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Old Country Road by E. Motketsan

Old Country Road

by E. Motketsan

 

It was October thirty first, Halloween day and I was driving down route twelve on my way home from yet, another business trip. The trees that lined the country highway were turning colors in preparation for the winter season. It was an old highway that wasn’t used much anymore and it took me some miles out of the way. But I liked the scenic view as I steered the car down the lonely road. The sun was just starting to set and the sky was a brilliant orange-red in color. The trees that lined the sides came together overhead to form a canopy. The setting sun was flickering light through the branches and as I drove on, the light spilled out onto the pavement to form oddly shaped shadows.

It was a beautiful and serene drive. It was peaceful and allowed me to clear my head from a busy week of visiting customers. I was exhausted mentally and couldn’t wait to get home. I continued my drive down the deserted highway, watching the white lines on the road pass behind my car. A smile came across my face, as the thought of walking through my front door where the fresh smell of home baked bread would fill my senses. I imagined myself putting down my attaché case, loosening my tie and making my way into the kitchen where my wife was preparing her special Halloween dinner. The indescribable taste of her honey glazed ham. The sweet smell of brown sugar that she generously applied to the candied yams. And the home baked bread just coming out of the oven. The bread, that when you pulled it apart, steam would rush into your face and make you feel warm all over.

The kids would have their costumes on and would greet me as they came bounding down the stairs. Their smiles so wide you couldn’t understand how such small faces were capable of such large grins. We would take them trick-or-treating for Halloween, my wife and I, walking from house to house, hand in hand, as the kids ran up the driveways. With their pumpkin buckets in hand, they received their gifts of candy, apples and treats all the while their smiles never dimmed. Then, after the trick-or-treating, the kids would go off to bed, exhausted from their excursion but still grinning in their sleep. My wife and I would sit in front of the blazing fire with a freshly brewed cup of expresso. We would talk about the day’s events and the future’s possibilities.

Yes, this was a very intoxicating road. The sun had almost completely set now. The sky was getting dark and I reached down on the dashboard to turn the headlights on. I continued the drive through the countryside. But the road was changing. That beautiful auburn sky has long since gone and the hazy night sky was turning a dark blue. There was no moon or stars in the sky, at least none that I could see. The only light was the beam that came from my headlights. They shined out on the lonely country road, beckoning me to push onward. The white lines seemed to be passing behind me much slower now. It was almost as if I was in slow motion. There was a strange fog that had started to ooze out onto the pavement. It seemed to come from the depths of the ditch that was on both sides of the road. I loosened my tie and cracked the window. I was starting to feel closed in.

The trees that lined the highway came together overhead like a dark tunnel…a dark tunnel that never ended, but went on forever into the cold darkness. No matter how fast you drove, no matter how long you drove, the trees just kept coming. There was no end to them! Tree after tree I passed. Their branches trying to reach out and take hold of me. I continued to drive. I pushed down on the gas pedal and the speedometer needle climbed and climbed. But the lines on the road fell behind me slower and slower.

I pushed on. Steering the car through the fog that crept onto the road. I was driving faster and faster desperately trying to reach the end. The tires squealed as I turned the steering wheel from side to side moving through the curves of the road. The air rushed by my head through the open car window. The sound was getting louder and louder. It was screaming unrelentlessly! Screaming! Screaming!

And then all was silent. It was a chilling silence. A silence that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. A silence in which, you can hear the deafening sound of your heart, pounding inside your chest. The car had stopped and I looked out the front windshield. It was cracked from end to end. There, in front of my car, was a huge oak tree. The front of my car was pushed in from the tree. There were branches and leaves scattered across the hood of the car. I felt something trickle down my face and I reached my hand up to touch the substance. I was terrified when I saw the red in my hand! I opened the car door and stepped out onto the road. I held my head as I started to run down the dark country road crying for help. I kept hearing sounds coming from the trees.

I continued to run down that dark, lonely highway. I stumbled and fell to the ground. I got up on one knee. The sounds, like that from a galloping horse, were getting louder. I turned and looked behind me. But there was nothing. I got back up and started to run. Faster and faster I ran. But the galloping sounds kept getting louder and louder. I could feel something evil in the air. It was cold and chilling. It felt like death. I ran and I ran, faster and faster. I could see a small light off in the distance. It called to me like an angel in the night. I ran for it. But the galloping sounds were right behind me. I spun around and looked down the road. I could see the faint shadow of a horse coming towards me. There was a man riding the horse. I turned and ran towards the light. I had to make it! It wasn’t that far away. A half mile maybe? Maybe a little less. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I wiped the blood that was still running down my forehead. It seeped into eyes and made everything turn red in color. I blinked to clear it from my sight.

The galloping was coming up fast behind me. I dare not look back. I fixed my eyes on the light and I ran. I was almost there! Just a few more yards. I can make it a few more yards! I heard the breathing of the horse. I could feel the thundering vibrations of the hoofs striking the road. Don’t look back! Don’t look back! Focus on the light. I said to myself. I ran towards the light. It was just beyond my reach. It was getting brighter the closer I came. But the thunderous hoofs were getting closer and louder. They were right on top of me! Don’t look back! I couldn’t stand it. I had to see! I stopped running and turned to look behind me. The horse reared up letting out a horrible sounding scream. The two front legs of the horse frantically waved just inches from my face. The horse came back down and stood silently. I looked at the old man on the horse. His face was white and was etched with a deep bloody scar in his forehead. He was wearing an old, tattered dark suit. His tie was loosely draped across his neck. His shoes were full of mud and gravel. He was the scariest looking man I had ever seen.

But there was something odd about him, I could not tell what. There was something familiar… there was something… his tie. The tie was old and discolored. It was stained and it had been torn. It lay loosely, hanging around his neck. I looked at his tie. In the middle of his tie was a tie tack. It was gold and shiny. It looked like…no it couldn’t be! I looked closer at the tie tack. It was the same gold tie tack that my wife had given to me. I looked down at my tie. My gold tie tack was missing! I looked back at the man on the horse. I stared into his cold, shallow eyes. I looked at his face. To my amazement, it was my face! I was riding the horse! How could it be?

As I stared into his cold, uncaring eyes, I felt the stiff leathery bridle in my hands. I felt the stirrups as they surrounded my shoes. I kicked my heels into the sides of the horse. The horse turned and galloped back down the country road. I never looked back at the light but galloped instead into the tunnel of darkness the trees had made, growing on the sides of that old country road.

 


 

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