Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
The Things You See on Country Roads
Submitted by Taxidermy Driver
I don’t like driving in the countryside. Never have. I went on many long, boring car trips when I was younger. We had family in the country, you see. Why they didn’t live somewhere less remote, I’ll never know. But I do know that there’s nothing worse than looking out the window to see only field after field. When we finally got to our destination, I felt like I never wanted to be in a car again.
And yet I’m driving along another country road. No family in the car this time, no one to talk to. It can’t be long now, I keep telling myself. It can’t be too much farther. But I’ve got no GPS, no map. All I’ve got is my memory. And these days, to tell you the truth, it isn’t always the most reliable.
Every time my car hits a bump on the road, it lurches forward, and it’s almost a relief. Something to break up the quietness of the road. And it sounds strange, saying that hitting a bump is exciting. But when you’re on a country road, you’ll use whatever you can for entertainment. Like counting cows, or singing songs.
There’s these dead shrubs and bushes lining the road, like empty shops in a ghost town, and they’re closer to the side of the road now. I can’t help but feel that I’m entering a deeper part of the countryside. An older part.
Stop it, you’re just scaring yourself.
I can’t stop it.
I take a deep breath, and keep my eyes on the road stretching out onto the horizon. The sun is beginning to set, sinking through the sky. It’s leaving behind a rust red stain.
The bushes seem thornier than before. More overgrown. Is it strange that I notice that? Am I that paranoid about it? Some of them are so close I can hear my car hitting off against them.
I think I am scared.
There, that shape on the left.
It’s so close to the road, like it’s leaning out.
I can’t quite make it out, in the poor light of dusk. It doesn’t look like a hitchhiker, it’s way too small to be a person. Maybe a child? If anything, it just looks like some discarded rubbish, left here and never picked up.
As I drive past, I try to get a better look.
My eyes just seem to flicker over it. I can’t focus on it.
It’s definitely not a child. It’s not moving.
I must be tired.
I actually wish that it was a hitchhiker by the side of the road, though I know how dangerous picking up strangers can be. Especially in the uneasy quiet of the countryside. But it could have been anyone, anyone at all, and I wouldn’t care. At least I wouldn’t be alone.
Another few minutes pass, and I can now see a difference between the fields. There’s something unique about each of them. It’s the little things. This field is bright and the grass is too long. This field is empty and as red as the sunset.
This field is screaming.
There’s more shapes by the side of the road. They’re all leaning out in a line, sticks hitting my car in a controlled, repetitive rhythm. It’s a message.
“Let us in.”
I can’t stop, the car is moving without me.
Need to stop.
You’ll be driving forever if you don’t find the end.
Need to end this.
My eyes are aching, but I can’t blink. My hands are stuck to the car’s wheel, shaking like leaves. Everything about this is wrong. Shapes shuffle alongside my car, thorns scraping off the paint. It’s like that game I used to play in the car when I was younger. I imagined something running on the road. These ones don’t run. They stagger and hobble along, grasping at the side of my car.
Yet, they can still keep up with me. My car is moving at a crawl.
All of the fields are screaming in one voice. Earth and mud is spilling out into the road. The tarmac road is cracking, as frenzied roots burrow through it. The car suddenly jolts as I hit something. A hunk of rusted metal. The sky is rotting away.
I can see something in the distance. Something alongside the road that was not there before. I can’t turn my head, but out of the corners of my eyes I can see it. A telephone wire mast. And I realise, with a lurch of relief, that I’m getting closer to it.
The telephone wire is average and nondescript and beautiful and perfect.
It’s the most normal thing I’ve seen on this road.
I start to cry.
The shapes are blurring away, leaving behind simple, ordinary bushes.
The fields are quietening down, going from a screech to a whisper to nothing.
The sky has stopped rotting.
I can see a lay-by coming up, and I accelerate. The telephone wire is leading me to it, guiding the way. I pull in and smile.
The face made of wire smiles back.