Great! Victor had thought. Someone who can help. It was a large truck. Looked like a tow truck.
In the five minutes between the spluttering and the tow truck pulling up behind him, his own truck had run to a halt. He had managed to steer it on to the side of the road, although the rear jutted out a bit. Thankfully, no cars had passed in that five minutes – but that started Victor worrying whether anyone would see him parked there and help him. He couldn’t get a signal on his phone and there seemed to be no houses in the distance. He felt isolated. But not when the truck pulled up.
The rain was so heavy that day, too. Victor recalled it now, how violent the outsized drops were as they battered the windshield, and unclear the view of the shadowy figure approaching him was as he strained to see the reflection in the waterfall flowing down the wing mirror. But there was something about the way he approached that chilled Victor. His spine seized - a physical reaction he couldn’t control, like when he was a kid and he saw his first horror film - and he had to shuffle to free himself from the pain. He shivered. As the figure approached, he tried turning the key again. This time, the starter motor didn’t make a sound.
The chair scraped and Victor jolted from his thoughts, almost jumping out of his chair. He looked around for the source of the sound. It was Hunter, getting up from his seat.
“Your breakfast is ready, sir,” said Marina.
“Gee, honey! Just put it on there. I’ll be right back,” said Hunter.
Victor watched as Hunter walked towards the restroom door at the back of the diner. As he did so, he could see the heavy rain again and feel his heart pounding, racing faster and thumping against his breastbone. He started sweating. Throat dry, he reached for his coffee and spilled it on his hand. “Aargh!”
Marina came over immediately. “Are you OK, sir?”
“Oh, yes. Pardon me, I just spilled my coffee on my hand.”
“Oh, my! Are you all right?”
“Yes, thank you, ma’am. It’s not even that hot. It just startled me, that’s all.”
Marina looked at Victor. She thought he was the palest person she had ever seen.
“Are you sure you’re OK? You look like you’ve got a fever.”
Victor chuckled. “I think I may have a cold starting,” he said. “Shame, on my day off. Oh well.”
“Do you want another coffee?”
“Oh, yes, please. And could I get a glass of water?”
Victor tried to bring the coffee cup to his mouth. It was shaking in his hand but he managed to get it to his lips without spilling any more. He drank the rest of the cup like he was enjoying a glass of fresh cool water after a long run. He regretted it, because it caused his heartburn to start. He could feel the acid rising, touching his throat. His heartbeat was even faster now.
He tried to think of something else but that something else wasn’t forthcoming. He was stuck fast in his cab, three weeks ago, on a remote lane, the rain teeming, desolate, the man approaching, a fractured image in liquid pixels looming in his mirror, walking behind the truck bed, walking towards the passenger door, footsteps closer, advancing –
The glass smashed.