I heard the grating sound of gravel next to my car door as I was fishing for the flashlight I kept in the glove box. I jumped, startled, peered into the darkness, saw nothing and decided it was my imagination. Maybe my roommate, Claudia, was right and I had been watching too many of “those” movies.
Claudia was okay, just more serious than me, but it was a good move when we decided to move in together a year ago and share expenses. Nothing was cheap anymore.
Where is that darn flashlight? I always keep one in here. I knocked a few things out while fishing around. There is that pen I was looking for last week. Hmmm ...must have grabbed it in a hurry when I went to get the paper and go through the job ads.
There was the scratching sound again. This place was giving me the creeps. Where is that flashlight? If only the moon was brighter. There is no way I’m going in that barn without the flashlight.
I looked around - that rasping sound was getting on my nerves. I needed a drink.
“Screw it!” I mumbled. I’d just see if I could find Robert and get out of here.
I looked around and then cracked open the car door and checked outside on the ground. Nothing. I eased myself out, slipped my keys and cell phone in my pocket.
“Robert!” I called. “Robert, get your butt out here now. I’m not coming in.” My words almost echoed in the darkness.
I walked slowly toward the barn, looking around as I went. The moon overhead cast shadows all around, giving an eerie glow to the barn and bushes nearby.
“Robert, I mean it...” my voice brought to a halt in mid-sentence. A shadowy figure was emerging from the barn.
“Robert?” I ran to him as he shuffled along in the gravel, holding his side. I grabbed hold of his arm and helped him toward my car.
“You came,” he whispered, his voice scratchy.
“And you thought I wouldn’t?” I tired to keep it light-hearted. I knew we were facing a bad situation here when I saw the blood leaking through his fingers.
He tried to smile at that, but it came out as a grimace and then he collapsed.
I scrambled to his side. “Robert, please tell me what happened? Who did this to you and why?”
He mumbled something about a man, but I could not understand him. I rummaged in my pocket for my cell and called 911.
“Just hang on Robert, I’m calling for help,” I said to him and hoped he could as the operator came on the line.
She wanted to know where I was. How do I know? I had no idea how far I was from town. This was not good at all. I tired to explain as I searched my memory for any landmarks I may have noticed, as I was looking for the gravel road. Meanwhile, Robert was becoming lifeless before my very eyes. How could this be happening? My life was truly one big nightmare.
“Please hurry,” I urged her, “surely you must know of some gravel roads that run off the main road north of town.” I listened as she mumbled something. “That’s right; there are fields out here and an old barn.”
I reached over to let Robert know I was still there. When I pulled my hand away, blood dripped onto the gravel. Not thinking, I wiped it on my shirt as I screamed and looked around with wide eyes. I hoped the perpetrator had long gone. This was nerve-racking. I began to wonder if Robert would make it.
“Yes, I’m alright,” I assured the operator, “but please hurry. My friend is badly injured and I have no idea who did this to him, or where they are.”
After I hung up, I went to my car to look for an old towel I usually keep in the trunk. It was for washing the car, but I need anything at this point to stop the bleeding.
I moved his arm and tried to squelch the blood flow with the towel, but that quickly became saturated. He let out a groan, but was not moving much at all. Where is that ambulance? Even in the dim light, I could see that Robert had gone ashen. Don’t let him die.
I brought some water from my car and poured some in my hand to sponge his face. I settled in beside him in the gravel, to wait, not wanting to move him much. I leaned down and asked him again who did this, but he could only gurgle as blood filled his mouth and dripped out of the corner.
“I’m so very sorry, Robert,” I whispered and squeezed his arm.