DAY FIVE

A Light in the Fog

    He had been driving for hours. It was a long trip to the city and driving through the night didn’t make it any easier. No traffic, sadly, didn’t make for a better trip. 
    He had scanned through all the radio stations and found nothing to entertain himself. It was hard to even keep a station audible for more than fifteen minutes, anyway. He had grown frustrated and gave up. He listened to the sound of the wind pushing through the open windows. 
    Boredom had made his mind wander. Driving on autopilot, his mind was traveling through everything that had happened in the last week. Everything felt like it was going wrong. He didn’t know what he was going to do. After this trip, he had to go back to what he considered hell. 
    Another hour passed. A large crunching sound pulled him out of his head. He took in his surroundings, still trying to process the noise. There were no streetlights. The only light came from his headlights. Fog had snuck across the roads, making them harder to navigate. Otherwise, nothing really seemed out of place. Maybe he had just imagined the sound. His brain’s way of making him pay more attention to the road again. 
    The road took him up and down a series of steep hills. At the bottom of one of the hills, he saw a light cutting through the fog. It almost looked like fire, but he couldn’t smell anything. At least not yet. 
    He started to slow down, almost afraid of what he would find waiting for him in the fog. A funny feeling had taken over him. Something was definitely not right. What it could be, he had no idea. As he approached the light, the feeling only intensified. 
    “What the hell?” he said aloud. He had reached the light--or at least where the light should have been. Somehow, it had completely vanished. The remaining light came from his own headlights. 
    The car came to a complete stop. He stared at the now blank space on the opposite side of the road. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. Where could it have possibly gone? 
    A low, rumbling sound echoed around him out of nowhere. He could feel the vibration in his chest. He pressed his palms against his ears in a failing effort to muffle the noise. He closed his eyes tight, fighting against the sensation with all his might. 
    A bright light exploded around him. He could even see it clearly through his eyelids. It blinded him completely. He lost control of everything as the noise and light grew. 
    He awoke in the morning. The sun was shining through his windshield. He stretched, groggy and confused. Searching through his memory, the only thing he could remember was that strange light from the night before. 
    His car was parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. He wasn’t even sure he knew where he was. It really had been a bad night and he wasn’t paying very good attention to where he was going. He supposed that’s what he got for running away from his problems. 
    He got out of the car, needing to stretch his legs after sleeping in the cramped car. Pacing up and down the road, nothing seemed familiar to him. He cursed under his breath, at a loss for what to do. He had checked his phone before he got out of the car. The battery was dead and he had no other GPS. 
    Out of the blue, his head shot back, his hands coming up to clench his temples. Flashes from the night before blinked in front of his eyes. 
    Driving down the road, the light in the fog. 
    The overwhelming noise, the light growing brighter and brighter. 
    Everything going black around him. 
    Fingers poking and prodding at him. 
    Weird noises surrounding him, like people were talking in a foreign language. 
    He fell to his knees, hands still clutching his head. His eyes were clenched tight shut as he struggled to calm his breathing. What the hell had happened last night, he wondered. Had he been in an accident? 
    Hoping that was the solution and not the other crazy theories floating around in his mind, he ran to the car. After a thorough inspection, he found nothing wrong with his car. There were no scrapes or dents and no blood of any sort. He was relieved but terrified all the same. 
    His second thought, he was embarrassed to even admit it to himself, was that he was abducted...abducted by aliens. No. There had to a better explanation. 
    He got back in his car, grateful to find it started and he had a full tank of gas. He headed north down the road. With any luck, he would figure out where the hell he was soon. 
    Finally coming across a road sign, he stopped in the middle of the road, completely confused. 198? That was nowhere near where he lived. He wasn’t even sure where exactly that was. He needed to find a town and fast. 
    “How can I help you?” the cashier of the first gas station he found asked. 
    “Yeah, uh, what town is this?” he asked, awkwardly. 
    “Millvale,” she replied. 
    “Thanks, but, this is going to sound weird, but what state are we in?” 
    The cashier looked at him confused. “California, sir,” she replied kindly, anyway. 
    “Thank you,” he called as he ran out the door to his car. 
    California?! He had somehow traveled over 2,000 miles in one night. How was that even possible? 
    Trying impossibly hard to keep himself together, he booked a hotel room. He slumped onto the bed, his mind whirling. He couldn’t make sense of anything at all. He had no idea what he was going to do. 
    That night, the aliens came back for him. They transported him back to where he had been the night before. Their test had not been a success. The man had remembered too much from their experiments. They weren’t worried, however. There was no way anyone would believe a word of what the man said. They would just think him crazy, and the man knew that all too well.