Voting for episode 5 closed October 11th, 2013. The majority of readers voted for this: She still has Amanda’s number in her purse. Margaret plugs in her phone, waits a few hours, and tries to catch Amanda before she gets on the road at nine a.m.
Margaret sat next to the only public power outlet she could find in Jacksonville’s cavernous bus terminal. Her phone came to life as she plugged it in. The display said that it was 1:15 a.m. She figured that Amanda would be up and loading her car around 7:30, so she set the phone’s alarm, dropped it in her pocket, and wrapped her arms around herself to wait.
Margaret jumped from the chair as something began buzzing against her hip. She slapped her pocket before realizing that it was her phone alarm going off. Had she fallen asleep? She pulled the phone from her pocket. It was 7:31 a.m. She sat back down and shook the cobwebs from her mind. Her suitcase and purse were still under the chair where she had been sitting. Margaret breathed a sigh of relief and reached into her purse for Amanda’s number.
“Hello?” Amanda answered in a voice that was too cheery for the morning. Margaret heard road noise in the background. It sounded like Amanda had left Savannah early.
“Hi, I’m calling about your post on the ride share board,” Margaret said. “Are you still leaving at nine?”
“Sorry, sweetie, you missed me by a couple of hours. No one ever called so I left Savannah at six.”
“Actually, I’m in Jacksonville,” Margaret said. “My ride kind of flaked out on me halfway and now I’m stranded. I’m headed to Winter Park, though, and would love to ride with you the rest of the way if you don’t mind.”
“I’m driving through Jacksonville now,” said Amanda. “Must be your lucky day, girl!” Margaret told Amanda the roads she took to the bus station, then hung up and went outside to wait. In less than twenty minutes a small SUV pulled into the pick-up lane in front of the bus station. Amanda released the trunk latch and Margaret tossed her suitcase in the back and climbed into the front seat.
“Thank you so much for picking me up,” Margaret said. “You will never believe the night that I had.”
“Can’t wait to hear all about it,” said Amanda. “We need to make a stop real quick before we get back on the interstate.”
“Hello, Maggie,” said a voice in the back seat. Margaret recognized the voice immediately.
“I picked up Sybill a couple of exits out,” said Amanda. “She lives just down the road.”
Margaret was about to say something when the hitchhiker suddenly lunged forward and grabbed her by the collar. “Not a word, Maggie,” she said poking the barrel of a revolver into Margaret’s ribs. She turned to Amanda. “Drive, pig.”
Tears welled in Amanda’s eyes as she started the car. Sybill ordered her to make a U-turn and directed her down several backstreets, each more derelict than the last. “When I heard we were headed to the bus station I had my suspicions,” Sybill said, “but I never thought I’d be this lucky.” She told Amanda to pull her car into a fenced lot. In the side mirror Margaret watched a man close and lock the gate behind them. Her purse suddenly started buzzing as Jane’s ringtone blared from an inside pocket.
“Shut it off, now!” Sybill screamed. Margaret reached into the purse and clicked off the phone. As she twisted her hand to pull it out, she found her fingers wrapping themselves around a weapon.