Exit Thirteen

Flynn Meyers

© Copyright 2009 by Flynn Meyers


Karen awoke focusing on the lamp on the end table. Her foggy mind recalling the events of the previous evening, and the nice policeman that had called a tow truck. She was in a motel in a town off the main highway. She glanced over at the adjacent bed, the twins were still sound asleep. The musty smell of room was invasive and had an uncomfortably damp chill to it. She went to the thermostat and turned it up. The baseboards instantly began to creak and crack, indicating that they were at least functional.

She approached the mirror, her long curly red hair looked like a cat fight had occurred in it while she slept. And her mousy features appeared to have been out all night scavenging. Her emerald green eyes were slightly bloodshot, and the lipstick had long since worn off of her full lips. She walked to the window and pulled the curtains open. Frost fogged the view, and had formed ice around the edges of the window. She placed her petite alabaster hand on the center of the window. Which quickly melted a clear hand print into the frost. Apparently the cold snap was continuing. The morning had a grayish cold tinge to it, and a skiff of snow covered everything.

How gross,” she thought, peering out through the small clear spot.

A murder of crows took to the air, from the black barren trees amongst the headstones of the graveyard across the road. She glanced towards the desk that doubled as a TV stand. A small coffeepot was a welcome sight. She quickly readied the machine, and turned it on. As she turned around, a pair of eyes staring at her through her melted hand print on window startled her. She opened the door as a blast of cold sweet winter air rushed in. The chambermaid cart partially blocked the door.

Fresh towels this morning Deary,” the elderly woman said, with a friendly smile.

No they’re fine, but is there a restaurant near by?” Karen asked.

Oh yes darling, I’m sure they will wake up hungry,” the old woman smiled, her features slightly etched with concern.

Karen momentarily wondered how she knew about the children. But quickly dismissed it, realizing the old man at the desk was probably the woman’s husband.

Ma’s kitchen just around the corner has the best food in town, but they won’t be open for half an hour,” she said.

Thank you,” Karen said, “we’ll call if we need anything.”

Okay then dear,” the old woman said, as Karen closed the door and jumped back under the covers, shivering.

Karen vaguely remembered passing the garage with the tow truck driver the night before. But squeezed into the tow truck cab with the twins, combined with the darkness made it almost impossible to keep her bearings. That was another headache she was not looking forward to. She had heard horror stories from friends, regarding being stranded in small towns with vehicle problems.

She pulled the covers over her head buried her face in the pillow, and screamed trying to vent her frustration.

Why did this have to happen, the last thing we need is a hefty repair bill?” she thought to herself.

Hopefully because she was a single mother, the mechanic would take pity on her. Things had gone from bad to worse, and she was so looking forward to just relaxing with the twins at her parents. Now she was probably going to have to phone them to wire money. A thought that bothered her, because she knew they couldn’t afford it.

Tyler and Tanya awoke rubbing the sleep out of their little eyes, and as Karen had anticipated they were hungry.

As they entered the restaurant, the entire place turned silent as every patron turned and stared at Karen and the children. Karen could have sworn, they had accidentally wandered into the local senior’s bingo parlor. Every person in the restaurant was in their seventies, and continued to stare intently at them. The conversations slowly resumed, as they seated them selves at a booth in the corner. After breakfast Karen asked for directions to the garage and with the disinterested children in tow, she soon found her self at the garage. Her car sat outside, and was covered with the previous night’s snow.

They trudged up to the front door, only to find that the garage wasn’t open till 10:00AM. That left an hour for them to kill, so she dragged the toddler’s back to the room. The children sat watching cartoons, as she phoned her parents. Her brother had made it at least, as he answered the phone.

Hey Sis, where are you?”

Oh Jason you would not believe it,” Karen said. “We are in some little old fogy town off of the main highway, and my car is stranded at the garage.

What’s the name of the town?”

You know I don’t even know, but it looks like they just dropped my car outside the garage, and it’s just been sitting outside all night.”

Well I could come and get you, if you want,” Jason’s voice had a concerned tone.

Let me find out what the name of this hick town is, and what’s happening with my car. I’ll call you back, but tell mom and dad we’re okay,” Karen said, not wanting them to worry.

I have your number on the call display anyway Sis, so call us back okay, love you.”

Okay love you too, bye,” She said, as she hung up.

Karen called the desk, to find out the name of the town. In her rush to get to the garage and with the twins fussing, she hadn’t even paid attention to any of the signs around town. She got a busy signal and hung up, she tried again every ten minutes and still got the same result.

Oh these laid back country towns are all the same,” she thought to herself.

