On The Run: Tennessee Gas Station


Zykoria pokes her straw around her slush, the obnoxious sound of scraping plastic mixing with the whirring of the drink machines behind her. The slushie, lime flavored, tastes just as horrible as she expected from a gas station like this. Her green eyes dart back and forth, scanning the grime covered windows, sticky tile floors, and the broken shelves with missing screws. There are even suspicious bloody spots by the entrance, and the two strangers present in the store don’t put her at ease. A cashier, busy reading a newspaper about who-knows-what, and an older man browsing the sunglasses display. Aren’t old people supposed to be asleep right now? It’s twelve in the morning, why is he here? Zykoria doesn’t think he’s a trucker or anything; her and Ripley’s simple van is the biggest vehicle in the parking lot. Thinking of Ripley, Zykoria shoots the old man a glare before looking across the store. She can see the top of Ripley’s afro peeking out from behind a shelf.

The same shelf they’ve visited five times.

Zykoria sighs in annoyance. She’s already gathered four plastic bags, all filled to the brim with essentials, “Ripley, what in the world is taking you so darn long?” She thinks with a frown, “The longer we’re here-“

Suddent movement in Zykoria’s peripherals shoves her out of her thoughts. She instinctively flinches, shoulders bunching up as she quickly pulls her gray baseball cap further down her face. The old man is walking closer, frowning to himself- or Zykoria? 

“What does he want?” Zykoria’s mind races, “Did he recognize me? Does he want to talk? He looks pissed. What does he want?” She tears her eyes away from the man, not wanting him to see her face despite how losing sight of him throws her emotions into a panic. With each approaching footstep, Zykoria’s heart jumps and kicks like a cornered animal, thoughts screeching about danger and demise, hands shaking in terror, the tension wrapping around her throat like burning barbed wire. She has to look up, but he might recognize her. She has to look up- he’s getting closer. Zykoria’s snaps up to stare the man in the eyes. 

The man isn’t even looking her way- he’s staring at a bag of chips with concern. 

“Was he looking at me earlier?” Zykoria bites the inside of her lip, anxieties unwavering, “Why is he staring at the chips? What’s with his expression?” 

The man slowly places his hand on the shelf in front of him, his breathing noticeably more labored. Suspicion bubbling, Zykoria narrows her eyes and takes a few steps back. She watches as the man’s face contorts in pain, eyebrows furrowing, teeth grinding, and then all of it falls as his legs collapse beneath him, body hitting the dirty floor with a loud thump. 

Zykoria stares, slushie still in hand, the dingy lightbulbs above flickering.

“Good lord; AGAIN?! What is this, the third?! I was just STANDING HERE this time!” Fear and annoyance plagues Zykoria as she hurriedly backs up from the soon to be, if not already, corpse. With a frantic glance upwards she can see the cashier looking up, eyebrow raised in confusion. He doesn’t know yet, but he might realize the old man’s gone at any moment. Deductions and plans write themselves in Zykoria’s thoughts, blueprints formulating in seconds. She and Ripley were going to steal anyways; they could use the body as a distraction and book it, or maybe they could-


To Zykoria’s mortification, Ripley, decked out in an eye-catching orange crop top and shorts, covered in hundreds of distinct scars, completely unconcerned with drawing attention, lifts up the corpse’s hand and whips out a red knife.

The cashier shrieks; Zykoria wants to kick everyone in this room in the shins, “RIPLEY! WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!”

Ripley looks over to the cashier with a crazed grin, the horrific, detailed clown makeup they wear making them look borderline inhuman, “I can make time!”

The cashier scrambles out of their chair, hurriedly dialing 911.

Zykoria grabs Ripley by the arm the moment they take a step forward. With Ripley’s weight and her own lack of muscle, Zykoria knows they could just shove her aside and continue their advance, but they don’t, “They’re already on the darn phone- we need to leave now! You can take somebody else’s fingers later or some crap!”

“That’s not as much fun, thouuuuggh,” Ripley whines quietly, but when they rip their arm from Zykoria’s grasp, they dash over to the entrance, throwing open the door with a dramatic kick. They loll their head backwards to face the cashier, “LOCK YOUR DOORS, CASHIER GUY! I’LL FIND YOUR HOUSE AND EAT YOUR TEETH!”

Zykoria smacks Ripley’s forehead with her hand as she runs out, hearing them cackle behind her. The parking lot blurs into lights and darkness, the only thing with relevance being getting out of here. She crushes a beer can under her foot as she runs, startling her so much she nearly trips as she fishes her keys out of her hoodie pocket. The bags she’s carrying get in the way, one nearly falling to the floor. The van unlocks, Zykoria clambers into the driver’s seat, Ripley gets into the passenger’s, and they both throw whatever they gathered from the station into the back. In her haste to close the door Zykoria accidentally shuts it on her left leg prothesis, wasting precious seconds. She curses, opening the door to free her foot and slip it back inside.

“OOOO!” Ripley’s eyes shine. They open their door and stick their foot outside, preparing to crush it. 

“RIPLEY!” Zykoria snaps, “Stop that and put on your seatbelt!”

Ripley huffs dramatically and throws their feet up on the dashboard, closing the door, “So not fun. Imagine what it’d feel like!”

“It’d feel like getting your foot slammed shut in a door,” Zykoria grimaces, clicking her seatbelt into place, “Do you wanna find out what flying through the window feels like, too? Put on your seatbelt.

“That sounds really fun, actually! Let’s do it!”

“I question how we’re related,” Zykoria frowns, slams her foot down on the gas, and speeds out of the parking lot. Ripley’s laughter mixes with the beeping seatbelt warning.

Author: Amelia Whitaker

I write my heart desires, regardless of the weirdness and absurdity, and fully believe others should do the same. I’ll read anything as long as it catches my eye, but my favorite genre is sci-fi, especially if it goes heavy on science, though I also enjoy fantasy. I adore researching and learning about all sorts of things- biology, space, evolution, history, culture, and more!

3 thoughts on “On The Run: Tennessee Gas Station”

  1. I really enjoy the setting of the scene. To me, it describes like a neon video game which was really fun to picture. The characters were also hilarious.

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