Oh, the Horror of Travel

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 14, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionMay 7, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a travel horror story.

The following writers have responded to this prompt. If highlighted, the writer has a blog.

New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!

Baggage Claims by Larry LaForge

“Easy now.” The upright softcase pleads, but knows it’s futile. The owner slings him on the scale to be tagged. The agent throws him on the conveyor. The worst is yet to come.

“Bring it on.” The cocky new hardcase boasts, feeling indestructible. He doesn’t realize the hard shell is an invitation for harsher treatment. He will learn the hard way, so to speak.

“Bye y’all!” The sassy carry-on gloats, smiling and waving to the others as she heads directly to the gate.

The softcase and hardcase grin from wheel to wheel.

They know the overhead bin awaits her.


Flash (Non)Fiction by Anne Goodwin

I was scared as you were, believe me, but I smothered my anxieties with thoughts of tulips, van Gogh and canals as we bedded down with the down-and-outs in a dusky recess of the shopping mall.

A perfect plan in daylight: a lift halfway to Amsterdam. We’d pass the early hours in the waiting room and catch the first train out. No-one mentioned that the station closed its doors at night.

The police beamed torchlight across our faces. I thought they might relax the rules for two sisters, strangers to the city, but they ushered us into the night.


One More Night by Sarah Brentyn

She woke.

Noise crept into her sleep-deprived brain. The ice machine outside her room, probably. Or late check-ins dragging duffel bags. I hate traveling. She reached out to the lamp beside her bed. Something moved.

She froze.

Shaking, she clicked the light on. The walls crawled. Damn cockroaches. Anger overtook fear as she whipped the covers back, grabbed a shoe and started swatting. One more night. That’s it. As she dropped the shoe, she saw it was large, brown, a man’s. She spun around, scanning the room.

She gasped.

A foot stuck out from under the bed.

She screamed.


Night Passage – Overland by Paula Moyer

The move to Minnesota started at night, rather than morning. Jean’s dad always loved to travel; once the car was packed, he was too excited to sleep. So Jean, her mom and dad squished into the front seat as they left Oklahoma City. Her earthly goods filled the backseat, trunk, and luggage container strapped atop the car.
The plan was to stay in Wichita.

No vacancies?

The Shriners convention filled the town.

“Oh, well, there are more hotels in Kansas,” Dad said cheerfully.

Nothing. Still nothing. Mom drove; Jean and Dad slept.

Finally, Kansas City. A room.

At dawn.


Vacation Getaway by AJP

Night had fallen like a thick blanket dropped from the sky.

I gripped the steering wheel, drying blood oozing between my fingers. I pressed further down on the gas.

It was too late. Headlights flickered in the rearview mirror.

I turned off my own lights and let off of the gas, not using the brakes. I veered off of the road, flying into the field.

I maneuvered into the backseat, pushing the still warm body over top of me.

My only hope was the dead taxi driver, and my ability to play dead.

Man, I should’ve vacationed in Alaska.


Darn Memories! by Ruchira Khanna

Travelled with friends and family by road as a teen.
Mixed memories erupt.

The good part was the kids and parents travelled with their age group in different cars, since drivers were hired.

Temperature was blazing outside. That did not dampen the mood inside the car since windows were rolled up, with a cool draft and junk food and foot tapping music created paradise around us.

Just then a loud screech and glass shattering noise made us scream in fright. We checked our bruises since a passerby had thrown a stone into the moving car bursting the car window.


Unfolding Drama by Geoff Le Pard

‘if you care, be there.’

She held out the note.

‘Check-in’s two hours before the flight.’

He glanced at down. City Airport. BA desk. Friday.

He knew it was pointless, calling, discussing it. Too much water had been passed, as Sam Goldwyn said.

Friday. He smoothed the note and smiled. Two hours before; his timing was perfect. He approached the desk. ‘Flight 265?’

The attendant pointed at the plane taking off. The note said 4.20. He was on time. He narrowed his eyes. In the crease, a faint vertical line, like a middle finger, stared back at him. 14.20.


