Roadside Spirits

By Lily Abells, TIWP Student

The battered old truck grumbled to a halt in the empty parking lot. Emily sighed and cut the engine. She rubbed her face and pushed at the door. Its old, rusted hinges stuck, and when she slammed her shoulder into it, she almost toppled out. She shut and locked it out of habit; not like she needed to anyway, but it made her feel safer. It was cold and her hands were picking at the strings in her pocket as she glanced around the lot. The dim, flickering light emitted from a malfunctioning streetlamp and the clinical light from the convenience store gave the concrete a barren, lifeless look. It reminded her of the apocalypse movies in her childhood. The thought made her snort as she walked through the automatic doors.

Emily ignored the mumbled welcome from the lone cashier and went through her shopping in uneventful silence. It was only when she was grabbing as many energy drinks as she could hold that she sensed anything; even then she knew she had nothing to worry about. It was small and there wasn’t any power coming from it. It had dissipated by the time she looked over.

That was the one good thing about taking the back roads. Spirits in these parts only had power in a few places; forests late at night, empty churches, graveyards, and places with a memory of violence were their favorite. The linoleum floor might be filthy, but there was no trace of blood.

The cashier’s eyes were empty and tired as Emily’s items were rung up. She didn’t even have to talk to her to know she lived in the woods. Most people did, around here. It took a toll.

Emily paid in crumpled bills and coins before taking her bag and walking back out the door.

She tossed the bag into the backseat and grabbed the tough, unappetizing jerky. It was soon unwrapped and idly thrown into the bed of the truck. The vicious growling that followed as she turned her back made her lips quirk just a bit.

She pulled herself up into the truck that was too big and too old for her, and turned on the engine, listening to it cough to life. Her fifth energy drink of the day was popped open, and she set off to the next town, off to the next 24/7 convenience store with petty ghosts, off to whatever was farther away from her start. It was all she knew how to do anymore. Roaming spirits can’t do much else.


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