The first day of school did not go off so well. To start, I woke up to a thunderstorm. The wind gave a roar that sounded more tornado than wind. When I walked to my closet and opened the doors, I found all my clothes… wet. A leak in the roof, great! I borrowed my mother’s clothes. Thanks to all this happening, I missed the bus and mom took me to school on her way to work.

As I walked through the school’s double doors, a feeling of dread washed over me. Everyone is whispering to each other and avoiding me. The avoiding me part was great. It’s nice not to get picked on because you’re different. The whispering, though, drew my attention to eavesdropping. Every time I tried, everyone noticed and gave me dirty looks. At least they know I’m still alive. So, I gave up and went to homeroom.

Sitting in the back of the class, my teacher Mr. Fulmar, our History, and Mythology teacher, paced in front of his desk. Watching him walk from one side of the room to the next. I felt like I was at a tennis match. He stopped in the middle of the room and faced the class to say, “students, I have bad news.”

I saw the students looking at each other, of course, none looked at me.

“Four of our students, well former students, have gone missing. A few weeks back, they went to Manners State Park for the weekend. They went camping before heading off to college. No one’s heard or seen them since,” Mr. Fulmar went on to explain.

Nathan Goode, our star quarterback of Goodeville, Illinois High School Scorpions. His short light brown hair looks as soft as a feather. His eyes, were as brown as mine. Well, he raised his hand.

“What is it?” Mr. Fulmar asked, pointing at Nathan.

Nathan’s strong voice penetrated the classroom. “I heard there’s a family of cannibals living in the blocked-off part of the woods. Rangers told people not to go into the Devil’s Backbone.”

“Yes, Nathan. I have heard of that story.” Mr. Fulmar paces, his hands in his pockets. “I shouldn’t be telling you all this.” He stops at his desk. His chest rises from taking a deep breath and lowers when he releases it. He continues being a tennis ball between the two walls. “But, all I know is, they were camping in the wrong spot.” His right-hand slips out of his jeans pocket and over his salt-and-pepper hair. “They were at the Devil’s Backbone. The police found their blood at their campsite… and at a burned down make-shift cabin.” He stops in the middle of the room. “They found body parts, but they’re still conducting DNA testing to see if it matches any of the missing girls.”

The crackling of the loudspeaker in the room made everyone cover their ears. Principal Davis’ voice boomed out of the speaker. “As of further notice, Manners State Park is off-limits. I repeat, Manners State Park is closed. Thank you.”

The four missing girls were the talk of the day. The weather helped little in raising anyone’s spirits. I bet it washed away all the evidence out there. Something tells me they will not find them.

Before school let out, we had a brief assembly. They told us the school counselors are available if anyone needs to talk. Plus, Principal Davis reminded us to stay away from the park. Like anyone will do that. I wonder how many kids from school will go into those woods tonight?

The weather was looking up. No sun, but no rain either. I walked a mile to MAC’s, the local fast-food place. When I walked in, I saw my mom at the cash register taking orders. We nodded to each other on my way to the bathroom to change into my uniform. I need to get this thing washed. Yes, I work with my mom.

I clocked in as my mom was clocking out. That is the good thing; we work different shifts. But, she always gets me at the time clock.

“Candy, sweetheart, please call for an Uber or Lyft or ask someone from work to give you a ride home tonight.”

“Yes, mom.”

During my shift, I felt like I was the only one working. My “co-workers” were too busy chitchatting and playing on their cell phones to work. I cleaned, took orders, and put those orders together. They think they’re so popular that they don’t have to do any work.

I knew no one would take me home after closing, and I didn’t feel like calling for a ride, so I walked. Dark clouds, rolling thunder, and streaks of lightning filled the night sky. I took a shortcut down Archer Road. When I approached the German Church Bridge, a fog floated in covering the entire bridge. I had to step on the bridge; I didn’t have a choice. I wanted to get home, and fast.

I grabbed the side of the rail to help guide me through the fog. Plus, I’d be out of the way of any passing vehicles. As luck would have it, as soon as my hand latched onto the railing, I heard a car approaching. I felt the wind as it went past me. Tires squealed to a full stop ahead of me. The car door squeaked open, and boots hit the pavement. The car door slams shut. Heaving boots are pounding their way around to the trunk. Keys jingled to the sound of the squeak of the trunk opening. A thump, boots on pavement, a grunt, a thud, then boots on pavement. The movements repeated a second time. The trunk slams shut, and the boots thumping sped up. The car door squeaked open, the engine roared, tires squealed and the car, gone. I heard and felt it all, but saw no car lights, or an outline of the car.

I walked to where the car stopped on the bridge and looked over. The Devil’s Creek is running underneath. The fog lifted around the water, revealing two naked girls with black eyes looking back up at me. I jumped back. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I heard a horn; I turned to see my mother’s blue Jeep and an unhappy mother inside, but no fog.

I walked back to the railing and looked over. Nothing, no naked girls, no bodies. I turned, ran to the passenger’s side of the Jeep, and got in.

“Do you know what time it is, young lady?”

“Hum, 11:30 pm?”

“No, try 1:30 am!”

Yep, I lost a few hours. Mom asked me what happened. Like, I’m going to tell her I saw two ghosts.

Featured Image Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash Edited by T.L. Hicks using Pixlr

Published by T.L. Hicks

Tracie Hicks is a Speculative Fiction. You can read her work at Coffee House Writers, where she is an editor. Tracie has an Associate of Arts degree in Communications from UoPX. Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing (focused on fiction and screenwriting) from SNHU. She wrapped up her education with an MFA in Creative Writing from SNHU. She is working on two books and one short story collection. You can read her work at

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