ABC Stories: Caution Ahead


Caution Ahead, the sign said, via a handwritten note tacked to a folding billboard, and placed in the center of the road to prevent passage. Dorothy peered into the distance and couldn't see any cars, any police or ambulances, nor were the roads wet or muddy.  Earlier in the day, streams of cars had passed her on the Western highway, all rushing to get to their destinations. Funny how all the vehicles, the people, even towns seemed to have disappeared into the ether, the farther she went and gave her the feeling she'd entered the twilight zone.   

Get a grip, she told herself, and grasped the wheel tight, trying not to hyperventilate and give in to her weird imagination.  How did she get here, she wondered, the trip a blur in her mind, the sign filling her with dread, and the unknown danger made her want to turn around and flee the other direction. Indecision plagued her at the strangest times, a weird fugue blurring her thoughts.  Just yesterday she hadn't been able to make the decision whether to put on the red or blue socks, and it had plagued her for the rest of the day.  

Kneading her knuckles against the steering wheel, she deliberated.  Leave, turn around and go home despite the fact it would take several more hours. Meander forth and follow the lonely road that now looked spooky, unfriendly, and foreboding all because of one small sign. No, she couldn't do it.  Obsessing about it wouldn't help either. Pretending she wasn't scared because she had no idea where the hell she was going in the first place, would only stress her out more. Quickly, before she changed her mind again, she turned the car around which wasn't an easy task on the narrow lane.  Run away from danger, her mother always said, whilst Kiki would say go towards it and enjoy the adventure. 

Since yesterday she'd had the desire to go some where, but she couldn't remember where she'd been going, so she bolted back towards the onramp which should have only taken her minutes, but seemed like hours. Turning left, she did the inexplicable and took the service road beside the highway, zipping past fields of corn and wheat with stalks higher than the car and turned the road into a shadowy tunnel.

Until she came to a bridge and drove underneath it, coming out of the shadows into the bright sunlight, and wondered where she was since she no longer could see the freeway or hear the cars passing by. Visions of getting t-boned made her stomp down on the gas and she speed through the intersection, up and down hilly roads and through the forest until she came upon a quaint little shopping center full of cars in the middle of nowhere. 

What is this, where is this? Xylophone music greeted her when she opened her car door. Yearning for a fat, greasy, crunchy taco, she climbed out of the car and ran into a little country store. Zoned out by the drive and hunger, it took her a few minutes to realize no one was in the store, including a cashier.

Yesterday's weirdness had faded to today's bizarre adventures, and she felt like she was out of time, out of place, out of touch with the world.  X's stamped in place of prices for all the products on the shelves confused her even more.  What was she supposed to do, negotiate, which she couldn't do because no one was there.

Various scenes passed through her head of an apocalypse, a disaster, even zombies. Up on the wall, the hands of the clock clicked off the seconds, but she realized she couldn't hear the ticking, nor the music anymore. Troubled, she walked the entire store, calling out hello but received no answers. Suspicious and more than a little scared, she took a breath and looked in the backroom, but didn't see anybody.  

Right or wrong, she was hungry and returned to the main part of the store, filled a small basket with snacks and taco ingredients because she was starving, and dropped some cash at the front counter.  Quick and quiet, spooked by the lack of life, she exited the store.  Perhaps they were next door and she wondered down the sidewalk looking in all the empty stores.  

Oh boy, I'm living in the twilight zone or the resurrection or what was the thing from the comic movies, the snap.  No one left, except for her. Marching to her car, she locked herself inside and pulled out her cell phone.  Looked through the contacts list and called her mom, her heart thumping painfully in her chest as she waiting through several rings. 

Kiki answered and said, "Hope my dear, I hear you are hopelessly lost." 

Jealousy rocked her at the sound of the woman who'd taken her place in her mom's life and it took a moment for her words to sink in and she wondered who told Kiki she was lost unless she was tracking her phone.  

"I need to talk to mom," Hope demanded and wondered again for the millionth time why her mom had allowed Kiki, heck why had she allowed it, and let the woman hold sway over all mom's decisions, her calls, her life. 

"Have you come to your senses yet or shall I delay you even more?" 

Gasping, Hope realized Kiki had somehow cursed her because she'd lost track of the days and had no idea how she'd managed it and spoke the counter spelled her mother had taught her when she was a little girl.  

"Fiddle dee dee, five makes three, and ten makes two, may caution be your guide," she murmured.  

Energy sparked through her body, flashing from her head to her toes, and her eyes fuzzed out for a second, then cleared.   Dumbfounded she stared as the people everywhere, bustling to and from their cars, the stores. Cautious now, she knew she had to play along with Kiki, if she was going to save her mother and lied through her teeth when she said, "Blessing on you, Miss Kiki," and hung up on the woman, ready to end the witch as soon as possible.

Rules for the road: Alphabet stories start and end with the letter chosen and each sentence has to begin with the next letter of the alphabet. 

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