Warning Signs

Image: Sign red background with black text: Drink driving kills. Don't drink and drive.  Text: A billboard beside the highway warned "drink driving kills."

Warning Signs

Short story by Iris Carden

Victor found Kitty in front of the television when he returned to the hotel room.

On the screen, a uniformed police officer was saying, “Drink driving is one of the biggest killers on Queensland roads.”

At the bottom of the screen were the words, “New road safety campaign targets drink driving.”

“I know a bigger one.” Kitty giggled.

Victor wondered once again wondered about the wisdom about making her his companion.

“The sun’s gone down,” he said, “and the car’s fuelled up. It’s time to go.”

Kitty turned off the tv and picked up her bag. “OK,” she said, “let’s go.”

“There’s blood on your shirt,” Victor said. “Maybe you should change first.”

Kitty looked down at her blouse, shrugged her shoulders. She pulled dress out of her bag and changed. “I’m running out of clothes,” she said. “We need to pick up someone my size.”

“We pick up who we pick up,” Victor said. “There aren’t a lot of people hitch hiking now. They’re wary. Apparently there’s a serial killer in the area, or wasn’t that on your news broadcast?”

Kitty giggled. “That was first,” she said. “Police have promising leads.”

Kitty giggled again, as she followed Victor to the car. Her voice was starting to get on his nerves.

As they turned on to the highway, a large red billboard warned, “Drink driving kills. Don’t drink and drive.”

“Where are we going tonight?” Kitty asked.

“We are heading north. People in the south east of the state are becoming wary. So we are going north along the coast. We should make it to Rockhampton before sunrise, and we should be able to hunt there for a few days before we need to move on again.”

“What if we went south? To Sydney or Melbourne? Lots of people in the bigger cities.”

“We are going north,” Victor said firmly. “Don’t argue with me again.”

Kitty stayed quiet, which was very much how Victor preferred her to be.

After an hour, they passed another drink driving billboard. “They’re really pushing that drink driving campaign,” Kitty said.

“Better that than a campaign on the dangers of hitch hiking,” Victor replied.

After another hour or so, they saw a figure walking beside the road, with thumb out.

Victor pulled the car up beside the hitch hiker. Kitty opened the passenger’s side window.

The bearded young man bent down to look in the window. “Hi,” he said, “how far are you going?”

“We are aiming to reach Rockhampton tonight,” Victor said.

“Can you drop me at Happy Rock on your way?” the young man asked.

“Happy Rock?”

“Ah, sorry. Gladstone. Happy Rock, Gladstone, you get it?”

“I get it indeed. I’m sure we can drop you there on our way.”

Kitty got out of the car, and offered the young man the front passenger seat. She got in the back.

Further along the road, Kitty announced she was hungry. Victor said they would stop for a meal soon.

“There’s a service station with a decent cafe up the road about fifteen minutes,” their passenger said helpfully. “I travel this road a lot. I know all the best spots.”

“I don’t want to wait that long,” Kitty announced. She reached forward, and slashed the man’s throat with her nail, blood sprayed, and Kitty leaned her head in to drink. The fresh blood gushing at him made Victor loose his composure. He also leaned over to drink.

The car veered out of control, over the side of the highway and careened into a highway billboard, sheering the wooden legs, one of which crashed through the windscreen and pierced Victor’s heart.

Kitty wiped her mouth on her arm. “Oops, there’s blood on my clothes again,” she giggled.

She climbed out of the wrecked car, walked to the other side of the road, and began to walk south.


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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