Written by Erin Nust
Art by Sebastian Palomino


Car crash on Marrakesh Expressway kills two women and a three-year-old boy.

According to the Moroccan police report, a fatal accident took place on A3 highway between Morocco and Casablanca. Thirty-year-old Adilah Harrack lost total control of her car, resulting in a crash. Minutes later, Mrs. Abregel collided with her burning car, taking her life and that of her three-year-old son. Harrack was under no influence of alcohol or any other substance and the authorities reported, “the car collision was the result of unknown circumstances. The post mortem examination and reports showed that no alcohol was consumed from either part of the crash. We can only assume that Mrs.Harrack lost control of her vehicle and Mrs. Abregel collided with the flaming car, resulting in the tragic loss of her and her son’s life.”

———————-

The road unfolded in front of her smoothly, like a Persian carpet. She soon got bored of the ride, though. Short greenery and fields of brown, barren fields popped up on either side of the highway. It was quiet and lonely. The car radio had been broken for two weeks now; she never thought to fix it for her big exodus.

Her mind was a mess of jumbled thoughts that she somehow managed to cram in one corner of her mind. There was no turning back now and she wouldn’t manage to lose her focus. Her hands looked stable on the steering wheel. The tight grab gave her a sense of control (oh, you lost control a long time ago, love) which made her stabilize the screaming voice in her that cried for help. Eight years ago, she couldn’t even imagine that running away from the things she created—the things she had wholeheartedly believed were her destiny—would generate a sense of freedom.

Imane should be bed by now, Adilah could still listen to her biological “mother’s clock” (really does it still work? Do you even deserve to have one of these just break it and set yourself free?) flooding her with information for her ten-year-old only child.

And it was right.

———————-

Imane was indeed in her poorly lit bedroom, curled up on her bed, her dark brows on her forehead violently smashing each other, shadowing her wet cheeks. She could hear the distant sounds of the TV in the living room; dad should have slept on the couch again.

She didn’t know why her mother would do such a nasty thing to her and her father. Although the beautifully written letter announcing her way out of the family came as a shock to her, the knowledge was always there. The signs were staring at her young soul, but she didn’t have any way to deal with it.

The spite was boiling in her now. Everyone gets what they deserve, the dark but now pleasant (oh so pleasant) voice kept teaching her in her weird dreams, where Imane did bad, bad and violent things to people with the help of her shadow that looked nothing like her.

Imane never in her life had a wish so strong. Not even when she begged her parents to adopt a puppy, or a kitten, or a turtle, or to make a sister for her to lay alongside. No, her wish was impregnable to any objections this time. And it was feeding from her relentless spite.

She knew she could give her mother what she deserved; she could bear the Sword of Justice and make her pay for her crimes. She had done it before, listening to the voice. Then, she could have access to the shadow of her dreams. Imane could feel a strange tingling in her forehead. Her fingertips were numb and sore. The darkness was chaotic behind her closed eyes. The shadow was there and waited for her orders.

———————-

She managed to keep herself calm and driving. No turning back now, no turning back. She was the one in control. A slight movement in her car mirror caught her attention for a second. Adilah’s irises moved eagerly as if she was in danger. There were other parts of her body that told her so as well: her heart hammered in her chest, drops of sweat caressed the side of her face and her steady hands were now shaky.

She was right to be anxious. In the back seat, she carried a passenger that had no license to be there. With her boggled eyes, she witnessed a smoky existence slowly taking form into reality, creating itself from nothing. The car sank in a stench of blood, tears, sweat, and wet earth.

Time passed slower in her car than the world outside. The creature had fully transformed into substance and it wore the face of a tired woman with ash skin and long dark hair. Her eyes were not human; they looked more like they belonged to the body of a fish. In her hands, she held a sharp African machete. With a swift move, it ended up in her throat.

The world disappeared—her human, fragile control turned into dust and the car hit the cemented sides of the highway. She fell on the wheel, her blood choking up, the opening in her throat exhumed all life from her. She gave up on her last breath as the car was consumed by the fire. When it accepted one more hit from a speedy vehicle that—unluckily—bumped forcefully on her burning car, Adilah was no more and the fake dream of control had died with her.