"Never To Ride Again"
Hux Stembal was a ramblin' man. A drifter with a knack for being bare foot and never staying put. Today was different. There was an obscure tint to the sky that maybe contributed. Perhaps the drink he accepted from a kind stranger. Whatever it was, Hux decided to take a ride to his next stop. His soles were embedded with rocks and glass. He put his thumb up, then held his arm out. After twenty minutes, a semi pulled alongside the hitcher.
“Where you trying to get to?”
The driver was an old lady. Hux shrugged, debating his choices.
“How far you going?”
“Young man, this truck goes further than the eye can see.”
Hux smiled, then climbed up. He figured he would test the woman’s temperament for a few miles, see how comfortable he was, then figure out how long into the distance he wanted to go. The woman had a shrunken head hanging from her rearview. Hux found it neat, closing his eyes to nap.
“There’s a couch back there,” the drive nodded behind them.
“I much appreciate that. Does it recline?”
“Dunno. Picked it up off an ad I saw. It was free and a place to crash. Ya know?”
Hux grinned. He was glad he decided to take the ride. He was strung out from the heat and ready to try his hand at rest. He tried the latch for the recline function several times, to no avail. The space was cramped, but he was glad to be among cushions.
His own snoring woke him up. He wiped the drool, then hopped in the passenger seat.
“How long was I out?”
The woman looked startled, pressing the accelerator to the floor. Though it was a clear, blue sky she turned on the wipers, then threw herself through the windshield. Eighteen wheels thumped, as they drove over the elderly lady.
The world began to crack open around the truck, as if it were confined in a garage that was falling apart. The cracks began to bleed, then Hux heard the couch spring forth leg rests. Out from under the sofa rolled a blank, wooden mannequin. It was like the one's artists use, but the same height as Hux. There was just enough room for them both to sit upright.
A loud scraping came from the hood, as the driver, now a roadkill version of herself, crawled up the engine’s cover.
The mannequin's hand traced over Hux's face, causing it to peel away then appear atop the woodman's frame. The rest of Hux's skin suit followed, as the wooden canvas dressed itself.
The passenger side of the windshield shattered, as the clawed, mauled granny made her way towards the rider with no flesh.
“Your eyes ever see this far?”
The woman leaped into the small enclosure, attacking the epidermis clothed art doll. She devoured his outer layer, simultaneous with Hux being sucked to the underbelly of the concealing loveseat.
The grandma fell to the floor, writhing like a salt-soaked slug. Her black eyes stared at the collection of exposed muscles, then her monstrous grin turned sweet. She looked as if she were ready to offer freshly baked cookies again, then took control of the wheel.
The truck came to another stop, Hux heard a woman’s voice conversing with the geriatric shape shifter. Then, he heard the driver welcome a new hitcher on board.
Once the semi was in motion, the younger woman noted that she was tired. Like before, hospitality was offered. The new passenger went to sleep, to awaken by her own snores. She took a step towards the front, when a hand that resembled raw meat grabbed her ankle. Her skin peeled off, then began tailoring itself to fit Hux's frame. It then attached to Hux, covering his exploited tissues.
The driver’s torso split in half, as her eyes turned black, and the inside of the cabin began to pour red through otherworldly splits. Her manicure turned manic, as did her dentures. She slurped away Hux's new look, as the woman took her place under the two-seater couch.
The driver turned to her sweet self, as Hux turned ligneous and merged with the other blank doll, which grew another inch as it had been doing for years. The truck honked and joined the interstate collective of merging's continuing on further than the eyes can see.
Written by Christopher Besonen of Besonen Horror. 2021.