Appointment With Fate
by Charles H. Keller
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A misty ring surrounded the full October moon. Warm, humid air flowed through the open window as the light green sedan bounced along the winding, gravel road. Jack and Naomi Ringer sat silently enjoying the coolness of the fall evening. But there was an eerie uneasiness lingering between them.

"It's midnight already," Jack broke the silence.

"I know," Naomi answered. "We should head back soon but I've really enjoyed the evening. It's such a beautiful night and what an incredible full moon."

Suddenly Jack slammed on the brakes.

"Did you see that?"

"What?" Naomi asked.

"I don't know. It looked like a meteor or something. It was like it fell right up there ahead of us. You didn't see it?"

"No, I didn't see anything. Are you sure you didn't imagine it?"

"It was there... Something was there," Jack answered with a puzzled expression on his face. His eyes scanned the horizon and his face became pale.

"Honey," Naomi said, "let's hurry home. I'm scared. I remember the last time you thought you saw something like that. It was the night of the plane crash that killed your mom and dad." She brushed the long blonde hair away from her eye revealing her deep blue eyes.

Just then their car sputtered to a stop. The lights blinked off and they coasted to a stop by the side of the lonely, country road.

"Oh, my God. What happened?" Naomi whispered, her voice trembling a little.

After several futile attempts to start the car, Jack said, "I don't know. I'd better go see if I can find a house with a phone. We passed five or six but I didn't see any lights on in any of them. It's been miles since the last one. I think I see lights just ahead on that hill. I'll go check."

He opened the door and climbed out.

"You just stay in the car," he said as he disappeared into the darkness.

Naomi listened as Jack slowly walked up the hill in the direction of the house he thought was there. A coldness suddenly filled the air.

From the darkness she heard approaching footsteps running toward the car.

"Jack, is that you?" she cried. Then she saw his face in the moonlight. "Honey," she looked puzzled. "What's wrong? I've never seen you so pale!"

Jack opened the door and fumbled to get the key back in the ignition. Fear showed in his wide brown eyes as he turned the key and the engine suddenly roared to life.

"The car?" Naomi looked shocked. "It wouldn't start before."

The tires spun gravel against the bottom of the sedan as it sped away.

"Jack," Naomi seemed frantic. "What happened back there?"

He tried to speak but no sound came. Clearing his throat and gasping for breath, he tried again. "It was them!" he managed to stutter. "My folks. They were there, standing in the doorway. I couldn't think. I couldn't even yell. I've never been so terrified in my life! They said they'd been expecting me!" Jack was almost hysterical as he continued. "I can't explain it." He looked over at Naomi, his face drained of all its color.

"Honey! Look out!" Naomi screamed.

Jack swerved but it was too late. The old Chevy smashed into the rail and spun around crashing into a tree.

When Naomi regained consciousness blinking red lights cast strange shadows on the trees beside the road. An eery crimson glow covered everything as the attendant put her into the ambulance. She tried to raise her head to look for Jack but she couldn't move.

"Hang on, Little Lady," a policeman said, trying to comfort her. "You've been in an accident. Try to stay calm."

"Where's Jack? Where's my husband?" she screamed.

She could tell by the look on the officer's face and the ambulance attendant's stare that Jack was gone.

"No!" She was sobbing wildly.

The ambulance sped away, disappearing into the darkness.

The officer returned to his patrol car where his partner was finishing the paperwork.

"Hey, Joe," his partner said, looking up from his writing. "You remember that plane crash last year about this time? Wasn't it around here somewhere?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Well, just before that fellow died he said something about that crash and his parents being involved. Then he muttered something about a house... 'right back there' was how he put it."

"I've been working this road for over four years and the closest house is over six miles back," the officer's brow wrinkled with curiosity.

"That's what I thought," his new partner answered. "Funny, ain't it?"

Both patrolmen shrugged and went on with their investigation.

This night, this Halloween night, was one Naomi would never forget. This terrible night when her husband kept his appointment with fate.