Rachel hardly blinked as they drove to the nearest town. The drive took a total of twenty-three minutes. She knew this because she counted them. The drive down the mountain took seventeen of those minutes, and from there, the car made it's way down a road that was paved but barely, and on either side of the road there were fields of corn and ramshackle barns. They had to pause at one point as a large group of turkeys strutted across the road. Rachel wouldn't have known they were turkeys if Tierney hadn't said so. Rachel had never seen a turkey in real life, and these didn't look anything like the pictures and cartoon images she'd always seen of turkeys.
"Why are they brown?" Rachel asked dully.
"What do ya mean?" Helene asked. "That's the color they are."
"But why don't they look like the turkeys on Thanksgiving napkins?"
"Oh, these are wild turkeys," Tierney clarified. "They look a little different."
They passed through one intersection. There was a stoplight, but it wasn't necessary. There were no other cars around. Then the road began to populate with buildings. There weren't so many. It was nothing like the crowds of strip malls and shopping plazas that filled Toms River and Manchester New Jersey. But after driving through nothing but fields and farms for almost a half hour, the cluster of perhaps a dozen buildings gave the appearance of being almost a metropolis.
There was a long rectangular building with a roof like a barn. It was all boarded up and cones blocked the parking lot.
"That place has awesome ice cream in the summer," Tierney said. "But it's closed all winter. It won't open till April. Then it's packed! You have to wait over an hour just for a cone sometimes."
Beyond that there was a large sign that proclaimed the space beyond to be a 'Drive-In Movie Theater.'
"What is a Drive-In Movie Theater?" Rachel asked.
Helene and Tierney both laughed.
"That's right," Tierney said. "They don't have those in Jersey, do they?"
"Nah," Helene replied. "But they got 'em out west. I remember I went to one with Dan back in Georgia."
Rachel pulled her attention away from them. She had no idea what they were talking about, and it didn't look like they were about to answer her question.
They passed a Wendy's. The only establishment so far that Rachel recognized. On the opposite side of the road two used car dealerships stretched side by side. The cars were rusting, and many were missing wheels and doors. Then came an oil and gas company, a Harley Davidson dealership, a daycare, several unmarked or poorly marked buildings, and then yet another long rectangular building. This one was a diner.
"Here!" Tierney proclaimed. "We ready to eat?"
"Deliiiiicious!" Helene cried, stretching the word out and using a funny high-pitched voice. She continued on with the voice, as she said, "I am stahhhvviiing!"
They spent a long time at the restaurant, all the while Helene and Tierney continued to make plans for the Ouija board session. They talked about they had to be sure to close the session this time, and put both the board and the planchett. Rachel noticed they both stopped talking whenever the waitress came to refill their water glasses or a fellow patron passed by.
Rachel studied Helene while they ate. What was going on with her? Why hadn't she been more shocked or upset when Rachel had told her she'd poured gasoline all over herself? She hadn't even asked why she'd done it? She'd only given her soap and left the room. It was like she wasn't surprised at all. Rachel saw that the cuticle of Helene's finger was covered in a powdery layer of crusted blood. Her palm was clean now, but Rachel could see the pinkish discoloration that Helene's vigorous scrubbing had caused. Rachel narrowed her eyes at Helene, while she ate her macaroni and cheese. It was piping hot. She jammed the three-pronged fork into her mouth again and again. She ate until she was far past full.
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***Long-listed for the Watty's 2018***Rachel lives in constant fear that she will burst into flames. She can feel the heat building in her gut. She keeps buckets of water under the bed. She keeps them to fend off the flames that her body may create...