Growing up in a small town, teenagers had to make our own fun, which typically consisted of driving back and forth down the Main Street until curfew. If we even thought about getting into any trouble, we had to go out of town or our parents would know before we even did anything. If we had cell phones back then, I can only imagine how my mothers text messages would have gone.
A few towns over, there was this road. It was actually outside of town, it was unpaved and the trees that lined it would canopy in places, where the road would turn impossibly dark and strange things would start to happen.
There is a legend that follows this road, one I am unsure of on accuracy, but accuracy just takes the fun out of legend.
The story surrounds an abandoned farm house (now a burnt shell of a foundation). A young widow left her (2 or 3) children with a babysitter while she ran to town to get supplies. When she returned, the house had been broken into and the babysitter was missing, she found her children dead inside the house. This prompted her to hang herself in the house. Legend has it, she wanders up and down this road, she can be seen in a white dress, sobbing on the side of the road.
It doesn't end there, there have been reports of dogs being heard getting closer and closer but never appearing, the children have been seen playing in the cemetery at the end of this road, where they were allegedly buried, red eyes watching from the trees and piles of dead rats in places along the road.
Perfect place for teenagers to scare each other. Or so we thought...
"Slow down!" I yelled from the backseat
Nicola, my best friend and the driver who I was convinced was about to kill us, laughed, loudly.
"I'm with Lily, we will end up in the ditch!" Gabby, my other best friend, was sounding worried
"Really? Are you guys that scared the "ghost lady" will come get us?" Nicola used finger quotes at ghost lady and I could hear the eye rolling through her sarcasm
Nicola was a non believer and was dead set on proving it, if her driving didn't kill us all first.
"Here we are..." she finally slowed down to read the narrow green signs glaring in the headlights in front of us.
I leaned forward to see through the windshield. "FALLEN BLUFF ROAD" was printed in white on an old, faded green road sign with what appeared to be bullet holes littering the printed letters. I sat back again.
"We're here" I said.
Suddenly, I felt dizzy. I closed my eyes "nerves" I thought and opened them as the car slowly turned onto the old dirt road. Nicola began with her Bela Lugosi Dracula laugh that always freaked out Gabby.
"Stop it" Gabby slapped her shoulder but her face cracked a smile
"You're such a bitch" she added.
That made Nicola really laugh.
"Ok seriously, we are supposed to be looking for the canopy? Err the makeshift one in the trees?" Nicola asked.
She leaned toward the windshield and wiped it with her sleeve.
"Weird, why would the windshield be fogging up?" She said almost to herself.
"Because you're full of hot air" Gabby stabbed at her.
She stopped wiping the windshield to look sideways at Gab.
"I deserve that, consider that a freebie" she warned with a smile.
"Guys! Shut up and look!" I was pointing out the window at the tree line, Nicola stepped a bit hard on the brake.
The road was lined in trees on both sides, toward the middle, the tops of the trees arch in forming a canopy over the road and we were right in the middle, the only light we had was the headlights yellow glow on the gravel. She threw the car in park and leaned over to look up.
I opened my door and stepped out, ignoring the pleading panic from Gabby to stay in the safety of the car. Nicola followed my lead.
"It's a full moon tonight right?" She asked without breaking her upward gaze
"Yeah I thought so...why is it so dark?" I added what she must have been thinking.
I took another step away from the car and tried to see my surroundings, it was like my eyes couldn't even adjust to this darkness, it was unnatural and I was getting a bad feeling.
"Nicola?" I reached out to where her arm should have been behind me and caught nothing but air. I spun around to see her walking along side the road
"What are you doing?" I called out to her.
She answered by waving her arm behind her. Gabby had gotten out of the car by now and was watching. I turned to her
"What does she think she's doing?" I asked.
"She's a bitch" was all she said
"Should we go after her?" I was apprehensive
Her eyes got big and she shook her head
"In the car maybe".she answered
I shrugged and returned to the car and hopped in the drivers seat
"Keys" I muttered still staring at my friend walking away
"What!" Gabby snapped
I sighed "she has the keys" I sounded more defeated than I meant to.
"Come on Gabs, we are better off sticking together anyway". I got out and waited for her to protest. She silently stood next to me and we began to quickly walk in the direction Nicola was headed before she vanished from sight.
"Shouldn't we see her by now?" Gabby asked, looking around nervously.
