This week’s free Free Fiction Friday story from UnWrecked Press is “Wrecked.” Yes, this is the story that inspired the name of this little publishing company.
UPDATE: Now that the free week is over, you can read the rest of this story by downloading an ebook (containing both long and short versions!) at Smashwords and Amazon. Then you can read it on your laptop, desktop, Kindle, iPad, Nook, iPhone, or whatever device you use to read ebooks.
This was one of the first stories I wrote when I started to seriously write stories again, way back in ’95. I have a longer version of this story that I may publish here later in the year, and you can compare and contrast the two. This version of the story was first published in the Sunday Reader section of the Raleigh News & Observer in March of 2000.
I saw it all happen when I came around a tight, tight corner on a narrow two-lane north of Chapel Hill. I wouldn’t have been there at all if I hadn’t skipped work, just kept on driving past the school where I was supposed to be a substitute teacher that day. What I saw was a car, a little red Festiva with a taillight already broken out, get caught on the lip of the road, jerk to the right, and plow down a steep embankment into the ditch. A part of me, the same part that made me cut out on my job, wanted to keep going and not get my lucky green shirt dirty, but when I saw a hand reach out of the punched-in passenger side, I pulled over and stopped.
My day so far had been pretty gray, but at least I hadn’t butted my head into a windshield like the guy driving this Festiva just did. The windshield was a maze of tiny little cracks, and I couldn’t tell if he was alive or not. From the shoulder of the road, standing next to my car, I stared at that ruined windshield without thinking for a few seconds. Then I heard a woman screaming, and I ran down the embankment, over gashed earth covered with broken metal and plastic, toward the wrecked little car.
The woman was trying to get the passenger door open, the whole time screeching like an alarm clock, one of those old-fashioned kinds that you had to smack on the top to get them to shut up. I yanked at the handle and the bent door flew open, almost popping me one in the forehead.
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