He leaned across the seat and opened the door, watching every inch of her….
Bare trees clung to the snow-frosted hills around the ravine, and the girl who walked along the railroad tracks was tall and beautiful. She wore mirrored sunglasses, long coat, tall boots. An old surplus army bag swung on a leather strap from her shoulder. Her long hair blew about in the chill breeze, her breath crystalizing in the air as she made her way down the rails.
She clambered her way up to the burn of a highway, pausing to catch her breath, giving out puffs of frost. She looked up the road both ways, and then put her thumb out. After some time one or two cars passed, but they didn’t stop.
She dropped the bag to unbutton her coat. It slid off her shoulders to hang on the crook of her arms, and revealed she was wearing nothing underneath. Once more she put out her thumb.
The breeze stirred her lank hair and goosebumps. She shivered for a bit, standing like that, until finally a small yellow car came to an abrupt stop just past her. She pulled up her coat and grabbed her bag, hurrying to it.
The window rolled down and the girl leaned in, lowering her sunglasses.
“Where you headed?” a middle-aged driver asked, smiling at the flash of skin where her coat was still open.
She smiled back: “Where you going?”
He leaned across the seat and opened the door, watching every inch of her as she climbed in. Focused as he was on her naked flesh, he didn’t see her hand dip inside her bag.
There was a flash and a bang from inside the car.
The man’s mangled head left a trail of red in the snow as the girl dragged the body clear of the road.
Finally she stopped, sweating against the cold. She let his arms drop, and bent down to dig through his pants, finally pulling out his wallet—taking out the money, and then studying the address on his ID.
The body lay silent as, a ways off, a car engine started, and pulled away.
She drove to a modest house.
The girl stood under the hot shower, warming up.
She searched through the man’s closet, touching all his shirts one by one, before finally selecting one.
The sun went down.
Wearing one of his dress shirts—much too large for her—she checked the fridge. Finding oranges on a plate, she took a knife from the block and cut one in half on the counter, holding it up and squeezing the juice into her mouth. Then she stood in the center of the living room and, holding her gun in both hands, pressed the barrel against the bony part of her chest. She held it there for quite some time, before finally tossing it onto the rug.
The girl curled up on the couch, watching TV.
The sun rose over the house, and the girl came out, once again wearing her long coat and boots. She made sure to lock the door behind her, then got in the yellow car and drove off.
Naked trees rolled by as she drove down the highway, the grey sky reflecting in her sunglasses. The engine made a noise, and she looked down to see the needle of the gas gauge rested on “E”.
The car came to a slow stop by the side of the road, lurching a bit as it died. The girl got out, making sure to take her bag, and looked both ways up and down the road. Far off, the speck of a car appeared, and grew steadily steady larger.
Her fingers began to unbutton her coat.
Jim Towns is a writer, director and artist whose film work includes the haunted heist film House of Bad and the upcoming streaming series Immortal Hands. He’s the author of American Cryptic: True Accounts of the Strange & Uncanny, among many other short horror stories and articles. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two mysterious cats.