There Is Nothing There

Summer evening, late. The road traveled lies within city limits, moonlight over a pastured landscape, blackened shadows of barns line a ridge while cattle bed down within a barbed wire fence.  Along the road moves a car, sporty red, fairly new, the driver, a young woman.  She’s tired, her fatigue earned by a previous late night and then an all day job, followed by another late night.

She drives with windows down, a sultry breeze skims in and out, occasionally scented with mowed grass and wild lavender.  A pop station plays a top forty list, barely audible.  The road is as familiar as the rest of her routines.  It is the route home.

Her mind wanders over the day, and the evening.  She’s just left the home of a friend.  She should have been in bed hours before.  An internal thought floats, I’m too tired to be out driving, followed by a vague movement in her peripheral vision.  She automatically turns her head to see-only it’s not possible anything could be there, just outside a car going forty-five m.p.h.  She’s right.

There is nothing there.

Another thought blooms, I’m so tired I’m seeing things.  Seconds later, a row of mailboxes snagged by the car’s high beams also captures the surprising view of an old man.  He is bent over, as if to pick up something on the ground, while glancing back at her over his shoulder.  She swerves to avoid him, and looks at her rear view mirror.

There is nothing there.

Inexplicably, she is filled with a sense of dread.  As she passes an old abandoned house, she senses something, a presence, a nightmare quality awareness entering the car.  The passenger seat, she feels she shouldn’t look there.  She can’t explain why.  Heart rate elevates, hands get sticky on the wheel as she tells herself, act normal.  Act like nothing is wrong.  Turn up the radio.  Sing, if you can.  At the old grist mill, even if the light is red, go through it, DON’T STOP.  You can’t stop.

She can’t explain why she’s having these thoughts, yet, her hand goes to the radio and music fills the car.  She hums because she can’t form words.  She thinks of the word evilUninvited evil.  The stop light is at the bottom of a long hill.  It’s RED.  She swallows and her heart bumps erratically.  Foot on the gas, her driving is somehow steady.  She keeps humming.  The grist mill is to her right. The old wheel is turning, and frothy water spills in a cascade.  She hasn’t slowed down.  The light is still red.

Twenty feet from the light.  She is going too fast.  She plans to run it.

It flips to green.

Ascending the hill beyond the light, she is suddenly at peace.  The past minute or so dissolves into night air.  There is no explanation for what she just experienced, only relief she no longer feels that strange sense of foreboding.

If I wrote horror stories, I’d use this material in some way, as a beginning for someone’s world falling apart, where they can’t tell what’s real, what’s not, are they crazy, or are they really experiencing events which get more bizarre and scary.  But I don’t write horror, and in some ways I’m glad, I almost scared myself writing this.  🙂

And here’s the thing,  this is a true story.  This happened to me about twenty-five years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.  So why make a blog post about it now?  Because…about a month ago, I watched Abigail for the day.  I took her to my Mom’s for a visit, and the drive to take Abigail back home took me down this road for the first time in many years.  I thought about it for the first time in a long while.  My question has always been, what the heck happened?  What WAS that?

What do you think it was?

Dark Hwy

 

 

 

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COMMENTS

  • Ginger

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    I was hooked….

  • E.M. Goldsmith

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Tuck this away and keep it. It is not only creepy but it’s existential. What is real? What is going on? Did you pass the devil by that night or was it some manifestation of some kind of self-doubt, guilt, or worry on a dark night? It wouldn’t have to be horror. Life is scary even if you discount the ghosts and monsters. This is so good. I wanted it to keep going. Wow, I really can’t wait to read your book. Just wow.

    • donnaeve

      February 11, 2016

      Reply

      Brrrr. You just gave me goosebumps – but in a GOOD way! Thank you so much for the kind words. Very encouraging.

      This is great advice though. I should copy/paste it into my “Random Writings” folder for the future. I’ve never written it down, but 25 yrs later ought to tell you how it affected me. I’ll have to blog about the blender incident one of these days…LOL!

      And I so agree – life is scary in of itself, no need for ghosts, simply the idea of something being off kilter and not knowing what/why is enough.

      DIXIE DUPREE is much different than this…think a different kind of monster called Uncle Ray.

  • Colin

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Great story, Donna. What was it? Given my theological convictions, I would say… who knows? But it doesn’t have to have a “natural” or “scientific” explanation. You may never know this side of eternity what was going on prior to that stop light…

    • donnaeve

      February 11, 2016

      Reply

      Thank you, Colin!

      I’ve experienced enough “strange” things in life to suit me well enough, that’s for sure, and enough to know not to dwell for too long. All these years later, it was nice to be able to write it down without feeling a bit freaked out. 😉

      I agree, I’ll never know, not while I’m breathing.

