A Twisted Vacation

Ponyboy and Soda decide to convince Darry to take them to a hotel in Kansas for winter break. A vacation away from such a dangerous place like Tulsa and with your best friends sound tuff, right? However, some escaped mental patients just so happen to be on the lose. They just so happen to want revenge!

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3. Possible Warning Signs?

Darry's POV

Before leaving for Kansas, I already figured that this road trip was going to be harder than anyone in the gang could ever imagine. However, I'm afraid that we were all desperately wrong when debating how difficult it was going to be when being all squished together and trying to make the time fly without irritating anybody else. The full eleven hours were full of Two-Bit's wisecracking jokes and noisy laughter, Kitten and Vinny's cold stares and rivalry towards each other, Steve's annoyed bickering, and anything else anybody could ever imagine with major knuckleheads like my kid brothers and group of pals.

Thankfully, Ponyboy used his head for one of those rare times and prepared to bring a book for him to read on the way there. I believe that it was called Gone With The Wind or something among those lines, and I could've sworn that my old man used to tell me a whole lot about that book. See, I wasn't as much of a reader as Pony, but I still gave books a crack, unlike Pepsi-Cola. Back when my parents were around, I would take my time to read to Ponyboy and read some on my free time as well. Unfortunately, after having a couple of members of the fuzz report to my house to tell Ponyboy, Soda, and myself the regretful news about our parents, I placed my book reading aside. I ended up beginning to read the newspaper, but nothing was ever as interesting compared to the books that I used to read a long time ago.

Surprisingly, Soda had managed to close his eyes and get some sleep for what seemed like the entire ride. I bet that he only woke up three or four times ever since he first grew tired and decided to rest, which was something that he rarely ever considered an option. Though, I couldn't blame him. Being all cramped up in my truck with nothing but the radio to keep you entertained wasn't exactly a thrilling option to turn to after driving for so long. Nonetheless, that didn't stop Dally from controlling the radio with every chance he got. I never allowed him to turn it up to the maximum volume that he wanted, and I refused to let him play some specific songs that he had in mind since I didn't want Cassidy, Jocelyn, or my kid brothers to store such dirty meanings and language in their young minds.

I swear, seeing Sodapop sleep without a single piece of any care in the world detailed on his peaceful face brought back so many memories. He looked no different from his childhood self, and his happy-go-lucky attitude certainly didn't change either. That golden blonde hair of his was still long and drenched in hair grease, dangling in front of his soft brown eyes as he either gazed down at the floor or laid back in bed, fast asleep. His mouth was slimly dangling open, and he was softly taking in and letting out relaxing breaths as his head rested against Ponyboy's shoulder. Honestly, I think Pony was too lost in his book to even notice. No matter how much Pepsi-Cola softly snored, Ponyboy's eyes wouldn't remove from a single page of his book. That honestly had me quietly laughing to myself.

By the time we all finally arrived to Kansas, it was a little passed 7:00 in the morning. Atleast we got there a lot earlier than I thought we would. Though, I was sure that we would've gotten there even earlier if I wouldn't have had to pull over atleast every two hours so the rest of the gang could hop out of the truck to stretch their sore muscles and catch a smoke break. I would always remain in my truck the entire time, holding Jocelyn on my lap whenever the rest of the gang climbed out, but after every three or so hours, Dally and I would switch places and take turns being behind the wheel.

I was now in the passenger's seat, resting my eyes as my head faced in the direction of my window. Since it was winter, 7:00 wasn't as bright as it was during the other three seasons, so I had to make sure that Dally was driving with the headlights still on. Not only that, but I had to make sure he was keeping his hands away from the radio. Jocelyn had finished crying after going on for about an hour straight after driving for nine hours, so everybody was exhausted when her ear-splitting squeals wrapped up. Eventually, the whole gang, minus Dally and myself, were out like lights.

"Hey, Darry?" I heard the sound of Ponyboy's voice around 7:10, and I could tell by his tone that he had just woke up. It then wasn't long before I began to hear other soft yawns and moans, which instantly informed me that the whole gang was waking up.

"Yeah, Ponyboy?" I held back a yawn the best that I could as I cracked my eyes open. In the distance, it seemed like I could see the bright colors of the sunrise beginning to form in the sky, but Kansas still seemed pretty dark during the winter, until possibly around 8:00 is what I'm guessing.

