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                                            "Ride Home"
                                                                                          By Melissa R. Mendelson
                                                                                                          Sunday, December 14, 2008
                                               
                                 Rated "PG" by the Author.
                              
                                 A ride home one cold night takes a deadly detour.

It was a cold night, one of the coldest so far. Winter was arriving early, and all hopes of its snow and ice into
the New Year ended. The smell of snow was already in the air, and another storm was brewing. This cold night
was merely the calm before the white.
Crissa hurried into the cold embrace of winter. She spun around to check on her associate, who quickly locked
the store doors behind her. She shuddered in sync with the other girl as they exchanged looks, and both
clutched their hands tight to their chest. The wind blew between them, and slowly they moved into the
parking lot toward their cars.
With a quick goodnight, Crissa unlocked the driver side door of her car and jumped inside. The key was slipped
into the ignition, and the engine roared to life. A few minutes was given to ensure that the battery was still
charged because the last thing that she wanted was to get stuck again on the side of the road and wait for a car
service to come and rescue her.
A hard tapping against her window broke her out of her daze. She pushed a button on the door before turning,
and the glass slowly slid down. Her eyes moved from the lights of the dashboard to a hooded man's face, but
before she could react, his bare hands were already wrapped around her throat.
"Let me in." Crissa was frozen in place. "Let me in, or I will kill you." His grip tightened against her skin.
"Okay..." She tried to breathe. "Please... Don't hurt me." Her fingers shakily found another button on the door,
and all the locks in her car snapped open.
"Then, do what I say." He moved like lightning into the backseat. "Now, drive." His breath touched her ear,
and his gaze met hers in the rear view mirror. "Drive!"
Jumping, Crissa quickly rolled up the window. She put her car into drive and slowly pulled it out of the parking
spot. Her frantic gaze raced across the barely lit parking lot, and there was no sign of life in any of the parked
cars. And there was no sign of the girl that she had left the store with. She was alone with the man in the
backseat of her car.
"Let's go," he hissed, and Crissa obeyed.
"Where are we going?" Crissa's hands shook so badly, but she continued to lead the car onto a side road
nearby. "Where do you want to go?"
"Not the highway. Keep to the side road." He sat back against the seat. "I'll tell you when to stop."
"Look, I'll take you anywhere, anywhere you want to go, but please, don't hurt me." Something metal glinted
off the rear view mirror. "Please."
"I won't hurt you as long as you do what I say." He gently held a gun in his hands. "Now, drive."
The drive along the side road felt like it would go on for eternity. Not one single car had driven by except for
And the tires continued to crunch down on the pavement below, and the roar of the engine was all that was
heard inside the car.
"Drive for another mile and then stop."
"There's nothing here but road." She looked at the man behind her. "There's nothing here." The fear was tight
in her throat.
"I know."
A mile or so later, the car slowly pulled to the side of the road. The engine continued to hum, and the soft wave
of heat tried to kill the chill rising in the car. The lights on the dashboard were bright, but every now and then,
they flickered, a warning. But its warning came too late.
"Give me your wallet."
Crissa stared at the man in the rear view mirror. Her hands left the steering wheel and reached for a
pocketbook sitting on the front passenger seat. Her fingers fumbled with its latch until it popped open, and she
withdrew her wallet from the darkness inside. She then handed the man the small leather pouch, knowing
what was coming next.
"Where's the money?"
"I don't carry cash with me anymore."
"No checks?"
"There's no need for them. Plastic is the money now."        
"And how much money do you have on your plastic right now?"
"Twenty dollars."
"Twenty dollars?"
"I don't get paid until Friday, when the money is electronically deposited into my account."
"That's not until the end of the week!" She flinched at his tone. "What else do you have? Jewelry?"
"I don't wear anyway. I'm not materialistic like some people."
"So, you have nothing?" She didn't like his tone. "You have nothing of value to sell, at least." He was now right
behind her. "You might have one thing to give, though."
"You want the car? You can have the car. It runs fine. It's yours."
"I wasn't talking about the car."
"Well, that's all that you will get from me." She turned around to face him. "Nothing else." Her anger killed the
fear that had held her captive until now. "Nothing else!"
"Which one of us is holding the gun?"
Crissa did not even register that this man could be armed. His hands were deadly enough. He was strong, but
with a gun, he was beyond dangerous. And she was a prisoner in his storm of dark thoughts.
"Take off your seatbelt, and turn off the car."
"Why?"
"Do it!"
Crissa obeyed. "Now, lie across the driver seat and onto the passenger seat."
"You've got to be kidding me."
"Listen." He placed a firm hand on her shoulder. "We can do this easy or hard." His lips touched her
ear. "I would rather not hurt you."
