Midnight Drive

Danny Mahr, 13th Grader at BCECHS

They were taking a midnight drive, not of their own free will, but because they had gotten off work later than desired. They had volunteered to cover for the night shift; they needed the extra money, and they had a hard time saying no to people. They regretted this decision as their car rolled down the dark, vacant highway, their mind already somewhere else, somewhere different. 


This stretch of road leading from work to home was hardly populated during daylight hours. At night, they believed they were no longer part of the land of the living. The scenery changed outside of the car’s windows, but just barely, and after ten, twenty, maybe one hundred years, they started to think they were driving in an endless loop without an exit. 


The moon’s light, gone from the sky, offered no guidance or comfort. Its absence cast them into the void, a world of shadows lit only by the car’s headlights where the shadows danced and the creatures of the mind conjured into existence just far enough out of reach to impose unease instead of dread. They kept driving. 


They forgot how long they had spent on this stretch of road, their time of departure slipping from memory as they glanced at the time. They were not sure whether any time had actually passed, or if too much time had passed and they remained dazed and unaware. Sleep tugged at the corners of their vision, blurring their eyes. Its song coaxed them into slumber while their consciousness fought for control of the wheel. 


Shadows danced around the car, inviting them to join the unseen revel on the side of the road. They ignored them. They had to get home. Jellyfish more luminescent than the stars bobbed next to the windows, keeping pace with a mindless indifference. They would have felt comradery with them, if their thoughts were awake and their own. 


The radio existed, even if they had forgotten it. When their consciousness bothered to remember it, they suspected that the same song had been looping for the past hour, maybe the past eternity. They kept driving. They had to get home. 


Did they, though? 


What would stop them from accepting the shadows’ invitation to dance, or from following the jellyfish on their undisclosed journey? Who said they had to go home just because it was late when time ceased to matter in the first place? Could this midnight road take them somewhere else, somewhere different? They could go on an adventure, and return home the next day. Or maybe they would go somewhere else and return when they were ready. The road stretched before them, endless in its possibility. The jellyfish continued to bob in and out of view. The shadows extended wispy hands, offering, always offering. 


A midnight adventure, they decided. They would go on a midnight adventure, and nothing in the universe could stop them. Nothing, that is, except for the end of the road, and the harsh approach of their driveway. They had returned home, wherever that may be, whatever that may mean. Getting out of their car, they entered their empty house and climbed into bed, wondering where the midnight road could have taken them if only, they had kept driving. The opportunity, like a candle in the wind, was there and gone in an instant. They may never know.