The Middle Of The Lane

I opened my dark brown eyes to the all-too-familiar mono-yellow hallway before me. Half-dead, decades-old fluorescent lights shined above with an underwhelming luminosity. I silently cursed in realization as my mind flashed back to each time I had the misfortune of arriving here.

I could not recall if this was my 5th, 18th, or 100th time visiting this damned plane of existence, but it did not matter; the only thing I was concentrated on was finding a way to escape back home, safe from the reaches of the abstract horrors that lay here.

I shook my head to rid myself of such negative thoughts; though the environment surrounding me was anything but a bringer of jubilance, it did not mean that I’d wallow in despair for the duration of my time there. I steeled myself and began my journey through the boundless rooms. With each corner, I focused on all senses: sight, smell, and hearing above all else.

I saw shadows that almost seemed to warp, as if moving with each step forward that I took, silently creeping. A musty odor abundant with pungent mold made itself known, and I could hear screams that felt both far too human and of an eldritch, monstrous origin.

I started to walk a little faster. I attempted to not make a sound, though it was difficult to tell if I was successful in this endeavor or not; the lack of nearby entities would point signs towards the former, but there was always a seed of doubt that lay deep within my consciousness.

It was at that moment, at my most mentally vulnerable, that I heard it: the roar of an engine that had long since passed its moment of expiration. My eyebrows furrowed in confusion of both the illogicality and improbability of a car being in this monotonous hell of all places, and of how a car could even fit in corridors like these.

No longer would I have to ponder the source of this unusual sound, however, as in the next room I passed, I found myself staring down a corridor that had to be at least half a mile long: lengthy, but just close enough for my trained eyes to spot what exactly it was that faced me at the other end of the hallway.

A car with a paint job as flat as the walls surrounding the vehicle was facing me directly, its gray doors reflecting the light from the bulbs overhead, headlights brighter than they should have been, considering the condition of the car, and a menacing rumbling emanating from its engine.

I stood there for a moment or two, dumbfounded by what I saw, and then quickly collected myself; I have seen far, far worse than an out-of-place car that looked like it had come straight out of the 2000s. Though, the question of why it was there in the first place still persisted in my conscience.

I would not have a moment more to think, however, as the automobile suddenly sprung into action, its wheels moving unnaturally fast for a car of such decrepitude. It took another half-second before my body caught up with my mind and I turned around, running as fast as I could manage with my legs.

I did not stop for anything; any and all impulses were ignored and forgotten as I soared past each room, attracting the attention of multiple beings that would not have initially noticed me otherwise.

I took a deep breath in both exhaustion and fear as I realized that the danger of the situation I had now found myself in had worsened to a severe degree. The rumbling of the engine from the car grew louder in volume as it followed me through the labyrinth of yellow rooms.

It was at this moment that I had allowed myself to turn around for once. Amongst the onslaught of beings that had now gathered and joined in this morbid game of cat-and-mouse — a glowing white smile with fangs sharper than that of a vampire belonging to an incorporeal body, a creature resembling a dog but with the physical characteristics of something ripped straight from the depths of Hell.

Including several others that I did not have the time to examine (nor did I want to) — the mobile pile of metal had followed suit, and I came to the horrific realization that it could alter its size. No matter where I went, it was capable of following me with ease, with speeds I could never hope of matching.

No sooner did I come to this realization than did I turn around and find myself unable to stop as I crashed into the wall in front of me; however inconvenient it was, it did not matter to me. I fell to the ground and tried desperately to get back up; a few bruises made themselves known on my skin.

Superficial injuries were of the least of my concerns as the entities came ever closer. Thinking quickly, I waited until the entities were within a few seconds of me, and then immediately dashed towards the corridor to my right. My plan worked as expected, as all of them crashed into the wall, with the car coming in last and finishing them off as an added bonus.

I silently cheered with mirth, but I knew that now was not the time to celebrate early. I made as much distance as I could from the car and myself before it eventually started itself up again; it had taken quite the beating from the crash. Its headlights were no longer functional (how they ever were before that point, I will never know), and it had a massive indentation on its hood.

Blood of the beings it had accidentally killed was smeared onto it, as if attempting to paint over the car's silver color. Exhausted, but not deterred, I ran even faster than I did before, the action still manageable despite the throbbing pain from the injuries I had sustained in the crash.

The water vapor I expelled from my lungs was so potent the air around me seemed damp, my heart pumping as I looked for a way out of my predicament. The car, almost seeming sentient in the way it proceeded, pushed its pedal as if angered.

The idea of the car being self-aware in any capacity, let alone able to experience thought, terrified me more than I would like to admit. Twisting and turning with every opportunity I had, I tried to change direction quickly enough to confuse the car, but to no avail; it was moving far too quickly for such a thing to happen.

Though moving at a relatively low speed for a car, it was still faster than I could possibly outrun, and so the only thing that I could do was pray to whatever higher being was in charge of this place that I would make it out of here fine, as I had all of those times before. My opponent, the most human construct I had seen so far, had paradoxically been my most unpredictable foe yet.

The beige-yellow carpet behind the car turned a nasty reddish-black as the blood from the beings left a trail, the festering substance mixing with the pigmentation of the carpeting. The distance between myself and the car, though initially substantial, had significantly decreased over time.

Just as I had started to panic, adrenaline allowing me to run faster than I ever had before, a myriad of pathways made themselves known in front of me. Several different hallways leading into the unknown were directly ahead, and all I had to do was choose one narrow enough to prevent the car from pursuing.

Seeing this opportunity, I chose the middlemost hallway and quickly turned the corner, allowing myself to breathe for a moment or two as the car seemed more distant. Just as I was finally about to weep in joy, halfway through the corridor, I noticed that the car had started down the same path I had taken, directly toward me.

Knowing death was near, I could do nothing but run faster until my body was no longer able to take the immense strain on my legs. An exercise in futility, I thought bitterly, as I realized that there was nothing left I could do; a dead-end was up ahead. Just as I was about to give up, something terrifying but unimaginably relieving began to occur.

It seemed that reality itself started to warp and shift around me, the sounds of the roaring engine of the car being distorted in a million different ways as the air seemed to crack and break. The monotonous yellow walls turned grey-and-black, the fluorescent bulbs became LED wall lights, and the obtrusive buzz ceased.

The musty odor dissipated slowly but surely as I entered another plane of existence. Without question, I ran even faster, coming closer and closer to the dead-end, until a blinding radiance slowly grew in size and consumed my vision.

Waking up, I found myself in a different place altogether. It was then that my mind and body were finally able to rest, and I could take time to process what had happened to me; I had somehow escaped out of sheer desperation.

I gazed at nothing in particular, my body numb, before whooping in pure, unadulterated joy. I stopped myself before I could do anything else, though, as I knew that there were other beings in the area that would hear me if I was too loud. Still, both exhausted and relatively calm.

I adopted a tiny smirk for the first time in what felt like an eternity as I made my way through the new Space. Enjoying the sudden lack of murderous, self-aware cars, I took in the remarkably different but just-as-familiar sights. I prepared myself for my next endeavor: finding another person. Solitude was never my thing, anyway.

rating: +8+x

The Middle Of The Lane was written by MidoriTenshiMidoriTenshi, and egglordegglord with critique from ZENAJZENAJ, and ExcaliburnerExcaliburner. The images used in the article was created by egglordegglord.

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