"I'm hungry..." Pony suddenly moaned with what sounded like plead to me, and he rubbed his eyes with his balled up fists.

My eyes grew, and I raised my eyebrows as I looked over my shoulder to see my kid brothers now glancing at me with their puppy dog faces. As for the rest of the gang, they were beginning to softly groan themselves at the mention of food. Now that I think about it, I don't believe that any of us even ate anything since yesterday when I made lunch. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to pack any snacks or drinks for us to have while we were on the road. I figured that each of us had strong stomachs to hold out on, but I'm afraid that that was a major mistake on my part. I should've known that eleven hours straight in a cramped up truck wasn't going to be any better without anything to fill up on.

Hiding my embarrassment, I scratched the back of my neck and began to look anywhere but at my kid brothers or the gang. The last thing we needed was to make this road trip somehow possibly any worse by saying that Superman made a bad move. It was always his job to make sure that everything was great with everybody, helping out with every problem and not caring if it was big or small. I was Superman in the gang's eyes ever since we were in our childhood years...and I honestly planned to keep it that way.

"Well, I'm afraid that we don't have any food or drinks with us, but I bet that our luck will change when we reach the next gas station." I instructed with the best small grin that I could pull in a time like that. I then turned my head so I could look at Dally, who hadn't taken his eyes off from the road. It was a good thing that Jocelyn and Cassidy were going on this trip with us, because I've seen the way Dallas has driven a car. He was absolutely reckless on the road, mockingly laughing at the top of his lungs when he cut other vehicles off and cursed out the windows at other people just for kicks. But not when he had the little girl Cade's to protect.

"Hey, Dally, when we get to the next gas station, would you mind heading in and paying for a fill up? And not to mention if you can see if there is any food or drinks?" I asked.

In return, Dally shrugged, only giving me one quick glimpse of a stare before he focused back on the road. "I guess I can since I really don't have any of my own saying here, but I'm going to need a hand."

Ignoring what he first said about not having any other option to choose from, I just shrugged one shoulder and hid my forming annoyance towards the roughest hood in our gang. Then I peered back around, studying the rest of the group to see which one of them I thought would be able to get out of the truck and help Dally. I could tell that Vinny, Two-Bit, and Steve wouldn't work out, because they would obviously irritate the heck out of Dally just after hopping out of the trunk. As for Sodapop and Ponyboy, they were beginning to go back to resting their eyes, and Kitten wasn't the type of greaser girl you would want to talk to in the morning until the sun was seen completely. Taking all of them out of consideration, that just left the single easiest option.

"Hey, Johnny," I spoke up, and his black eyes instantly popped open after being tempted to close again. "Would you mind goin' into the next gas station with Dally and helping him out with any food or drinks?"

At first, like Johnny would always do, he kept his mouth shut so he could think about each word that was spoken to him. Though, I waited patiently, and soon enough, he shrugged and said: "...I don't see why not."

I offered him a small smile and nodded a single time. "Thanks, Johnny."

In return, he simply shrugged again and couldn't help himself to grin a little bit. Knowing Johnny, he rarely smiled since his home life wasn't such a gigantic ray of sunshine, so seeing just the smallest upward twitch on his lips had anybody in the gang brighten up. I think Johnny mostly grinned around Ponyboy and Kitten, because they were the ones he hung out with the most out of everyone in the group. Who could ever be against such an innocent kid like Johnnycake?

As I turned myself back around in my seat, I didn't wait to lay my head back and go back to relaxing my eyes shut. Quietly, I breathed and began to daydream like Ponyboy would do if he wasn't so sleepy.

This was our first vacation with the gang and without our parents. Our parents...it seemed just like yesterday I was that little boy who would be gently shook awake by my mother. She would allow her long, silky, golden blonde curls to dangle and tickle my face as she gently shook me, telling me softly that it was time to get up. At some times, I would listen and open up my eyes so I would be greeted with the sight of her beautiful eyes, which I always loved to see twinkling in the light. Freckles decorated some below her eyes, and her smile was so comforting and addictive. When it was gone, you'd just want to have it back all to yourself.

