They call it the Lonely Gas Station.
Its glow is a welcome sight when you’re driving down an old desert highway at 2:00am on a moonless night. But if you pull over, the pumps won’t work. A little sign reads: “Please Pay First.”
If you go to see the attendant, you’ll find locked doors.
Peering through their grimy, dust-covered glass, you might be able to see ancient Coke advertisements and yellowed magazines, but no attendant.
Annoyed, you’ll drive away. Miles down the road, however, you’ll start noticing familiar scenery; the same billboards, the same mile markers, the same dead armadillo.
And then, the same gas station.
You’ll pull over, only to repeat the process. Again and again this happens, with you growing more anxious as your low fuel light blinks on.
When your car finally sputters to a stop, you’ll curse and check your phone. No service.
Then, gazing around at the pitch-black desert beyond your headlights, you’ll spot the station’s glow in your rearview mirror.
Although you would swear several miles had passed since you last saw it, what other choice is there?
Walking back, the sound of the wind and the crunch of your footsteps will be your only companions.
As you approach the pumps it may suddenly occur to you to wonder why no moths or bugs are swirling around the lights, but then you’ll be distracted by something new.
This time, the doors are standing wide open.
You’ll hesitate. You’ll check your phone again… 2:00am. A few minutes later, it will still say 2:00am.
The desert is cold at night.
Eventually, you will go inside.