Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
'Who would've guessed Lyle was such a superstitious racist mother-'
'Hugo, look!' Jess interrupted her companion, waving enthusiastically at a pair of headlights that gradually glowed brighter. She was still in a mild state of shock for being pulled out of Lyle's boot by an irrational version of who she had thought their guide was.
The pair of headlights belonged to a white jeep that drove right past them, and as it happened, Jessica was able to see that neither the driver nor the passenger - oddly positioned in the British fashion - saw them waving by the road. It had gotten too dark and light poles were sparsely spaced out in this part of the country, since the roads were long and lonesome.
'Fuck them! We'll get to the Bed & Breakfast on our feet if we have to. We can be there before dawn - I know we can' said Hugo. He had assumed this role of protector and his duty had been to constantly cheer themselves up and calm Jessica down. He could sense she was still very tense - and, unlike himself, had never been physically harassed like that.
Jess had not been ready for the brute's grip, for his sudden yanking her backwards, for the air to be forced out of her surprised lungs when bouncing off the ground. She had grown up around some really tough boys, green little vandals who did drugs way too frequently and got into fights just to prove how reckless they were. She had dated some young men of the type, and even though she would never admit it, those had been the relationships that had felt right, because she knew she was born to be some bad guy's baby girl. This was the one thought that had always stayed the same, immutable, in her deep subconscious and conscious mind since she could remember being herself.
'Can you keep going for now, Jess?' Hugo himself sounded a little tired, but he would talk them to their destination if he had to. Talking meant distracting from their throbbing feet, the miles ahead and all the dangers the Outback concealed in the dark. 'Jess?'
'Sorry, yes?' her voice was weak and distant, like she was halfway between the human dimension and dreamland. 'I just saw something over there', she indicated a spot a few meters ahead of them, where darkness almost completely engulfed the dirt road. 'Your flashlight, please.'
Hugo attended to her request immediately as not to miss the something-over-there Jess had spotted. He flashed his light, then caught his breath. A dingo, skin and bone, dirty as can be, dry-heaving whilst retching, wincing in a haunting way. Jess automatically gripped Hugo's arm, digging her nails into his jumper, intensifying the suspense that was building up in his guts. He wanted to tell her not to be afraid, but he was afraid himself.
The dingo coughs some oddly-shaped previously digested meal out, then cackles. It sounds almost human, to their horror.
They were paralized where they stood, and couldn't turn around. Cold-sweat, numb limbs that inch by inch feel less like they belong to your body, and the disgusting butterflies in the stomach that feel awfully different from the butterflies from when you're in love and meet up with the person you're in love with. Pure fear, because they had never heard a cry like that from an animal before.
In her head, Jess was trying to remember what hyenas and Tasmanian devils sounded like - perhaps this way she would be able to discard the option that that dingo had actually been a human in disguise. Spine-chilling.
Then, Hugo drops his flashlight on the ground, causing the beam to oscillate unsteadily. The dingo's cackling stops abruptly as the wild dog turns its head to look at them - it shrieks a piercing lament, stands on its rear legs and dashes away, bipede-like. The flashlight goes off - the animal is gone - Hugo and Jess can move again.
'What in the Hell was that, Jess?'
'I don't know - did we really just see-'
'Do you think it might come back?'
There is a long pause, sprouted with heavy presumptions of what would happen to them next. Jess reencounters her voice.
'I hope not. Hugo, can you turn the flashlight back on?'
'Yes' he agreed, but took some time to actually do so. He felt so vulnerable and... tender. He wondered if other weird things were lurking in the darkness ready to pounce at them, and if he wanted to see what else was close by or would rather take his chances in the dark.
Stuck in her own thoughts, Jess kept on replaying that scene. It had happened so fast that maybe she had imagined the cackling and the human shriek. The dingo standing up like a human being and running on his rear legs. The creepiest thing she had ever seen in her life - visually terrifying and wrong. Animals did not behave as such, that had been something evil.
Evil like this bone in my pocket, the thought pops up without her having a chance to filter it.
Hugo turns the flashlight back on. There was no walking dingo anywhere near them. They sigh in relief in unisson.
Then, another vehicle's headlights appear in the distance. This time, Hugo has the beam of light to flash at them. They exchange a look of gratitude to the universe with each other as the car flashes its headlights back at them. It was their way out of that haunted road.