As for other times when I would refuse to get up, my father would casually stroll in and have Soda bounce all up and down on my bed while he dug his fingers into my flesh and tickled me to death. He would be playfully teasing me as I trashed and laughed with all of my energy, saying things like: "What's so funny, Junior?" or "You've been a naughty young man and naughty young men need to be taught a lesson with my good friend, the Tickle Monster!" It wouldn't be long before the younger toddler version of Ponyboy would come in on his wobbly knees, dressed in his footsy pajamas; dragging his baby blanket behind him and sucking his thumb as he giggled adorably at the sight. Before either of my kid brothers would see it coming though, our father would give me a wink, and I knew what that meant. We would both playfully take turns tickling the daylights out of Pony and Soda after our father got them gleefully pinned down on my mattress.

Mom would call all four of us down for breakfast, fixing up her world-famous pancakes and some eggs and bacon to go on the side. There were times where Soda, Ponyboy, and I would beg her to allow us to have just one slice of her absolutely delicious chocolate cake for breakfast too, but she would deny our pleads pretty much every morning. No sweets of any kind until after dinner; that's what she always told us with a wag of her finger. Nonetheless, that didn't stop Dad from sometimes backing us up and sweet-talking Mom into letting us have chocolate cake for breakfast. Honestly, I would usually lose my appetite after hearing the two of them sweet-talk back and forth.

Unfortunately, all of that was now gone, leaving just the memories that would forever be with my kid brothers and I. Though, no matter how old Ponyboy, Pepsi-Cola, or I have gotten since the horrible day when we lost our folks, we would never stop taking turns with tickling each other into hysterics every morning. That, and we always had chocolate cake available for the take during breakfast, whether I liked it or not since I wasn't the only family member who could cook anymore.

"...Darry..." The sound of Dally's voice suddenly spoke up and cut my daydreaming away. Slowly, I reopened my eyes and turned my attention towards him. Strangely, he was squinting and leaning over a bit in the direction of the wheel, as if he was trying to look through something. The snow surprisingly wasn't as bad in Kansas as it was back in Tulsa, so there wasn't anymore ice or frost on the windshield. Dally couldn't have been trying to spy out of something that was now completely clear.

Confusion instantly swiped across my face, and I sat up straight. "What is it, Dallas?"

"Um...I think that there's something in the middle of the road up ahead." Dally told me, the tone of his voice mixed with his usual coolness, and a tiny amount of confusion.

I cocked an eyebrow and turned my attention back in front of me. As Dally continued to drive, I could see through the windshield that there was this tall looking dark figure, standing there directly in the middle of the icy road like there was nothing to be worried about. Since it was still dim outside, I couldn't see his or her face, nor could I tell who it was directly. Though, I instantly could tell that there was somebody out there.

"Oh my god..." My eyes went wide as Dally went on driving, only so the figure could approach by the second without moving their feet from their spot.

"What in the hell is that person doin' in the middle of the road?" Dally quietly went on cursing every word in the book to himself with a new mixture of anger and annoyance in his voice.

"Who's in the middle of the road?" Two-Bit blurted out a little too loudly, and before Dally or I could see it coming, everybody was glancing forward like their lives depended on it.

The dark figure still wasn't moving from where he or she was standing on the road, but it looked like to me that they were wearing an oversized winter jacket, a floppy looking rain hat, and a pair of heavy looking boots, as if they were a pair of army boots. In one of their hands, they were holding this long stick like object...I think it was a hockey stick.

Johnny paled, instantly looking sick to his stomach as he slumped back and held the snuggling Jocelyn to his chest with one of his arms. His other arm wrapped around Cassidy's waist and he pulled her to his side, tightly holding her and Jocelyn as if they were hiding in a small space from their parents.

"Johnnycake, who's that?" Cassidy softly asked. You could obviously hear the fear in her shaky tone, but all Johnny did in response was stroke her hair and quietly shush her a couple of times.

Dally suddenly began to pound one of his fists on the horn, making my truck release many loud honking noises that seemed to echo all throughout the air. Everybody in the backseat flew their hands up to their ears and clenched their eyes tightly shut.

My eyes shot huge all over again, and I quickly snapped my attention back on Dally to see how red his face was now beating. His lips were furiously pulled back, revealing his grinding teeth, and it looked as if he was looking at the horn like it was some Soc.

"Dally!" I didn't wait another moment to grasp a hold of his wrist just as he flew it back in the air for another shot at the horn. Angrily, he bucked his arm around and struggled until I finally allowed myself to release his wrist, and he went back to grasping the wheel with both hands. "Dallas, are you freaking insane?" I demanded to know, raising my voice while I was at it.