You Get The Picture by Lisa Reiter

“On you go Mrs Pierce”

He helped her settle her gown in place before leaving.

She kept perfectly still and closed her eyes. There was a slight jolt as she started to move. Her heart raced again with anticipation. She took a deep breath and blew out slowly.

Lulled by the imperceptible hum of the moving machinery and only occasionally aware she was travelling under the metal above her – the 20 minutes passed soon enough.

He came back with a strained smile “All done, Mrs Pierce. Oncology will call you soon” and helped her down from the bone scanner.


Travel Woes by Norah Colvin

She willed the doors shut forever, knowing that open they must, or she’d be left behind.

She mentally checked and re-checked required items. Surely there was something she had missed?

Dread gripped her ankles, threatening her balance.

Fear squeezed her chest, constricting her breath.

Heights and enclosed spaces were not her thing.

She straightened, attempting to hide the tremble from fellow travelers.

“Don’t be crowded. I need space, air to breathe.”

The doors opened. She was swept inside.

They closed, encasing her. No escape now.

Would she make the distance, mind intact?


Floor 35. Here already.


Bear Bait by Charli Mills

We missed the turn-off to the dump again, taking garbage into the Cabinet Mountains. Fishing in grizzly bear country means taking precautions, not baiting bears with the stench of week-old onion peels, empty beer bottles and plastic yogurt containers.

Huckleberries distracted us from fishing. Tiny berries on puny plants; and a glob of bear hair.

As unease greased my gut, both my dogs careened downhill, screaming like banshees. This is it, I thought. Formulating a eulogy in my head for my dogs, I stumbled over berries racing to the truck only to realize:

It still held the bear bait.


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  1. glasgowdragonfly

    What wonderful talent conveyed in just 99 words – and such different takes on travel horror. One More Night is my worst nightmare and reminds me of my recent longhand post on something very similar!! Sorry I couldn’t join you this time. My one year old’s nap times didn’t quite allow me the quiet time I needed for this week’s challenge 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Your talent is welcome any time you get that creative break at nap time!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Ooh…I”ll have to peek at your post. I’m not a big horror fan but this was fun to write. Well, fun but creepy.

  2. Norah

    What a great collection Charli, and such a variety of travels, perspectives and tempo. I think Sarah’s “One more night” horrified me the most, but a few others were close behind. I love the humorous take of Larry’s “Baggage claims”. I’m sure the bags would have many interesting tales to tell. Lisa’s recount of the bone scan entails so many terrors on so many different levels; and both your story and Anne’s story tell of quite different but also frightening experiences. Indeed all the stories have a different tale to tell and it is valuable to be able to see them all together and think about the techniques used by different writers to develop the mood of their writing.

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Thanks, Norah. 🙂 I’m not a horror person but I do love a challenge. There is a fantastic collection here this week. They are all so good!

      • Charli Mills

        I agree–great collection this week!

      • Norah

        You certainly met the challenge! Well done!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Ha! I didn’t realize you wrote the elevator one. Great stuff.

      • Norah

        Thanks Sarah. I appreciate your support!

    • Charli Mills

      Great variety, including moods from sheer horror to down-right funny. It is great to see techniques used and how the prompt tickles each of us differently.

      • Norah

        I agree. You have a knack of choosing a prompt that sends us off in all sorts of directions. It reminds me of a story I used to read to my year one students called “The Hungry Giant”. He sent the people off looking for all sorts of food. His last request was honey. They scattered in all directions and finally came back with a beehive. He said, “That’s not honey!” and smashed it with his bommyknocker! Of course the bees came out and chased him away. You are a lot more accepting of the offerings we bring back to the table! Sorry, it’s just the juxtaposition of random thoughts in my brain – an eclectic mix that makes me laugh.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s funny, Norah! Well, I don’t have a bommyknocker and so far what shows up here weekly is like sweet honey!

  3. Annecdotist

    Thanks for the opportunity for us to play with different takes on travel horror. I love seeing what people have come up with and sparks off so many other ideas … but now we’ve another task to get on with.

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