Stupid Steve

About a month ago, I joined a small local writing group. We meet weekly and start off each meeting with a writing prompt. Prompts are such a great way to get your creative juices flowing for a writing session. This is what I wrote for one of our first prompts.

The truck rumbled as we sped down the highway, all of us packed tightly together, shoulder to shoulder. When the truck jumped, we all jumped a little. When the truck turned, we all swayed in the opposite direction of the turn. We were silent as we traveled; no one said a word. The room we were in was pitch dark, save for a tiny beam of light coming in from the top right corner of the room. I stared at the light, the tiny dust particles shimmering in the light like glitter.

“When do we get there?” Stupid Steve asked. Steve made himself pretty infamous in our group by managing to be incredibly annoying and … well, stupid. Stupid Steve was the youngest of us, and not much younger than me. Still, I knew better than to speak out of turn.

“We get there when we get there,” Herbert said, grumbling as he spoke.

“Feels like we’ve been in here forever,” Stupid Steve muttered.

“Hush up, now,” Herbert scolded.

“I can’t help it!” Steve said excitedly, his voice rising. “I can’t wait to start the next phase of my life!”

“Did you hear that?” The driver up front said to his buddy in the next seat. His voice was loud, and boomed throughout the truck.

“Didn’t hear nothin’,” his buddy said, sounding like he’d just woke up from a nap.

“See?” Herbert hissed at Steve. “They can hear you. Now shut up!”

“Fine!” Steve yelled back, oblivious to his disruptions.

“Okay, now I know I heard something,” the driver said, slowing down and looking for a spot to pull over.

“What’re you doin’, man,” the guy in the passenger seat said, sitting up in his chair. “We still got 3 loads to drop off and traffic’s a bitch right now. I ain’t tryin’ to work late tonight. It’s taco night, man, and Ellie never waits for me.”

“I heard voices … back there,” the driver said, his voice trailing off as he said the words.

His buddy chuckled. “Hearin’ voices, huh? Well I’m right here and didn’t hear shit.”

“I guess you’re right,” the driver said, picking up speed again. “I must be losing it.”

“Eh, you’re just tired. Didn’t you say you were out late last night helping your daughter move?”

“Oh yeah,” the driver said, reaching over to grab his drink.

Herbert shot a glare at Stupid Steve, who looked like he wanted to laugh. He tried to share his amusement with everyone within eye and earshot, but all he got back were icy stares. “I’m tired anyway,” he muttered, closing his eyes.

Come to think of it, sleep sounded pretty good, and I found myself drifting off as well.

The screech of brakes woke me up as we rolled to a stop; the idling truck engine humming as the two front doors slammed shut. I heard a muffle of voices as I woke up, then the bright light of the sun pierced into our dark room as the back doors were unlocked and opened. No one said a word, not even Stupid Steve, as the truck ramp was lowered and the two men wheeled up dollies and started to stack all of us and our boxes on top of each other. Steve tried to smile and wave at me as we were rolled away but I just ignored him, knowing he would make some horrible mistake if I made eye contact. I felt a sense of relief and happiness to be away from him and his aggravating presence.

We were quickly rolled down the truck ramp and into a big office building, and before we knew it we were being stacked again into a large silver refrigerator. Once the fridge doors were shut behind us, I knew we were safe to talk.

“Mom, what happens now?” I whispered.

She smiled. “It’s time for you to go off and fulfill your destiny, John.”

I returned her smile, and couldn’t help but feel excitement over what the future holds. Just as I was wondering, I heard the fridge door open, the plastic wrap that held me in was torn and I was yanked out. I couldn’t believe it! All of these hundreds of bottles, and they chose me! I felt elated as the fridge door closed behind me.

Suddenly the person holding me began to run, run out of the office kitchen, out the front doors, and to the giant humming truck I just came out of.

“What’s wrong with him?” a lady asked, kneeling next to the driver of the truck, who lay flat on his back on the asphalt right by the open truck doors.

“Dunno,” the man who chose me said. It was only then that I recognized him as the driver’s friend. “He’s been acting real weird today.” He twisted off my cap in a hurry, and I felt a wave of relief as the pressure in my body lifted.

“I hope he’s not having a stroke. I better call 911.” She started dialing and took a few steps away as she made the call.

“Maybe a heat stroke,” another man said. “Pretty hot today.”

The driver’s friend surveyed the scene then thrust me towards the driver, splashing a good amount of my water in his face. The driver sputtered and started to open his eyes. “It was talking,” he muttered.

“Huh?” the man nearby said.

“Aww, shit.” The driver’s friend shook his head, and splashed more of my water in the driver’s face. “He’s hearing voices again.”

“Hey, John!” Stupid Steve yelled at me from inside the truck, waving as all the other bottles in the truck stared at him in horror.

“There it goes again!” the driver screamed, scrambling to stand.

“Dude, relax, you’re imagining it,” the driver’s friend said, pushing him down as he held me over him. I felt sadness and anger as I felt the rest of me thrown into the driver’s terrified face, and all because of Stupid Steve, who stood there, smiling at me and waving. I guess this was my destiny, I thought to myself, as I felt myself slipping from consciousness. My life wasted, thanks to Stupid Steve.

“Sorry, kid,” Herbert said from inside the truck, giving me a sad look as the last of me dripped from the bottle. Empty, I felt my body crumpled and crushed, and thrown to the hot asphalt floor.