"No!" exclaimed the bitter as hell Dallas Winston. "But I will tell you who is freaking insane! That damn person who won't move their freaking feet! We're runnin' out of road until the front of your truck meets 'em!"

Was this person attempting suicide or something? He or she still refused to move from where they were in the middle of the road, and as much as I'd hate to admit it, Dally had a point. It wouldn't be long before we would bash into this shadowy figure, but I wasn't giving up on getting them to move out of the way before it was too late.

"Darry, what are they doing?" Ponyboy asked with a slimly nervous tone.

"I honestly don't know, Pony," I didn't want to admit to the gang that I thought that this figure actually was right in the middle of a suicide attempt. And my truck was the vehicle that would take his or her life away. How could this road trip possibility get any worse?

Soda wrapped his arms around Ponyboy and held him close. I could've sworn Kitten was beginning to hold back tears by the looks of her pleading green eyes. Steve was biting down on one of his thumbnails, looking as nervous as hell, and Two-Bit had slung one of his arms around Johnny's shoulders to help comfort him and his kid sisters. Lastly, Vinny looked just like Dally, beating red with bitter anger heavily contained in her hazel eyes. She obviously wasn't in the mood for something like this, especially after driving for eleven hours straight.

I decided to roll down my window and poke my head out. My eyes squinted as the cold wind harshly blew, smacking across my face and whistling sharply through my hair. "Hey!" I called out to the dark figure, but they didn't seem to notice me. "Hey! Get out of the way!" I began to fan one of my hands, as if I was slapping the air in order to get him or her to understand what I was doing better. However, all that happened was the dark figure suddenly rose the long, stick like object that she or he was holding in one of their hands. My eyes shot huge out of shock, and I took no hesitation to fly myself back into my truck. After that, I instantly rolled my window all the way back up, locking all of the windows and making sure that every door was locked while I was at it. It looked like to me that that shadowy figure was planning to take a swing at my truck.

"That son-of-a-bitch!" Dally suddenly bellowed out, which had Johnny paling more by the minute as he quickly covered Jocelyn and Cassidy's ears.

"Dallas Christopher Winston, stop the damn truck!" I practically screeched and clenched my eyes shut, just as everybody else, minus Vinny and Dally, began to scream at the top of their lungs like their lives depended on it.

At the full name card, Dally took no hesitation to obey my order, and he harshly slammed his foot down onto the break. The tires of my truck loudly screeched along the road, and everyone continued to scream as they tightly closed their eyes. I clenched my seatbelt and refused to fly forward the best that I could, leaving Dally to continue grasping the wheel to the point where his knuckles were going pale. Luckily, my truck finally came to a sharp stop, but not without flying everybody forward some. Thank God that we were all wearing our seatbelts.

"Is everyone okay?" I nervously spoke up and quickly turned myself around in my seat to notice how sick my kid brothers and the gang now looked. Jocelyn had began to cry instantly after everyone else began to scream like tomorrow didn't exist, so now Johnny was rubbing her back and soothingly shushing her the best that he could as she rested her head on his shoulder.

"Yeah, we're okay, Darry..." Soda softly assured and stroked Ponyboy's hair just to make sure that he was alright, too.

Two-Bit confusedly cocked an eyebrow, quietly catching his breath. "Who in their right mind would just stand in the middle of the road like that?"

I could tell that he was referring to the shadowy figure, but before I could say anything back, Dally said: "Well, whoever that ass was, he or she is gone now."

My eyes went huge, and I quickly snapped my attention back in front. The dark figure was no longer there, as if nobody was there to begin with. Confusedly, I raised my eyebrows and rubbed my eyes with my fists. Where in the world...were my eyes just playing tricks? I know for a fact that we didn't run the shadowy figure over; we would've been able to feel the wheels climb up and back down if we ever hit anything.

"Where in the almighty hell could've that jerk went?" Vinny sassily rolled her eyes and went on mumbling every word in the book to herself.

Dally simply shrugged one of his shoulders, right before he rolled down his window and poked his head out. "Hey!" He then called out, the tone of his voice full of bitterness all over again. We all knew that he was looking all around to see if he could spot that shadowy figure, but no matter where he looked, that person was gone.

"Hey! Jackass who we almost slammed because you wouldn't move your freaking feet! Where are you?" Dally practically hollered out at the top of his lungs.

"Dally!" I annoyingly rolled my eyes and did a face-palm. "We don't have time for this! Just keep driving!"

