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Terror on the Highway

It was late and I was running behind. I left my house in a rush, and was trying to get to Knoxville as quickly as I could. A friend of mine was having a birthday party, and I was determined not to miss it. Sometimes on long car rides I fill my car's radio up with vintage radio shows to keep me company. On that cold night I chose to ride along with Inner Sanctum Mysteries, a show that leaned a bit towards the spooky and the murderous. Creepy organ music playing, a squeaking door, and a host making macabre jokes.

The road was somewhat bare that night, not as much traffic as one would have thought, but I suppose for a Thursday night it wasn't too surprising. Right as things began to get going, both on the road and on the 40s radio show on my speakers, a warning light came on in my car's dash. It was a light that said “Hey, your right rear tie is low on air. Fix it!” At first I ignored the light and it's warning. “Pfft, it does that when it gets cold. It'll be fine.” But then the combination of having the brain of a writer, and a spooky 1940s radio show caused me to have visions of the news of my death being reported on the 11 o'clock news.

I knew that most gas stations have those air pump machines, so I didn't fret, “I'll just pull off as soon as I see an exit with a station” I thought to myself. So I rode along quite contently, listening to the ongoing saga of “The Man Who Couldn't Die”, those Inner Sanctum shows have the best titles. After staying in the right lane and looking at every blue sign on the highway, one showed itself that indicated a gas station was at the upcoming exit.

I took the exit and pulled up to the gas station that wasn't far from it. As I slowly circled the gas pumps, I was scanning the building to see where their air pump was. I spotted the pump along the back right side of the building, and as I drove up to it, I heard a loud bang. After I assumed my tire had just gone out on me, I realized it was a gunshot on the radio program playing off my iPhone. I paused it, and got out of my car.

I walked over to the air pump to see where to put the quarters in, only to see a handwritten sign on the top of the pump which read “Out of order.” “Hell,” I thought to myself as I returned to my car, left the gas station, and got back on the highway. At this point, I was becoming more concerned. “What if I don't find an air pump? What if my tire blows out on the highway? What if while changing it a group of rogue chihuahuas come along and tear me to ribbons?” Granted, only two of those things were plausible, but my brain still went there.

The next exit had not one, but three gas stations, so I pulled off again and tired the first one. They didn't have an air pump at all. On down the road I went to the next station, which did have an air pump, but it was situated right over a large drain gate. Considering how clumsy I can sometimes be, I had visions of me dropping my keys, the cap to the tire, and other things down it. I went to the third station, air pump they indeed had, and over lovely, lovely pavement.

Now came the task of filling the tire up, while running behind, while it being a cold night, with the wind whipping all around at a great speed. I'm the type that assumes the timer on a gas station air pump is not generous enough to give me the time I need to get one tire, yet alone if it was all four, done. So I quickly dropped the 75 cents into the machine, and rushed to my right rear tire. I was fumbling to get the pump onto the nozzle, and in the corse of action I could hear more air leaking out.

Once I finished, I quickly got back into my car, and drove off. In a moment, the light on my car went off, and I safely made it to Knoxville in time for cake and party games. A night of frozen suspense, from both my overactive imagination, the low tire, and Inner Sanctum made for one of the more adventitious journeys down to Knoxville. At least there was cake at the end of this one.


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