“I think we took a wrong turn somewhere,” Catalina announces to the entire car.
“How could we have made a wrong turn on a two-lane highway?” I argue, but Catalina just smirks.
“Evie got us loooost!” Lola giggles in her carseat.
“I did not! I’ve traveled to grandma’s on my own for several years now. We stay on this highway till we hit Oklahoma City.”
“Well how much longer till we get there?” Catalina grumbles from the passenger’s seat.
“We have about another three hours, why do you need to stop?”
“I need to go!” Lola yelled.
“I’m hungry, can we get something to eat?” Catalina complains.
“Catalina, you know that we have sandwiches in the back. I’ll stop so we can use the restroom and get the sandwiches out,” I say as I see an old sign for a gas station in a few miles. “Plus, I could use some gas.”
“But sandwiches aren’t as good. I want something like a burger and fries or a burrito.”
“Me too!” Lola agrees.
“If you want something then you can get it on your own,” I retort and the car falls silent until we get to the exit for the gas station.
Just as I park by one of the gas pumps; Lola unbuckes herself and swings the car door open as hard as she can.
“Not so hard Lola or you’ll break it,” I scold Lola.
“Ok.” And she stretches while Catalina quietly gets out of the car.
“Wait for me while I fill up the tank, we’ll go in together,” I say and only get a sloppy “ok” from Lola.
I look around noticing that the entire place is completely empty, especially for one of the only gas stations on this major highway. Plus, summer makes it an especially busy time with all the people traveling and taking road trips. But I don’t think much of it.
“Alright, let’s go in,” I say and take Lola by the hand. “Aren’t you coming with?”
“No, I’m good right now.” Catalina grumbles and takes her phone out.
“If you say so but don’t blame me if you need to use the restroom later and there isn’t one.” I answer and walk towards the building.
“Shouldn’t you park your car in one of the parking spots?” Asks Lola.
“There’s no one here and there plenty of other gas pumps.”
“Or are you just too lazy to repark the car.”
“Eh, you’re not wrong there.”
As I open the door to the gas station, I hear a bunch of chattering and other noises that sound almost like a restaurant. There’s an odor that can best be described as gasoline mixed with trash that hasn’t been taken out in a good few weeks.
We walk in to find a western looking bar with people dressed up as cowboys and farmers sitting at tables. When the doors shut behind us with a loud bang almost everyone turns to look at us. We’re given weird looks from everyone, except for two in the corner who appear to be arguing quietly. One man who is facing our direction looks red as a beet while the other has his fists clenched so tight his knuckles are turning white.
I slowly walk over to the counter and ask, “Hi, um, could you tell us where we are. I think I’m, uh, ya know, a bit lost here.”
The guy looks up from the glass he’s cleaning and grunts, “Out in the middle of nowhere Miss.”
He looks down at Lola, then back at me and frowns. “Where’s you from? The traveling circus?”
“Never heard of it.” He looks over behind me. “Looking to buy something Miss? Cause if not, get outta here fore I call the sheriff.” Then he turned to help someone else who walked up to the counter.
“Come on Lola, we’ll find another place to use the restroom.”
“Ok.” She responds and just as we turn to leave we hear a man yell,
“No she did not!” And a glass shatters on the old wooden floor.
This must have triggered something in the guy across from the one who threw the glass because he leaps over the table and tackles the guy. They both fall into another guy sitting at the table behind them. This causes the three of them to just start fighting each other. The rest of the bar crowds around and cheers. The man behind the bar walks over to try and stop the fight only to get pulled into it.
At that moment Lola and I make a beeline for the door. We burst out finding the old gas station to look like some 1980s gas station with a lot of people hanging out, filling up their cars, and having lunch at the tables outside of the door.
“Evie, where are we?” Lola whispers to me as we slowly walk out and toward the pumps.
“I don’t see our car.” I mumble and Lola starts crying; blubbering about how we’ll never get home.
I scan the area when I see an officer walking up to us.
“Are you ok kids, you seem lost.”
“Oh, I’m just struggling to find my car. It’s quite busy today isn’t it?” I smile at him, hoping he won’t notice how stressed I look.
“Yep, this is quite a busy stop around the summer. Say, where you guys headed to?”
“Oh really? That’s nice, why yall heading down there?”
“To visit our grandma.” Lola blurts and sniffs, finally quieting down.
“Ok, well I hope you two have a nice trip. Be careful out there.” And he walks off towards his car where another cop stands with a coffee cup in his hand.
After a few minutes of searching I spot the car in the very back behind a truck. I walk over there with Lola. When we reach the car I open the door and help buckle Lola in. When I close the door the sound echoed around me and I notice that all the noise from the before bustling gas station was now completely silent. I look back to see the empty gas station that we first arrived at.
“What took you guys so long?” Catalina complains as I get into the driver’s seat.
“We saw cowboys who were fighting like in the movies and an old timey gas station. Like, before it was a ruined kind of gas station,” Lola excitedly yells out.
“Lola, keep it down. You don’t have to yell in the car,” I reprimand.
“I think we saw ghosts because we entered the building and we walked into a saloon of sorts, then when we came back out it looked like some 1980s old gas station.”
“Stop joking with me Evie, you know I’m not some little kid who believes in that kind of stuff.”
“But it was real, we saw it with our own eyes,” Lola retorts. “You can go see it for yourself.”
“Fine, I will.” And Catalina gets out of the car.
“Wait, but we have to get on the road.” I sigh but Catalina goes anyways.
After about ten minutes Catalina comes back looking unimpressed.
“There wasn’t anything there. Just a run down building with no one inside, not even an employee. Even the lights were out and there was no food anywhere. And the bathrooms aren’t working.”
“But we saw it,” Lola starts to sob.
“Though there was a really funky smell in there. Like some sort of gas was leaking. Maybe you guys hallucinated it all. That’s the only logical explanation.”
“We’ll go with that, alright Lola?” I say but only hear a sniffle from the back. “We’ll stop at another place to use the restroom, I think there’s one up another twenty minutes.”