It’s 1:45 AM and my truck’s tire just went flat. Why is my luck so bad for this to happen right now when I don’t have a spare? I guess I should have found one after I realized that I bought this truck without that important accessory. It’s been six months, and I have no excuse as to why I didn’t replace it. It is yet another reminder that bad luck is more brought on by me, rather than some happenstance appearing out of the ether.
I contemplate my next move with a weary sense, as I have just traveled over two hours from Toledo to get home. I’m sitting only about 8 miles or so to the outskirts of town, where my neighborhood is. Unfortunately, I also sit on this extremely dark county road. It being early autumn, weather isn’t a factor, so I guess an option is to walk home.
I could call a friend, but I’d hate to wake my buddies before their alarms go off to a Monday morning they already despise. Getting an Uber ride would work, but after taking a shellacking at the roulette table tonight, I decide to hoof it home and save the cash for the tire repair. Luck, or lack thereof, seems like a good topic to focus on as I make my way down this potholed back road. I try to remember its name, ‘Woodland,’ or ‘Woodlawn,’ something like that. I walk for about a block and peer back at the barely visible outline of my truck in this moonless night, nearly swallowed in the shade of a thick tree. It is times like these I tend to scrutinize my existence and how it pales in comparison to my projected plans. Gambling seems to be my favorite pastime lately, not only for the fact that I just dropped all my mad money and then some at the casino, but also with too many things in life.
Despite being smart enough to know better, I risked an engagement to my girlfriend Ana, thinking she’d forgive me for a drunken night with a stripper at my bachelor party last year. My inebriated decision-making is always a loser, and Ana was extremely hurt. I’ve been lost since the ensuing break-up last spring. Jesus, I miss that woman. I still hold out hope she’ll one day answer my text messages. I at least gave up drinking after that if any consequence from it could be good. I will admit, as I walk this corridor walled by corn stalks and tall maples, a stiff drink would probably ease my tension.
A few wispy clouds stretched in dull strands across the star-strewn night sky. What I could really use right now is a little moonlight. ‘Embrace the darkness,’ the crickets seem to hum in insect code. I could use my smartphone to light the way, but I don’t have much of a charge left, it’s better to save it in case of emergency…or for Ana.
I stopped and really took a good look up into the cosmos and notice an amazing sight. I’m seeing the Milky Way’s band of stars. Something like I’ve seen in videos from the far north. This is the pureness of the night without light pollution, and it’s quite a sight to behold. It makes me feel slightly better about this situation.
I always try to look at the bright side of things, even like now when there’s nothing bright to look at. I’m struggling to see much at all, especially when I walk under these massive trees. With my sight dimmed, at least my hearing is becoming more in tune, amplifying my every footstep fall as these rubber soles crunch the pebbles and sand on the road shoulder. The shade values between the corn and the distant tree line grows less distinct. I swear, I don’t know how much darker it could get. I don’t even see lights from a distant farmhouse.
I notice the crickets went silent, I heard somewhere they do that when they sense danger from predation. I really hate that it is now silent and dark, but at least the breeze still rustles the leaves a bit.
I walk for another few minutes until there is a bright flash in the middle of the cornfield right next to me. That’s an odd thing to see out here. It could be from headlights on a distant car, but then there’s a voice that sounds like a woman in distress, a single unintelligible word only a few feet into the cornfield, and then another blinding flash of light. Instinctively, I want to go in there and find out what this is. What if the flash was from a gun, if so, why didn’t I hear it? It is curious how the mind goes through this risk /reward assessment, just like in gambling. Is entering this situation worth the reward? That reward being the morally right thing to do? I should probably get in there and help this person if I can…but what if it’s a trap of some kind? Who or what could possibly be here at this late hour in a remote cornfield on the darkest road in the county? An internal voice is screaming at me to leave it. I walk swiftly away to the other side of the road and break into a jog. I hear a moan that sounds like…Ana. I turn back to see the outline of an arm and hand emerge from the cornfield, but even with my eyes better adjusted to the dark, I cannot be sure it’s not just a broken cornstalk falling out of the row. This can’t be her; I don’t think the coincidence is earthy possible.
