With Delilah in the passenger seat beside him, Jacob steered his silver Camry off the main highway onto the rural two-lane road to Locha-Oki. Time elapsed on the beach without warning, and the afternoon had morphed into evening. Now, it was thirty minutes past seven and he was driving Delilah to her home. The dense pine canopy blocked all light from the evening sky so that the sedan barreled into a black void. Jacob followed two distant taillights as a beacon. They marked the back end of Abigail’s white pickup truck as she drove along the asphalt lane that meandered through the woods. He switched the headlights to high beams, but the extra brightness only pushed back the opaque boundaries a few extra feet.
Delilah poked at various buttons on the car’s radio until she found a station. Reception was spotty, though, and the music dissolved into static as they wound deeper into the blackness. Jacob glanced at his phone and frowned at the lack of connectivity.
“Where the hell are we? There’s no cell service out here at all.”
“We’re close,” Delilah assured him as she rested her hand on his knee and caressed it. “Locha-Oki is about three miles from here, and our house is a few miles past town. See, there’s a sign.”
The headlights briefly illuminated the white text on the side of the road. It read, “Dead Lakes 2.”
“It’s a recreational area and campground,” Delilah explained. “We’ll pass it on the way to the farmhouse.”
“Sounds creepy,” Jacob grunted.
“It can be. More of a swamp forest than a lake… it’s stagnant, littered with hundreds of rotted tree trunks, and filled with alligators and snakes.” Delilah leaned toward Jacob and spoke in a loud, ominous whisper. “Some say the water reeks of death.” And then she laughed.
“Thanks for that,” Jacob countered as he pressed harder on the gas pedal, coaxing the Camry to close the gap between them and Abigail’s truck. They hadn’t encountered any other cars on this road, and Jacob began to wonder why in the world he thought it was a good idea to go home with the twins.
His decision made sense earlier. While under the umbrella with Delilah, Jacob experienced an intense attraction to her that caught him off guard, but compelled him to explore it further. The more they talked, the stronger it grew. For Jacob, the sensation was thrilling. Something he had never experienced. He yearned to nestle inside her mind, as well as her body, and let her thoughts and sensations wash over him so he could soak up her essence. And he longed for her to know and understand him in the same way—deeply and intimately, with no limits. Hours passed while they were together at the beach, but Jacob didn’t notice. He felt safe with Delilah and was unwilling to let her go.
But now, the emptiness of the unlit country road unnerved him. He barely knew these two sisters and wasn’t sure who he might find at their house. Their father? Older brothers? As they sped through the pitch-black night, Jacob’s thoughts fixated on stories he’d heard about rural, backwater communities in the Florida panhandle. Most of them involved shotgun-toting rednecks, random shootings, and unexplained disappearances. As the Camry carried them toward their destination, Jacob’s earlier obsession with Delilah waned as trepidation settled in.
Then he lost sight of Abigail’s taillights.
“Where’d she go?” he muttered, wondering whether he missed the turn or if something more sinister awaited farther down this road. A chill coursed through his body that left the tiny hairs on his neck and arms standing on end. His inner voice, the one that articulated reason when proximity of the opposite sex interfered with rational thought, urged him to go back. Danger, it shouted. Something’s not right. Don’t go there. You’ll regret it.
To be continued.
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Written by Allorianna Matsourani