The Ride by Mickey Miller

“Right. The Ted Bundy thing was obviously too on the nose.”

“Even if I was, you’re too pretty for me to take as a victim,” he says, offering me a lopsided grin. “And I should ask you the same thing.”

“Am I a killer?” I grin. “Oh yeah, it was my plan all along to have you ask me for a ride, then kill you somehow and throw you in the cornfields somewhere.”

“I suppose I should be scared, but I think I can take you. So where do you live?” he asks.

“Just the West Side of Blackwell, past the brick factory on 17th. You know it?”

“Yeah, course I know it. Hold on tight.”

I wrap my hands around his waist as we speed off into the steamy night.

My stomach flips with the full realization of what I’ve chosen.

I’m on the motorcycle of a random stranger.

Despite our jokes, I am putting my life in his hands.

The thought makes liquid heat spill through my body as I press my chest up against his back. He is way sexier than the average stranger.

Aren’t serial killers usually sexy? If there were serial killers randomly driving around on bikes at night, this is definitely the guy you’d want on your side. It would be scary if he wasn’t on your side, though.

He goes faster, and I grip him tighter. Why am I thinking like this? What’s wrong with me? Maybe I do need to lay off the murder podcasts. I’ll do that tomorrow if I’m still alive when the sun comes up.

My mind races anywhere and everywhere.

Why are his muscles abnormally hard? I feel like I have my hands wrapped around a steel tube of flesh. No normal guy feels like this. I can’t help but let my fingers drift, feeling abs as flat as a washboard.

I rest my chin on his shoulder as we speed down the country road, eating up the cornfields on either side.

Wait, what if he’s a criminal and I’m the dumbest, most naïve girl in the history of the world, getting on a bike with someone simply because he’s a ruggedly handsome man? What if he’s with Hell’s Angels or something? Could he have killed someone? Is that why he was so vague about being away for a few years?

But he complimented my music. Zach seemed so genuine when he said those words about my singing. And it wasn’t as if he stalked me. He just happened to be there when I needed a ride, right?

My stomach knots and I try to take in a deep breath, but I can feel my muscles tightening as we turn down a dirt road I don’t recognize. Shit. I’ve been so focused on my racing thoughts that I realize I have not been paying attention to the road.

“Sir?” I say, trying not to let my voice shake. “Excuse me…where are we going? I don’t recognize this road.”

He lets out what sounds like an evil laugh and turns back to me so I can see him smirking.

“It’s a shortcut,” he says. “Miss.”

I try my best not to shake as we drive down the slightly bumpy road. My chest aches to be back in town.

The reality that no one knows where I am…that there is absolutely no one around—maybe for miles—sets in. My phone is dead so the cops won’t even be able to track me on the GPS. Oh God.

My stomach flips, but at the same time, I feel excitement rushing under my skin.

Where is Zach—if that’s even his real name—taking me?

My skin tingles even more when we pull up at the end of the dirt road and he brings us to a stop. I gulp.

“What are you doing?” I chirp. “Engine okay?”

He doesn’t answer, just looks up into the moonlight.

“Zach, seriously. Where are we and why are we stopped here?” I ask, my voice shaky.

He turns and looks at me over his shoulder. “Do you like to eat food?”

“What kind of question is that? Of course, I like to eat food.”

“Have you ever been to Firehouse?”

I scrunch up my face. “I don’t think I have. What is it?”

“New place close to town. They have the best late-night food. You in?”

I feel a whoosh of relief. I’m so hungry my stomach is more or less rumbling. “I guess I could do that.”

As we continue in the direction we were heading, Zach then turns back onto a main road and looks over his shoulder at me.

“Where’d you think I was taking you, anyway?” he asks. “This was just a little shortcut.”

I clear my throat, not wanting to admit the answer.

Make-out point?