The County modernized the old rusted truss bridge over Bear Creek. At one time, the branches of the trees on both sides of the streamlet reached out to each other like long-lost lovers. The steel embraced the darkness the thick leaves provided. Now, the County had slashed the blackness away. The glow of the sun lights its way through onto the new paved concrete bridge. Nothing remains of the framed platform, but its dark secrets.
Jessy gripped his steering wheel. “The new facelift doesn’t rewrite the horrific history…” He shook his head, “it covers it up.”
The stars twinkled in the moonless night, and the wind roared at the gray sedan where the four teenage boys took refuge. The decayed leaves around them formed mini tornados, and the trees groan at the bending of their limbs. The boys jumped at the cracking of sticks coming from the right side of Jessy’s car.
Mike peered out his window. “It sounds like footsteps…” He pointed to the overgrown section near the bridge, “coming from where the old stone cabin used to set.”
Tom cleared his throat and glanced out his window. “Yes, the old stone cabin.” He shifted his attention to Jessy and Mike, who sat in the front seat, and to Danny, who sat next to him. The boy’s index finger rose and pushed his eyeglasses up from the middle of his nose. “I remember my mom talking about this with a few of her high school friends.” He brushed his long brown bangs from his eyes. “They used to come out here before they moved the cabin.”
Danny gazed out Tom’s window. His eyes widened when he noticed a man in overalls wielding an ax. “Hey… hey, guys!” His arm lifted from the seat, straighten out, and his index finger rolled from a fist position, right under Tom’s nose. “Do you see that?”
The man caught the stares of the boys as he disappeared into the woods. Soon, the hair on the teenagers’ arms stood on end. The vibration of deathly screams of a woman, two children, and a yelp from a dog pounded their way into their ears — the blow of an ax against bone resonated in the night air.
Jessy turned his gaze back to the group. “What was that? Please tell me the dark is playing tricks with our minds.”
The other three boys turned their attention to Jessy. Fear ran down their spines, and all three shook their heads. Mike noticed a figure from the right side of his eye, and he twisted toward it. He saw the same man standing in the car’s headlights. His ax hung inches from the road and dripped with blood. A growl came from him, which caught the attention of the others. Red eyes glared back at them. Suddenly, the man turned his attention to the woods.
Tom pointed. “Look at that, guys.”
The teenagers followed his gaze. Three orbs flew out of the woods and dancing in the air. They multiplied many times to form bodies. A woman, a small boy, and girl. White smoke rose from the ground, and a sinister howl echoed in the night’s breeze. A black form of a dog with glowing white eyes appeared next to the woman and children.
The ax wobbled end on end on the road. The man in front of them backed up and rushed toward the bridge. His family and dog were in hot pursuit.
Jessy wrapped his fingers around the gear selector, he pulled out of the park position and placed it into drive. He topped his speed at two miles per hour. When he arrived at the bridge, above the hood of his car were dangling feet. The boys rushed out of the car with their flashlights. The beams fell on the swinging corpse of the man. Their attention shifted to the family that faded into a white mist, along with the dog. When the teenagers glanced back up, the man vanished.
Danny shook his head. “How? This is a concrete road. There’s nothing anyone can hang themselves from.” He looked up. “There is no steel, no tree limbs, nothing.”
Jessy shook his head. “Danny, Danny, Danny boy. Remember, this bridge used to have steel above us. He must have hung himself off that steel when the ghosts of his family came for him.” He scratched his head. “I guess he’s doomed to repeat this pattern for the rest of his life.”
Mike swung his hands in the air. “Let’s get out of here.”
Tom and Mike agreed.
As they headed toward the car, they gesture to Jessy, who waved his hands. “Come on. There’s more to this bridge.” He motioned to them. “Come on, let’s check it out.” He titled his head. “Not afraid, are you?”
“Man,” Mike stomped the road with his foot. “We’re not into this anymore.”
“Yeah,” Tom shouted.
Danny stood silent and shook his head.
Jessy lowered his head. “I’m so disappointed in you guys.”
Fog rose from the thicket and scaled its way up to the sky. It enveloped the stars, and no one could see a foot in front of them. The three boys rushed into the car. When they glimpsed at the driver’s seat, there was no Jessy.
Mike gripped the front seat. “Where is he?”
Tom and Danny shook their heads. The car moved forward with no driver. The boys turned to look out the back window and saw Jessy, his eyes glared red, pushing the vehicle onto the bridge. Fire sprung up around them, and figures hung off the tower steel of the old bridge. A deep voice rumbled from behind them.
Jessy’s arms outreached, “Welcome to HELL!”
The boys in the heated car screamed, their skin bubbled as the fire cooked them.
A woman floated down from one of the high steel bars. Her cloak rippled in the air. When the woman landed, she pulled off her hood and placed a delicate hand on Jessy’s brown hair. “Good boy. You make your mother proud.” Her eyes a crimson red, and her dark wavy hair glistened off the fire’s light. “Each generation,” she lifted her right hand and formed a fist, “I will snatch a life…” She tilted her head toward her son, “or two.” She glanced back to the melting car, “I will take the lives from those who hung us as witches until their numbers dwindle… to nothing.”
Jessy glanced up at his mother. “Why can’t we take them all now?”
“Hmm.” The woman peered at her only son. “There is no fun in that.” A sinister giggle erupted from her throat. “Taking a few at a time,” she tilted her head, “leaves them scared. Wondering who’ll be next.”