I was thinking the same thing but opted to stay quiet.
Just then we heard a blood curdling scream that stopped us dead in our tracks. We looked at each other with wide eyes and ran toward the screams.
"Nicola!" We yelled.
The screaming stopped as suddenly as it started, we slowed to a stop. The car was no longer visible and the automatic headlights clicked off while we were running. It was impossibly dark and silent, too silent. I rested my hands on my knees to catch my breath.
"We should go back to the car" Gabby said between breaths
I snapped back up and glared at her
"And do what? Sit in the car and hope that wasn't Nicola screaming?" I snapped
"I'm sorry, that was harsh. We have to find her though...." I could her the hiccup in her breathing, she was fighting back tears
"You know her, she's probably just up ahead waiting to scare us" I added, sounding more confident than I felt. That was not a fake scream, I knew Gabby heard it too but she seemed to be regaining control again, so I left it alone.
"Hey..Lil! Do you see that..uh straight ahead of us?" She asked hopefully
I looked in the direction and there was an orange glow.
"Hey maybe that's a house!" I perked up
We ran towards the orange light, getting brighter and brighter, I slowed down and reached for Gabby's arm
"Hey stop" I whispered, we could finally see each other
She turned to face me, her face appeared to be glowing in the orange light
"Do you smell that?" I asked
"Yeah smells like a bonfire" she answered
"That's fire up there" I was getting a panicky feeling in my chest.
Her eyes widened and we began screaming for our friend again.
Within seconds we were running up a small gravel driveway that was overgrown with tall grass in spots to an old farmhouse. The orange light disappeared as quickly as it appeared and Nicola was standing in front of the house staring at the rotting, paint chipped, probably termite infested farm house that most likely hadn't seen a human tenant in decades.
As I got closer, I could smell the charred wood and could see the entire back of the house was a skeleton of charred framework.
"Nicola" I whispered as if I would wake the house.
"Hmm?" She didn't break her gaze.
I now noticed her cheeks were wet
"Are you crying?" I asked
She broke her stare and looked at me, but it wasn't her, not really.
By all accounts it was my friend I've known since kindergarten but her eyes were vacant, like Nicola had stepped out and a sign should be there saying "back in 5"
"They're gone! Can't you see that?" She grabbed my arms in a grasp way too solid for her small frame
"Ow! Nicola stop!" I yelled
She kept shaking me and screaming
"They were just babies!"
"Nicola! Who? What are you talking about?"
I could heard Gabby behind me starting to sob uncontrollably. I felt like joining her.
All of the sudden her arms dropped to her sides.
"They're coming! Shh! We should go" she said and began to walk toward the house.
"Nicola!" I yelled, chasing after her.
She stopped suddenly at the front door, turned around and looked me in the eyes. I suddenly couldn't breathe. I was dizzy as everything around me spun in circles, the last thing I remember is hearing my friend whisper in my ear "you need to go now before they find you here, can't you hear them?"
I did, I heard dogs, their barking got louder and louder and everything finally went black.
When I opened my eyes again, they stung from the bright florescent hospital lights, I blinked away the sting and looked around me as a nurse entered through a putrid green curtain.
"Look who is finally awake!" She said cheerfully
"What happened?" I asked.
"You got quite a blow to the head but other than a minor concussion, you will be just fine" she patted my hand and turned to leave
"Where are my friends?" I asked
Her face darkened
"Gabrielle is down the hall if that's what you mean" she said flatly
"Where's Nicola?" I could hear the pulse oximeter beeping faster but I didn't care
"Calm down...there was only 2 of you in the car" her voice was taking on a harder tone
"In what car? I was outside by a house and I must have passed out but Nicola was with us, it was her car we took" my voice was quivering now, on the verge of tears.
She sat down near my feet
"They haven't found her yet, I was supposed to keep quiet until you discharged but I don't see you waiting for that" she whispered, and continued
"You and Gabrielle were found in Nicola's car, it looked like she lost control and drove into the ditch but there was no trace of her 'sides footsteps heading away from the car. The road was searched three times over I don't know where she could have gone, I'm sorry sweetie" she patted my hand as tears welled up in my eyes.
Nicola was never found, Gabby and I decided to keep quiet about what happened that night, nobody would have believed it anyway.
I will tell you this, if you hear of a dirt road out in rural Minnesota, whatever you do
DON'T go down that road...
Published by Liz Zemlicka