Don’t Touch that Dial

This is going to be a bit strange, well maybe that is the normal. Anyway, over the end of last week and the weekend I was a bit lost to the world. Long story short, my wife and I spent some time in Virginia with one of my sisters and my brother. About the only thing of relevance here is the trip put me a bit behind schedule. So, we don’t have a story based on the Indies Unlimited flash fiction prompt this week.

Now, I will say driving through the backroads of Virginia fits perfectly with the story we are about to read. Sorta, in a way, they both involve time on the freeway…

But I digress…

Anyway, those who subscribe to the site through Patreon at the $3 dollar level and above have already seen this story. They get a chance at some stories long before the rest of the world. And so now before I yammer on endlessly, let’s get to the story…

Don’t Touch that Dial

“Where did you go wrong kid?”

The question plagued him. He heard it in the man’s voice every time he shut his eyes. Still hadn’t figured it out, weeks later he still didn’t have an answer.

The man, just someone on the sidelines, watching the whole thing unfold, his name didn’t matter. Sam couldn’t even remember his face, just his voice and the question. Of all the things to ask him right as it happened. Some would argue that it wasn’t his fault, he walked away unscathed. But he knew otherwise. He stopped short. The cars behind him fell like dominoes. The freeway had been backed up for miles, all behind his car. But his car remained untouched by all the aftereffects and he walked away from the whole thing with no physical damage at all. Forty-five people injured or in critical care, a little girl died.

They didn’t see what he saw. They didn’t see the man lying in the road. The bloody sheet covered most of his body. He couldn’t swerve, couldn’t avoid the body in the road. He stopped, stopped before he drove right over it. And behind him the rest happened.

It all felt like the beginnings of a supernatural story to him. The worst thing about it all, the body wasn’t there when he climbed out of his car. But the destruction behind him was real. And it was his fault. The thing of it all, it wasn’t the body, or even that he stopped short on the freeway. These were symptoms of something much bigger.

When the investigators came he wasn’t even spoken to, they ignored him, like he wasn’t even there. Just another flickering image of the tragedy on the freeway. But it was his fault, couldn’t they see that?

That was when he heard the voice, the man who asked him the question. He looked around in the crowed and hustle and bustle of rescue workers. No one paid attention to him standing there, mouth agape. He was a nothing, insignificant and forgotten.

Sam picked and scraped through his memory to figure out the bit that eluded him. Nothing came to mind. He could barely remember much of what happened before the moment he saw the body in the middle of the freeway. The radio had been playing in his car. He had reached down and fiddled with the dial, the station he had been listening too had switched to a talk show he didn’t want to listen to. He saw the body when he looked up from the radio and glanced at the road ahead again.

It could have been a mirage, he mused. Hell, it had to have been a mirage. But so much damage and destruction from this one act. He stood up from the dusty median and adjusted his pants, then walked back to his car. His car sat on the side of the road ahead of all the other activity. Just as the accident had come he was still ahead and away from the rest of it all.

don't touch that dial

flickr creative commons via Kyle Harris

Sam tapped the unlock button on his key fob and the white mustang with red interior winked back at him. The seat swallowed him, became a part of him as he slipped it into gear and pressed the gas pedal to the floor.

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