Horror Novel  ::  The Last Road Trip

Todd Robert Anderson

The Last Road Trip  by Todd Robert Anderson

Blizzards in Los Angeles in the middle of August. Massive fog banks rolling through Las Vegas turning sin city blind. Massive floods that turn the Rocky Mountains into the new West Coast. And if that's not enough, there are monsters…everywhere. And somehow a hapless man called Scott has to get from one end of the country without the natural or supernatural disasters cutting his trip short. Imagine every "B" horror picture you ever loved rolled into one odyssey, a horrific adventure to end all epic fright fests. And now imagine an "end of the world" story that actually sees the end of the world. This is The Last Road Trip. There are no soldiers to save you. There are no scientists to explain what is happening. There is no hope. It is just you and the end of the world...

And here is the sixth chapter of the book. Take a gander. If you dig it, then order a digital copy to be sent via email (starting December 1st, 2008.)

{ Six }

Scott, still in last night's clothes, slept uncomfortably on his sofa. He had been too tired and disoriented to make it to the bed a mere four feet away from the couch. His phone rang. Scott was jolted awake by the first ring, and he looked groggily at the clock. The Pale One's grunt still echoed in his mind, and he felt an unexpected chill in the air. He had been asleep only three hours, and he had just two more before he had to be at work. This phone call was cheating him of his last hour of sleep—but he was damn glad to be awake. He picked up, knowing full well who it was:

“Hey, Mom,” he said.

“Good morning, honey,” she said.

“Yeah, good morning is right. You woke me up,” he scolded.

“I'm sorry,” she said, not meaning it. She then laid her expert guilt on him. “Seems I'm always getting in the way of something.”

“Oh, come on, Mom, you do not. I just had a late night last night and I've only been in bed for a few hours,” Scott said. The guilt trips always worked on him.

“What were you doing so late?” Mom asked, her voice sweet but not really disguising her disapproval.

Strangely, Scott couldn't quite remember. He knew he and Faye had gone to a sex club and he had seen a lot of people fornicating and there had been a pitch black room, but the details were fuzzy. He couldn't remember how or why he left. He couldn't remember if he got Faye home all right. He didn't think he had gotten that drunk. The memory of his nightmare, however, was clear as a bell.

“I was hanging out with my neighbor, lost track of time.” Even if he could have remembered the gory details, this is all he would have told Mom anyway.

“Not that Faye?”

“Yes, that Faye.”

“I don't like her,” Mom said, sounding almost angry.

“You've never even met her,” Scott reminded her. “You've never met anyone I know in Los Angeles because you've never been here.” Scott wasn't too bad with the guilt trip, either. He had learned from the best.

“I know that Buck-man,” she stated.

“That's because Buck-man and I grew up together in the very town where you currently reside.” Scott was already ready to hang up.

“How's the weather?” Mom asked.

The weather, Scott thought, always with the weather. Whenever Mom got into territory that unsettled her, she would bring up the weather. Every single phone call he ever had with her, there was always talk of the weather. Sometimes that was all they discussed.

“Hot and sunny. It's always hot and sunny. It's Los Angeles. And given that we're in the middle of August, the hottest month of the year, it's super hot and sunny.” Scott didn't mean to be so snippy, but he was tired and his filtering mechanisms weren't cranking at full speed.

“Look out your window,” said Mom.

“How do you know I'm not right now?”

“Just go look out the window.”

“Okay. I'm walking to the window,” Scott said. He felt his bones creak as he pulled himself off the couch and walked to the kitchen. He went to the small window over the sink that looked out on the street. “I'm now opening the curtain to confirm for you the hot and sunny conditions of southern—”

Scott's jaw dropped. His jaw had never actually done that before. He thought a dropping jaw was something that only happened in fiction, in the movies, just a cheap way for a writer to express shock in a character. But here he was, jaw genuinely dropped.

“Still hot and sunny?” Mom asked sarcastically.

Hazeltine Avenue was covered in a sparkling blanket of snow. Snow stuck to the palm trees that lined the street outside Scott's apartment building. A little ways up the block, a group of children were building a snowman in their front yard. Snow was still falling, gentle snowflakes cascading downward to add to the new ground cover. The snow was at least a foot deep.

“I don't believe it.” Scott was beside himself.

“Believe it,” said Mom. “It's snowing here, too. It's snowing on both coasts. And it doesn't show any signs of stopping. The weatherman said it'll turn to a blizzard before long.”

“On which coast?” asked Scott, still staring out of the window.


“That doesn't make any sense.” Scott's brow furrowed.

“Don't furrow your brow, you'll make that crease between your eyebrows worse,” Mom scolded. “Your father had that. By the time he was fifty he could hold a playing card in it.”

“Let me check something,” said Scott.

He flipped on the television to see what he could see. All he got was static.

“Cable's out,” Scott mumbled.

