Chapter 1

The landscape flew by. Maria pressed the accelerator a bit harder to make the car move faster. Away from him, from everything. A small voice in her head told her she was being a coward, running away from the situation. But she needed to get out of there. She needed some time for herself, to think.

It all started when she came home today. She had been very tired and, she admitted it, very pissed off. When she opened the front door, she knew at once that Martin was already home. She could smell it. And that was not a good sign.

"Martin, I told you not to make dinner yet," she shouted over the sound of the cooker hood. He was standing behind the electric stove, looking helplessly at the smoking saucepan.

"I didn't do anything wrong," he objected while Maria started cleaning the mess he'd made of their dinner.

She sighed. "I told you not to make dinner yet," she repeated.

Martin sat down at the kitchen table. "I know. I just wanted to surprise you so you would be happy when you came home."

"Well, you did a really good job. I'm very happy now," Maria said sarcastically.

Martin sighed. "Why are you always so pissed off when you come home?"

She looked up from the pan she was scrubbing. "Because I'm very tired and now you make me clean up this mess on top of it. Why do you think I asked you not to make dinner? Not because I like making dinner myself that much. No, because I didn't want more work."

"Why do you always think you can do things better yourself?" Martin said. He was looking quite irritated.

"Because I know that I will do them right!" Maria yelled. "Why do you never listen to anyone but yourself?"

He looked at her with his gaze full of anger. "Because I'm a grown up man and I can decide for myself what I do and what I don't. I'm not a child, Maria."

"Well, you behave like one," she hissed back.

They'd continued fighting like that for a while. When Maria couldn't stand it anymore, she got back into her car and drove away. She had no idea of where she was going. Everything was okay, as long as it was away from Martin.

She didn't know how long she'd been driving by now. Was it an hour, half an hour? She stopped the car on the side of the road. She knew she hadn't really given him a chance. But then again, it wasn't the first time he had just ignored her when she told him not to do something. Every single time again he would ignore her. He only listened to himself. And she was left to clean the mess behind him.

Sometimes she wondered why she was still dating him. But then she remembered the many good times they'd had together already. They made her smile, even now they did. But she felt as if the Martin she loved was gone now, replace by a grumpy kid that never listened to her.

She sighed and picked her cellphone out of her bag. She dialed Martin's number but her finger lingered above the call button. She desperately wanted to hear his voice, but she didn't want to talk to him. Sighing, she pressed it.

"Maria, where are you?" he asked at once when he picked up the phone and she could hear the worry in his voice. She didn't answer him. "Maria? Please say something. I'm not angry anymore. I – I want you to come back." When she still didn't say anything, he said, "Maria?"

She sighed. "Yes?" she answered.

"Will you come home?"

"I don't know," she replied.

"Where are you?" he asked.

Maria looked around but she couldn't spot a direction sign. "I have absolutely no idea."

"Stay where you are, I'll come and look for you," Martin answered, but she objected.

"If I turn around and drive a while I'm sure I can find my way back. I'll see a signpost somewhere and from then on I can get home."

Her voice trailed off and he guessed why. "You don't want to come home yet, do you?"

She sighed again. "I don't know."

"Look," he said, "just come home and we'll talk about it. You can still be angry at me if you want, but come home."

She remained silent for a few seconds, before she whispered, "Okay." She ended the call and laid her hands on the steering wheel.

She was about to start the engine when the door of the passenger's seat opened. Before she knew what was happening, a man sat down next to her. He turned to face her and her eyes grew wide at the sight of his face. His eyes were flaming orange and seemed to burn into hers. He looked at her as if he was insane and then something that could represent a smile spread out on his face. His teeth were pointy and sharp.

It all happened in a few seconds. He grabbed her right arm and pulled up her sleeve. Then he placed his index finger on her arm.

She screamed as his long pointy nail cut through her skin.

(September 2012)