The Drifter

A drifter picks up a hitchhiker. They cruise along the highway. The car radio is turned down low. The drifter hums. The hitchhiker is feeling uncomfortable as he fidgets for something to do. He looks at his watch several times before he speaks.

"Hey, thanks for the ride. I'm Jim. Whats your name?"

"Its immaterial." Replies the drifter, keeping his eyes fixed on the road.

"I'm a salesman." Jim continues." What do you do?"


"Nothing?" Jim looks down at his watch again.

"Are you late for something?"

"No. Im just looking. Hey, would you mind turning off that radio, I have an awful headache."

The men travel in silence for the next five minutes.

The drifter speaks. "Have you ever killed someone?"

Jim raisies his voice "What kind of question is that? "

The drifter continues. "If you had to kill someone how would you do it?"

"I couldn't. I..."

The drifter cuts him off. "I said if you had to."

Jim hesitates. "Emm... I'd probably shoot them. Bang Bang." He mimics the actions of a crazed gunman as he chuckles.

"Everyone does that."

"Stab them to death, you know like in Psycho."


"Throw them off a speeding train. That good enough for you?"

"No. And you watch too many movies."

"Hey, I could kick the shit out of them." Jim adds.


Jim chuckles. He's almost enjoying the conversation now. "Okay, I have a good one. If someone had really pissed me off, I'd strap them down to the floor and pour hot motor oil down their throat. Ha.. good eh?"

"You're pathetic." The drifter sneers.

Jim snaps back. "Okay, Mr. good for nothing smart ass, how would you kill someone?"

"You really want to know?"

The journey is interrupted. The car stops. The drifter's stomach rumbles. He knows its time. He attacks...

An hour later, the drifter reaches a filling station. He steps out the car, yawns, stretches and looks up at the night sky. Then he turns and notices a young woman, looking bored, waiting for the next customer to show. As he walks through the door, he receives her with a mocking smile. She smiles back. Then he slides his tongue over his fat lips. The desire is too strong to fight.


  1. This is a damn fine little story.

  2. Thank you both. Your comments are always welcome & encouraging. :)

  3. Tighten it up. Send it to pseudopod as a flash fiction piece. Enjoyed it.

  4. Did I miss something? Did the drifter eat him?

  5. To crucify_brett: I think he did eat him. I missed that on first read.
    To Marilyn: Is that what happened?

  6. Paul, Thanks for your comment.

    Neil & Brett - Yes the Drifter did eat him.

    Brett - After what you said, I added a bit more, I said 'The drifter's stomach rumbles. He knows its time. He attacks.

    Does that work or am I giving away too much now?

    Thanks guys.

  7. Personally, I like it much better now.

  8. I like the first version - makes you think.

  9. Thanks Neil. Yeah, I thought it was best to leave that bit out when I first wrote it but Brett felt there was something missing. I'd like to know what the others think. Comments anyone?

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  11. When I wrote, show don't tell, I meant that's what the drifter does to the hitchhiker. In the first version, I didn't catch that he ate the hitchhiker, only killed him. Licking his lips only indicated to me that he wanted to kill again.

    I think Brett's right about another detail that hints to people-eating. The rumbling stomach works, or some comparison of the hitchhiker to a treat. I don't think there's any need to include, "He knows its time. He attacks...". That takes away from the intended subtlety of the tale.
    Good luck!

  12. Thanks for that Todd.

    Neil, I think you're right. The first version was best, I'll think about it.

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  14. Thanks Neil. I agree, Todd did make some valid points. If only I could decide what works best.

  15. Marilyn - Todd made some valid points which I missed as well.
    But it's all for the better - we should analyse our stories or get others to have a look at them. Personally, I am quite bad: I write stuff, do a bit of editing and imagine it is finished. In my eagerness to get the material complete and out there I often overlook the mistakes etc.

  16. After the drifter spent so much time making Jim come up with ways to kill someone I want to know HOW the drifter killed him.
    I figured he ate him - but how did he kill him?

    I doubt Jim sat there obligingly while the guy ate him alive. :-)

    This story has most definitely got potential but I think the death of Jim needs to be shown, and considering how everything Jim came up with was 'pathetic' etc, it should be inventive!

  17. Thank you all for your comments.

    I'm thinking maybe the way Jim is killed should be left to the readers imagination?

    I like what Todd said. I'm still thinking...

  18. I like it as is, but it could be expanded if the writer wanted to expand it.

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  20. Creepy and twisted! Nice job! :)

  21. Thanks Jeremy. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

  22. Like I said in my e-mail, I still prefer the original version. There is an enigmatic quality to the drifter that is lost when you spell out what he does in too much detail. He becomes more of an ordinary monster. Think of how Hannibal Lector got less interesting the more we knew about him.

    In the end it's a personal preference: some people like things spelt-out and others like a little ambiguity. Generally I'm an ambiguity guy.

  23. Thats good advice. Thank you.