Story rating: 18+ 

Genre: Dark Fiction, Thriller, Horror
For those interested in reading a Trigger Warning that contains what some may consider a *spoiler* read between the llamas. If you’d rather not, skip over the two lines of llamas and enjoy.


*Trigger Warning*
This work includes some disturbing themes, including violence, murder, abduction, and very mild gore.



Just Along for the Ride

“Need a lift?”

I’m waiting on the side of the road, the headlights of my car facing off against the darkness pressing in around the vehicle. The moon was out a moment ago, shedding its waxing light down on the countryside. Now it’s hiding behind a cloud, so the face of the girl is mostly obscured by shadows.

She stops and slowly turns to face me. Her expression is blank, but that could just be a result of the darkness mellowing out her features. She doesn’t say anything, just stands there looking at me long enough to make me wonder if she’d heard me. Maybe she’s just surprised. Either way, the silence is getting awkward. A flicker of annoyance pierces my gut. Just as I’m about to repeat the question, she shuffles sideways and says in a nervous voice, “Um . . . I think I’m okay—j-just walking, I mean. I don’t have much further to go.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be out here all alone,” I insist, trying to keep my voice patient. I eye her white sundress. Even with the moon hidden, it practically glows in the dark. “Not at this time of night, especially. Lots of crazy people in the world. You must be getting cold, too. Hop in. If you don’t have far to go, then there’s no reason I can’t drive you there.”

“N-no, thank you. It’s too much trouble,” she replies, hugging her arms around her body.

“It’s no trouble, kiddo. I wouldn’t feel right just leaving you out here. The world’s a dangerous place. Come on.”

This time, I pop the door open for her, smiling my most inviting smile. I’m rather charming. People go on and on about it. Apparently, she thinks so, too. With one more shuffle, she finally ducks into my car and softly clicks the door closed.

“Seat belt,” I remind her as I put the car in gear and turn the heat on low for her. I bite back a chuckle as I add, “Safety first. So, where you heading?”

Of course, I already know where she’s heading, and it isn’t where she thinks. But I like to keep up appearances for as long as possible.

“Just to the end of the road. My house is on the corner. Big farmhouse. Can’t miss it,” she says, voice low and soft. She keeps herself pressed against the door as if she’s prepared to jump out any second. I drink in the elixir of her fear. It heats my blood and sends ripples of excitement coursing through my core. I need more.

“Sounds good—er, I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”


“Holly,” I repeat, smiling. “I’m George.”

It isn’t my real name, of course—I never give my real name—but it humors me to use it tonight. It was the name of the first dog I bludgeoned with a baseball bat. He was a Pekingese, one of two childhood pets. Holly sort of reminds me of him with her bulging eyes, upturned nose, and short, soft blond hair.

I wonder if she’ll whine and yelp like he did, too. The thought sends a thrill through me. I lick my lips, already imagining the salty taste of blood on them.

Not yet, I chide myself. Let it build. I know she’s an unexpected treat, but it’s always best to savor them.

“How old are you, Holly?” This question seems to make her even more uncomfortable, so I lie, “I wonder if you’re in the same school as my niece. Her name’s Mary.”

“I’m . . . not supposed to tell strangers my age . . . or where I go to school . . . ”

I almost push the subject but think better of it. No need to make her more unsettled.

“That’s okay. Just trying to make conversation. Are you into any school sports?”

Holly shrugs, fingers scratching lightly against the door handle.

“Not really.”

“So, what are you doing out at this hour? It’s midnight. Aren’t your parents worried?”

“Um . . . sure,” she says slowly. “I mean, they expect me back by one, so they wouldn’t be worried yet. Give it another hour and they’ll be calling everyone I know.”

Liar, liar.

“No worries. Im sure well have you home well before then. You still shouldn’t be out here alone.”

“I know,” she sighs. Her gaze becomes distant as a brooding silence fills three whole minutes. Holly’s voice is frail and sad when she finally speaks again. “I didn’t think I’d be alone.”

I fight back a grin at her vulnerability, but the urge quickly fades when we pass by the farmhouse on the corner. I’d hoped for more time to get her to trust me. The betrayal makes everything sweeter.

Holly’s spine becomes rigid.

“Uh, hey, that was it back there,” she says gently, as if afraid of offending me.

“Oh, was it? I’m sorry, Holly. I’m having so much fun, I just drove right past it.”

When I still don’t show any signs of turning around, Holly begins to fidget. Then, she looks back over her shoulder, clenching and unclenching the hem of her dress. I can’t help but grin as a surge of power sweeps through me. I outsmarted her. I’m in charge here.