"Bullshit. You’re talking about rape." Her eyes met his in the mirror in front of her. "Don’t do this. You’ll
regret it."
"Like I said. Which one of us is holding the gun?"
The pounding of her heart echoed with the click of a gun. Metal touched her right temple. Out of the corner of
her eye, a finger curled around the trigger. A bullet with her name on it waited to be fired, and she could
almost feel it burn into her skin. But she was not shot. Yet.
"Okay..."
Crissa cut the ignition, and the car gave one last shudder before dying. The seatbelt slid over her chest and
back into its cradle. Her long hair brushed against the seat as she moved her body onto the passenger seat and
lied on her back. Tears stung her eyes, and her hands slid down along her legs.
The man pulled himself over the driver side seat. He slithered on top of her. His breath poured against her
skin. His weight almost crushed her, nearly stealing her breath. His fingers pulled at her pants as she tried to
lie still beneath him.
"If you’re good, you will live." His words were empty of promise.
Something glinted in the darkness. Metal bit into skin. Droplets of red fell into darkness. Heavy breathing was
heard, and then nothing was left but silence.
Slowly, Crissa pushed the man off of her. She looked over at the front passenger door behind her head and
reached for the handle. Throwing open the door, she pulled herself out into the cold night air.
Falling hard onto the ground, Crissa slowly rose to her feet. She zipped up her pants. Her gaze moved from her
feet to the man now in the driver’s seat.
A small knife protruded out of the man’s jugular. Its handle melted into the darkness. Red droplets slid down
skin and onto the seat below. Hollow eyes stared upward into nothing.
Sticking her finger in her ear, Crissa felt a small click. A hum tickled her eardrum. A series of clicks were
heard, followed by a voice.
"You’re not supposed to contact us." A man’s voice was heard.
"Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I should call the police instead."
"The police? What happened?"
"Oh, nothing except for a stupid piece of shit that tried to rape and kill me."
Silence followed a moment later.
"He’s terminated." More silence followed. "I’ll call the police. I’m sorry to have bothered you." Crissa leaned
against her car and sighed loudly. "I forgot that you can’t interfere except for watching. That’s what you do
best, and I know you’ve been keeping tabs on me."
"Don’t call the police."
"Are you coming out to me?"
"I can’t. You know that, but you were right. You should’ve called. Walk down the road a few miles, and then
call a cab on your cell. First thing tomorrow morning, call the mechanic to ask about your car. We’ll leave it in
the parking lot tonight, and just tell him that it didn’t start again. And you had it towed to his place in the
middle of the night, and please, get a battery. We are trying to keep you off the radar here."
"And the body?"
"We’ll take care of it."
"And my knife?"
"Get a new one, and that’s it. Until we contact you."
"And in the meantime, I’ll hear clicks on my phone. I’ll abruptly lose service on my Internet, which will come
back a minute later. Stuff like that still?"
"Like I said. We’re keeping tabs on you."
"You could offer me a better job than a retail one."
"What does off the radar mean, Crissa? You’re a ghost. Got it?"
"Yes, sir." The loud click in her ear signaled the end of the conversation.
"Pain in my ass," she muttered.
Looking one last time at the body in her car, Crissa snatched her pocketbook out of the car along with her
wallet. She turned on her cell to make sure that she got service. Worse case scenario, she would drive the car a
little ways down the road and give them something to look for instead of pinning the vehicle to the location of
the call. The four bars on her cell meant she was in business, and the car would be left behind along with the
John Doe slouched behind the wheel.
"You picked the wrong target, pal." She drew in a deep breath of arctic air. "And that was your last mistake."
She blew out a white cloud of air in front of her. "That was your last mistake." She started walking away from
the car and into the dark, cold embrace of the night.
REVIEW STORE: Did you enjoy Melissa's short story? Please tell her so. We know she will appreciate your
feedback.
 CLICK HERE to write a review of "Ride Home".

NEW REVIEWS:  Mendelson takes us to a bleak place in her short story, "Ride Home." Crissa seems to be
someone the reader can identify with, almost until the last, good twist! ****__Leann Marshall

This is indeed a chilling ride as a potentially helpless victim chooses a desperate path to freedom and the right
to live another day. Crissa says all the right things and when they don't work, she manages to have the last
explosive say, having been carefully trained, we learn, to take care of herself. WOW! ****__Barbara A. Sabo.

This is  a surprisingly savvy little mystery. At first I thought just another assault victim story, then a nice
twist at the end made it a memorable read. Recommended to all.****__Captain Apple Jack

I liked this story very much. Things like this happen very often in Washington. I'm glad Crissa was trained to
fight back. I wish I were.****__Su Chang

This writer tells a tale of every woman's worst nightmare and ends it in a way that leaves the reader thinking
who is Crissa really and are there more like her amongst us. Is she a ghost or is that a metaphor for something
from the twilight zone? I wish every would-be rapist could read this story. They'd think twice. *****__Marcia
Miller-Twiford
OTHER WORKS: To enjoy other works by Melissa R. Mendelson, CLICK HERE.