Monday, 20 June 2022

'The 11 Hour Road Trip' by Sudha Subramanian

“The roads are super-duper," the driver, declared. 

His white teeth, clean-shaven cheeks, and the long horizontal lines of sacred ash on his forehead had us believe him.

We cozied up in the back seat of the blue sedan. The engine revved up to life and skirted along the lush paddy fields and mango groves. The blue canvas and the dull rhythm soon lulled us into a world of dreams.

A loud thud threw us in midair. The car climbed up a mound and landed with a jump shaking us back to reality. Our eyes opened to arid terrain. The verdant fields had given way to cragged sides along with the stone-paved ground. The sedan jiggled and bumped as it found its path to stay on its fours.

I grabbed the paper map fluttering next to me. Lines dotted with deep red flames on tips of triangles, crisscrossed and disappeared into nothingness.

A dull hiss pricked my ears. An ivory face with bloodshot eyes, stained yellow teeth, and no hair sneered at us while two hands were at work on the wheel. Cold gripped our hearts. 

“We always fight these unearthly things with a knife”, I remembered Grandma’s words. I fumbled into my handbag for the Swiss knife. The creature whimpered and flew out of the window.

“Grab the wheels," I called out to my husband while I switched on Google Maps in the car. It was going to be an 11-hour-long journey to our destination.

“Saw how I fought it off with a knife," I laughed.

“I thought the iron nail I held out did the trick," my husband chuckled.

Somewhere I thought I heard a hiss at the back of the trunk.

Or maybe I was imagining it.

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