they’d stop being strange and just become things.
So, Andre wasn’t ready for a young woman to step into the road, directly in front of his semi.
“Shit!” He screamed, laying his hand on the horn and his foot on the break. There wasn’t enough time. This had happened to a friend of his before. Suicide by way of truck. Already Andre could hear the impact, hear the thump as a human body was impacted with thirty-five tons travelling at sixty miles per hour.
The woman held up her hands, a warding gesture, an instinctive one.
The airbag deployed. Andre slammed into it as his seatbelt cut into his chest. He could hear concrete cracking, and then the trailer slammed into the back of the cabin.
The pressure against his back was incredible. Then, right before his ribs cracked under the strain, the pressure vanished. Steam hissed from the engine, and Andre patted his chest, an instinctive gesture that confirmed he was still alive and intact. Oh shit, oh God, oh Jesus, thank you thank you thank you.
Andre kicked open the door and hopped out, collapsing to the ground as adrenaline sapped the strength from his legs. “Oh goddamn,” he said, and then he didn’t say anything else for a few moments. He was too busy being violently ill on the highway. His elbows were shaking so hard that he was afraid he’d pass out face first into his own sick.
“Are you alright?” said a voice behind him.
Andre screamed again, a sound higher and shriller than any he’d made since he’d been a little boy. He flipped around and began to scurry along the ground, away from the speaker.
It was the woman. She was peeling herself out of the perfectly v-shaped dent she’d made in the front of his truck. Both her arms were broken, splinters of bone sticking out of her arms, and her face was covered in blood. She’s in shock, Andre told himself. She’s in shock, and that’s why she doesn’t feel the pain.
That didn’t explain how this girl had been able to stop a tuck with her bare hands. That didn’t explain the twin furrows dug into the asphalt, hundreds of feet long and perfectly matching her feet placement perfectly.
That didn’t explain how her arms were already stitching themselves back together. She cracked her neck. “I thought you’d stop the truck sooner,” she said conversationally, advancing on him. “I was hoping to get a lift to the nearest town.”
“I-I-I…” Andre stammered, scooting all the way across the highway, back into the cornfield.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I should have introduced myself.” She gave him a bright smile. “My name’s Sally. Sally Newman. I just wanted a ride but now…now I’m hungry.” She flexed her arms, and the bones popped back into place. Andre was just now realizing the blood on her face wasn’t all over her face, it was just on her chin, on her neck, on the front of her shirt.
It looked like it was from messing eating.
“Oh God what are you?” Andre shouted.
Sally took a step, and almost faster than Andre’s eyes could follow, she crossed the distance between them, her hand wrapped around his neck. “The future,” she whispered in his ear, and Andre realized he was going to die, he was going to be killed by something that looked like a girl younger than his youngest daughter, a daughter he’d never seen again, and he turned his eyes heavenwards to beg the Lord for salvation.
A comet was streaking through the air, a comet of gold light, and it landed directly behind the monster holding Andre’s neck. Out of the comet stepped a man in a khaki suit, holding a wooden cane. “Let him go, young woman” the man said.
Sally looked over her shoulder and paused. “Who the hell are you?” she asked.
“My name is Nabu,” he said, and then he lifted the cane and held it like it was a rapier, in a fencing pose. “It is my pleasure to inform you that I’m here to bring an end to your journey.”
Sally snarled and tossed Andre aside.
It was too much. Andre passed out, just as the man began to glow with golden light.