I could've sworn Dally went on cursing under his breath as he stuck his head back into the truck, but I didn't give a hang. Though, I could've sworn that when he rolled his window back up that there was a rustle coming from the distance. Me, being annoyed and confused at the same time, just acted as if there wasn't anything heard. It's not like anybody else heard it besides me anyway.

"I don't think any of us should worry about this," I spoke up shortly after Dallas began to drive again. "I mean, we're all still pretty tired and it's not that bright out yet. Our eyes were probably just playing tricks on us."

Ponyboy, however, didn't look satisfied with my words. He was actually nervously rubbing his hands together, and a pout was plastered on his face. "I don't know, Darry...that figure looked real to me..."

I shook my head and quietly sighed. "Ponyboy, there is nothing to be nervous over, okay? There was no figure that we saw to begin with. It's all just the dimness outside messing with us and our systems aren't fully awaken."

Cassidy gulped a little, still remaining snuggled close to Johnny's side with his arm wrapped securely around her. "Are you sure, Darry?"

"Positive," I nodded. "Let's just relax and go back to thinking about how this is a vacation. We didn't travel all this way to just be frightened or worried about some dark figure that was just a figment of our imaginations. We came here to get away from our home town and enjoy ourselves, so let's just relax on this vacation and have some fun while we can, all right?"

Soda scratched his chin with his free hand's index finger, allowing a small smile to curl up on his lips. "Yeah, vacations aren't meant to be wasted like this. And besides, who would bother to stand in the middle of the road like that?"

A bit hesitantly, Ponyboy sooner nodded his head with agreement and released a sigh of complete relief. "I guess that we're probably just not adjusted to bein' out of Tulsa just yet."

"Exactly," I agreed and turned back around in my seat, but not without spotting the group and my kid brothers in the mirror as they began to settle down again and go back to resting their eyes, now relieved completely.

Unfortunately, I should've known that nothing that real could be a part of anybody's imagination...and I honestly couldn't believe that no one noticed how somebody was slowly following us on foot.

Dally's POV

I honestly don't give a damn what Darry says about that shadowy figure, but I sure as hell wasn't going to say that just after everybody finally shut their freaking mouths. I might take other things that Darry says into consideration here and there, but I know exactly what I saw. That dim person was nothing but a complete jackass for standing there in the middle of the road, as if they were attempting suicide. I bet that that was the case, but suicide wasn't the answer to any problem. I know that might sound like a steaming pile of horse crap coming from me, but I truthfully don't believe that suicide is any solution to any kind of problem. Unfortunately, I came so close to learning that the hard way after Johnny's "death," but atleast the gang stopped the fuzz from shooting me.

No matter how much I tried to take that shadowy figure off from my mind, there was this pathetic feeling inside of me that was somehow telling me something. It was as if something wasn't right, but I didn't give a hang. I'm just glad that that figure was gone. Now he or she could go ahead and try taking their own life with some different vehicle.

By the time that we had finally reached the next gas station, and just in time too, the clock had struck 7:45 or somethin' around those lines. The sunrise was beginning to fade, and the clear blue shade of the morning sky was coming around, but again, I didn't give a hang about anything like that. I just wanted to get the hell to The County Lodge and actually start this vacation.

As I parked the truck in front of a gas pump, Darry dug one of his hands into his jeans pocket and pulled out a couple of dollar bills. "All right, Dally, here's some money for the gas. As for any food or drinks, do you have any other money on you? I need to make sure I still keep some of my own for our rooms, our meals, and whatever else we need at The County Lodge." Darry said as I simply took the money from him.

"Yeah, I got money. I ain't cheap when it comes to my gambling with the Shepard's." I pointed out as I unbuckled my seatbelt and grabbed a hold of the doorknob.

I caught a glimpse of Darry rolling his eyes at me, but all I did was slightly smirk in spite of myself and open up the door so I could hop out. Johnny came climbing out from the backseat after handing the sleepy Jocelyn over to Soda or somebody else shortly after I began to fill up Darry's truck. You were actually supposed to pay before using any of the gas pumps, but no matter where I traveled, I would always believe that doing things the legal way was overrated.

Johnny took a moment to stretch his arms and legs out loudly, right before he took in a deep breath of the cool morning air. After that, he simply leaned against the red truck with his hands now resting in his jean jacket's pockets, and he kept his mouth shut as he waited for me. Those bitchy folks of his really made him and Cassidy too quiet, and if they kept their abusive ways up, Jocelyn was only going to grow to turn out like that, too. But not on my watch; I'll make sure to deal with Mr. and Mrs. Cade once and for all whence we get back to Tulsa.