  • Diane

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Something about the “there-ness” of this vignette makes me think of the story of the ghost story of la petit trianon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moberly%E2%80%93Jourdain_incident). I remember at eight or ten reading “Fifty Great Ghost Stories” the image of the pockmarked man with the evil countenance stuck with me, and I know that strange sensation too. What it is … even what this specific moment was, for you … I almost don’t even want to know.

    Life’s eerie mysteries make it more interesting, don’t they?

    • donnaeve

      February 11, 2016

      Reply

      Like I mentioned to Colin…I’ve experienced enough strangeness to know there are some things you just don’t give attention to, no matter how much they try to get it.

      When I was about your age, my mother, Lord only knows why, let my brother and I watch “Trilogy of Terror.” It was the first scary horror show I ever saw, and I will never forget this one bizarre story of the man who was always standing at this painting in an art museum, wishing he could be “there.” The scene was of a man fishing on a river. Then, this man got into trouble, I think he murdered someone…anyway, he was being chased. He ran into the museum, and begged (without paying attention) for the picture to “take him in.” It did – wrong picture. You know how those old horror shows would do – suddenly flash a close up of something…and when they did to show where he’d ended up, it was this horrible painting of someone being tortured. The scene faded with the picture moaning. Eeek.

      I don’t want to know either. I just did the best I could to ignore “it” and hoped it would go away, but honestly? I can’t describe the overwhelming sense of feeling like I WAS in a nightmare, and needed badly to wake up. I’ve never felt like that since, thank God.

      • Diane

        February 12, 2016

        Reply

        *Clutches Gossamer TEC to bosom*
        *Lets Penelope sleep on the bed*

        Eep!

  • Craig

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Maybe it was just gas. It can do weird things to you.

    Twenty five years ago? How old is your daughter?

    I remember the fears that came up when I find out I was going to become a father. The world was going to hell almost as much as that much cussed and discussed first marriage was. I had irrational fears of what kind of world the child would have to grow up in.

    Too bad that in the long run they weren’t irrational.

    • donnaeve

      February 11, 2016

      Reply

      Gas is The Last thing to enter my mind as to what you would have come up with. LOL!

      You might be surprised to know…I’m a lot older than some people might think. 🙂

      Being a parent is scary for sure. I was a single parent for about 13 years before I remarried. I wanted to be SURE the next time around was going to work out. And it has.

      The world… sometimes it’s the most frightening thing of all.

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    First of all, that is one creepy picture.
    You already know what it was. You may never know who or why but you know. Yes, you most certainly know what.

    • donnaeve

      February 12, 2016

      Reply

      It is, isn’t it?

      Yeah, I try not to think about THAT. I remember talking to someone about it once, and they said “sometimes you’re just ‘open’ to something coming in, whether you want it or not, and b/c you were tired, and having thoughts like, ‘I’m seeing things,’ it took an opportunity.”

      Great.

  • Lilac Shoshani

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Donna, so much awesomeness despite the scare! I share our friends’ sentiments: I’m hooked, I want to read more, great story, I can’t wait to read your book. Wow!

    And Carolynn is right: Carolynn is always right! 🙂

    I would also suggest to keep it. You don’t know when it will come in handy. I used a very scary experience I had to describe a supernatural attack in my MS, and I usually stay away from scary things. <3

    • donnaeve

      February 12, 2016

      Reply

      Thank you so much, Lilac! <3

      Like I said to Elise, DIXIE DUPREE is a VERY different book. Don't expect that kind of scary. To a child, there are other kinds…

      And yes! I will definitely keep it. I've already cut/pasted this into my Random Writing folder – no idea when I can/will ever use it, but ya never know!

  • Lennon Faris

    February 11, 2016

    Reply

    Oh man, I should’ve known better than to read blogs at 11 at night! Why oh why am I the only one downstairs right now??… lol but no that was CREEPY. I would have run the red light, too! …Um, you know, even if I didn’t regularly. It’s a bad habit when I’m tired, or at least used to be when I was in school. You are a brave woman to drive that road again! btw I really liked the imagery of the mowed grass and wild lavender scents on that country road.

    • donnaeve

      February 12, 2016

      Reply

      Thank you, Lennon!

      I know what you mean about that 11 p.m. at night, why am I reading this now kind of thing. My husband is out of town, and the funny thing is, I used to be able to watch those shows about ghosts etc. alone and now I can’t! I get too freaked out in this big old house by myself.

      It’s been so long since I drove it, and hey, it helped that is was daylight. 🙂


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