She had a shower and decided the garage should be open, so her and the twins headed for another irritating trip to the garage. It was so much easier to put them in their car seats, than to drag the toddlers even a few blocks on foot. Snow had begun to fall to the delight of the toddlers. Karen dismissed any hope of a quick trip back to the garage.

Looks like the alternator is fried,” the fat old mechanic said, as he peered out from under her hood.

How soon can you have it fixed?”

Well it will be nothing to fix, getting a new one in will be the problem,” he said.

He spat a big gob of chewing tobacco at the mangy cat, which crossed the shop floor near him. Tyler immediately took after the cat. Karen had to salvage him, as the junkyard cat turned and hissed at them.

Yeah he don’t take to strangers,” the mechanic cackled sarcastically, exposing his brown teeth.

Get outta here,” he hollered, tossing a wrench at the old feline.

It will have to wait till Monday,” he said, “I can order one for Monday.”

Karen was not happy at all, but she sensed that arguing with the man was not going to help. They returned to the room, and by this point the twins were almost ready for a nap. As she passed the office she noticed a sign, stating back in half an hour.

Karen looked at her key tag it said Threshold Motel, which didn’t sound like the name of a town. She went to the drawer in the room and located some brochures and discovered a map.... the town was indeed called Threshold.

The twins played and giggled quietly, under the covers on the other bed. Karen pulled the comforter over herself, she felt dead tired. Shortly after the children, she too drifted off to sleep.

She was awakened by the telephone ringing, the room was stifling hot as she answered. A dizzy grogginess consumed her head.

Hey Sis, I thought you were going to call us back.”

Sorry we just fell asleep.”

Well what’s happening?”

The name of the town is Threshold. And they have to order an alternator for my car, but they can’t get it till Monday.”

I’ll come and get you, let me just grab a map.”

Thanks Jason,” Karen said, she could hear her mom approaching the phone.

Hi Honey, why didn’t you call back?”

Sorry Mom we fell asleep”

My god we were worried sick, its been all day and we couldn’t get through to you.”

What?” Karen said, as she got up and went to the window, it was dark outside.

Holy cow Mom, I guess we were really tired.”

A chill shot through Karen’s body as she noticed the comforter on the twin’s bed.

It was ruffled but seemed awful flat, too flat to be covering the twins. She approached the bed, as helpless horrifying scenarios bombarded her mind. She whipped the comforter back. A sigh of relief burst from her chest, as the twins looked up tired and confused.

Is everything okay Honey?” her mom asked.

Yeah it’s fine Mom I just gave myself a little scare.”

Okay here’s Jason.”

Hey Karen I can’t find that name anywhere on the map, are you sure that’s the name?”

I thought that was the name, it’s off exit thirteen.”

Well it’s not on this map, but maybe this is an old map.”

I’ll check for sure Jason, and call you back okay.”

Okay we’ll be waiting bye.”


Are you two hungry?” Karen asked

The toddlers nodded as they cuddled together. Karen located cartoons on the TV for them to watch.

She was the luckiest Mom in the world, to have such beautiful affectionate children,” she thought to herself, as she ran her brush through her hair.

Mommies going to get us something to eat, so you two just watch TV and don’t let anyone in okay.” The twins were enthralled in their cartoons, and paid little attention to her. But she could lock the deadbolt with her key anyway, and they were too short to reach it.

The order seemed to take forever, but Karen returned shortly.

She sat the bag of food on the walkway and inserted the key. She turned the key but the lock was stiff or frozen. She continued to struggle with the lock, as her concern grew that the twins were stuck inside. Suddenly the door swung open, and an elderly man in his boxers stood in front of her.

What?” she gasped, as she looked past him for the twins. A woman sat on the bed, Karen couldn’t make out her features, because of the long hair concealing the woman’s face.

Can I help you young lady?”

Where are my chi… she paused, as she looked at the door number.

Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry,” she said, “I came to the wrong door,” she could feel her cheeks turning crimson red.

Not to worry,” the gentleman said, continuing to watch as she went to her door, smiling at her briefly before he closed his door.

I can’t believe I did that,” she thought to herself, as her door unlocked. The twins where not on the bed, and water was running in the bathroom. Karen rushed in expecting to find the twins playing at the sink, and was perplexed that the bathroom was empty and the faucet was running.

Alright you two, where are you hiding?” she smiled to herself. She left the bathroom approached the bed, and yanked back the comforter, exposing two pillows.

For such young children, they were quite the pranksters,” she thought, as she looked under the bed.

