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John Hudson is About to Die
The thought of how stupid it was to leave Albuquerque this late had crossed the mind of John Hudson about a hundred times. Everytime he caught a glimpse of the fading sun he was reminded of it. The thought was making his palms sweaty. Unusually sweaty. In fact, average John Hudson was feeling quite unaverage. He rocked back and forth in his seat trying to distract himself from his stressful thoughts of how late he was going to be getting home, and the incredibly nauseous feeling in his gut.
The radio in his car had stopped getting a good enough signal an hour ago. The scenery wasn’t much either, jutting mountains far in the distance and the same old rocky sand. Occasionally John’s cruddy black sedan would crash over a pothole on the unrepaired highway, distracting him from his thoughts. John Hudson’s hands began to shake as he gripped the steering wheel. He loosened his hold to no avail. His eyes wandered the desolate landscape. He needed to stop somewhere. Maybe get a coffee. As if by magic, his eyes spotted a flaking blue sign in the distance. He squinted. It read, “ Eugene’s Gas! Gas! Food! Coffee! Only Five Minutes!”. It seemed too good to be true. The more John stared at the words, the blurrier they got. He pounded on the gas.
The gas station was old and crumbling. Much like the highway it neighbored, it’s asphalt looked like shattered glass. It had only two pumps. It didn’t look like they even worked. A shack sat a hundred feet away from the pumps. It had white paint at one time but it was peeling off in large strips, revealing it’s original wooden exterior. The spotted window near the entrance had a long dead neon open sign sitting in the corner of its interior stoop. John Hudson, after parking his car in quite the erratic fashion, stumbled towards the glass doors that reflected the sunset behind him.
Inside seemed blinding compared to the dimly lit car John had sat in for five hours. For a few seconds he was completely sightless. He blinked back to reality only to find an old man leaning over the dusty counter staring at him with extreme concern. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, before the man finally broke the silence.
“You feeling alright?” He spoke with a twang in his voice, “Want me to call someone?”
“Oh, I, Uh, no thanks.” Hudson murmured back, his voice was breathy,”Just needed, uh, needed, a um, a coffee. Yeah.”
The man pointed back to where the lone coffee machine rumbled in a corner.
“Just take the coffee, no need to pay you seem to, uh, need it.”
John simply nodded, fumbling with the styrofoam cups and poured himself some dark roast. Everything felt like a blur. It felt like John was going through the motions without really thinking about it. He didn’t even wave to the old man as he strained to push open the door. He was really starting to sweat now. Before he knew it he had reached the car and his vision started to blur.
He flopped into the driver’s seat, struggling just to turn the key. The car rumbled to life. He sped out of the gas station. He was erratic. Left to right he swerved across the road. His hands were getting too sweaty to hold onto the wheel. His heart was pounding like a hammer. The sun was starting to eclipse over the distant mountains. John Hudson closed his heavy eyes. He felt a jolt.
Then he opened them. His car cruised down the highway occasionally hitting a bump. He felt quite a bit better know, but not a hundred percent. He tells himself how it must just been stress or a bad bug. He is still quite shaken, but he manages to calm down a little. ‘It must’ve just been a crazy dream.’ He thinks, ‘Some kind of quick daydream. That’s all.’. He reaches for his coffee only to find an empty cup holder.
“Ha!” He laughs, “Just a crazy dream!”
Meanwhile his heart starts to race. His stomach starts to ache. His sweaty palm clutches his stomach. He swerves a little.
“Oh jeez! Oh man I’d better not have food poisoning or something so help me!” The sight of a sign cuts him short.
The sign reads, “Eugene’s Gas! Gas! Food! Coffee! Only Five Minutes!”. An uneasy thought rises through John. He’d seen this before. His stomach feels like it’s shaking, and his heart feels like an overheating engine. He swerves again. He steps on the gas, but drives right on past the gas station.
His reasoning, he proclaims in a shaky voice to an empty car, “Gas station out here must mean a town’s nearby! I’ll, uh, I’ll stop, um, there. Yeah.”
He began to swerve as his palms became too sweaty to hold the wheel. Left to right he swung across the road. The last thing John Hudson saw was a white cross, right near the road and right in front of his car, before he shut his eyes.
John Hudson opened his eyes to find himself driving down the highway. The moon was fully out now, the stars brilliant. But John noticed none of this as he blankly stared at the road ahead of him. He felt quite a bit better now, but not one hundred percent. His mouth hung open, perhaps in shock or disbelief. His palms were sweaty, his heart ached, and his stomach was crushing. He saw a sign for a gas station, but he didn’t look at it. He didn’t want to. It read, “Eugene’s Gas! Gas! Food! Coffee! Only Five Minutes!” He, in almost a trance stepped on the gas.
He sped past the gas station, his eyes still straight ahead. It wasn’t long before his heart thumped loud in his own ears, and his stomach felt like it was splitting. His palms were too sweaty to hold the wheel. Left to right he flew across the road. The last thing John Hudson saw before he closed his eyes were two white crosses, glowing in the moonlight. Everything went black.
When John Hudson opened his eyes he slammed his foot on the gas as hard as he could in his weakened state. His hands were sweaty and his heart flipped. He flew past the sign that read, “Eugene’s Gas! Gas! Food! Coffee! Only Five Minutes!” and he raced by the now dark gas station. His heart was pounding and his hands started to slide off the leather steering wheel. He slammed on the brakes. The door flung open and he stumbled down the road in the dark. He started to see double as his stomach threatened popping. Glowing, in the full moon’s light, stood three white crosses. He collapsed to his hands and knees in front of them. He looked up. The last thing John Hudson saw before collapsing was “In Loving Memory of John Hudson: a soul gone too soon.” written across his crosses. Everything went black.