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The Last Ride

The driver's phone emitted a sharp beep, indicating a new shared rider request. Richa felt her frustration mount as the cab would now have to take a detour to pick this new ride, and she was already stuck in the midst of a sluggish evening traffic jam. Peering anxiously from the comfort of the back seat, she strained her eyes to catch a glimpse of the upcoming pickup location. With the assistance of Google Navigation, a projected time of 13 minutes was displayed on her screen.

Prashant frantically attempted to contact his Uber driver, but to no avail. Despite the app indicating that the driver was only a minute away, nearly five minutes had passed and the vehicle remained conspicuously absent from sight. Growing increasingly frustrated, Prashant contemplated canceling the ride, yet his attempts to do so were thwarted by the perpetually loading app.

Just as he was about to retry the cancellation process, Prashant's attention was drawn to a white car parked a few meters ahead. A glimmer of hope sparked within him as he recognized the familiar number plate, realizing that it was his designated ride. Eager to hasten the driver's arrival, Prashant vigorously waved his arm and called out, but his attempts to grab the driver's attention were in vain.

Resigned to the situation, Prashant decided to approach the cab himself. As he drew nearer, preparing to step inside, he caught a glimpse of a reflection on the window—a shadowy figure occupying the back seat. Unwilling to make the encounter uncomfortable, Prashant tactfully chose to occupy the front seat next to the driver. He swiftly opened his app, to see who his co-rider was, the app showed the name as Richa.

Richa and her cab driver found themselves waiting for an extended period of over five minutes at the designated pickup location. Richa's frustration intensified as the minutes ticked by, and she grew increasingly impatient. Finally, the driver decided to proceed with the ride since no one had boarded the cab.

As some time passed during the journey, an unpleasant odor permeated the interior of the cab, reaching Richa's nostrils. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, she instinctively began searching near her feet, desperately trying to pinpoint the source of the foul smell. Perplexed, she turned to the driver and asked, "What is this smell?"

Prashant, too, became aware of the peculiar stench, reminiscent of a decomposing rat. He cast a sidelong glance at the driver, anticipating an answer or some explanation, but to his surprise, the driver remained eerily silent, offering no response to Richa's inquiry.

As more time elapsed, the putrid odor inside the cab grew increasingly overpowering. Richa's tolerance reached its limit, and she could no longer bear the offensive smell assaulting her senses. Agitated, she urgently pleaded, "Please, stop the car and investigate this foul stench. It's reminiscent of rotting food or a decaying rat."

The driver, still silent, remained unfazed by Richa's distress. Prashant, growing frustrated by the driver's unresponsive demeanor, couldn't contain his irritation any longer. He directed his question at the driver with a mix of exasperation and incredulity, "Can't you smell this wretched stench?"

Finally, the driver's expression revealed that the smell had indeed reached his olfactory senses. Reacting promptly, he swiftly turned off the AC and rolled down the windows in an attempt to dissipate the nauseating odor that permeated the cabin.

With the windows open, the cab ride became more tolerable for Prashant and Richa, allowing some respite from the lingering stench. Prashant's frustration, however, remained palpable as the driver's peculiar demeanor persisted. Not a single word had been uttered by the driver since the beginning of the journey, leaving Prashant unsettled.

In the midst of his exasperation, Prashant's attention was drawn to the driver's appearance. Upon closer observation, he noticed a lengthy, recently healed wound that traversed the driver's left hand, extending from his wrist all the way up to his shoulder. This sight alone was disconcerting, but as the driver turned around, attempting to peer through Prashant's side window, an even more disturbing revelation dawned upon Prashant.

The driver's face was marked by a multitude of wounds, as if he had fiercely collided with a mirror or some other brutal force. Stitches adorned his right lips and forehead, distorting his features into an expression of deathly stillness. An unsettling sensation washed over Prashant, signaling that something was undeniably amiss with the driver. A growing sense of unease permeated his being, making it increasingly difficult for him to continue the ride.

As the cab gradually veered to the left, the driver's mobile screen displayed Richa's destination, indicating that they had reached her intended stop. Prashant, intrigued by the unfolding events, shifted his gaze towards the side mirror in an attempt to catch a glimpse of his co-passenger. However, to his bewilderment, nobody emerged from the back seat as the cab came to a halt.

The driver completed the trip on his mobile and resumed their journey towards Prashant's drop-off location. An uneasy feeling tugged at Prashant's mind, compelling him to speak up. "At least let her disembark," Prashant pleaded, his words laced with concern, as he turned around to see the back seat—only to realize there was no one sitting there. His eyes widened with a mix of confusion and growing apprehension, as the realization of the eerie situation began to sink in.

Overwhelmed by confusion and fear, Prashant's desperation reached a breaking point. He unleashed a piercing scream, demanding answers from the driver. "Stop the car! Where is the girl who was sitting behind us?" However, the driver remained resolute, persisting with the ride as if oblivious to Prashant's distress.

A semblance of emotion finally crept onto the driver's face, manifesting as a pained expression, as if he were on the verge of tears. Though Prashant's destination was not far off, his terror had now eclipsed any rational thought. The mere thought of continuing the ride sent shivers down his spine. In a desperate attempt to escape the escalating nightmare, Prashant frantically attempted to open the car doors, but they stubbornly remained locked, confining him within the terrifying confines of the vehicle.

Shouting with every ounce of his being, Prashant pleaded with the driver, his voice strained and desperate, "Please, stop the car!" He continued to struggle with the stubborn door, determined to break free from this terrifying ordeal. As panic overwhelmed him, he resorted to leaning out of the window, crying for help at the top of his lungs, desperately seeking assistance from anyone who might hear his distress.

As the cab came to a halt in front of a gate, Prashant was stunned to see that the driver had stopped precisely at his intended destination. As Prashant stepped out of car, a known figure went straight through him and towards the driver's side, swinging the door open and dragging the driver out. It was a middle-aged man, around his fifties, who seized the driver by the collar, his voice filled with anger and confusion. "Why do you keep coming here? Why?" he demanded to know.

Overwhelmed by emotion, the driver began to weep, his voice trembling as he repeated his words through tears, "I am sorry, I am sorry." He fell to his knees, consumed by remorse and sorrow. Prashant, perplexed and bewildered, watched the scene unfold, trying to make sense of the situation. Why would his father be confronting the driver in such a violent manner?

Prashant's father glanced at the driver's mobile phone, which rested on the car's dashboard, revealing Prashant's name on the screen. He leaned forward and took hold of the device, a look of confusion and concern etched on his face. "Prashant's drop?" he asked, his voice laced with puzzlement.

The driver, now sobbing uncontrollably, managed to speak amidst his tears. "I pick them up every day, at the same time, at the same places. First, I pick up the girl, and then your son," he explained. His voice carried the weight of a haunting truth. "I know they're really in my cab. I can smell their stench. I drop them off at their destinations. I do this every day. I've been doing this every day since I returned to driving after the accident... the accident where I killed them. They are now my last ride end of each day."


Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your feedback in comments. If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing it with others. Would mean a lot :)

Warm regards,

Vishwesh Shetty

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