"...How come there aren't any others cars 'round, Dal?" Johnny quietly piped up all of the sudden, and I didn't wait to start gazing all around at the rest of the gas station's pumps to realize that Johnnycake was right. We were the only ones who were actually there, but I didn't think that it was serious. I mean, it was winter break.

I shrugged and finished filling Darry's truck up. "Don't know, don't care, Johnnycake. Not many people are probably stayin' here for winter break. Now let's pay for any food or drinks that they got and get the hell back on the road."

I got my cursing habit from my old man, and usually I never minded cussing, but I never liked doing it in front of Johnny, Cassidy, or Jocelyn. My words just slipped out, but I acted as if they never did any harm each time.

Johnny didn't say anything back to me. He just shrugged and nodded, like he usually always did whenever he was agreeing with me. Sticking to my side like glue, Johnnycake and I entered the small gas station, where we were instantly greeted with maybe five different aisles of all kinds of magazines, candy bars, sodas and whatnot. It sort of reminded me of the DX, but was smaller, and the DX had many more aisles.

"Hello!" A sudden cheerful voice spurt out, which had Johnny leaping no less than five feet in the air from being taken off guard. His black eyes were instantly wide and fearful, but mine remained narrowed and full of seriousness as we both stared towards the direction where we heard this voice. We then noticed that it came from this teenage girl that looked about Johnny's age, and she was behind the front counter with some doll grin spread across her face.

I raised an eyebrow and studied her. She had short brown hair that was scrunched up in a bunch of silky curls, and it looked like to me that her skin had just been through a spray tan, which was nothing but an absolute waste of money, I bet. Her dark blue eyes were glimmering with joy, and she was dressed in a plain pink T-shirt and a white pair of jeans.

She pointed to this golden pin that was on her shirt, and she said: "I'm Belinda, the owner's daughter of this gas station!"

"...Do we look like we give a crap about who you are?" I uncaringly rolled my eyes, and that instantly had this Belinda's smile vanishing from her face. The joyfulness in her eyes drained away, but I just showed her the couple of bills that Darry gave me. "Look, we just need to pay for a fill up. That, and we're hoping to buy some candy bars, too."

"Oh...well, why didn't you just say so?" Belinda attempted forcing another small grin to slide across her face, but she failed whence her eyes met mine all over again. I was giving her the cold shoulder...I dug doing that to 'em broads that just annoyed me somehow.

I glanced over at Johnny, who was staring down at his new waterproof boots that I "bought" for him before we left Tulsa. "Hey, Johnnycake," I nudged him a little, and he instantly shot his head back up to gaze at me. "Go ahead and grab some candy bars. I don't care which ones you get, but just make sure that you get 'nough for 'em in the truck. Grab some Pepsi and Cokes while you're at it, too."

"All right, Dal," Johnny softly spoke and nodded his head a few times before heading off to one of the aisles to fetch what I told him.

I made my way casually up to the front counter and slammed all of the money that Darry gave me onto its surface. Belinda jumped a little, which I liked since I was used to feeding off of others fear.

"Um..." I could've sworn that I heard Belinda softly gulp as she slowly moved her twitching fingers towards mine to get the money. Soon enough, she just grabbed it and dropped it into the register. "So...I haven't seen you two 'round these parts..."

"We're out-of-towners," I flatly stated with a single roll of my eyes. "We're just here for winter break. We came with the rest of our group of pals all the way from Tulsa."

"Oh..." Belinda understandingly nodded a single time as she brought out a couple of coins from the cash register and hesitantly dropped them into my open hand. "Where are you two and the rest of your friends staying?"

I sharply narrowed my eyes and opened my mouth to bellow how it wasn't any of her damn business to know about our vacation. Unfortunately, before I could get a single word out, Johnnycake beat me to it. He must've sensed that I was going to use some new very "polite" and "gentle" terms towards this Belinda.

"We're headin' to The County Lodge." Johnny softly said, but since nobody else was in the gas station, Belinda and I could hear him quietly speaking.

All of the sudden, Belinda's dark blue eyes shot huge, as if somebody had just pointed a gun in her face, and her jaw seemed to drop all the way to the floor.