I yell back, “Do you need me to call for help?”
Nothing but rattling cornstalks. I stand stunned. The inner voice is again telling me to go now.
I walk about twenty paces with my head looking back to see if anyone emerges. I then turn forward to find it has gone so dark that I can’t see a thing. I am confused to how I’ve been completely robbed of light. I can no longer see the stars. Likewise, I’ve noticed the crunch of pebbly sand has changed to a solid, echoing thump of my footsteps. Now, there’s an odor in the air that’s indescribably putrid. I’m in some trouble here.
I stop in my tracks and now feel like I can’t move. I’m trying to lift my hand to my face, and it’s not happening. I feel something move close to me. It sounds like large animal paws on metal. That’s a terrifying sound and I must be frozen in fear like when in a nightmare.
I hear a voice force its way into my mind.
“Do not fear, relax.” The voice is almost mechanical in tone.
“Don’t tell me what to do!” I yell. “Stay away!” That echoed loudly, did I wander into an empty farm building? “What do you want?” I demand.
“You seek answers, do you?” The forced voice questions.
I’m beginning to feel like an external force is immobilizing my body rather than paralysis from fear because now, I’m more pissed off than fearful. I hear my voice of reason tell me I made the right choice to stay away from that cornfield, that it was a trap for sure. Something that is preying upon my weakness, my love for Ana. I’m not at all sure that was a win since I’m in this predicament.
“We will show you answers,” the forced voice tells my mind.
“Stop this, talk to me like a man, through my ears!” I insist.
“As you wish,” a now audible voice says with a slight echo.
This voice is deeper and more distorted from what I had previously heard and is coming from behind me. I tried to turn in the direction of the voice but could barely move. I writhe like a turtle on its back.
“Let go of me!” I shout. The echo is cacophonous.
So many thoughts are shooting through my mind, and it’s cluttered with possibilities as to what is happening and solutions to escape. I must calm myself and think clearly.
“We will take you to show you the answers to many questions,” the creepy tone of the voice sank in and that’s not going to happen, I can’t relent.
“We are going to show you the truth of the universe,” the voice added.
I muster strength to speak forcefully.
“I don’t know what you are and frankly, I don’t care. I don’t want your truth. There is only one truth I will ever believe. All I know is you have deception, and some meager power that cannot withstand the light of this world. Look at you, hiding in the dark like a pathetic rodent,” I shout, loaded with condescension.
“You are making a big mistake,” the voice warns.
“That’s a risk I’ll take,” I counter.
The voice pauses for a few seconds, “We will be back,” it ominously states.
At that point, I can move and see the road once again. I shoot my eyes around and up to the sky, expecting to see something unusual, but it is only dark outlines and distant stars. I hear the wind rustle the dried cornstalks and the crickets are noisy once again. I’m not as far down this road as I thought I had walked. I turn to see my truck about a block away. I’m not sure what just happened.
This was paranormal in some form, but what form it took will leave me guessing. Why me? Merely to distress my thoughts with some so-called truth that I have no interest in knowing?
Despite all my faults and even loneliness, I want my reality. I am comfortable with it, not knowing how its pieces fall into place. I am at no point in my existence where I need the burden of life-changing information. It’s not unlike when I saw a video showing victims after a devastating car crash. I soon regretted watching that graphic carnage, I could not erase it from my mind.
My phone just buzzed. Oh my God, it’s a text from Ana!
“Hey there, I was hoping you’d answer me.”
I text back: “I will always answer you, babe!” I am so excited to hear from her that I am shaking with hope. Maybe we can get past my awful mistake.
“I called you and you ignored me,” she replies.
“I’m confused, I don’t see a call from you,” I explain.
“I’m hurt, and I’m afraid in this cornfield, please save me!”
I am dumbfounded. I approach the dark edge of the cornstalks. Ignoring my inner voice, it is now my outer voice shouting, “I’m coming, Ana!”
Artist and Writer from Los Angeles currently living in Indiana - the bulk of my writings are short stories and poems that deal with a range of subjects including: emotional distress, strange happenings, thrillers and suspense stories.