“There's strange weather patterns all over the world,” his mother informed him. “Twisters in Maine, floods in the Rockies, you name it.”

“What are they saying it is?”

“Not much, and what little they offer is inconsistent and inconclusive.”

“I don't get it,” Scott said.


“Mom. I should go.”

“Why?” she asked.

“I need to go buy a newspaper. And a shovel.”

They exchanged good-byes, and Scott hung up the phone.

Before heading out, he called work to find that no one was there, so he figured he had the day off. Outside his door the air was cool and crisp, and he found the sensation of his shoe crunching on the snow not just a little surreal. He stopped by Faye's apartment to see if she had made it home, but no one was there. He tried her cell phone, but a recording told him she was not available. He then headed for the Seven-Eleven a few blocks away.

Wearing several layers of flannel shirts since he had no winter jacket and a double layer of socks under his sneakers, Scott kicked his way through the snow. The cuffs of his blue jeans were already soaked, giving him a little shiver, but the downside of a winter wonderland in Los Angeles hardly registered. He felt like a kid with no school for a snow day. He walked right down the middle of the normally busy avenue, occasionally scooping up a little snow and making a crudely shaped ball to throw. The ice was cold on his fingers, but the sensation had a nostalgic feel, and again he didn't mind. He wasn't sure if the Seven-Eleven would even be open for business, but he found himself grateful for the walk itself, regardless of whether some answers to this mystery would come from it.

Scott loved when it rained in Los Angeles, and snow was even better. Weather was the great equalizer, he thought. Didn't matter if you were a huge movie mogul or a guy working at the arcade, no one escapes the weather. Most people he knew got depressed when it rained, but he was the opposite. Precipitation made him happy. When the sun shone everyday without a break for several months, Scott would have to remind himself of the other great equalizer that made success and failure immaterial: death. And death was just too depressing. He preferred the weather.

Of course, he knew this snow meant something was terribly wrong. It wasn't just snow in Los Angeles, but snow in Los Angeles and in New England at the height of summer, and then bizarre occurrences everywhere else.

Was it a cruel trick of global warming? Had the human race done so much damage to the environment that a new ice age was being ushered into existence? The scientists had been warning of this for years. Scott knew that one way or the other the snow meant trouble, even if it was a perfect sugar-like powder, the kind of stuff the skiers and snowboarders wished for. He looked into the distance, marveling at all the apartment building roofs covered in white.

The Seven-Eleven was open, and Scott went inside. The clerk who always worked the morning shift, an Indian man with terrible burn scars on his face and right arm, greeted Scott with his usual smile-free wave.

“Bet you're not selling any Slurpees today,” joked Scott as he approached the counter.

Wordlessly, the clerk pulled a pack of American Spirit lights out of the cigarette rack and slapped them down on the counter.

“Actually,” said Scott, “can I have the regulars?”

“Not lights?” The clerk was surprised, so much so that he was actually speaking, something he rarely did. “Must be Armageddon.”

“Just because it's snowing in Los Angeles and I'm getting a pack of regular smokes doesn't mean the world is going to end,” Scott informed him.

“Sure it does,” replied the clerk. “There's also this whole weather thing, if you hadn't noticed.”

“Where's the newspapers?” asked Scott.

“They never came.”

“I'm sure the headlines would have just read ‘The End Is Here,' right?”

“You should go home.”


“Go home.”

Scott looked at the clerk quizzically. “That's where I'm heading right now. And as long as the electricity is on, I think I'll watch a DVD or something, wait for the cable to come back on.”

“No, no,” said the Clerk, and his speech suddenly became slow and slurred, as if a bottle of booze had just hit him, “I mean go home. See your mom.”

Scott was mystified. “You all right?”

“Go see your mom.”

“Okay, man,” Scott said with raised eyebrows and then added with sarcasm, “I didn't know you knew my mom.” This guy must be drunk, he thought. “Do I get those smokes?”

The clerk picked up the pack of lights and put them back, replacing them with a pack of regulars. When he placed the package of cigarettes in front of Scott, his scars appeared to do a quick pulsating dance on his hand, rearranging their positions. Scott blinked, unsure why he was seeing things. Was he still tipsy from last night's debauchery?

Scott paid for the cigarettes, put them in a pocket and turned for the door. As he did so, he didn't see the clerk's scars moving like snakes over his skin and wrapping around his throat. The clerk gasped for air, choking. He reached out for Scott, but could make no noise. His eyes bulged with terror and became bloodshot. Tears streamed down his face, and then he collapsed behind the counter. Scott didn't see the man go down, and the rattling of the bell on the door covered the sound of the body hitting the floor. The clerk was choking to death, and Scott was back to jovially kicking up snow just as the man was gasping his last.

A pair of yellow eyes stared out from the slightly cracked door of the dark broom closet at the back of the store.


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