Archived: Dead of Night by Zoey Bankston

The moon shone high beyond the storm clouds as I made my way down the dirt road, lit only by my headlights. It wasn’t a pleasant drive, but I did enjoy how quiet it was. The locals tended to avoid it, so there wasn’t much need to pay attention. The neighbors warned me off over some superstition, though I’d imagine their truck was just rusted down so much that the bouncing off the gravel through this crusty ol’ path would tear it apart.

That might’ve been advice I should’ve listened to myself, though, as my own wagon sputtered and coughed as it pulled me along through the rough terrain. I pulled to the side and took out a light from the glove box to perform a quick check up on the old gal just to make sure nothing dropped loose in all the rattling of the drive. Sure enough, I couldn’t find anything out of place. She must’ve just been throwing a fit having to haul me down to the office so late. I tried to turn her on again, but nothing. I almost gave in to having to walk back the whole way home, but I saw a path heading out from the road stretching into the woods just ahead. Must’ve been all a part of the Lord’s plan for me, I thought. I didn’t know anyone had been living down this part of town, but if I’d be good enough, maybe they’d be willing to look at my ride, or at least offer a stay for the night so I could ring the mechanic in the morning.

I started down the trail, though it must’ve been a good half a mile before I found anything of use. I stumbled across an old farmhouse in the middle of a clearing. It must’ve been built way back, maybe one of the first when them pioneers settled the town back a hundred years. No one painted houses white like that anymore. I carefully walked onto the porch. The wood there was as rotten as the meat that made old Shep sick for days that one year. Less bugs in the wood, though. I tried knocking, but I guess the latch had broken off a long time back because the door just swung right open. I tried calling out to see if anyone were home, but there were no answer. I could hear somethin’ moving ‘round the back, so I thought to check to see if they were tending some animals or whatnot.

Out back looked as if a tornado had swept through. The fences were busted up and their tractor was flipped and beaten. Kept looking for that noise, but it started soundin’ more like a snarl. Now, I’ve heard wolves, and that weren’t no wolf, so I shone my light around until I came across eyes gazing with more wrath than the devil himself. By the size you’d think a cow learned to walk like the rancher, but that thing weren’t no man nor beast. Looked to be chewing on somethin’, or someone, but that didn’t matter once it saw me: dropped on all fours and just took chargin’ at me.

I didn’t think, just dropped my light and ran back to my gal. I ran faster than my legs could carry me. Stumbled a few times but kept bookin’ all the way to that old wagon with that beastly growl still behind me coming to claim my soul. Didn’t even think to remember why I had left her in the first place, I just jumped in and fumbled my key out of my jacket. The old gal must’ve been just as frightened, ‘cause she roared to life and carried us off faster than her wheels could take us.

Now I don’t take that there road no more, and I’d advise you do the same. Like my neighbors always warned me: the road don’t like no cars, and the neighbors there don’t take kindly to visitors.