Panic and worry began to take over the lighthearted humor, as she checked under the other bed and the closet.

Karen could feel the blood pressure pounding in her face as pure panic bolted through her entire body like a shotgun blast. An aching, overpowering sensation flooded her chest. Her worst fear had been realized, the twins were not in the room.

Karen rushed out of the room, frantically scanning for footprints in the snow.

A vehicle leaving the parking lot caught her attention. Tyler was standing in the back window, tears ran down his little face as his outstretched arms beckoned her.

Karen ran down the snow-covered street, it was impossible to get firm traction. Her head collided with the ice and snow covered blacktop. Blood dripped from the cut on her eyebrow and trickled down her face. As she lifted her head to see the vehicle disappear, into the tormented snowy night.

Karen crawled to her feet, she felt dizzy and queasiness knotted up in her stomach. She ran to the office and burst inside. Surprise and concern washed over the elderly desk clerks face, as Karen screamed frantically to call the police.

Here sit down my dear,” he said, as he came from behind the counter with a towel in his hand. She jumped back like a frightened animal, as he approached.

Why won’t you call the police?” she screamed, “they stole my children.”

Relax Dear.”

I’m not your Dear, why does everyone have to call me Dear?” she screamed, her eyes darting about the room for a telephone.

Okay just settle down, I’ll call them right now” he said reassuringly, as he handed her the towel.

Karen wiped her face as he headed for the office, she could see him on the phone as he looked back at her suspiciously.

Karen noticed the huge red stain on the white towel, and hadn’t realized how heavily she had been bleeding. She approached a large tinted mirror in the lobby and cleaned the blood from her face, as a thought entered her mind.

The old man didn’t seem very concerned about the children. And who had better access to the locked room than the motel owner. He came out of the office and approached her, as she bombarded him with questions about him seeing anything, or who owned the vehicle she saw leaving. He stared at her with a dubious look. Karen just wanted to beat the information out of him.

A patrol car slide to a stop in front of the motel, its lights invading the office and the darkness outside. Karen ran out to meet the officer, before he even finished leaving his patrol car.

We have to go after the car,” she screamed, as she pulled at the passenger door handle only to find it locked.

Whoa, just slow down a moment Miss.”

There isn’t time.”

We’ll take this one step at a time,” the officer said, attempting to take control of the situation.

They’re getting away.”

They won’t get far there’s only one way in and out of this town, just settle down.”

Please,” Karen pleaded, as tears streaked through the thin vale of blood that remained on her face.

Okay I’ll unlock the door for you but I want you to sit quiet okay, I’m just going to ask him a couple of questions.”

Okay... but hurry please,” she said, as he closed the car door and entered the motel.

The new car smell of the patrol car and the warmth of the heater, seemed to temporarily calm Karen’s nerves.

The moments visibly ticked by, as the officer talked with the man in the office. They both turned looking at her through the window, the man and the desk smiled noticeably.

There was nothing funny about this,” Karen thought to herself, as feelings that he was somehow involved crossed her mind again.

They went that way,” Karen impatiently implored, as the officer entered the car.

We have to get you to the hospital.” the officer said calmly.

The hospital.... forget this stupid little cut, are you crazy they have my babies?”

One step at a time,” the officer said.

I don’t know what they taught you at the academy? Karen said, but my babies have been kidnapped,” she glared at him unable to comprehend his incompetence.

Let’s just calm down a bit,” he said, as he smiled at her. “We’re getting you to the hospital.”

Karen could not believe what he was saying, but her attention was averted.

There was the car again, it was parked on a side street and this time she could clearly see Tanya looking out the rear side window as they passed in the patrol car.

There they are,” she screamed, “stop the car, stop the car.”

Not until we get you to the hospital.”

Karen awoke in a hospital bed, she frantically looked around the room and tried to move. But she was strapped to the gurney. Through the window she could see the officer talking with her father, mother, and her brother Jason.

Oh thank god they are here to help,” she thought, as a warm relaxing feeling invade her body.

Meanwhile outside her window her family explained how Karen’s children and husband had been killed in a car accident, in which she was driving.

She never was the same following the coma she woke up from, and is still extremely delusional,” Jason said.

She believes with all her heart, that her children are still with her, and that her husband had abandoned them.” her mother added.

Well she was the talk of the town with her imaginary children,” the officer said, “but I never expected her to jump from the patrol car.”

We have her sedated,” the doctor said, she’ll be fine, you can take her home in the morning.”

Thank you Doctor,” Jason said

Karen’s eyelids slowly closed as the medication over took her. She knew her family would help find the children, so she could sleep now.

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