He drove in muteness, the car a silent smudge of charcoal on the black highway. As He drove, he came across many passing cars and hikers stranded along the roadside.

But none of them seemed quite right. None of them were ready for him to notice them.

He passed a young boy halfway through the drive, a scruffy dark haired thing with a broken bicycle and a large bloody gash on his leg. For a while, He considered inviting this boy in the car, even going as far as to relax his foot on the gas as he entertained the idea. But when He drove close enough to notice the look of determination on the boys face and the way he held his head confidently despite the gravity of his current situation, He changed his mind. There was something respectable about that young boy that he couldn’t break just yet.

Maybe some other day on some other lonely highway He would take that boy for a ride, but today was not that day.

He continued driving, his mood dampening as time went on. The landscape was bleak and consisted of a single pitch highway flanked by tall shadow-black pine trees and a swirling grey sky that seemed endlessly restless. The familiarity of the scenery brought some comfort and He was suddenly reminded of what he loved most about his job. He loved the hunt, the task of seeking out the perfect prey, chasing it down and sinking his teeth into its petrified soul. That was why he was drawing it out for as long as he was now- he wanted the unlucky little lamb to be the perfect prey.

He continued down the path, the road winding and turning but bearing no destination in site.

Just then, He was turning a particularly sharp bend when a bright blur of blue and yellow caught his attention. He slowed down, his car snailing along the curve of the road.

That was when He saw them. A short women with reddened cheeks, wild blond curls and a bright blue jacket stood along the highway. In her arms she carried a young girl, no more that three years old with a neon yellow plastic raincoat covering her small body. They looked homeless, filthy and desperate in the deserted expanse surrounding them.

He grinned, that dark, slithery beast within him awakening at the prospect of a hunt in sight.

He slowed to a halt and peered out the window as he asked the fateful question: “Need a ride?”.

The woman darted her eyes up at him, her expression vulnerable and afraid. Finally, as if registering his question, her expression softened into a hesitant smile.

“What’s the catch?”, she asked, adjusting the toddler in her arms.

He lifted a black gloved hand off the steering wheel and waved it nonchalantly.

“For you and the tot? Nothing. I simply want to aid you both in your journey someplace safe”.

The woman looked down at her child then back at the stranger dressed in black . She almost didn’t notice the dark vehicle, not until he stopped to offer her a ride.

‘That was nice of him’, she thought, ‘many people had passed by, but he was the first one to actually offer them a ride’.

She chewed the inside of her cheek nervously and craned her neck to examine the changing sky. It was about to rain soon, and by the looks of the low hanging grey clouds, it would rain hard.

Slowly she nodded, finally deciding that if this man didn’t turn out to be a serial killer, she’d be risking her and her daughters lives in the freezing weather and possibly endangering them anyway.

“Okay sir. Thank you”, she said, as He unlocked the doors and gestured for her and the child to get into the back seat.

She did as He instructed, sliding into the backseat and buckling both her and her daughters seatbelt. As the woman recited the location she wanted to be dropped off at, she didn’t notice the pair of eyes looking at her through the rear view mirror.

His eyes, which had been dark, flat discs only moments ago, suddenly turned to a pulsating red, his gaze devouring the view in the backseat.

He wasn’t the biggest fan of separating a mother from her daughter, especially when it seemed that the young one had only her mother to care for her, but even his own morals were unable to compete with the urges of the beast within him. The monster pressed against the walls of his skin, begging to be let lose and He fought hard to contain it, knowing that it was only a matter of time before he lost the battle entirely.

This thing inside him was insatiable, a cruel beast that collected souls and stored them somewhere deep. Even now, as his hands tightened around the steering wheel, forcing the creature to back down, he felt the souls skittering across his bones, punishing him for something he couldn’t control.

He was no religious man, but as he looked up through the mirror and saw the woman lean down and kiss the child atop her head, he wished he was.

Maybe then he’d be forgiven for what he was about to do.

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