She’s completely at my mercy.

“G-George? Where are you taking me?” she stammers. When I see her hand reach for the door handle, I speed up.

“Wherever I want, Holly. Youre just along for the ride,” I laugh, throwing off the charade entirely. “You lied about your parents, didn’t you? They don’t give a rat’s ass about you, and they won’t care if you never return.”

“P-please let me out.”

I laugh again, shaking my head.

“You know, I think I’m a magnet for people like you. Deep down, you crave the release I offer, so you find your way to me. Anything is better than going on with your mundane, worthless lives. I give you purpose. Admit it, just being in my presence brings you more glory than you’ve ever known. You should be thanking me.”

She tries and fails to open the door. She hasn’t even removed her seat belt yet, she’s so frightened. I breathe in the heady scent of her fear and shift in my seat, eagerly anticipating the coming violence. She’s already crying.


“Please don’t hurt me,” she gasps out. “Please. I won’t—”

“Please, please, please.” I smack her in the face. “You want to know why your parents don’t care about you? It’s because you’re so pathetic. You aren’t worth their time.”

“But I’m worth yours?”

I still at the tone of her voice. It’s . . . calm, cold. I notice she’s stopped crying. She isn’t even holding her head anymore. As my brain struggles to understand what’s going on, I ease up on the accelerator.

“So what I hear you saying is . . . I’m too worthless for my parents, but not for you. Is that supposed to impress me?”

“What the fuck? I’m in control here, you—”

“You don’t seem like you’re in control. In fact, you seem rattled right now. By me, some pathetic, worthless little girl. Let that sink in for a moment, and then tell me how that makes you feel.”

This has never happened before. I need to find my calm. I’m always able to pull the plug on my emotions. I need to regain control—

“Would you like to reevaluate your assessment of me now? No? All out of words? You’re more emotional than the others, easily shocked. A pity. And here I was hoping for a challenge.”

I snap out of my daze and swing at her. I don’t know who this bitch thinks she is, but it’s time to put her in her place. She ducks under my fist, leaving it to strike the window. I snarl but don’t have time to grab her before she plunges something into my throat. I scrabble to stem the blood spurting from my neck with one hand while the other gropes for her. She undoes my seat belt right before the car veers off the road and strikes a tree. I’m suddenly flying into the windshield, and then there’s only endless agony and darkness.


Rubbing her neck, the girl calmly slips out of the car. With a smile, she strolls over to where George is sprawled on the hood. Her fingers slip against bloody skin as she probes for a heartbeat. It’s still there, but faint, erratic. That’ll be taken care of shortly.

“Well,” she chirps, giggling. “You were right about that seat belt, anyway. Safety first, eh, buddy?”

A quad pulls to a halt beside the tree. A large man wearing night-vision goggles steps off. Without lifting the goggles, he gestures at the car.

“Hey, all done?” His burly, New York drawl is unmistakable. She nods at her new coworker.

“Another one bites the dust,” she replies.

“When things got tense, I thought I’d have to intervene. Shame he turned out to be a predator after all. At least there’s one less in the world now,” he sighs.

“Yeah. You have the gas?”

“Mhm. I have you some fresh clothes, too. Gotta say, I thought this stretch of road would be a waste, but you sure have a sense for these guys.”

“I think they’re drawn to me,” she muses with a sly smile. “At their core, they just want their miserable, pointless lives to be over, and they know on some primal level I’m more than happy to oblige. So, no matter where I go, they show up eventually. These days, given my line of work, it’s more a blessing than a curse.”

“Saving the world one asshole at a time. That oughta be our company motto. Boss’ll like it.”

“Maybe we’ll pitch it to her when we get back.” She waves at the car nonchalantly. “I’ll drench it all. Please move the quad so I can light this bastard up.”

A few minutes later, the car is ablaze, reminding her of a bonfire from long ago. For a moment she relives that night. Men and women, drunk, their grins warped by the firelight. Rope tight against her skin until she finds a sharp rock. Then laughter turns to screams. A blood-stained rock glints in the moonlight. Fire licks up whiskey-soaked flesh . . . Even after so many years, the odor of melting chocolate and blood swirls in her nose, mouthwatering and macabre. The girl’s stomach suddenly rumbles. If only she had some marshmallows.

Copyright © 2021 by Kayla Cook

Boring Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction and is in no way intended to offend, threaten, alienate, or persecute anyone. Names, descriptions, entities, and incidents included in this story came entirely from my (Kayla Cook’s) imagination and any resemblances between them and those in the real world are purely coincidental.