There was a sense of finality about the sign ahead of them.
Beyond this point were they stepping off the edge of the world, entering an abyss or just some never-never from which survival was only an option.
They contemplated these possibilities as they sat after taking advantage of the last fuel sign. They’d also purchased the Last Stop lunch special, a pie and chips combo of suspect quality, but as they were hungry, they devoured what they had and hoped it wouldn’t come back later to haunt them.
As they sat there, they thought about the lotto sign. What if they bought a ticket and it won, and they were way off in the future from which there might be no return. How disappointing might that be especially as they’d probably never know they’d won?
It was all quite depressing as they sat there looking ahead into the endless flat plain.
They studied the only map they had and determined that beyond the horizon there was more of the same, five hundred miles of flat road, a rest house at the two-fifty mark and nothing else to look at apart from the bugs and the strange crawling insects which had already begun to attach themselves to their car.
To break the monotony, they did buy a ticket in the lotto. On the way back, they could check to see if they had won, and there was always the thought of possible success.
Having finished their lunch and guzzled the last of their coke, they started the car and turned out of the last fuel stop.
Fifty feet past the service station was another sign, “Next fuel two-fifty miles, be prepared, be aware, stay alert”.
They smiled at each other, and the driver pressed his foot to the accelerator, the car charged ahead and vanished into the distance.
Back at the Last Stop, the owner picked up his phone and dialled the number he did so often when travellers departed.
“Another two coming your way,” he said. He nodded in reply to whatever was said to him and replacing the phone he grabbed his etching pen and put a fresh tally point on the wall.
“Not bad this month,” he said, thinking of the evening’s entertainment in store for him.