"What?" She gasped at the top of her lungs, obviously shocked.

"...What in the hell is goin' on with you?" I cocked an eyebrow and decided to use my sassiness on this broad, but she didn't seem to pay any mind to that.

By this time, Johnny had carried over no less than fourteen candy bars and cans of Coke and Pepsi. I helped him place them onto the front counter, but this bitch Belinda wouldn't ring them up.

"How could you people just go to The County Lodge like it's no big deal?" Belinda demanded to know, the tone of her voice giving it away that she was panicked about something.

"Maybe because it's our vacation and we can do whatever in the hell we want!" I hissed at her in a matter-of-fact-like way.

Eagerly, Belinda began to breathe heavily, and she shook her head to the point where it was as if she was going to make herself vomit. "No!" She then whaled, growing more nervous by the passing minute. "You don't understand! The County Lodge isn't someplace where you'd like to go!"

I caught a peek of how sick Johnny was beginning to look, as if he just saw a ghost, so I knew that I had to just set this Belinda straight and get back on the road ASAP.

"Look, bitchy drama queen," I firmly growled. "I don't have the slightest clue on who you think you are, but you can't just tell us, some customers, what to do on our own vacation. And if you have a problem, you should just go cry about it to your daddy."

By this point, there were tears welding up in Belinda's eyes. "My father is not alive, for your information!"

I was beginning to lose my patients, so I warningly glared at her and crossed my arms over my chest. "Well, my dad abandoned my mom when he found out that she was pregnant with me. Now my step-father treats me like horse crap and beats me with every chance he gets. Now can you stop tryin' to suck up to us and allow us to pay for our stuff so we can be on our way?"

Belinda then looked angry, and Johnny nervously stepped slowly closer to my side. His eyes were huge like saucers, swimming with both plead and worry, along with some fear also. I wasn't showing any changes of emotion, though. I honestly didn't feel any different. I was honestly only growing angrier.

"Fine, I'll ring up the damn stuff! But don't you be comin' back here, begging on your knees for me to help you if you dare to step a single foot into The County Lodge!" Belinda suddenly sounded vicious, her salty tears dripping down her face as she finally began to ring up all of the candy bars and sodas that Johnny had got.

I just rolled my eyes at her and her jackass attitude as I brought out some of my gambling money that I had got from secretly cheating out Tim and Curly.

"Just give us our candy bars and sodas..." I annoyingly groaned, and she did just that, but she harshly pushed them towards me and Johnny. As I handed her the money, she furiously snatched it from me instead of being slow and hesitant like she was the first time.

When Johnnycake and I walked back out of the gas station, I gazed over my shoulder to only see Belinda furiously glaring at me. Her face was beating red, stained with tears, and she growled the words through clenched teeth something like: "I warned you..." or something among those lines.

"Hey, Dally?" Johnny sounded scared, which really didn't sure me.

"Yeah, Johnnycake?"

"...Why do you think she was tellin' us not to go to The County Lodge?"

I bit down on my bottom lip and nibbled on it for a moment, hesitating before I finally shrugged. "She's just freaking nuts, Johnny. Don't worry 'bout her, okay? You got me and the rest of the gang, and we can face anythin' that this vacation throws at us. Now let's just hit the road again."

As Johnny climbed back into the backseat of Darry's truck and began passing out the sodas, I hopped into the passenger's seat since Darry and I switched again. I then began to carelessly hand out the candy bars to everybody, but Darry didn't bother to take one. All he wanted was a Pepsi.

"Really, Dally? Candy bars, Pepsi, and Coke?" Darry raised an eyebrow at me and gave me that voice of his that said: "You can't be serious!"

I looked at him and shrugged. "It's a gas station, that's all they have in there...unless you wanted us to eat magazines."

"Um..." Steve suddenly spoke up with a mouthful of chocolate. "Why is there some brunette chick glaring towards our truck?"

From the mirror, I could've sworn that Johnny instantly paled all over again, but he just went on slurping down his own Coke.

I then rolled my eyes at the mention of Belinda. "Don't worry 'bout her. She's completely loony in the head, trust me there. Let's just keep driving, okay?"

As Darry obeyed and drove us away from the gas station, I didn't think twice about there going to be anything wrong with The County Lodge like what this smartass Belinda thought. Unbelievably however, I didn't know that there were a pair of red eyes tracking us down right then and there, slowly following the truck on foot.

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