At that moment, Karie stared into the eyes of the creature she feared more than anything else on the planet...
As Karie searched, her movements were frantic. Questions spun spiderwebs in her overloaded brain, and any sense she’d had was long gone. There were four words in her head. Keys. Phone. Drive home.
It is considered bad when one’s car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It is worse when that car, broken down on the side of the road, becomes the sudden victim of a collapse of the weak earth beneath it, becoming even more stranded in a ditch. Thus it is unbelievably terrible when the driver of that car, flustered, lost and confused, gets out of the car and drops her phone and keys into the unknown.
So here Karie was, in the middle of a warm summer night on the side of a deserted highway, searching the mysterious darkness of briar bushes and unknown weeds for her keys and phone. She still cursed herself in her head. Of course, she could have listened to her parents, waited until the next morning to take off, maybe taken time to put some extra gas in her battered car from 2003. And it would have been helpful if she’d gotten that oil change she needed, when she needed it… and maybe paid closer attention to those warning lights on her dashboard. She definitely should have bought a new car battery. God, there was so much she could have done differently. But here on the side of the road, it was much too late. And who knew what kind of rabid animals were lurking about at this hour? Karie tried not to think of the one animal that inspired an irrational fear in her. No, it wasn’t snakes or spiders or bobcats. She wasn’t repulsed by turkey vultures or intimidated by an aggravated red-tailed hawk. Even owls didn’t spook her much, nor did bears, though she’d encountered her fair share in the vicinity of her parents’ house. No, the one animal she truly feared was the raccoon. Nobody really knew why, not even her, but there was something about its grabby paws and masked face that gave her nothing but the willies.
So it was really quite terrifying for Karie to be out here, digging through brambles and the like to find her keys and phone. After all, she knew for a fact that those crazy gray trash bandits were extremely common here in Newark, New Jersey. She had moved all around her car, reaching beneath the wheels and crawling as far beneath the car as those prickly bushes would allow. But it was too dark.
Maybe I have that flashlight in my trunk still, Karie thought.
She got back into her car and climbed through the backseat to the trunk. Fumbling through her belongings, she found the zipper of her suitcase and managed to get it open. Amazingly, that flashlight she was looking for was sitting right on top of her clothes. She retrieved it and crawled from her car. Now with light, Karie finally located her keys; they had landed just below her car door, tangled up in some thorny branches that had already done serious damage to her hands. She was slightly relieved but absolutely frazzled just the same. She felt that her phone should also be nearby since they fell from her car at the same time, but it was not.
Where is my phone? she screamed internally.
Maybe it had tumbled further into the ditch. Sighing, Karie shined her flashlight under and all around her car. Nothing. She kept hearing rustling in the underbrush nearby, and it was sending several chills down her spine. She slowly ventured away from her car. The flashlight’s beam swung around the darkness, making many bouncing shadows. It was spooky. Especially when the light bounced off of something that glittered eerily. Startled, Karie returned the beam to the mysterious object. She saw that it was a pair of eyes. A blink revealed the owner of the eyes… And at that moment, Karie stared into the eyes of the creature she feared more than anything else on the planet: a raccoon.
Karie screeched in horror. Then she bolted to her car, leaped in, slammed the door, and locked it. Her eyes were fixed on that thing. And it didn’t take its eyes off of her.
“Shoo! Go away!” she yelled, hyperventilating and shaking.
To her great terror, the little beast started walking toward her car. Karie stuck her keys in the ignition and tried in vain to start the disabled vehicle. She turned the keys over and over again to no avail. Meanwhile, the raccoon calmly approached the car and jumped up on the hood. Karie covered her eyes and started bawling like a small child. She heard the little beast’s footsteps as it walked up to the windshield. Then the footsteps stopped, and Karie heard a small thud. Bewildered, she opened her eyes. The raccoon was still standing on the hood of the car, flicking its paws together, but something else was there too. Karie blinked, not believing her eyes. Now, her phone sat on her windshield, vibrating with her father’s picture on the screen. Karie stood up and opened the car door. The raccoon jumped down and disappeared into the darkness. Karie snatched her phone quickly and jumped into her car again. She answered the call. When her dad’s voice greeted her from the other end, Karie nearly cried with relief.
“Dad,” she said breathlessly. “You are not going to believe what just happened!”
About the author
I have a passion for the representation of characters with different cultures, backgrounds, interests and disabilities. My main inspiration is the spectrum of the human experience and the complicated nature and beauty of humanity.