Rain. Constant and driving, bouncing from the tarmac like toy marbles, the noise almost deafening as the skies unloaded on the dark country road.
He’d been hitching for hours on end now, and only one or two cars had passed him by in the last hour. It had seemed like an eternity between the last two. The second one was going to stop, the driver slowing as he approached. But as the headlights dazzled him and he held out his soaked arm and pale thumb, the dark silhouette behind the wheel must have suddenly lost their nerve and promptly hit the gas, the car picking up speed again as it quickly disappeared off into the night, leaving him alone on the road, again.
He could feel the rain now seeping through his poncho, that wet and icy cold trickle of the first droplets to get through and run downward, tickling his back. He looked upwards and cursed the rods lashing into his eyes from the above and giving no indication that they were yet prepared to ease up. This storm seemed set for the whole night. He trudged on for another hour and was about to give up when the car appeared from around the curve in the distance. As it neared, he saw it was a beaten down looking VW beetle, the round headlights struggling against the weather, exhaust fumes pumping out a trail of white smoke in the darkness
Again the man held out a soaked thumb. The car slowed as it approached and pulled into the grass verge ahead of him. The passenger window came down and the man caught up and peered inside. An old man sat in the drivers seat. He was alone, wearing dungarees too big for him and checked shirt underneath, his skin crumpled and badly creased. His lily white hair like fluff. The driver smiled back at him through yellow tobacco stained teeth and spoke, his accent strong and endearing.
“Where ya headed?”
“About two miles up the road, my car broke down and I tried to walk out of here, got caught in the rain, then lost in the dark” The man replied
“Well, get in buddy, I got some tools in the boot.”
Slowly, the man got inside, shaking off his saturated poncho and pulled the door shut as the old man wrestled the old VW back into gear and moved off again. They drove a few minutes in awkward silence, the man just staring ahead watching the wipers losing against the rain, beads of water running from his saturated clothes onto the seats and cheap mats on the cars floor. Eventually, the old man spoke, breaking the quiet.
“You don’t talk much do you pal?”
The man turned his head slowly, his weather drenched face ashen and cold, eyes glazed and staring,
”Not much to say old timer, I never bother to get acquainted with you people that much”
“Really, how so?”
“Saves time. I don’t need to know who you are. I’m gonna rob you and cut you up all the same”
The last two people the man had hitched with had reacted acutely when he delivered that line, the panic that it precipitated made him feel all warm inside. This was usually the part they started breathing heavily and shaking. A few had even begged. Begged for their miserable lives before he whipped out the switchblade concealed in his pocket and held it to their throats.
But to his surprise, the old guy didn’t react at all; keeping his eyes fixed ahead, instead slowing the car to a stop on the roadside. His breathing was not fast, it was regular and calm, much like the motion of the windscreen wipers. He swiftly pulled out the switchblade from inside his poncho with all the experience of a move he’d completed many times over and held it tight to the man’s face.
Yet still, the old man looked calm and oddly unmoved. He was beginning to feel annoyed by this plucky old geezer and pushed the blade a little tighter against the flesh of his neck. A little more and the skin would break.
“Tell me something old timer, didn’t your father ever tell you it’s dangerous to pick up hitch-hikers?” he sneered coldly.
The old man smiled back at him still and with inhuman speed grabbed the man’s wrist holding the knife and twisted it back, snapping it like a twiglet to a crack of bone popping up through the skin. The knife fell away from his useless fingers with a dull clatter. Face contorted in pain the man screamed out, white lights flashing before his eyes.
Still smiling, the old man reached up to his own face and suddenly began pulling and kneading at the skin roughly, then gouging deeply at his cheeks. The fingers protruded deep into the skin, like it was dough. The face, it was some kind of.. mask, rubber like and false as it started to detach easily. Screaming out at the new sight as the remaining skin broke away completely, the man saw the features of a lizard now sitting across from him. Foul reptilian green scaly skin with cruel yellow green eyes that stared across at him with rows of teeth giving an appearance of a grotesque grin. A sight of both utter obscenity and horror on show at the same time. A..lizard man.
It moved to within an inch of his face and hissed back at him through it’s teeth, the voice rasping and alien.
“And didn’t your father ever tell you not to get into cars with strangers!?”
The man tried to cry out again as the Lizard’s jaw suddenly dropped open, almost like it was dislocating. But the sound of his scream broke off as the Lizard viciously lunged forward, it’s jaws clamping tight like a vice over his head, severing it clean off at the neck to the sound of the wipers beating rhythmically against the outside rain.