A hot afternoon, a red Dodge was speeding over 100 Kph on the cross country highway. An old rock song played on the car stereo; the back seat was rambled with clothes, books and a suitcase. Henry is about 30, and he is driving the car. Maria is smoking a cigarette and enjoying the speeding back trees and desert bushes. She sees an animal and tells Henry that she saw a red wolf. “But there aren’t much here hon”, said Henry. Maria thought Henry never believed her. She told him about some strangers following their car a while ago, but he did not believe that either. It was a bursting sound, followed by a throb when the car slowed down and stopped.

Maria looked puzzled at Henry. He didn’t look like he had a clue of what had happened. He got out and bent down to check the tires. They seemed to be ok. He walked out to the front and opened to the bonnet, to see a lot of smoke coming out from the radiator. He told Maria “babe, we need some cold water”. There was only a little water they’ve kept for drinking, but that had become scorching after the long desert ride.  It was 20 past 1.00p.m. Maria lit another cigarette as Henry lean backed on his car looking at the far stretching dessert road. 20 minutes later, Henry jumped into the middle of the road as he saw a car speeding towards them from the far end of the straight highway. The car stopped a few meters after their car and parked on the same side of the road where Henry had moved his car too.  Henry came running to the driver’s pit as a fat man in a cotton check shirt pulled down his window. “Do you have some cold water sir?” said Henry. The fat man got out the car to take a look on the dodge. There was a lot of smoke coming out. Henry tried to make a conversation with him, but he wasn’t quite successful. She signalled to Henry, as he walked to her window, the fat man said in a very hard voice “your fan belt is broken”. Henry got distracted from Maria, and he walked fast to see the engine. The fat man was right, the belt in the cooling propeller was broken. Henry said “Er… But it wasn’t”.Henry looked apprehensively at Maria. She looked back doubtfully. Fat man gave a serious look at Henry as if he was waiting for a reply. “It was…er..well…all right before” said Henry. The fat man didn’t respond to that. He was about to walk back to his car.

Maria was very alert. She started noticing the fat man very closely. Henry ran behind him and blocked his way to give a more serious look. Sweat was dropping from his forehead. The fat man said he could help him tow their car to the nearest repair centre. Maria was doubtful, and she told him that she smell something wrong somewhere. She asked Henry if they could wait for another car.

The fat man’s pickup pulled their vehicle off-road in a different direction. Maria was smoking another cigarette while she was taking a note of the place. The sight of no-one and no buildings were worrying her, and it showed on her face. 20 minutes later their car was in the middle of the dessert. The pickup stopped, and the old man got out of his vehicle, and he went to the front door. Maria could see an old warehouse in front of them. The fat man who has gone to the backside of the store is now back and walking towards their car. The warehouse is locked, and the owner has gone somewhere, informed the fat guy, as he removed his cap and put that over their car bonnet. Henry moved out of the car and hammered the bonnet in anger. The cap fell as both the men bend down to pick it up. Maria saw something hidden beneath the fat man’s jeans. It looked like a gun. She was shocked when she realised that the guy was carrying a gun, her face started to turn pale.  Maria and the fat man caught eyes together. She refused to look away and gave him an extended look like she saw something. He was a very suspicious and dangerously looking man.

Maria read his freckled forehead, thick eyebrows and heavy palms. She got out of the car and walked to Henry who was also near the pickup. Fat man moved to them before she could say anything to Henry. “Do you want me to help check the dumb in the backside? You never know, you could find a belt.” They both moved to the backyard, before that the fat man went to his pickup and kept something from his back inside the car. Maria quite noticed it. As Maria lost their sight, her curious mind couldn’t resist. She moved closer to the pickup. It was an old and dirty van. She saw an iron eroded cross serpent key chain. She bent down to see a dirty comb, some nuts and a screwdriver on the dashboard. And then she notices the dashboard on the other side of the vehicle, where the fat man might have kept his gun. She looked either side and made sure neither the fat man nor anyone is there. She went to the other side of the pickup and opened the dashbox. There were only two old photographs inside the box. There wasn’t any gun. Her face showed that she was sure that it wasn’t a delusion. She scanned through the photographs. One photo had a girl, while another photo had two girls in it. In the photographs, she noticed some red dots. She knew what they were even before she put them close to her nose. Her pupils dilated, her forehead shrank, her lips were shivering. It was blood. The smell of cold blood. She was dead shocked when a heavy palm fell over her shoulder. It was the fat man. He was too tall than she expected. He had a skull tattoo on his hand. With a thick voice, he asked, “what are you doing madam?”. She was terrified and put the photos back. She asked him about Henry. The fat man explained that he has gone to a nearby tap to collect water. She went back to their car and closed the door, and made sure it was locked and all the windows were up. She was looking at the fat man, scared, and now sweat was running down her forehead. She saw the old man looking at the photographs sitting on the pillion seat. He was scanning through the photographs and as she did, he smelled them and looked at her. He stared her for 10 seconds, but she couldn’t keep the eye contact like before. Then he got out the car, closed the door hard behind him and moved towards her. She was growing fearful. As he was closing, she could hear her heart bit. She looked all around the car for something- maybe weapons that she could use. She looked at the long pointy heels she was wearing. He knocked on the windows, knocked harder until she rolled down a little bit. Open the bonnet he said. Her heart beat went a little closer to normal. He moved towards the bonnet and drawing a screwdriver from his back he took out the propeller.

She kept looking him with fear, and he kept glaring her back as he was cleaning the fan with an old cloth. He took the fan to his pickup and walked back towards her car. She was getting anxious again. This time he knocked harder on the windows. At once she opened it, but a little less this time. He moved his face closer to the window’s opening and asked in a very serious tone “Why did you take it?”. She gave him very vague look and asked where is Henry in a shaky voice. He didn’t notice that and kept his face in a manner as he was expecting a reply. He asked her again. He said, “I want it back”. She kept looking him troubled. He grew restless and tried to open the door. It was locked. She got very panicked and start searching the chaos in the back seat until she found her phone. She began dialling Henry when the fat man lost his patience. He put his hands in the small window opening and tried to pull it down. Seeing that, she freaked out and rolled up the window. His hands got jammed in between, but she didn’t stop. It started bleeding as he cried out loud and pulled his hands back. “Ugly bitch,” said the fat man as he took the screwdriver from his back and then started hitting the window using it. She took her phone and dialled 911. Her hands were so shivering that it took some time for her to do that. Before the call could connect, he smashed the window open as the screwdriver fell inside. She dropped the phone as he took her hands tightly. With his other hand, he tried to open the door. Before he could do it, Maria picked up and struck the screwdriver hard into his neck. Blood splashed all over her face. The fat guy looked like he didn’t expect that. His hands on her loosen as he fell . Maria was zoned. Her face had signs of realisation and guilt. But she managed to be normal. A tear rolled down her cheek.

Ten minutes later, Henry arrived. He walked puzzled towards the car, but once as he got the visual of the man lying down covered in blood, He fell on his knees and cried aloud, “Not again”. He knew that it had happened again. Police arrived the scene and questioned Henry. He explained that she was in a mental asylum for a short while since she had this mental instability of exaggerating things a lot sometimes.  Maria was in handcuffs and was inside a police van accompanied by three or four police officers. She gave a pained smile as the door closed before Henry. He watched them driving away in the direction where their car got broke down. He moved slowly to his car and got inside. He notices something strange in the dashboard. He took it in his hand; it was the picture of a girl. But no blood on it.

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